By Rich Epstein
Welcome back Felicity Smoak (Emily Brett Rickards)! After barely appearing during last week's Arrow, this week's episode was all about the Felicity.
We open with a training montage…Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and Roy Harper (Colton Haynes), Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) and Ted Grant (J.R. Ramirez), Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) and Thea Queen (Willa Holland) are sparring. We go from them to Felicity, doing sit-ups to a workout video. Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) shows up unannounced with some plan to let Queen Consolidated go green and give energy back to the city. Her technologically challenged mother arrives unannounced and Felicity is embarrassed.
Cut to our first flashback, it's Goth Felicity in college with her boyfriend and his roommate. They (she) hack into the Department of Education and the boyfriend tries to delete everyone's student loan. As in everyone in the country. He wants to be a hero. Felicity is scared, she doesn't want to end up in jail. She pulls the plug on the wifi to stop him.
Interesting…another episode where the flashbacks don't involve Oliver. I know they did this a couple of times last year, but this is twice already in the first five episodes of season 3. A couple of possibilities…it could be a coincidence, or, they could be planning for life after Oliver's flashback's have caught up with the show. We are in year three, he was missing for five years. Are they going to stretch out the flashback arc so that one year of the show is only a half year or so of the back-story? Or, could they be conditioning the audience to get used to not seeing the flashbacks to Oliver's past every week.
Oliver shows up at Thea's place…it's an amazing apartment. Oliver knows that she can't afford it, so she tells him Malcolm Merlyn paid for it. Ok, not Merlyn, but his estate. As his daughter, she says, she inherited his estate. Oliver complains that it is blood money and that by taking his money Merlyn would have a hold on her. She gets a little pissed off at him telling her how to live her life.
Another week another awkward scene with Oliver and Thea. It's always the same. Oliver gets all holy on her and tries to tell her how to live her life. She gets pissed off and they fight. This has been going on since season 1. These scenes are boring at this point. I don't watch Arrow for family drama. It is a little bit interesting to see Thea lying to Oliver and moving out on her own.
Anyway, the lights go out. Not just in the apartment, but the whole city. TV screens come on and we see the Eye of Sauron. It seems as though Brother Eye has judged this city and is taking control of the city. The lights come back on, and it's time for the team to meet at the Arrowcave.
Felicity brings her mom to Verdant where she meets Oliver before they can all head downstairs. John Diggle (David Ramsey) is there with his baby. Felicity can't trace the hack.
At the police station, Laurel asks her dad (Paul Blackthorn) why she is getting the emergency texts instead of the D.A. Turns out, the D.A. is out of town and she is the acting district attorney. Two things…1) only one person gets emergency texts? What if their phone is down? 2) How does Laurel not know that her boss is out of town and she is acting D.A.? Doesn't that seem like the type of thing you might want to tell someone? Oh, by the way, you'll be the #1 person in the office next week. Despite the fact that you're young and were on suspension only a few months ago. Ok, that was three things. But still…
Back to the flashbacks, and Felicity's boyfriend is arrested.
Present day, and Brother Eye is giving another speech. The banks are his next target. All accounts are going to be wiped out. Felicity is tracing the broadcast. Laurel sends the riot police, and Arrow gets there just in time to tame the crowd with some smoke arrows (silly, but it works). Felicity manages to find the virus, but she can't disable it…it's hers. She wrote it five years ago.
Time for Felicity to come clean. She was in a group of "Hacktivists" (she hates the term too) that created a supervirus that could give them root access to any infected server. Her boyrfiend's roommate, Myron, had access to the virus. She gives Oliver the address and he goes off.
Flashback Felicity visits the boyfriend in jail. She offers to tell the FBI that she wrote the virus, but he won't let her. He's right, he's going to jail anyway for wiping out the loans, so there is no reason for them both to go.
Laurel's in trouble. Her dad is mad at her for sending the riot squad and escalating the situation. She's angry and distant and he wonders if she is using again. She can't tell him what's going on. He tells her that it's ok, just to talk about it with someone.
At some time point, shouldn't someone tell him that Sara is dead? I mean, I know you are worried about his health, but how long is this going to go on? Doesn't he have a right to know? It's been a month already.
More Oliver and Thea. Thea is ready to make up, but Oliver is still being a dick.
