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Arrow Review (S3E5): 'The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak'

(SPOILERS)
Arrow starts off with an exhilarating training montage that would make Sylvester Stallone proud.  Merlyn and Thea, Oliver and Roy, Ted Grant and Laurel are punching, kicking, swinging weapons in such a rhythmic ballet of sweat and power that it makes the segue to Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) all the more amusing. There she is in her cute apartment struggling with sit-ups while in her jammies. And that's the draw of Felicity- relatable, human, sassy, smart - but as fallible as any of us. Ollie may have the muscle and the show title but Felicity has always been the heart and conscience of the show. Tonight it was her turn to take center stage.
  
As if her boss, Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh), showing up on her doorstep unexpectedly wasn't enough of an annoyance to her but things get especially awkward when Mama Smoak, Donna (Charlotte Ross), shows up minutes later in a tight blue cocktail dress. And so begins 'The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak' and thanks to the charming ease of  the talented Rickards, Smoak has an online fandom of her own. She gets her own flashback subplot as the college goth genius hacker with the reckless hacker boyfriend. It's familiar and cliche'd but so different of what we're used to. The pitch-black hair, the dark clothes, the heavy eye-line, this is not the Felicity we know and that's what's so thrilling about it all. 


She's the viewer's surrogate, the sister-best friend-crush that we wish we knew in real life. And ironically in a show that features the super heroics of masked vigilantes with bows and arrows Felicity represents the greatest powers of love, compassion, and intelligence. At least until the estranged Mama Smoak comes to town. It's a terse awkward affair that throws Felicity off her game but there's a new threat in Starling City and one she's the most qualified to address. 

'Brother Eye' threatens the city in some tangled conspiracy using a computer virus Smoak herself created years ago. Surely it can't be her dead imprisoned hacking boyfriend? Could it be? It doesn't even matter because it justifies seeing Felicity disarm and beat her ruthless fake-dead a-hole ex with his own gun. Bravo, Felicity bravo! 

But we don't get to that point without some emotional housekeeping that to its credit, Arrow delves into quite frequently. It may have some incredible stunts and villains and superheroes but it earnestly addresses character's feelings no matter how awkward they can be. Even Ollie in a reverse role of sympathetic ear to Felicity gives her advice on dealing with her family issues. Ross and Rickards convincingly shed their emotions and reconcile their feelings and it just feels right. They may differ in personalities and intellects but find commonality. Mama Smoak's own origins working tirelessly as a single mom resonate with Felicity finally and helped bridge that gap between them. More than a few eyes were moistened by then. 

If anyone ever questioned why Felicity gets more screen time than say Laurel (although her role has broadened since other characters were killed off) this episode will convince them that its rightfully given. She's the moral compass, the voice of reason and the emotional center that others rely on. She's a hero in her own right and not just as an extremely capable hacker but as the soul of Arrow.

Here are scenes from next week's episode, 'Guilty.'



Guilty” — (8:00-9:00 p.m. ET) (TV-14, V) (HDTV)TED GRANT IS ACCUSED OF MURDER  After a body is found strung up in the Wildcat gym, Ted Grant (J.R. Ramirez) becomes the main suspect. Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Laurel (Katie Cassidy) argue over Ted’s innocence. Meanwhile, in flashbacks, when Maseo (Karl Yune) needs Oliver to remember where an informant for China White stashed key information, he asks Tatsu (guest star Rila Fukushima) to help jog Oliver’s memory. Roy (Colton Haynes) shares a secret with Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards). Peter Leto directed the episode written by Erik Oleson & Keto Shimizu (#306). Original airdate 11/12/2014.

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