So, it’s been pretty well accepted that Felicity Smoak as played by Emily Bett Rickards on Arrow is one of the best characters on TV. And while the writers have given her quite a lot to do since she became a recurring and then a regular character, including getting to go to Central City a couple of times, we’ve never learned too much about her life prior to working in the IT department of Queen Consolidated. That is, of course, UNTIL THIS HISTORIC NIGHT. In “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak,” Ms. Smoak was given her very own episode with her very own set of flashbacks to fill in some of those blanks. It’s not a particularly action-heavy episode, but it makes up for it with mortification, tears, bad memories, and stupid villains. Popcorn and stuff is also involved.
We begin with a super sweet triple training montage; in one court, Oliver and Roy are training with whatever those stick things are called (are they just called sticks?), in the second, Laurel is boxing her heart out with Ted Grant, and in the third, Thea practices katana skills with Malcolm. Oliver comments on Roy being slow and he says he hasn’t been sleeping much. Grant tells Laurel she isn’t fighting, or even boxing, she’s just lashing out. Thea, on the other hand, is doing great and Malcolm is very proud. “What do other people do with their mornings?” she asks.
Well, if you’re Felicity, you apparently do five sit-ups while watching a room full of people on TV do sit-ups. Great show. She gets up and begins to brush her teeth when there’s a knock at the door. Instead of seeing her annoying neighbor looking for her cat, Felicity is highly embarrassed and annoyed to see it’s Ray Palmer, who is completely uninterested in her being disheveled and instead wants to talk to her about cogeneration, which would be a way for QC to harness all the electricity it uses to give back to Starling City. For free, he says! There’s another knock at the door and it still isn’t the neighbor — it’s Felicity’s (super hot) mom, Donna, played by guest star Charlotte Ross. Felicity hasn’t spoken to her mom in awhile, and her mom wrote a text saying she was coming, but then didn’t know how to send it. Clearly, cut from a different cloth, these two. Donna is very impressed that Felicity knows the billionaire Ray Palmer and he gives her the super cool computer watch he has on just because he’s a nice guy.
We then flashback five years to when Felicity was a dark-haired Goth chick in college. She’s a “hacktivist,” or someone who uses their incredible computer skills to be pretentious a-holes, basically. She has a boyfriend, Cooper, and Cooper has a roommate, Myron, and they all hack and stuff. Felicity has created a virus that will let them get into big important government mainframes and that’s pretty cool, but Cooper wants to go into the Department of Education and wipe all the student loan records. That’s less good, being illegal and whatnot. Felicity pulls the plug as he’s about to succeed. She doesn’t want him to go to jail. Oh… THE IRONY. In a later flashback, he’s picked up by the FBI.
Back in the present, Oliver walks into a big empty loft and Thea comes out and asks if he likes it since she’s going to be living there now. Oliver retorts with as close as he gets to saying “schwaa?” and asks how she can afford it. Turns out, she’s taking money from Malcolm Merlyn, or, as she tells Oliver, his estate since he’s supposed to be dead. Oliver is pretty displeased with this, but Thea, of course, is all “hey bro, chill out, it’s my life and I’ll be rich if I want to.” They don’t get to argue anymore because just then, the lights in the city all go out. Umm, that can’t be good. Ollie goes to investigate, and everywhere in town on the television stations, a big distorted kind of digital Sauron eye starts talking, calling itself Brother Eye. It’s got control of everything.
Everybody converges back at Verdant, but that also includes Mama Smoak which throws things off for Oliver, and Diggle who is watching baby Sara tonight. Felicity tells her mom to stay upstairs while they go do whatever. Oliver doesn’t want baby Sara down in the Foundry, though. Luckily, Donna loves babies. Convenient. Across town at police headquarters, Laurel comes in to see what’s going on and she finds out that she’s the acting District Attorney because he boss is out of town. Ohhh crises and Laurel Lance do not go together very well.
Brother Eye says the next thing he’s going to do is wipe out everybody’s bank accounts, which sends lots of residents to Starling National Bank to try to get their money before all the wiping occurs. (Probably could have written that differently. No matter.) Laurel, with her one piece of authority, has SCPD send a riot squad to quell the anger, despite her dad not being around to okay it. Luckily, the Arrows, both Green and Red, go there as well and manage to disperse the crowd before anything really bad happened.
