Here it was, our white whale. I’m going to try to be less literal in my recap to allow for some more insight, so bear with me. Let’s jump right in.
In the beginning, there was a training montage. And it was good.
It ends with Thea questioning “how normal people spend their morning”, which transitions us to the much-talked about abode of Miz Smoak. Felicity’s at home getting her Jane Fonda on when the doorbell rings. Proving again that his character’s fatal flaw oscillates between lack of boundaries and intense ego, it’s Ray, here to deliver a DC comics classic line (see 1:14).
He had an idea that merits popping up at your employee’s house without calling first despite the fact that he not only has a phone on him, but also a computer-watch and limitless resources. Felicity is very gracious about it, which is to say that she doesn’t propel him back in time with the power of her ire. I would have. He thinking about giving away the excess energy created by QC to the masses, and this is something that couldn’t wait for Felicity to have coffee, or even get dressed.
He’s expounding on his hippie view on energy and sharing his idea-napkin when we are treated to the blessed arrival of Mama Smoak, a woo girl who shares her daughter’s love of bright lipstick but not her technical know-how, as she never hit send on the text meant to advise her imminent arrival for a visit.
Some quick double-takes on Ray’s part, who makes it very obvious that he is mentally aging Felicity forward 20 years and not unhappy with the mental image. While Felicity self-immolates in shame, they have a cute exchange which culminates in Ray gifting Donna Smoak with his super-cool computer-watch and Felicity sinking to the floor in mortification.
***FELICITYBACK ALERT*** Gothlicity is in her college dorm, alphabet-souping us with her tech wizardry and avoiding being eaten by a grue.
Her boyfriend Cooper and she are making out not under covers, to the annoyance of the Cooper’s roommate, when they receive an alert that her not-super-virus is DOING THE THING.
She has hacked into the Department of Education’s Student Loan server, and Cooper takes this opportunity to take over the laptop and start deleting student loan accounts.
Felicity and the roommate both warn him that that is a jailable offense but he keeps going until Felicity literally pulls the plug on the interwebz and stops him. Turns out Cooper wants to use their power for “hacktivism.” Even if it is a crime, he poses the problem to his girl in terms of being a hacker, or in his words, “a hero.” ***END FB***
Oliver is walking into a spacious apartment that looks more like an empty office at QC than living space. This is Thea’s new apartment, which she can afford because she is the sole beneficiary of Malcolm Merlyn’s estate. Oliver, unhappy at this, guesses that this is also the source of her Verdant funds, and tells her that it is “blood money.”
When Thea counters that Malcolm wouldn’t hurt her because she is his daughter, Oliver says that he is “responsible for the death of 503 innocent people, one of which was [her] brother.” Thea, annoyed, holds up a metaphorical hand which she figuratively asks him to speak to and says that even if he is her brother, he can’t tell her how to live. She is her own person, she tells him, and that person demands that he return with popcorn or not at all.
As she walks upstairs and away from him, Oliver is drawn to her windows by a sudden series of explosions, followed by a blackout that rolls over the city as he watches.
Quick cuts to the police precinct, Felicity’s apartment, and the city streets, where one of the booms makes baby Sara cry and I am totally down with killing the culprit, damn the Season 2 vow.
Thea rushes out to see what is going on, but Oliver has already left to save people being run over by cars like the hero he is. On his way home, he is distracted by a shop window whose TVs all turn on at the same time and start communicating in a computer-generated voice and giving its really boring self-righteous manifesto, which includes all the bad things that they’ll cause to happen to their enemies.
The voice calls itself “Brother Eye”, speaks in plural and announces that “judgement has been rendered against this city” (you could almost say someone failed) and telling the citizens that this is the beginning of a sentence that they will serve “on their knees.” Who wouldn’t want this, citizens? When the voice announces “Let there be light”, the street lamps come back on, and Oliver hurries away.
At Verdant, Felicity walks in with Donna in tow. She is impressed by the nightclub, but worried that her dress isn’t up to club standards. I would pay good money to see Mama Smoak dressed to kill. Felicity wants her to stay put upstairs, and tells her mother that her “friend owns the place” and that he just needs help with turning the power back on. This is confusing because the power is already on, and Oliver doesn’t own Verdant (does he?). In any case it doesn’t matter because the man himself saunters in and Charlotte Ross’s face looks just like Eddie Arkadian’s when Bruce Leroy got the glow. Bless.
Us too, Momma. Us too. Even though Felicity is mortified and denies that Oliver is the friend who she came to help, she introduces him to her mother and homeboy is THRILLED.
