Review by Logan
It’s about time Felicity Smoak got her due.
I mean seriously. She’s the most interesting character on the show, and yet she’s often relegated to either Oliver Queen’s love interest that will never be or the IT whiz that’s necessary for the plot to develop in a somewhat believable manner. She’s been somewhat underutilized…until now.
Arrow’s newest episode focuses a lot on Felicity, employing flashbacks to her college days, and exploring her rather tumultuous relationship with her mother, not to mention bringing a cyberterrorism villain “The Eye” to Starling City. Within the first ten minutes, I was hooked.
With a lot of these shows, it can be difficult to pull off an episode about a side character and still make it interesting. Part of the reason for that is that many show writers get stuck in character development and narration and forget to move along the plot of the show itself (which is kind of, you know, the point to watching the show in the first place). With this episode, they managed to do both, exploring Felicity’s character while moving along the show’s overall plot, especially in the very eventful closing minutes of the episode.
Felicity has an interesting past. Adhering to the typical brilliant IT person cliché, she was a hacker in college. No surprise there, except that she and her boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s roommate, did some slightly illegal stuff (and by slightly, I mean very. Like “FBI got involved” very). She also dressed all goth, which I found very surprising and somewhat interesting, adding to the background of her character.
Her relationship with her mother, however, is the thing that I found most compelling by way of character development. When her mother shows up, she’s not exactly the person that we might have expected her to be. One of the things that has always impressed me about Felicity’s character is how she’s a legitimate love interest and, as was pointed out in her appearance on The Flash, she’s a beautiful young woman as well. But surprisingly, she’s an attractive character without sacrificing purity or innocence. She dresses far more modest than you typically see on big female stars on television (and certainly more modest than Thea). She’s also modest in the sense of humility. Her character really is an all-around good, wholesome person; someone you don’t have to make excuses for.
So then, you’d expect her mother to be the same way. She’s not. In fact, one of the things that Felicity says in a fight with her mother is that she “dresses like a porn star.” A big theme throughout the episode in their relationship is that Felicity isn’t the daughter that her mother wished she was, specifically in relationships. We get the idea that her mother doesn’t approve of her having been single for so long, and thinks she ought to work less and work harder on attracting men (in some ways that Felicity wouldn’t be comfortable with).
The relationship is eventually reconciled after Felicity saves her mother’s life (Oliver may have had something to do with it, but come on, she was the real hero of the story this time around). In that reconciliation, Felicity’s mother makes it clear that she approves of her as her daughter. There are two positive things that were gleaned from this, that are almost opposites but still positives. One is obvious: that family is about love, even when you don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye (which is further explored with Oliver and Thea’s relationship). The second, however, is also powerful: that you don’t have to make the same mistakes that your parents made.
That latter principle can be found all over scripture. Abraham’s father was an idolater. Moses grew up in Egypt, a culture that would have overwhelmingly denied Jehovah as King. And yet these men overcame those obstacles with the help of God. That shows us something that is very powerful: we are not victims of circumstance. We are never victims of circumstance.
So this week’s episode explores a very intriguing and worthwhile theme while advancing the plot. And while we’re talking about advancing the plot—WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH ROY’S DREAM?!?!!?!?!?
There are a couple of things that come to mind. One is that a dream is not necessarily a memory. So he could be struggling with guilt without actually being responsible. But it certainly seems like he is. If he is, I think it’s a fair bet that he didn’t do it of his own accord, especially since he’s been so calm and under control since having the mirakuru removed from his system. That leaves an interesting possibility: a villain with mind control.
Could we be looking at an adaptation of Gorilla Grodd? Or the White Martians? Only time will tell. Those villains would have seemed too far out just a season ago, but with The Flash and Arrow having a shared universe, and the former embracing superpowers, is anything off-limits?