Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 3, Episode 5 - The Secret Origin Of Felicity Smoak

For a summary of the episode guide layout & categories, click here.


Felicity Smoak is having a rough week. She's beset by uninvited guests - first her new boss (who has few conceptions about how personal space works) and then her mom, who just flew into town unannounced!  And then a whole new problem emerges for Starling City AND Felicity.

A hacker collective called Brother Eye knocks out the city's power and threatens to take out every bank account in the city next.  The problem is Felicity recognizes the super-virus Brother Eye is using - it's one she developed five years ago, when she was (in no particular order) a college student, a Goth and a hacktivist! Now Felicity must confront the dark past she's tried to escape from and save her city while making peace with her mom.  No pressure.


The original Secret Origins comics series (title and concept), the original OMAC comics by Jack Kirby (the names Brother Eye and Myron Forest) and Green Arrow #75 from the Mike Grell series (Roy Harper as a brainwashed assassin).


As cool as it is to see Ollie and Roy using tear gas arrows to stop a riot in progress, one wonders why the SCPD riot squads aren't equipped with tear gas of their own.  At least the police seem to have gas masks built into their helmets, since the tear gas doesn't seem to bother them at all.

It seems highly unlikely that the NSA would recruit someone who hacked into a federal computer system to work for them, fake their death and then allow them to just leave after five years.


Emily Bett Rickards has to carry most of this episode and proves more than capable of the task.  As with most of the other actors on the show, we get to see her be a different person in the flashbacks and learn how a free-spirited goth hacker grrl could regress into the repressed nerdlinger we know and love.

Charlotte Ross walks a fine line as Donna Smoak.  On the one hand, we have to see why she'd be such an embarrassment to Felicity beyond her common background.  On the other hand, we have to believe that she is related to Felicity (Ray Palmer asks Felicity if she was adopted, early on) and see the steel under the silky skin that both mother and daughter bring out when tested.  She accomplishes this perfectly.


The opening scene, which cuts through multiple conflicts (Laurel boxing with Ted Grant, Thea sword fighting with Merlyn, Roy and Ollie sparring) only to conclude with Felicity doing sit-ups, is well shot and a perfect symbolic summary of the episode's themes of family and conflict.

The sequence in which Oliver dodges Brother Eye's sniper traps is amazing.


The title for this episode comes from Secret Origins - the title of several comic book series which told the back-stories of various DC Comics characters.

Felicity has a poster of the Errol Flynn movie The Adventures of Robin Hood in her apartment. Not surprisingly, the comic book version of Oliver Queen held Errol Flynn as a personal idol before he became Green Arrow (Flynn was a notorious ladies' man) and Flynn's Robin Hood movie was Ollie's favorite film as a kid. In the Mike Grell Green Arrow comics, Oliver received archery training from Howard Hill - the stuntman and athlete who did all the trick-shots for The Adventurers of Robin Hood.  In Green Arrow: Year One, Ollie won a bow used by Howard Hill at auction and it was this bow he used during his adventures while shipwrecked.

Ray Palmer is wearing a blue tie - one of the main colors of his costume.

Felicity's appearance as a goth seems to have been inspired by the appearance of Death from Neil Gaiman's The Sandman.

Felicity's college boyfriend was named Cooper Seldon. This is almost a reversal of Sheldon Cooper - a character on the geek comedy TV show The Big Bang Theory.

Felicity makes reference to Zork - one of the most famous text-based adventure games of all time.  The line about being eaten by a grue is taken from the game - the grue being a light-hating monster who eats the player should they ever venture into a dark place without a light source.

Brother Eye is the name of several computer-based artificial-intelligence systems in the DC Comics universe.  The original was created by Jack Kirby for his 1974 series OMAC.  In that series, Brother Eye was an A.I. built into an orbiting satellite, who assisted the title hero OMAC (One Man Army Corps) by remotely interfacing with OMAC's body and transforming it, granting him different super-human abilities.

One of the other hackers who worked with Felicity and Cooper was named Myron Forest.  This is also the name of the scientist who created the Brother Eye A.I. in the original OMAC comic book.

Diggle says that Lyla is on assignment in Santa Prisca. In the DC Comics universe, Santa Prisca is a fictional Caribbean island.  It was created by writer Dennis O'Neil during his run on The Question and is best known as the birthplace of the Batman villain Bame.

In the flashback, when he is arrested, Cooper Seldon's T-shirt has an image of Starro The Conqueror - a giant alien starfish, whom the Justice League of America fought in their first appearance in Brave And The Bold #28.

Felicity has admitted to dying her hair blonde in the past.  It is worth repeating, however, that the original Felicity Smoak in the comics was a brunette.

At episode's end, we see Roy having a very realistic nightmare that he killed Sara by throwing arrows into her. During Mike Grell's Green Arrow run, Roy Harper was brainwashed to become an assassin.


Ray Palmer comes to Felicity's apartment to discuss a plan that makes use of cogeneration - the process of drawing power from the waste hate generated by electricity. The scheme is to use the Queen Consolidated building to trap the electrical energy in the building and giving that energy to the city, free of charge.