Oliver in turn introduces Diggle, who walks in with the manliest baby carrier and makes meaningful eye contact with Felicity before shaking her mother’s hand.
Oliver tells Donna it was nice to “finally” meet her before racing after Diggle and asking why he brought the baby. Turns out Lyla is on a work trip and his nanny called out. When Oliver stutters that he isn’t comfortable with her there, Diggle deadpans “Who’s she gonna tell, Oliver?” Felicity, who overhears this, tells Diggle and Oliver that her mother “loves babies”. You can totally tell, because of her expression when she asks Diggle about his daughter:
Downstairs, Felicity tells Oliver, Diggle and Roy that Brother Eye got access to the city by uploading a virus, and attempts to trace its source, but it deleted itself as soon as it finished its task. Oliver wants to find them before there’s a next time, which probably won’t happen because that would make for a pretty boring episode.
Speaking of boring, Laurel is back in her suit and turning up at the precinct, since she received the emergency services alert. It turns out the DA is out of town, so she is Acting District Attorney and DEAR GOD NO. Goddamnit, DC, take a lesson from Marvel here.
Captain Lance takes a moment to call Felicity to ask if she is “on the Brother Eye thing” because “no one knows computers better than you.” She assures him that she is.
***FELICITYBACK ALERT*** Gothlicity is walking down the street talking her mother out of trying to get her a fake I.D. and then griping at Cooper for still being mad at her for pulling the plug on him. He wants her to think about how many debts he could have erased, but she wants him to consider how many he could have gone to prison for. He tells her to relax because [insert techy jargon that means they were untraceable here], but Felicity is all “Dude, no, [insert techy jargon that means there were digital arrows pointing at you so sorry here].” He tells her she is “hot when she’s being a chicken” and they make out.
This is, of course, a totally appropriate response and it’s a bummer when it’s broken up by those douches at the FBI as they arrest him for being young, in love, and oh yeah, a criminal. Poor Felicity. I hope that’s waterproof eyeliner. ***END FB***
In the Arrow cave, the gang listens to Brother Eye pontificate about their next strike. It turns out electric power isn’t the only kind they’re interested in striking at. The voice threatens to turn the banks off, and drain all accounts to an even zero. Oliver, who’s probably struggling to maintain his minimum balance, urges Felicity to trace the signal. She tells him she has set up “breadcrumbs”, which she hopes she can follow.
Back at the police precinct, Laurel abuses her temp position and the city charter to send a riot squad to the Starling National Bank. Even the officer taking her order is like “SORRY WHA?” but she lowers her pitch a half-step and that apparently does the trick because he scurries away to do as he’s told.
In the cave, Oliver and Diggle see the order come in and Diggle comments that sending a Riot Squad to the bank is like “fighting a fire with gasoline.” Lyla is a lucky lady. Oliver tells Roy to suit up, and they head out to help with the crowd control, because when you have a mob threatening to riot, the solution that makes the most sense is to have two masked dudes throw projectiles at the problem.
At the bank, SCPD is holding up their shields while batting ineffectually at the mob like a cat trying to shake off socks. Roy and Oliver shoot tear gas arrows into planters in front of the bank and the crowd disperses somewhat, but Oliver tells Felicity that they can’t calm the entire city.
Felicity tells him it’s “a mile past complex” and that she is looking through it, but ten starts to panic, repeating “No, no, no..” When Oliver asks her what’s wrong, she confesses that she can’t stop the virus, and she knows because it’s one of hers, written five years ago.
When Oliver and Roy come back in, Felicity stops them before they speak by telling them she never imagined that the virus could be used as it was. She then backtracks and says that of course she could have imagined it, like she did cronuts, but Oliver walks over and looks into her eyes, asking her to relax and take a breath, and start at the beginning. He may even touch her, but the camera crops it out and it is hard to tell.
Felicity tells him that she was part of a “hacktivist” group in college, and that they practiced “civil disobedience via the Worldwide Web.” She created the super-virus to expose government fraud, stage virtual sit-ins and “digitally deface criminals.” She quietly admits that it could be thought of as her first attempt at “being a hero.” Oliver wants to know why she didn’t tell him about any of this, but she righteously reminds him that his team doesn’t even know “a fraction” of what happened to him the five years he was away.
Oliver treats this like he does all truth bombs:ignores it and moves on. He asks Felicity who else had access to the program, and she names Cooper’s roommate and fellow hacktivist: Myron Forest. Oliver asks about her boyfriend, but she says that he was “out of the picture”, and that while he couldn’t have done this, Myron had “more of an edge.” She gives Oliver his address, and tells him to take the alleyway, because Thea has shown up at the club.
