Arrow: The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak

Felicity: "I guess you could say it was my first attempt at being a hero."

I kind of wish the villain plot was as compelling as the character stuff in this episode.

The super-virus thing should've been more exciting, it could've been like Felicity fighting her past self. Except that's not what happened. Instead we got the painfully obvious twist of the real bad guy being Felicity's supposedly dead boyfriend. That crippled any tension in the plot, and dragged things down into super-cliché (despite some good ass-kicking moments in that action scene at the end).

I also wish we had gotten a bit more with Felicity and her mother. The details of their history were a bit vague, but it was clear the strain in their relationship was one that had been building for years. It actually cast a kind of negative light on Felicity. She looked down on her mother, even though it was pretty clear why she felt that way. Then there was that fight they had in mid-episode that went too far. Donna's reaction was really interesting there too; she admitted her greatest fear had already come to pass, that Felicity had left her too, just like her ex-husband.

But I really liked that Felicity and her mother finally came together at the end. It highlighted Felicity's arc in this episode, which was understanding her own inner strength and realizing that she shares that strength with her mother. I liked Donna Smoak. She might have been a walking cliché, but that was tempered with some late episode reveals that she was a hard working person who wanted nothing more than to provide for her genius daughter, and to be there for her. That's a very big upside to a fairly basic blonde airhead archetypal character.

The rest of the cast had some good character moments as well -- particularly Thea and Oliver, who are now dancing around the truth. It was kind of fascinating to watch. They are trying to repair their relationship, but neither is being very forthcoming. That speaks to the big elephant in the room, or staring at them from across the street jealously, which was Malcolm. Thea's casual mastery of deceit and her constant lies about her connection to Malcolm are getting pretty thick. They are starting to match Oliver's constant lies about his identity as the Arrow.

Actually, now that I think about it, they are starting to parallel each other in their secrets. Case in point, they both lied about something related to their secrets. Oliver made up a story about that door in the Verdant that won't open. Thea lied about where she got the money for the new pad. Speaking of which, is that the new Queen manor? It's pretty cool looking if it is.

The other side of the family drama coin focused on Laurel and Quentin and the lie that's sitting between them. Sara's death continues to drive Laurel's arc. She's angry and unfocused, but she did listen to her father when he gave her some important advice. She came clean to her trainer about Sara. I think that was a big character moment, since it changes the way he will interact with her. It also took some of the weight off her shoulders. Which is good, because she is so wound up that she's likely to fall apart without some relief soon.

Flashback:

The Felicity flashback was fun. We got to see into her past, and it's a bit scary. Felicity has always been a good person apparently, but there was one moment that spoke to me more than the rest. It came at the end of the episode, when she cast off the goth persona with one trip to the bathroom. The way it came across made me suddenly worried that there's much more to her than meets the eye, because almost no one can just change their personality that quickly. Is there something vaguely off about her now? Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but I wonder if that's going to come into play later on.

Bits:

So we might know what's wrong with Roy; he's dreaming that he killed Sara. If this is true, that's a big can of worms. Oliver might try to help him, but Nyssa and Laurel won't be so generous.

I loved the opening with the three parallel fight montages. It clearly showed where each character was emotionally.

Ray continues to be fun, witty, and almost too nice. I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop for his character.

So Quentin is a Captain, and now Laurel is the acting DA… I called it last season!

Oliver and Roy using tear gas on a protesting mob might've been a bit too soon.

Felicity and Diggle need code names, but at least Diggle got a mask this week (even if it was a balaclava).

At one point I was wondering where the baby disappeared to. Apparently A.R.G.U.S. babysits now.

Quotes:

Thea: "How do normal people spend their morning?"

Ray: "Are you adopted?"
Felicity: "Mmhmm."

Felicity: "I haven't even looked at a cup of coffee yet."

Oliver: (motioning towards baby Sara) "We can't bring her down there."
Dig: "Why not, Oliver? Who's she going to tell?"

Felicity: "I actually have a very vivid imagination, like cronuts, I had a vision of them before..."

Felicity: "I am running out of expletives."

Felicity: "I hacked all of his e-mails and all of his texts messages from five years ago, and all I got was depressed."

Felicity: "Turns out he's not as dead as I thought."
Oliver: "I've had some experience with that."

