Arrow: Season 3 Episode 5 "The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak" (REVIEW)
written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
The episode that was originally meant to be titled "Oracle" (teased at San Diego Comic Con by the creators) was instead titled "The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak" come the actual airdate. Why they chose to change it after giving fans the collective nergasm of calling it "Oracle" isn't known... or whether elements of the show were rewritten (like cutting out a cameo by a certain Bird of Prey). But for DC comics fans, you will recognize that the "Secret Origin" part of the title name harkens back to the one shots that acted as unknown tales of what makes the denizens of the DCU who they are.
Going into it, the lies and the secrets continue with Oliver still not confessing to Thea that he's the Arrow... and Thea not confessing to Ollie that she's kept close contact with her biological father, Malcolm Merlyn. The eopisode opens with a fully clothed workout montage with Ollie training Roy, Laurel continuing her training with Ted Grant, and Thea sparring with Malcolm. Much of the episode was focused on Felicity Smoak, especially when her mother Donna (Charlotte Ross) surprises her with an unexpected visit while her boss (and current head of Queen Consolidated) Ray Palmer visits Felicity at her home.
On the flashback side... no Hong Kong this time with the whole of the flashbacks focused on Felicity's time at MIT. She wrote a virus that can bypass the secure firewalls, after her boyfriend attempts to wipe out all student debt, Felicity pulls the plug advising him to be more cautious. Soon after, Felicity's boyfriend is arrested and charged with cyber crimes.
Back to the present, after Ollie visits Thea at her brand spanking new apartment... paid for by the "estate" of Malcolm Merlyn... Ollie expresses his disdain of his sister taking the money of a mass-murderer but then faces down a city wide blackout.
Another DC mainstay makes their appearence this time around, with Brother Eye being somewhat reinvented for the CW show. While in the comics, Brother Eye is a sentient satelite, the Arrow-verse Brother Eye is an extreme hacktivist organization utilizing computer viruses to take down the infrastructure of Starling City. Team Arrow goes into it full force with Felicity tasked with finding a way to beat the virus... that is until she realizes that the virus used is the same virus that she had written all those years ago.
Much of the masked and uniformed members of the cast weren't utilized nearly as much as previous episodes... what with it being a Felicity centric episode. The most disappointing was how under utilizied Colton Haynes as Speedy/Red Arrow/Arsenal/whatever they plan to call him as nothing more that a sidekick ornament. This wouldn't be much fo a problem is Roy was utilized more, but aside from a few firefights... Roy Harper has seen more action before he donned a mask than he does now.
It was refreshing to see more of one of my favorite characters in Felicity... especially after her widely satisfying cameo on The Flash, it was good to see what Felicity was before she became Starling City's most lovable awkward computer nerd. While I generally don't take too well to dramatic departures of comic book staples in TV adaptations, I felt that the way they took the notion of Brother Eye and gave him a more plausible backstory (I mean, how plausible is a sentinent satelite in the Arrow-verse?) rather than try to force the impractical on the viewer... plus, this could set up the series to see Brother Eye's return as a sentient satelite if they can somehow write an arc where Felicity's virus becomes sentient.
Overall, while not the best episode of Arrow, it had alot of heart... and after the onslaught of lies, deception, and the death of one of my favorite characters this season... an episode like this was sorely needed.