***FELICITYBACK ALERT*** Neil Gaiman’s version of Felicity shows up at the Pen to visit her jailbird lover. She tells Cooper that she is going to confess to writing the supervirus, but Cooper already told them he did it. I spend most of this clip looking at Felicity’s makeup.
Felicity doesn’t want him to take the rap for something she did, but he tells her that “it’s better this way” and that there is no reason for both of them to be in prison when he wiped out the loans. He tells her he loves her, and she responds immediately in kind as they place their palms against the glass that separates them.
I think this scene is supposed to make me feel bad for Cooper, but I’m pretty all right with how things turned out. ***END FB***
At the police station, Quentin catches up to his daughter and serves her a big portion of WTF. He tells her that she escalated the situation at the bank, and that she did it behind his back. He wants to know what got into her, because she is “angry and reckless” and he wants to know if she fell off the wagon.
She tells him she hasn’t, but when he points out that she is “in ten different kinds of pain” and that he was hoping she would talk to him about it, she says she can’t talk to him. He is hurt, but tells her that if not him, then somebody, because sometimes “secrets hurt more than the truth.” This poor man. Please God just pump him full of pills, have a doctor on standby and TELL HIM..
At Verdant, Thea is trying to get into the basement through a locked door, when Oliver shows up and tells her the generator keeps it locked because the entire lower level is flooded. Thea wants to know what he is doing there, and he diverts her by telling her that he is worried about her on account of the hackers. He asks her if he still gets to worry, and she answers that he can even be judgmental if he wants, but that “family is precious, and it’s love, in spite of everything, that makes it precious.”
She reminds him that the Queen family is down to the two of them. He asks her then that between the two of them, she not take Merlyn’s money.
Thea, exasperated, tells him that she wants to meet him halfway, but that the rest is up to him, and leaves.
At Myron Forest’s office, he has the standard Arrow disclaimer recited to him before his computer monitors are turned into shish-kebabs, but Myron denies being behind the cyber-attacks, instead asking if they have looked into Felicity Smoak.
Oliver says she is innocent, and Myron says it could be someone else, as he showed the code to other people in the five years since their graduation, not thinking it was a big deal.
Upon their return to the cave, Felicity is at her wit’s end. she hacked Myron’s emails and texts and nothing. Oliver brings Cooper up again, and Felicity repeats that she told him “he didn’t do it.” Oliver is visibly annoyed, and asks if it’s because he’s her ex-boyfriend, to which Felicity confesses that no, and tells him that Cooper was arrested their senior year of college and went to prison.
Oliver tells her he could have gotten out, and exasperated, asks her how she knows when she denies it. “Because he’s dead,” she says. “He hung himself shortly before sentencing.” In case you are wondering, this is what Oliver looks like when he is GODDAMNED MORTIFIED AND WISHING HE HAD A TARDIS SO HE COULD TRAVEL BACK 5 MINUTES.
Oliver reels, clearly alarmed to have upset her, but when he says her name, she bolts from the room and says she needs to be alone.
Apparently she walks all the way across town, because in the next scene she is in her office at Queen Consolidated when Ray walks in, mumbling about having lost his bid to rebrand “Star City”. When he notices she is upset, he tells her that he is looking for a partner to drink with, and she looks up to the task.
Felicity apologizes and tells him that with her mother, she didn’t have any other place to go. Ray asks if she is all right, and Felicity asks him if, as an inventor, he ever created something he thought was unimportant that turned out otherwise? Ray says that those are “the best inventions” and Felicity counters, “Not always.” He asks her to talk, but they are interrupted by Donna, who has tracked her daughter to her office and is tired of being asked to wait.
Felicity asks Ray to leave, and rounds on her mother, saying sarcastically that that “wasn’t the least bit mortifying.” Donna replies in kind, apologizing for being reduced to “stalking” her own daughter, and the gloves are off. Felicity is upset that she has to drop everything and reminds her mother that she has responsibilities. What follows is the kind of blowup you can only have with someone whose love you are 100% sure of. Felicity feels like a disappointment to her mother because she is single, doesn’t show enough cleavage or “dress like a porn star”.
Donna, who was left by her husband, feels isolated from and left behind by her genius daughter. It’s a heartbreaking scene, and the quiet sadness of Donna’s parting line to her daughter is a beautiful contrast to Felicity’s uncharacteristic hysteria.