Family matters aside, it is time for the Arrow to meet Myron. He takes Roy with him and Oliver tells Myron that he has failed this city. That might be the first time he has used that line this season. Felicity feeds Oliver lines to say to get Myron to reverse the virus. But it's only about halfway into the show, so I guess it wasn't Myron. He might have shown the code to a few people though.
Oliver again tells Oliver that it couldn't have been her boyfriend. She knows this, because he hung himself right before sentencing. She leaves and heads to Queen Consolidated. Ray Palmer walks in, his energy deal seems to be not going well, so he is looking for someone to commiserate with. She is on the brink of telling him what happened when her mom shows up, embarrassing Felicity . Yay, time for more family drama. Mrs. Smoak is upset because she has been waiting around all day to see Felicity. Felicity is pissed because her mother expects the world to stop when she drops in unannounced. I am annoyed because this really isn't very interesting. Anyway, Felicity thinks her mother is disappointed because she isn't more like her. Her mom is afraid that Felicity is going to leave just like her father did because they are so alike. Both of them are pretty rude and selfish.
Back at the Arrowcave, Oliver is trying to convince Felicity to see her mom, clear it up and get her head back in the game. Oliver convinces her to go. While they talk, her mom mentions getting an email that told her she won a round-trip ticket to Starling. Felicity is just figuring out that it is related when they are kidnapped. Of course the boyfriend didn't actually kill himself and is the real mastermind behind this. Turns out the NSA was looking for a hacker and they faked the suicide. His heart was broken when he found out she was a corporate lap dog. Turns out he isn't a terrorist, he's a thief. Bringing down the bank was only a means to an end…standard procedure is for new money to be transported into the city (huh?) and he needs Felicity to help him hack into the treasury and steal that money. Hey, that reminds me, I haven't watched Die Hard for awhile. It is almost Christmas after all. This is why he needed Felicity's mom…to threaten her and press Felicity.
Oliver and crew is worried when Felicity won't answer her phone. In about fifteen seconds, Felicity has hacked into the treasury. Luckily, Felicity's mom's smartwatch has wifi. Felicity uses the computer to tell Oliver where they are. Of course, the bad guy is going to kill them both, but he lets them talk instead of killing them right away and the Arrow shows up. He escapes the trap that was set for him, while Roy and Diggle stop his men. The boyfriend holds the gun to Felicity's head, but she beats the crap out of him and frees her mother.
Time for Felicity and Oliver to have a heart to heart. Their scenes are so much better than the Oliver/Thea scenes. Part of it is better chemistry, part of it is that they aren't having the same conversations for three years.
The last flashback is of Felicity becoming the clean-cut girl we know today.
Laurel needs someone to talk to, so she chooses Grant. He asks her if she wants the red or black uniform and she chooses black. Definitely black.
One last Oliver/Thea scene. They reconcile and she offers to let him move in with her. That reminds me, where has he been living? Does the Arrowcave have a shower? He agrees, and we flash to Malcolm across the way looking in. He looks peeved.
Felicity and her mom make up just in time for her to go. Felicity tells Ray that she is taking a sick day. Has she actually worked a day yet?
We switch to Roy having a nightmare and it's the kind of scene that makes me wish I could swear more in these articles. He hears Sara's voice and sees himself throwing arrows into her chest! What a way to go out. Did the mirakuru antidote not work as well as they thought last year? Is he going crazy again? Did he really kill Sara? I want to know now!!!
It was a good ending to what was a very disappointing episode. There was some good stuff in it, mostly dealing with Felicity's background, but too much bad melodrama. A lot of eye rolls. Really, they could have done the episode without Felicity's mother. The character didn't really work and was pretty much just a caricature more than a developed character. The Oliver/Thea stuff never works that well, but it was even worse in this episode where you also had Felicity dealing with her mom and an episode with a lot less action than usual. I think about half of the fighting in the episode happened in the first thirty seconds or so during the training montage.
There were some good things in the episode. I liked Felicity's hacking background. The opening montage was a nice intro as it is good to see Thea and Laurel training and no longer being satisfied being the damsel in distress to be saved by Oliver. And seeing Felicity kick her ex's butt was cool as well.
Rich Epstein writes for Bleeding Cool. He can be found on twitter at @kaspe_r11.