Oliver and Roy make use of tear-gas dispensing arrows to calm the riot at the bank.

Felicity's super-virus is capable of gaining root access to any infected server. It's a x-axis bionumeric algorithm.

Dialogue Triumphs

(As Diggle explains why he brought his daughter with him to The Arrow Cave)
Oliver: We can't bring her down there.
John: Why not, Oliver?  Who is she going to tell?!
Oliver: Well, she- (cuts himself off and pauses)  I'm not comfortable with her down there.

(walking along with Cooper, talking to her phone)
Felicity: (to phone) For the last time, I am not interested in buying a fake ID!  I am hanging up now! Bye! (hangs up and sighs) My mom says hi.

Felicity: I am running out of expletives!

Felicity: I'm sorry. I'm sorry that I'm terminally single! I'm sorry I have an actual job! I'm sorry that... I don't dress like a porn star! Which I realize is a complement to you! So I'm so sorry that I am such a disappointment to you!
Donna: I'm not as smart as you, Felicity. Or your father. I know that. Even when you were only six years old, I could barely keep up with you two.  And maybe I wasn't always the mother you wanted, but I was always there.  I stayed and I tried.  He... he left me.  He. Left. Us.  But when I look at you, all I see is what he gave you. There's nothing of me in you!  You know, it's so funny.  I was always so afraid that you were going to leave me too.  And now I finally realize... you already did.

Donna: Hey! You want to wave that gun at me, fine! But don't you dare threaten my daughter!
Cooper: Here I thought you were all nails and hair.
Donna: Try "single mom who has worked 60 hour weeks in six inch heels for tips" in order to raise that genius child you see right there. I may not understand all this cyber whatever, but I know without that gun you wouldn't last ten seconds against my girl.

Oliver: Are you OK?
Felicity: I guess. Old lovers have a way of opening old wounds. Lovers. ..Sounds creepy no matter how you say it.
Oliver: Felicity, I want you to know that whatever experiences you had to go through, I'm glad that you did to shape the person that you are today. And you know how I feel about her.

Laurel: You were right. Something is going on with me. And my father - he - he noticed it as well. He said I should open up to someone. My sister she - she died. Well, she.. she was murdered.
Ted: Did the ever catch the- ?
Laurel: No. And no one knows that she is gone except for me.  And I can't tell anyone. So yes.  Yes, I am angry.
Ted: I can help you with that.  See, before Laurel, you were swinging at your sister's killer. That's a target you're never going to hit  Don't train for that, alright? Train for yourself.  See, now I know how to teach you. (holds up two sets of gloves) So what's it going to be?  Red or Black?
Laurel: Black.  Definitely black.

Dialogue Diasters

Cooper: It's all about what you want to be when you grow up, babe: A hacker, or a hero?


For the second time, Roy makes reference to having trouble sleeping.  The first time was in 303.

We see Felicity's mom, Donna Smoak, for the first time.  Felicity first mentioned her in 221.

Thea makes reference to Ned Foster - the current CCO of Queen Consolidated.  She claims he is the one who helped her claim Malcolm Merlyn's fortune.

The new District Attorney of Starling City is a man.

The Starling City charter gives the District Attorney authority to issue orders to police in times of emergency.  Laurel uses this power to order an ESU team out to stop a potental riot at Starling National Bank.

Felicity's father was some kind of unspecified genius, who Felicity was able to talk with at a level her mom didn't understand at age six.

Felicity's father left her mother, though we don't know how old Felicity was at the time.

Thea was lying about having investors for Verdant in the last episode. She claims to have inherited Malcolm Merlyn's fortune although we have no way of knowing if this is true or if Merlyn is just giving her the money.

Cooper Seldon had his death faked in order to start working for the NSA in secret.

Thea agrees to donate Malcolm's fortune to an earthquake relief charity once Verdant is back up and running. She also asks Ollie to move in with her.

The Fridge Factor

Again, Laurel is depicted as being really bad at her job.  Citing a law that allows the District Attorney to give police officers orders in a crisis situation (Laurel is acting DA during the first Brother Eye attack) Laurel sends a riot squad out to break up a crowd outside a bank.  Diggle describes this action as "fighting a fire with gasoline" and Quentin rips her a new one afterward.

Averted, surprisingly enough, with Felicity, as she is able to disarm and disable Cooper Seldon as he his holding a gun on her.  Apparently she's been getting some self-defense training from somewhere.

The Bottom Line

A decent episode for the first fifty minutes, in which Felicity is finally given a much-needed background.  And then it becomes something special in the final moments, in which the tacked-on subplots with Ollie having trouble rebonding with Thea and Laurel's problems with her dad are worked into the episode's theme about needing to deal with your family, for better or worse, because they are your family.  Funny then that the episode should conclude with a cliff-hanger involving the big mystery of the season and Roy - the cast orphan and the one character with a less defined history than Felicity at this point.  Perhaps Roy will get a similar focus next week?

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