Before we get into that jaw-dropping shocking final segment, let’s break down an episode devoted to everyone’s favorite supporting character — Felicity Smoak. We kick off with a look at everyone’s morning activities. Oliver and Roy are dueling with Escrima Sticks — Oliver remarks that Roy seems off, which Roy attributes to trouble sleeping. He’s not having a Mirakuru relapse, is he? Course how could he get it? Laurel is in the boxing ring with Ted and Merlyn and Thea are training with swords. Thea wonders how normal people start their day. Cut to Felicity struggling to finish up her home workout. It’s such a perfect Felicity moment and Emily Bett Rickards is really shining this season.
She gets an unexpected visitor as Ray Palmer arrives with a proposal to give free energy from Queen Consolidated’s reserves. He just needs her help in figuring it out, but before she can respond, Felicity has another guest — her mother, Donna (Charlotte Ross), who flew in to surprise her. Felicity is less than thrilled. I was worried they were just going to make Donna an airy bimbo, but Ross makes her likable — even if it’s very apparent Felicity didn’t get her computer skills from her mother. Ray gives her his prototype super computer watch. Yes, this will come into play later.
Thea invites Oliver to her new loft and reveals that she’s paying for it with Merlyn’s money. Oliver predictably is not happy with this news. Thea reminds him they’re all that’s left of the Queens so they need to learn how to be there for each other even when they disagree.
Off to a flashback. No island or Hong Kong. This week, we look back at a college Felicity (whose goth look seems to be heavily inspired by DC Comics’ character Death from the acclaimed “Sandman” title). Felicity is part of a hacker group along with her boyfriend, Cooper. They’re hacking into a federal database as Cooper wants to tap in to clear student debt, but Felicity is uneasy about their prospects of accomplishing it undetected and cuts off access. Cooper says he wants to be a real hero and Felicity’s super virus is the best way to make his mark. This was one of the rare flashbacks that worked against the current day events as the audience knows what’s happening well ahead of the characters.
Sure enough, a hacker calling himself Brother Eye (another reference to the Batman/OMAC comic storyline first mentioned last week) attacks Starling City and threatens to shut down the city’s financial resources as easily as shutting off the lights.
At Verdant, Oliver and Diggle (with baby Sara) are shocked to meet Donna, but there’s no time to hear embarrassing stories from Felicity’s childhood as they’ve gotta take down Brother Eye! And let Donna watch Sara since Oliver isn’t comfortable with her being in the basement headquarters.
Felicity does a little probing after Brother Eye’s latest threat and realizes it’s her virus program leading Arrow and Arsenal to go after the third member of Felicity’s hacker group. He pleads his innocence and suggests they look into Felicity. Solid plan. Oliver wants to know about Cooper’s whereabouts, but Felicity tells them he killed himself in prison so he’s definitely not an option.
Capt. Lance confronts Laurel once again about whatever secret she’s hiding from him. Lance implores Laurel to talk to him, but she says she can’t tell him. Paul Blackthorne does an excellent job here of quickly showing Lance’s pain after hearing that, but moving past it to encourage Laurel to tell someone as “secrets sometimes hurt more than the truth.”
Ray tries to console Felicity, which has been a recurring theme so far this season (let’s give Ray more to do than serving as Felicity’s overly muscular crying towel!) and Donna comes looking for her upset that Felicity keeps ignoring her. Hey, where’s Lyla? Felicity goes off on Donna for expecting her to drop everything whenever she comes around, but Donna says she has been worried that Felicity would eventually leave her like her father only to realize she’s already gone. Donna may be the first character in the show’s history to make Felicity actually look bad in what was a very strongly-performed scene.
Knowing a thing or two about upsetting family members, Oliver encourages Felicity to make things right with Donna. In the midst of apologizing, Donna reveals she was given a free ticket to come to Starling and armed goons bust in and brings them to Brother Eye’s headquarters. Cooper appears (not looking a day older than his flashback) and says he was working for the NSA as a hacker so they faked his death. After finishing his stint he planned to reconnect with Felicity, but found her working for the evil Queen Consolidated. Now he just wants her help in re-routing security trucks filled with fresh cash coming to Starling.
Felicity alerts Team Arrow to Brother Eye’s base thanks to Donna’s new watch and the gang make short work of the opposition. This segment was a bit weak and a mild letdown after last week’s outstanding archer vs archer vs archer fight. Hackers make for lame villains.
Laurel decides to take her father’s advice and tells Ted that her sister was murdered and she’s been seeking revenge on the person who killed her. He says that’s a losing strategy as she’ll never catch that opponent, but now he knows how to train her to improve herself. And it’s time for a more focused workout. But first, which color: red or black? “Definitely black.” Nice touch.
Thea suggests Oliver move in. That reminds me, where exactly has Oliver been staying all this time? We get an exterior view, which suggests the siblings are being watched and sure enough, Merlyn is observing from his nearby rooftop.
And now paying off a subplot I didn’t think was all that important earlier, Roy is in bed again having trouble sleeping. He’s having a nightmare/recollection that he was the one that launched the three arrows that killed Sara?!? Whoa. Wow. Now that is a cliffhanger. Did Roy really do it? And if so, whose control was he under? Ra’s al Ghul? Merlyn? Or some as of yet unknown villain? Looks like we’re in for a heck of an episode next week.