When they get back to the Foundry, Felicity is very upset. She rambles about being very good at predicting things (like the cronut) but the long and short of her panic is that it’s her virus that the hackers are using, the very one that got Cooper arrested five years ago. Oliver wonders if he boyfriend might be the one behind it, but she changes the subject, instead having Oliver go question Myron, the roommate. Later, when it’s determined that he didn’t do anything, Felicity reveals that Cooper couldn’t have done it because he hanged himself in prison. She’s distraught and leaves. (Oliver totally couldn’t have known that and hence shouldn’t feel like an a-hole for prying.)
Back at police headquarters, Lance is really angry at Laurel for sending the riot squad and escalating things. He claims she’s not been herself lately, she’s been angry and reckless. He asks if she’s been drinking again. He wants her to talk about what’s bothering her. She can’t with him, she says, so Lance says she has to talk about it with someone. Anyone, really.
Felicity has gone to her office to cry and Ray comes and finds her, saying he’s also pretty upset about something. They very nearly share a drink when Donna comes in, upset at being left alone all day. Ray leaves so the Smoaks can have an argument, where Felicity talks about how she feels like her mom never really GOT her because she didn’t dress like a pornstar or did other sort of trampy things like her cocktail waitress mom. Donna counters that she never saw any of herself in Felicity but she’s the one who stuck around. Storm out, middle of the episode, things’ll get resolved eventually.
Felicity heads back to the Foundry but Oliver makes her go talk to her mom. Family is important, as dumb and annoying as they can be. So, Felicity does and finds her mom at her apartment packing. Donna mentions that she was really excited to come visit, especially after winning that free ticket. Whaaaaat? Seems she got an email telling her she’d won a free first class trip to Starling City. Someone was purposely trying to get both of them together. On cue, men in black masks break in and kidnap them.
When they’re brought to the Eye’s hideout, it’s finally revealed that Cooper IS in fact alive and behind the whole thing, which is the biggest NO EFFING ESS moment of perhaps all of television ever. You don’t introduce a character and set him up only for him NOT to be the bad guy. Turns out Cooper had to fake his own death because the NSA wanted to use his computer skills for their own reasons, and now he’s done and wants…revenge, I guess. And why he’s mad at Felicity is pretty stupid and pretentious also: she sold out and went corporate. Wow, what a tool. He wants her to divert several armored cars to them or he’ll kill Felicity’s mom. This guy is the worst, can we agree?
Felicity does as instructed and while Cooper and the bad guys are out of the room, Donna tells her daughter that she’s proud. Then there’s a beep noise, which turns out to still be the watch Ray gave her, which is basically its own computer, which means it has WiFi. Felicity sends out a distress signal, but Cooper comes back in and catches her. He’s about to shoot Felicity many times but wastes enough time so that Oliver can get there and take out Cooper’s sentry guns and Felicity can disarm and pistol whip him. Outside, Diggle and Roy take out all the thugs and rescue the armored cars.
Donna comes to QC to say goodbye and the Smoak ladies make amends, then Felicity tells Ray she’s “sick” and he tells her to “get better” and she leaves with her mom. Ray’s way too nice. Laurel goes to Grant’s gym and tells the boxer what happened, in a round about way, with her sister and he says that now he can train her properly. Ollie comes to Thea’s loft with a peace offering of popcorn, like she had suggested, and she promises that as soon as the club is back making a profit, she’ll donate all of Merlyn’s money to an earthquake relief charity. She then invites Oliver to move in with her so they can re-bond. He agrees and they start to watch a movie. From across the street in another high-rise, Malcolm Merlyn is quite displeased that the Queens are together again.
Then, you guys, we get a huge bombshell: Roy hasn’t been sleeping because he keeps dreaming about killing Sara… like he’s the one throwing arrows into her body on the roof. WHAAAAAAAAAT?!?! This can’t be true, can it? Or can it? Holy cow.
And, THAT, friends, is entirely what the next episode, entitled “Guilty” is all about. Before we move onto that, though, I’d like to say that “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak” had a lot of great character development and chances for the actors to shine, though as far as plot goes it was pretty dumb. Cooper’s motivations made no sense. I like that Felicity got to feel guilty about her part in the whole thing, but ultimately she should feel more guilty about having dated such a zero.
At any rate, here’s the promo for “Guilty” and we’ll talk next week!