The CW’s The Flash took last night off, but Arrow never rests! Well, to be fair, the normal plot line of this season takes a bit of a siesta as we focus instead on “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak.” Not only do we get to see Emily Bett Rickards in her previous iteration as a Goth college hacker, and Felicity’s mom Donna, we actually get quite a bit of Stephen Amell outside of his Arrow costume. Amell’s come a long way in these two seasons and change, and tonight’s episode was a reminder of why he’s the show’s leading man. So it was a nice, fun, diversionary episode … and then the ending scene hits from out of nowhere.
Hit the jump for our Arrow recap.
Let’s take a trip back in time, shall we? Except, rather than visit Oliver Queen in Hong Kong, we’ll be visiting Felicity Smoak in college! Goth Felicity is busy hacking with her boyfriend and fellow programmers. When she manages to hack into a government site, her boyfriend Cooper (Nolan Gerard Funk) tries his hand at hacktivism before she pulls the plug. It’s probably too late because, as Felicity explains, the Feds can trace the signal back and find them, which they do right on cue. Felicity admits to being the programmer in order to save him. Too bad he’s the one who gets pinched. Felicity visits him in prison, where he says he took responsibility for writing the program and the legal trouble that will come with it. While he’s in jail, Felicity changes her entire image and starts off on the path to become the Felicity we know and love today. Speaking of the Felicity we know and love today…
Tonight’s hour opens up with Oliver and Roy training at HQ, while Laurel and Ted Grant spar in the boxing ring, and Malcolm and Thea engage in sword play. (Why is Roy so damn tired?) Pretty funny cut over to Felicity “Normal Person” Smoak doing her morning workout routine, when guess who should appear but creepy rich and powerful stalker Ray Palmer. He’s got a plan to return QC’s excess energy back to the city, for free. Alright then. Felicity gets another surprise when her mom (Charlotte Ross) shows up unannounced. Palmer tries to win over the elder Smoak in order to score points with Felicity.
Oliver drops in to pay Thea a visit in her huge, swanky new place. She plays it off by saying that she’s inherited the late Merlyn’s estate, and Oliver is upset that she’s taken his blood money, especially since he’s still alive and could conceivably control her through it (ding!). Oliver’s busy being frustrated with his little sister when a power surge knocks out the electricity in the entire city. He runs out into the fray and saves a random woman from being hit by a car (and then hilariously just kinda walks away from it). Someone (two guesses who) is broadcasting their hacker message to the Starling City citizens, and they display their power by … well, turning the power back on.
At the abandoned Club Verdant, Felicity shows up with her mom, and Oliver and Diggle (with Baby Sara) both meet “Donna.” In order to occupy Mrs. Smoak, they leave Sara in her hands. In the meantime, Felicity (eventually) recognizes her former hacker code and tries to track down those responsible for using it to hold the city hostage. (Although, their plan to reset everyone’s debt to a zero balance does sound good to me, even if it’s a bit Fight Club-y.)
Protesters and police clash outside of a bank, but Oliver and Roy intervene. They disperse the crowd with tear gas while Felicity loses control of the virus. Apparently the program will allow them carte blanche access into any database or server anywhere.
The Green and Red Hoods track down Myron Forest and snipe his computers, though he claims he’s not responsible for any of it. He’s pretty convincing. You might think it was Felicity’s ex-boyfriend, but the fact that he hung himself in prison pretty much squashes that theory (if he’s actually dead). Palmer drops in at an inopportune time, as does Felicity’s mom, who’s pissed at having waited for Felicity for hours. Palmer wisely steps out while the ladies have a cathartic moment. Mama’s upset that her daughter has turned her back on her like her father before her, but it’s tough to feel sympathy towards a character we literally met thirty minutes ago.
Felicity’s back at the HQ doing her best, but she’s still pretty upset. Roy and Diggle give her some space, and Oliver just about forces her to go talk to her mom for an hour. When she does, she learns that her mom “won” a free, first-class, round trip flight to Starling City to visit Felicity. Just then, masked men break in the door and kidnap the Smoaks. Lo and behold, her ex-boyfriend returns from beyond the grave! Spooky!
Yeah, turns out the NSA fudged his story and brought him on board to work for them. He actually went searching for Felicity after his time of service was over (so, just five years?), but was disappointed to find her as a “corporate lap dog.” He monologues for a bit about his plan to rob a few armored cars and using Mrs. Smoak as “motivation” to get Felicity to help him. Good thing that Oliver & Co. know that something’s up and come looking for her. Felicity helps her own cause by using her mother’s wearable computer watch as a Wi-Fi hotspot, and her mother in turn backs her up when Felicity’s threaten.
Arrow shows up in the nick of time but has to take out a number of motion-activated machine gun turrets while Roy and Diggle beat up the armed men attacking the armored cars. Thankfully, the writers leave the defeat of the Hacktivist to Felicity herself, which is a nice change.
As a side story, Quentin and Laurel continue to have communication issues. Laurel decides to confide in Grant instead, which works out rather well and puts her further down the path of becoming more like her late sister.
Side story #2: Well after Thea tries to bust into the basement of Club Verdant (during which Oliver gives her a string of reasons not to: “The backup generator keeps that door locked, and a watermain broke and the sub-basement’s flooded…”), she invites her brother to live with her in the new loft. Malcolm creepily watches from a nearby rooftop (and I’m not entirely sure that he was wearing pants).
In a HUGE stinger, we get a look at just why Roy is so tired lately. His recurring nightmare reveals to us that he may have been the one to kill Sara. That might just be the biggest final scene in this series so far, as long as it’s not a … RED herring.
Rating: B (That ending though…)
Quips & Quivers:
- Thea: “How do normal people spend their mornings?”
- Palmer: “Are you adopted?”
- Geek: “Why can’t you just quietly have sex under a comforter like most college students?”
- Oliver: “Diggle, uh, meet Felicity’s mom.”
- Arrow: “Get away from the bank!” Not quite as effective without his Arrow voice.
- Felicity: “I never could have imagined it, I mean I could have imagined it, I have a very active imagination, I imagined cronuts before they ever existed…”
- Thea: “What are you doing here, Ollie?” Oliver: “A super-hacker is taking over the city and I’m worried about you.”
- Felicity: “I am running out of expletives!”
- Cooper: “Just because we used to screw doesn’t mean I won’t use this gun.” Well that’s awkward.
- Grant: “Red of Black?” Laurel: “Black. Definitely black.”