Felicity returns to the Arrow Cave determined to work her way into one of her program’s access nodes, but then immediately laments that she protected all 3407 of them with firewalls and that if she had “two less IQ points” they wouldn’t be in this mess.
Oliver notices she is not okay and asks about her mother. Roy and Diggle leave them alone as Felicity answers that she is probably wishing she had a different daughter, and that it’s a long story.
Oliver tells her that her “head’s not in the game” (get a new saying, Oliver) and urges her to take an hour and go talk to her mother while her tracer hack runs. Felicity says she has nothing to say, and he tells her what Thea told him about family being precious, and that it was “love in spite of everything” that made it so. “Go,” he whispers to her, and she does.
When she finds her mother packing, she settles down to talk. She tells her mother that they will always be different, and Donna interrupts, taking the blame and saying she just got excited when she won a free flight. Felicity asks her about it, and when Donna says it was an email with a “free, first-class round-trip flight to Starling”, Felicity realizes that her mother’s visit was not a coincidence: someone wanted her there. At that moment, masked men burst into the apartment and push both women to the ground, pulling hoods over their heads.
When the hoods are lifted, both Felicity and Donna are tied to chairs in a warehouse, crying with fright and relief, and Felicity’s hair is a solid 8. There is a bank of computers directly in front of them, and as a door opens, a figure enters and says Felicity’s name in the Brother Eye computerized voice.
She asks who it is, and as he steps into the light, we see it is Cooper. “I thought you never forget your first love.” UGH YOU ARE GROSS. “You died,” Felicity says numbly, but it turns out Cooper let her think he was dead because the NSA offered him an espionage deal in exchange for his freedom and for letting the world think he was dead.
Felicity tells him that she was “devastated” by his death, and that she loved him. He loved her, too, and he was going to find her to include her in his plans, but he was disappointed by the fact that she became a “corporate lapdog.” Felicity answers that if he though she was capable of this, he never knew her.
Cooper tells her that years with the NSA taught him how the world works, and that is un-fixable. He tells her that the bank cyber-attack means the Treasury will send the mayor an influx of cash via armored car, and that if she hacks the GPS it uses to navigate to redirect the trucks to him, he won’t shoot the “motivation” he flew in: Donna.
in the Arrow Cave, Oliver worries that Felicity has been MIA for over an hour and that she isn’t answering her phone.
He takes Diggle up on his offer to have the ARGUS agent that picked Sara up go check on the apartment. He tries calling her again, telling Roy that she is “never more than five feet away from her phone” and that something is wrong.
At the warehouse, Cooper watches Felicity’s phone ring and crushes it under his shoe, gesturing for her to sit at the computers. He warns her that the system cannot connect to anything besides the Treasury’s IP, so she can’t contact the police. Donna tries to take the opportunity to tell her daughter that she only ever wanted her happiness. Cooper wants to cut her short, but he himself is cut short by Felicity, who tells him the armored car will be at his door in five minutes. He zipties her to the desk and walks away, but not before reminding her that he’ll still shoot her, even if they used to bang.
When Felicity hears a beeping noise. It’s the watch that Ray gave Donna, and as a function of being a desktop replacement, it has WiFi.
Felicity uses the signal to connect to the internet while Cooper is directing the shipment, so when he comes back she tells him he doesn’t have to kill them because she did what he wanted. He disagrees, and Donna interrupts him to give him a piece of her mind, because she didn’t destroy her arches working time and a half to raise a genius for him to undo her hard work with his peen replacement of a weapon.
Cooper is understandably annoyed by this slight because let’s face it, Cooper has an undeservedly high opinion of himself and goes to shoot Felicity when Oliver, dressed as the Arrow, shows up and tells him to put the gun down. Cooper compliments Felicity on her skill and then goes fishing for compliments of his own when he points out his motion-activated guns, mounted above them and pointed at Oliver. What he hasn’t counted on, however, is that Oliver isn’t your common target.
Outside, the armored truck gets a pretty sucky reception, and Diggle and Roy try to minimize the damage even though I think both drivers are already dead. Inside, Oliver is climbing scaffolding and disabling the guns (HOW is it that no one on the ground is shot, I’ll never know). His success and own imminent failure annoy Cooper so much that he tells Felicity it’s all her fault, and she has the snappiest comeback imaginable: basic defense SING and pistol-whipping to the face. Mama Smoak’s face is amazing.
