"The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak," gives us a technically perfect superhero origin story. It's so beautiful, so elegant, that I want to enter it in the Superhero Origin Story Olympics.
We open with Felicity Smoak, in her jim-jams, getting ready for her day. Her day gets a jump on her when Ray Palmer shows up. No, not a "real" jump. Yet. He just wants to talk to her about generating power with Queen Consolidated's waste heat and giving it to the city. He's interrupted by the unexpected arrival of Felicity's mom, Donna, who is, as far as I can tell, five years older than her daughter, bubbling over with enthusiasm, in a skin-tight see-through breast-cupping dress, and thrilled to find a billionaire in her daughter's apartment. Ray and Donna exchange pleasantries, and Ray strolls off to show up on some other employee's doorstep being sexy and creepy in equal measure.
A Long Time Ago, in a University Far Away
Here's what you have to understand: this part of the story is kind of a period piece. You know how Batman origin stories are nominally set only 15 years ago, but all the cars in them have that bulbous look and all the men have a certain cut to their suits? That's to give you the flavor of Batman's origin in the 1930s. Same with how Superman's Kansas always seems just a bit like it's from the 1950s, with beat-up trucks and old-fashioned parents. (Don't tell me Superman is also from the 1930s. It's true, but his move to Kansas came later. The original Kent farm was in Rhode Island.)
Anyway, this is officially five years ago, but it's clearly set in the 1990s. (In fact, now that I've seen how the Smoak women age, I could believe that Felicity went to college in the 1990s.) It was a time before goth and grunge had completely separated. You can tell this by looking at Felicity, who spends the entire flashback looking, from the waist up, like she's auditioning for the part of the Goth girl from Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows, and from the waist down like she's putting up fliers for her band at a newly-opened Starbucks. We first see her heavily-lined eyes and jet black hair when she's smooching up a boyfriend and hacking into a bank. The bank hack, as far as Felicity is concerned, is only meant to show they can hack into a bank's system. The boyfriend grabs the laptop, and decides to erase all student debt. Felicity, angry, shuts the hack down, at which point the boyfriend reveals that felonizing in the name of hacktivism was his plan the entire time.
Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch!
A cyber-terrorist named Brother Eye is shutting off lights in Starling City, and threatening to re-set everyone's bank accounts to zero. Oh golly! I wonder who it could be. Felicity, clearly mortified by her mom's behavior, keeps ditching her mom to deal with the situation.
Long Ago and Far Away!
Felicity and her boyfriend are walking on their college campus. Felicity is wearing army-green pants that don't go all the way down to her shoes, and are held up with a thin black belt. Also, she has purple highlights in her hair. Her boyfriend, Cooper, tells her they should be doing more hacktivism, as the virus she created to break into the systems is absolutely untraceable. She tells him it can be traced, just before a large number of men roll up in a van, cuff Cooper, and drag him away.
Donna and Felicity
Donna meets Ollie, batting her eyes and delightedly asking Felicity how many billionaires she knows. You know what? I want this forever. I don't even need Barrowman anymore. I want this show to be called Felicity and Donna, and Felicity can fight cyber crime and talk and hook up with Ray, and Donna can be Black Canary and hook up with Ollie and he can work all his Felicity-issues and his foxy-mommy issues in one fell swoop. (That really works, because the original Black Canary and Green Arrow relationship was Ollie romancing Dinah's mom, an older woman.) Donna gets ditched again, and Ollie asks who could perpetrate the hacks. Felicity confesses to creating the virus, but says only the roommate, Myron, could be using it now. Cooper is "out of the picture." Sure, Arrow. Sure.
Back Down at the Bottom of the Old Well!
Felicity meets Cooper in prison. People, she is wearing purple lipstick and an ankh necklace. I could kiss the screen. He tells her that he "confessed" to creating the virus so she won't get in trouble. I know that Felicity is looking at him through the eyes of love, but that's hardly noble. He used her tool, without her permission, to stupidly commit felonies. All of this is his fault.
The Battle of the Smoaks
It turns out that Myron didn't do it. Felicity reveals that it couldn't be Cooper, because he "hung himself" just before sentencing. First of all, it's hanged himself, and secondly, it's not even that, because he didn't do it. The show isn't even really trying to convince us. It knows we know.
While we're waiting, we, and Ray, witness the epic fight of the Smoaks. It's a good fight, both because they each say some mean things, and because it starts out with each woman being angry and ends with each woman being sad. Felicity starts out being angry that Donna can't accept that she has responsibilities, and ends up crying, saying that Donna never does anything other than pick on her clothes and singleton status. She feels like a constant disappointment. Donna, meanwhile, yells at Felicity for never appreciating that she stayed when Felicity's dad left, and ends up saying that she doesn't see any of herself in Felicity. Felicity seems so entirely like her father that Donna always knew Felicity would leave her, just like he did.
I accept that the two women can't see how alike they are, but — we all do, right? I mean, the demeanor, the style of dress, the make-up. Anyone would be able to spot them as mother and daughter in a crowd of thousands.
Donna reveals that she only came because she got a free ticket to Starling City, Felicity knows something is up, and the two promptly get kidnapped.
What? Cooper? But It Can't Be Him! He's Dead!
Of course it's Cooper. He made a deal with the NSA and they faked his death. Now he's free, and this was his grand plan to get a bunch of armored cars full of cash. He was going to share with Felicity, but when he got out he found out she was a "corporate lapdog." Ugh, what an industrial-strength, lubed-up tool.
Anyway, he wants Felicity to hack the tracking systems on the armored cars, or he'll kill her mom. Felicity does it. He goes out with thugs to shoot the armored car drivers, and that's when the watch Ray gave Donna beeps. Why didn't I mention the watch before? Because I wanted everyone to have the same "Oh yeah," moment that I had! Oh yeah! Ray did give Felicity's mom a watch that's "basically a computer." I remember that! And it comes in handy now! Well done, Arrow! Perfectly placed and timed!
And, when Felicity uses the watch to signal the Arrow team, it sets up the best battle ever seen anywhere, including other planets. Ollie is tap dancing around motion sensitive machine guns! Roy shoots an arrow through a bazooka! And Felicity elbows her former boyfriend in the stomach, grabs his gun, and pistol-whips him!
Oh, Arrow. Ooh la la. Magnifique! C'est si bon! Je suis Americaine! And all the other French praises that I learned in high school!
And In the End
The last two installments of the Felicity Smoak story we see one after another. The flashback shows Felicity's goth-grunge clothes piled in a garbage bag, and her coming out of the bathroom, bespectacled, blonde, and preppy. She's sworn off cyber heroism forever, she thinks!
In the present, Felicity tells her mom, happily, that she did get something from her — her toughness. They go out to enjoy each other's company, and giggle over Ray Palmer. They even end with an classic superhero-style gag. What did Donna think of the watch? It's a real life-saver! Har har har!
What else happened in this episode? Well, it turns out that Thea is financing her lifestyle with Malcolm Merlyn's money. She moved into a "sweet loft," will get her club off the ground, and once she's rich again, she swears she'll donate the leftover money to an "Earthquake Relief Charity Thing." Charity thing. I think we found the modern day, "Let them eat cake." Oh, and Ollie is moving in with her. They sit down to watch the black-and-white movie Possessed on a screen the size of a wall. You know what? When the peasants come to chop off their heads, I will be there with pitchforks and torches. They deserve to get slapped down hard.
Also, Roy is having dreams that he killed Sara. I doubt he did it. And you?