Nora Dominick ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Arrow finally gave fans the episode they have been waiting two seasons for. Since introducing Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) back in season 1, she’s grown quickly from a recurring character to a full-blown member of Team Arrow. “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak” finally shed some light on our favorite cyber-geek’s backstory.
Despite being a new character that isn’t even in the comics, fans have been sitting on the edge of their seats waiting to know more about Felicity Smoak. Throughout this episode, viewers saw glimpses of Felicity’s past at MIT five years ago. In these sequences it is revealed that she was part of a group of students who hacked into government databases. Her boyfriend, Cooper (Nolan Gerard Funk), was also part of this group. It is revealed that Cooper was imprisoned for what he did in the group, however in every superhero universe, the bad guys never stay locked up forever. Cooper is revealed to be the hacker who is currently setting a dangerous super virus on Starling City all so he could get to Felicity. In a truly remarkable acting performance, Funk becomes the perfect foil to Felicity’s character, showing that she could have chosen a life of evil. In an empowering scene, Felicity saves herself from Cooper’s clutches. This finally shows the main female character standing on her own two feet, even if Oliver is behind her with an arrow at the ready. Cooper is knocked unconscious by Felicity, however viewers never actually see his fate. Will Cooper be a recurring villain? Only time will tell.
Emily Bett Rickards has now become a full-blown TV actress. She has artfully mastered the technique of subtly pulling on viewers’ heartstrings with every line she delivers. Two scenes in this episode showed viewers just how amazing Rickards can be. The first scene comes when Felicity breaks down to Oliver (Stephen Amell) after trying to stop the super virus. The tears streaming down her face as Oliver simply asks why he doesn’t know about her past says it all. Felicity has gone through things even he isn’t privy too. The second amazing scene came when Felicity and her mother, Donna Smoak (Charlotte Ross) confront each other. Felicity and Donna break down and exchange words they have been holding onto for years. Fans also get the first conversation about Felicity’s estranged father. Donna discusses the heartbreak she felt when he left both of them. One of the most heart-wrenching lines of this confrontation comes from Donna when she says, “I was afraid one day you were going to leave me too [like your father]. And now I finally realized you did.” Rickard has added another sorrowful element to Felicity’s backstory and it is flawless.
Arrow fans were promised by executive producer Marc Guggenheim last week via his Twitter account, that this episode would be packed full of Oliver and Felicity moments, and boy was he right. Through relatively short scenes with each other, Oliver and Felicity’s earth shattering chemistry combined into one perfect scene at the end. Oliver says to Felicity that her past tragic events “shaped the person you are today. And you know how I feel about her.” Will this lead to even more ‘Olicity’ moments in future episodes? One would surely hope so.
Besides Emily Bett Rickards delivering a stellar performance in this episode, the other actress who deserves major praise is Charlotte Ross. For only being introduced as Donna Smoak in this episode, she sure did deliver. Her scenes with Felicity were nothing short of marvelous. Rickards and Ross played off of each other flawlessly. Their mother-daughter relationship was spectacular and allowed viewers to see just where Felicity Smoak comes from. All viewers can hope for is that Mama Smoak makes another trip to Starling City soon.
Season two of Arrow was an entire notch above season one. With movie-like fight scenes and actors finally embodying their characters, it was hard to imagine that season three could get much better. With this episode, season two looks like a walk in the park. The heat has been turned up on Arrow this season and with this only being the fifth episode, fans are in for a wild, action-packed rollercoaster of a season.
Arrow airs on Wednesdays at 8/9c on the CW.
Overall Episode Grade: A