Even Oliver is probably at a solid half-chub. Girlfriend is BADASS. Felicity frees Donna and they hug, crying it out as Oliver and Felicity make eye contact in the universal unspoken language for “All right, then, that was hot and I am mostly unnecessary here, I’ll be in my bunk.”
Back at the Arrow cave, Oliver is dressing his doll when Felicity tells him that he was right to keep pressing on Cooper, who was “not as dead as [she] thought.” Oliver has some experience with this, he tells her, so he doesn’t judge.
Oliver asks if she is okay, and she comments that “old lovers have a way of opening old wounds”. She then gets caught up in the inherent creepiness of the word “lovers” when used other than outside Manolo Blahnik’s, and Oliver bookends the ep by smiling at a Smoak.
He tells her that whatever experiences she had to go through, he’s glad that she did, because they made her into the person she is now, and that she knows “how I feel about her.”
Felicity then tells him that this isn’t the best time for them to discuss his feelings because nothing is changed, that his is about her not him, Oliver apologizes for unfairly tossing her the I Love You hot potato when he has no intention of catching and they have a very mature discussion about their feelings. HAHAHHA NO. Nothing in this paragraph is true. Felicity changes the subject and pretends nothing happened, and Oliver adds “discerning the right time/way to talk to Felicity about feelings” to the laundry list of things he isn’t good at (shooting things and working out are not on this list).
Felicity tells him she needs to head out, and in a masterful final twist of the dagger, tells him that the was right, “We have to love our families. No matter what.” Get it, Oliver? She has to love her family. She doesn’t have to love you. She is actually choosing not to love you no matter what, because down that road lies madness and you should consider maybe a bit more showing and a bit less telling.
***FELICITYBACK ALERT*** Back at MIT, Myron walks into his dorm room to find a black garbage bag on the bed and a godamned superhero coming out of his bedroom. Felicity, freshly dyed and pressed emerges in her new persona and answers his bemused “What happened to you?” with a calm “This is me, now.”
Back at the gym, Laurel decides to take her father’s advice and talk to someone, and that someone is Ted Grant. She tells him that he’s right, she is angry, and it’s because her sister is dead, and no one but her knows she was murdered (technically not true, but let’s go with it).
Ted says he can help her train, but for herself, not for her sister’s killer, who is a target “she will never hit.” He smiles and says now he knows how to teach her, and gives her a choice of workout gear, red or black. Laurel, who has gone black, predictably does not go back and we are ON. Much as the character can annoy me, I’m glad to see her connecting in a real way with someone outside the Arrow Cave.
At Thea’s new apartment, Oliver shows up with an apology and a bag of popcorn that is almost the size of his sister. “I missed you, Speedy,” he tells her, and they hug.
Thea tells him they shouldn’t miss each other any more, and that it was easier to be all up in each other’s business when they lived in the same place. She tells Oliver that she has enough room for him to move in with her, and that once the club starts turning a profit, she will donate the rest of Malcolm’s money to earthquake relief. “I can live with that,” he says, and it warms my heart that this relationship, at least for the time being, is getting the attention it deserves. They settle down on the floor to watch TV (Joan Crawford’s Possession) like children have done for generations, and it’s heartwarming except for the psycho spying on them from a roof nearby and the fact that they are watching a movie about a highly dysfunctional relationship.
Malcolm finally has a relationship with his daughter, it’s true, but it’s not entirely clear that he is comfortable not being the only important man in her life.
Back at QC, Donna stops by Felicity’s office with her cute Mondrian roll-along to say goodbye to her daughter before her flight leaves later that evening. As she hugs her mother goodbye, Felicity gets what so many of us adult children do at some point from a decent parent: the appreciation for what they did right, as opposed to what they may not have done right. She thanks her for being there day and night, and also tells her that she was wrong to say that there wasn’t any of Donna in her.
She tells her mom that she has been through a lot in the past two years, and that she has learned that she is tougher than she thinks. “That,” she tells her mother, “I get from you.” Donna, touched, holds her face in the same gesture Felicity used for Oliver back in 301 and that Oliver used on her later that same ep and damn it now I’m crying.
Oh good, here comes Ray to suck all emotion out of me and enable Felicity to blatantly lie about feeling sick so she can spend the day with her mom.
The Smoaks walk out arm in arm while Ray talks to the computers in his head.
That night, Roy dreams of a deep voice, Sara’s death, and of himself, in his red hood, throwing the three arrows into her body. He wakes up in a cold sweat, breathing hard and terrified.
Thanks for reading through to the end! For more Arrow fun, follow me here or on Twitter @conniebv.