Fan favourite Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) gets the flashback treatment as a cyber hack disables Starling City.
Let’s bitch it out…
I’m just going to come right out and say it: I found this episode disappointing. After three seasons of stealing the show, Felicity takes center stage with her very own narrative and the result is…predictable?
That was not the word I was anticipating using as I sat down to watch ‘The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak’ and yet, as soon as the first flashback featuring Goth College Felicity and her egomaniac boyfriend Cooper (Nolan Funk) begins, it is pretty obvious how this story will play out. Yes, there is an attempt by the writers to distract us with red herrings like the other roommate, Myron, and the suggestion that Cooper is dead, but the paint by numbers plot of a cyber attack that mirrors the same ideals as Cooper makes it pretty clear who the true villain is.
This is deeply disappointing when you consider not only the fact that this is Felicity’s big episode, but also because Bett Rickards sells the hell out of every scene. Although the depths of her despair never feels truly earned because of the shallow writing, Bett Rickards wrings every ounce of emotion out of Felicity’s rock bottom moments. The actress’ dedication to her character’s plight is commendable, but every time Felicity has a break-down, it only makes the failures of the episode more apparent. The threat of the cyber attacks never truly feels tangible (relying on people talking tech and furiously typing simply isn’t that engaging) and while Felicity is the creator of the supervirus, the issue of responsibility simply doesn’t carry weight. The show even partially acknowledges this when Oliver angrily asks why Felicity hasn’t told him about her hacktivist past and she reminds him that he hasn’t told them about his missing five years.
The return of the past is a persistent theme on Arrow so the idea of Felicity’s history coming back to haunt her makes narrative sense. Unfortunately the return of Cooper – and his hilariously misguided rationale for the attacks – is the episode’s other weak spot. I’ll confess that I have never been a fan of pretty boy Funk (I hold him partially responsible for the terrible third season of Awkward.) so his smarmy/wimpy turn as villain is pretty underwhelming. The laser guided guns are hokey, Cooper’s plan is undercooked and the threat against Donna, Felicity’s mom (Charlotte Ross), is never fully realized (are we honestly meant to believe that Donna would be killed before she and Felicity worked out their mother/daughter issues?). In the end ‘The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak’ simply isn’t a good episode – it’s passable and a great showcase for Bett Rickards’ talents – but considering the hype…I’m disappointed.
- As the cyber attacks intensify, Laurel (Katie Cassidy) is called into action as the acting DA. Nothing against recovering addicts, but is it a good idea to give the town drunk so much power? I get that Laurel is grieving over Sara and doesn’t feel like she can talk to anyone, but her irrational behaviour (calling in the freaking riot squad?!) bears a striking resemblance to her pill popping/drunken irrational behaviour.
- I enjoy that Laurel’s trainer, Ted Grant (J.R. Ramirez) appears to be some kind of “damaged goods whisperer” – now that he knows what ails Laurel, he knows how to train her.
- Thea (Willa Holland) continues to be a total dink. She uses Malcolm’s (John Barrowman) money to buy herself a super swanky loft and then gets all huffy when Oliver dares to question her about Malcolm’s legacy. The way that she brushes off Malcolm’s death toll, including (oh right) the death of her brother, speaks highly of her character. <sarcasm>
- Side Note: Do rich people really wear belly tops?
- I expected that Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) had nefarious plans for his computer watch…and I still kind of do.
- Quiet moment of hilarity: Diggle (David Ramsey) and Roy (Colton Haynes) peacing out after Felicity starts freaking out. Best to just leave the love interest to talk her off the ledge, boys.
- Finally, it seems that Roy killed Sara (Caity Lotz) by throwing arrows into her body (like shooting stars?!) It’s certainly a twist that I didn’t see coming and obviously some kind of hypnosis/fugue-state was involved. The question is: huh?
- Donna (upon meeting Oliver): “How many billionaires do you know?”
- Felicity (suggesting she never imagined the supervirus being used for harm): “I actually have a very active imagination. I imagined cronuts years before-”
- Felicity (after a lead doesn’t pan out): “I am running out of expletives.”
- Felicity: “Lovers. Sounds creepy no matter how you say it.” Agreed. The only worse word is “moist.”
Your turn: am I off base or was the episode disappointing? Did you find it predictable? Did Cooper feel like a credible threat? Is Ray secretly evil? Is Laurel still a trainwreck? And why did Roy kill Sara? Sound off below.
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8pm EST on The CW