Well, it’s about time.
After two seasons of seeing Felicity develop into one of the most endearing characters on television, we finally delve into her backstory with “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak”, a flawed, yet thoroughly entertaining, episode that features an average script elevated by excellent performances from Emily Bett Rickards and Charlotte Ross.
The main problem here stems not from the episode itself, but rather from the set up for the episode. We only heard snippets about Felicity’s mother beforehand, so it certainly feels as if this episode is attempting to do too much, attempting to compensate for a lack of Felicity backstory by throwing it all into one hour. As a result, the relationship itself does not feel as developed as it should be, and there are many times in which it favors more generic storytelling over uniqueness; again, though, the performances by Rickards and Ross are great throughout, really giving us an idea of the history that mother and daughter share.
What the episode seems to be getting at are the ideas of family and love, with undercurrents of questions about identity. Early on, the question “What do you want to be when you grow up: hacker or hero?” sets up the remainder of the episode thematically, and the show delineates Felicity’s transformation from ‘hacker’ to ‘hero’, from past to present, from a dorm room at MIT to Oliver’s team. This entire storyline is, admittedly, a bit rushed, but we can certainly draw connections between Felicity’s hacker days and Oliver’s vigilantism.
We can also draw lines connecting the Donna-Felicity interactions in this episode to the Oliver-Thea ones. Both deal with family and love, with the past informing the present, with identity. “I am my own person,” Thea says in response to Oliver’s anger about Malcolm’s money, and Felicity essentially says the same exact thing to her mother. Of course, in the end, there’s some common ground to be found, as Oliver and Thea move in together and Felicity acknowledges the traits she obtained from Donna. In the end, love and family will remain, even for Malcolm Merlyn on the rooftop across the street.
All in all, the specifics surrounding Felicity’s relationship with Cooper are a bit muddled, but for an episode that has to accomplish a lot in a very short amount of time, it does a nice job. In fact, the key to this episode may be found in the very first sequence, which consists of Oliver/Thea/Laurel workouts transitioning into Felicity in her pajamas. Felicity, on the surface, is definitely very different from the rest of the characters in this show, but that’s not in any way a bad thing; in fact, her computer skills are just as essential as everyone else’s fighting skills. If you dig deeper, you realize that Felicity Smoak is more similar to the rest of the team than she seemed at first, as she used to have her own vigilante-esque feelings that led to a transformation. You realize that she is a badass, especially while she’s pistol-whipping baddies and saving family members. You realize that Felicity Smoak is right where she belongs.
-What’s next: Oliver dodging missiles with relative ease?
– “I am almost out of expletives.”
-The episode opens with training/workout scenes, yet there is no salmon ladder. What is this BS?
-The scene in which Roy shoots the rocket launcher–followed by a look of surprise and pride–is definitely a funny moment.
-Donna couldn’t keep up with six year old Felicity. Either Felicity was a baby genius, or Donna was just dumb.
-I don’t have much to say about Laurel this week, aside from the fact that I really want more Quentin in the show; I imagine he’ll continue to get the short end of the stick until he finds out about Sara.
-“Cooper Seldon”, pretty much just “Sheldon Cooper” in reverse order. Because, you know, nerds.
-Oliver and Thea are watching Possessed.
Photo credit: Arrow, The CW