By Josh Axelrod
This episode had me excited since the CW released those promotional photos of goth Felicity. Ms. Smoak has been this show’s not-so-secret weapon since her role was expanded midway through Season 1, and it’s about time she got her own episode. And for the most part, her origin story did not disappoint. Kudos to Emily Betts Rickards for absolutely nailing her first big episode.
Felicity began this episode with the morning from hell. First, Ray Palmer showed up at her door (while she was still in her pajamas) talking about some energy innovations he wanted to make. Then her mom (played by “NYPD Blue” alum Charlotte Ross) decided to drop by from Vegas, which seemed random but made sense once this episode’s conspiracy unraveled.
Donna Smoak was the exact opposite of Felicity. Her brains clearly came from her father, while she got her mother’s looks and not much else. Donna wears revealing dresses and worries more about Felicity finding a man, while her daughter stays covered up and is most concerned with finding the hacker who is in complete control of Starling City’s network.
Cue the flashbacks of goth Felicity during her days at M.I.T. Apparently she was something of a cyber activist (hactivist, a term even she hates) with a boyfriend (Nolan Gerard Funk) whose moral code was a bit murky. After hacking a secure server and trying to erase the existence of student loans, Cooper was promptly arrested and left to rot in a federal prison.
This is all relevant because the virus used by Brother Eye (the hacker in control of the city) was the one Felicity created with her ex. Since Felicity didn’t realease it, the only two suspects were Cooper and his ex-roommate, Myron Forest. Myron turned out to be a dead end, and Cooper wasn’t an option because he hung himself before his trial.
Because Felicity is brilliant, she created the virus with enough firewalls that she has no idea how to shut it down. This leads Felicity to have a complete mental breakdown, which causes her to blow up at her mom. It turns out that Donna was offered a free flight to Starling City by none other than Cooper (big upset), who was kept alive by the NSA but clearly went rogue. He kidnaps the two, using mom as an incentive to have Felicity help him steal some money.
Luckily for Felicity, Ray Palmer had given Donna a prototype watch that could replace a computer, and used it to alert Oliver about her location. Oliver destroyed Cooper’s security system, Diggle and Roy took out his henchman and Felicity kicked Cooper’s butt. The look on Oliver’s face when Felicity knocked Cooper out was great. It was a cute that’s my girl moment.
Felicity made up with her mom, thanking her for always being there for her. The two left on good terms. This does beg a bigger picture question though: Who is Felicity’s father? All we know about him is that he’s apparently as smart as Felicity and he left his wife and daughter. Is he going to be a big player in this DC Universe, like Skye’s father has become on “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D?” Only time will tell I guess.
Elsewhere, Oliver tried to reconnect with Thea. He was uncomfortable with Thea using Malcolm Merlyn’s money (which he rightly called blood money) to pay for a loft in the city. Eventually, the two came to a compromise: Thea would use Merlyn’s money until Verdant began making enough for her to live comfortably again. Easy conflict, easy solution.
Laurel also had an interesting week. Brother Eye almost incited a riot at a Starling City bank. Laurel, who became the acting District Attorney because the real one was away, ordered a riot squad to the scene. Predictably, that came closer to causing a real riot than if she had done nothing. Her father chewed her out, and told Laurel that whatever was going on with her, she better talk to someone about it.
Since Laurel still won’t tell Quentin that Sara is dead (goddammit Laurel), she turned to her trainer, Ted Grant. He rightly assessed that Laurel had been swiping at Sara’s killer when they fought, not her opponent. Now she can really begin her training, especially now that she chose a black gym outfit. The show isn’t even pretending to hide the fact she’s going to become the new Canary, but I still need more to believe Laurel is capable of the things Sara was.
Last but not least, there was this week’s big twist: Roy might’ve killed Sara. WHAT?!?!!? Apparently the kid has had sleep issues because he’s been having nightmares about shooting Sara in the chest with arrows. Seriously, WHAT?!!?!? I’ll give “Arrow” credit this season for its twists, but there better be a reasonable explanation for this one. You know, mind control or something. That would fly in this world.