Unfortunately the basic plot wasn't as good as it could've been in one respect. However, the character stuff was all great which makes up for a lackluster villain plot.

3 out of 4 Super viruses

J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related. He reviews Arrow and Farscape and cool new movies that strike his fancy.

4 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Any episode about Felicity has to be a winner, but you have a point about the villain being too predictable and obvious. I did like Mama Smoak, and the whole Oliver and Thea lying to each other while trying to reconnect thing.

But the whole baby Sara disappearing with an ARGUS babysitter thing was weird. And if it turns out Roy killed Sara, I'm going to have a problem with this show. You hear me, show?

Patrick said...

Yes, the reveal about the "dead" boyfriend being the mastermind was waaaaaay too telegraphed. They should've found a way to reveal it was him earlier and dropped the attempt at mystery.

I still seriously want to slap the snot out of Ray Palmer, preferably with a restraining order. Showing up at Felicity's house like that, barging in, no respect for personal space or the fact that she's still in her pajamas(which she looks completely adorably in, of course)? I continue to be terribly disappointed by what they're doing with this character. Brandon can clearly handle the witty banter, and he plays off of Emily Bett Rickards very well, but Ray Palmer's complete lack of respect for Felicity's privacy is just way too creepy.

I loved seeing Felicity handle herself so well in in the hostage crisis, especially disarming her ex. Clearly she's been picking up a few moves from the fighters on Team Arrow. Would've been nice to see Oliver mention that in the follow-up scene. :)

Wow, did NOT see that bit at the end with Roy coming. I've got to think that he's not just imagining it, it's some kind of repressed memory of that night, meaning he was the one who killed her. It would certainly explain Sara's reaction to her killer in that first episode. I don't *think* they're going to go with some kind of post-Mirakuru psychosis, that would just be too cruel. The most obvious choice I can think of would be some kind of brainwashing. Without spending much time thinking about motivations, I can think of three people we've met to this point who could make viable suspects. The obvious is Malcom, trying to pull some kind of double-fake. Another is Ra's Al-Ghul, though why he'd have Roy be the one programmed I couldn't begin to guess, except maybe just because he'd be more susceptible than the other available choices. The longshot guess is Amanda Waller. Honestly, I can't think of a single reason why she'd do it, except maybe to eff with Oliver, but she doesn't seem that petty. She'd have to know that if he ever figured it out, he would come after her HARD. Of course, it could always be someone we haven't met yet, and my guess is it involves the League somehow, putting Waller out of the equation. But after the quality of the story arcs in the last two seasons, I can't wait to find out. :)

Bea said...

Yey, full Felicity episode! I feel like I've been waiting 3 seasons for this. I agree with all of you that the dead boyfriend plot was a cliché and could have been better, even more because I liked him in tha flashbacks, and I think the revelation that he was dead was powerful. He should've remained dead. (I did find it funny, though, that he was played by Nolan Gerard Funk, who appeared next to Flash's Grant Gustin in Glee as a member of The Warblers. Looks like Felicity may have a type? It's definetely food for fanfiction).

I actually realli liked the bits with Felicity's mom. They struck the right note, and to me it felt that making her an airheaded bimbo cliché in her first scenes was deliberate, as if the writers wanted us to see her the way Felicity did, and maybe even judge her in the same way, just to have the rug pulled from us by having her be more than just what she seemed.

I actually agree with Patrick on the Ray Palmer thing. It's been bothering me since he basically stalked Felicity to get her to work for him. I find him creepy, but more in a nice-guy-who-is-actually-a-rapist way that in a comic-villain way. I don't know which way they're going with him, and whether or not they intend to make him an actual love interest for Felicity, but he makes me uncomfortable.

I'm loving the Thea stuff this season, and thank god for that, because she always felt like the blandest character to me. I don't know if they're going good or bad with her, but I'm certain I'll enjoy the journey either way.

Lovely review!

Marianna said...

I loved the Felicity Smoak origin story! Even if the current story wasn't that great. One nugget I liked was when Felicity said something about her mom wanting her show a lot of cleavage. I thought "Is that why Felicity dresses like a bimbo?" As much as I love Felicity her lack of professional work attire has always annoyed me. If it's a result of her mother's influence, at least that's an explanation.