Arrow: 305 “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak” Review
Reviewed by Phil Boothman.
This week’s episode of the Bonkers Superhero Hour actually brought up something which I had never really considered before: I knew basically nothing about Felicity other than her nature as a slightly awkward but generally awesome nerd who can apparently do pretty much anything with a computer. But all that changed with “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak”, and now if anything I know too much about her.
We get an insight into her daily routine, which pleasingly portrays her as a far more relatable exercise-phobe than the super-ripped dudes she seems to surround herself with; we meet her mother, a bleached-blonde, fake-tanned cocktail waitress who seemingly couldn’t be more unlike our favourite super-geek; and we get a glimpse into her past as a dungeon-crawler programming goth hacker. Seeing where Felicity came from and what shaped her as a character is interesting, but I honestly could have done without the excessive PDA between Felicity and her college hacker boyfriend.
The episode kicks off with a pretty cool little montage of the various badasses of Starling City: Oliver and Roy train with sticks, even though Roy’s head isn’t really in the game, Laurel boxes the absolute hell out of new trainer Ted Grant, and Malcolm and Thea spend the morning swinging swords at each other. Meanwhile, Felicity is barely conscious when she is visited not only by her new boss Ray Palmer with a plan to give away free energy to the entire city, but also by the aforementioned tech-illiterate cocktail waitress mother. Naturally, Ray effortlessly charms Mama Smoak, even giving her a fancy prototype smartwatch which will apparently entirely replace her computer (that’s a very nice gun you have there, Mr Chekov).
However, the mother-daughter reunion is cut short when hackers attack Starling City’s infrastructure, threatening to empty bank accounts and put everybody in the city on an even socioeconomic level. Everybody is caught in the brief blackout, so the team converges at the Arrowcave: however, the team is slightly bigger than usual, including not only Mama Smoak but also baby Sara, whom Oliver is not comfortable having in the Arrowcave, presumably due to the abundance of sharp things. So Sara is handed off to Mama Smoak and Quentin sends Felicity the virus used to play merry havoc with the city: unfortunately, she reveals that it is completely unstoppable, and she knows because she created it five years earlier.
That’s right, this week’s flashbacks are not Hong Kong-centric, they are Felicity-centric: we see her as part of a ‘hacktivist’ group creating a virus to get past secure firewalls while fully gothed-out. However, while she just wants to post screencaps of the virus’ work to hacker-porn forums, her douchebag boyfriend Cooper wants to erase everybody’s student debts. Felicity just manages to stop him, but a few days later he is arrested and takes the fall for the whole thing to protect Felicity. Apparently he then went on to die in prison, leaving his roommate Myron as the only one who could have known about the code.
However, when Oliver and Roy go to interrogate Myron, now an IT manager at an accounting firm, he claims innocence and they are left with no real clues. Felicity storms out and has a quiet moment with Ray followed by a very loud one with her mother, who tells her that while she may not have been the super-genius mother that Felicity wanted, she was always the mother that was there for her. It’s a rather touching moment as they both realise just how different they are as people, and that Felicity is a reminder of the husband and father that left, even to the point of leaving herself. However, in a quieter moment, Mama Smoak inadvertently reveals that she showed up because of a free trip to Starling City she was given as part of a competition: Felicity realises that someone wanted her to show up, but her realisation is cut short as they are both kidnapped and taken to the mastermind behind the whole situation. And, predictably, it is Cooper the douchebag, whose death was faked by the NSA when they needed some hacking expertise.
Anyway, he has kidnapped Felicity to steal some money, rather unimaginatively, and she does so to stop Cooper from shooting her mother: however, when he goes off to collect the money, Felicity uses the smartwatch given to Mama Smoak to stop the whole thing, and Oliver shows up just in the nick of time. A quick confrontation with some auto-guns and a nice pistol-whip of the ex-boyfriend later and everybody goes home happy. It feels like a somewhat anti-climactic end to a fairly tough threat for the team to beat, but as Roy says earlier in the episode, they needed something to hit, and Cooper was as good as any, unrepentant douchebaggery aside.
Elsewhere, Thea and Oliver have something of a blowout when he finds out that she has bought a ridiculously fancy apartment using Malcolm Merlyn’s money, but the lessons taught by Felicity’s relationship with her mother swiftly repair that particular disagreement, and Thea invites Oliver to move in with her. He agrees, but Malcolm, who is watching creepily from a rooftop opposite the new apartment, doesn’t seem overly chuffed with the situation.
Finally, as Laurel admits to Ted the reason she is fighting, and he tells her that now he knows how to train her, Roy wakes up from a dream in which he was standing on a rooftop, and threw a bunch of arrows with crazy Mirakuru-strength, directly into Sara’s abdomen. So, was Roy the one who killed Sara? Probably not, but we’ll find out soon enough!
Another episode which felt a little bit too much like filler, “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak” nonetheless provided some more development to a character we’ve been getting to know for the last few years and showed that there is definitely depth behind the tech-wizardry and general awkwardness.