Arrow: “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak” Season 3 Episode 5 Review

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This Felicity heavy entry was high on plausible drama and had higher stakes than we’re used to for a non-finale episode.

Considering just what type of show Arrow is, it’s rare to be able to compare it to more high-brow dramas on television. But the writing, drama, and acting was all pretty spot-on tonight. That is to say, there weren’t that many CW-isms.

The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak speaks for itself: it told of the previously unrevealed origin of Felicity. The flashbacks in Hong Kong took a break this week for your favorite superhero hacking partner to go goth. Back in college, Felicity was hardly the well put-together woman we’ve come to know. She was hanging out with a group of “hacktivists”, one of which was her boyfriend.

Turns out, she built a supervirus that her ex tried to use to eliminate all student loan debt. I know, more topical than what we’re used to on Arrow. He ends up being partially successful, allowing the police to track him and book him. Felicity is eventually told that he hung himself in prison.

Flash forward to the present where a hacker known as Brother Eye is threatening Starling City’s banks. Felicity discovers it’s the same virus she built back in college. It was great to see just how little Team Arrow could do against this new villain. Felicity couldn’t stop the virus and the most Arrow and Arsenal end up doing is sending some tear gas arrows toward rioters at the bank. Brother Eye made for an exciting new foe, even if his identity was incredibly predictable.

But the heart of the episode focused on Felicity’s mother (Charlotte Ross) surprising her daughter with a visit. Ross was excellent at being ditzy yet loving, hopeless yet strong. The two actresses created a believable chemistry stronger than what we usually see on Arrow. They couldn’t be more different. It makes sense that Felicity’s absent father was the tech geek, leaver her mother to try her best to relate to her daughter once he was gone. It was a really sad history, which lent their kidnap by Brother Eye serious dramatic weight.

It was no surprise that Felicity’s ex was Brother Eye, and his reasoning for wanting revenge, being insulted that Felicity had become a corporate drone, was a little weak. But this villain still presented a serious problem for Team Arrow.

But it turned out to be the smartwatch Ray Palmer gave Felicity’s mother that their captors didn’t notice that saved the day. Felicity hacks the GPS and Arrow, Arsenal, and Diggle are there in minutes. While Oliver had a fun action scene taking down some turret guns, we got the great moment of Roy not quite hitting his mark and sighing in frustration mid-conflict. Deservingly so, it was Felicity who delivered the final blow to Brother Eye. Here’s to hoping this villain gets a second chance, perhaps teamed up with a more physical villain to present a serious challenge (might be a good chance to resurrect Cyrus Gold).

The episode ends with Felicity and her mother lovingly saying goodbye and Olive helping Thea move into her gorgeous new apartment. The true theme of the night was finding love for family members that sometimes make it difficult. That’s not a new lesson for Arrow, with Moira Queen being a main character for two whole seasons, but it was given a new path here as the dynamics on the show change. Just overall, this was a really strong episode. Grade: A-

By Matt Dougherty

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