Felicity Smoak's feathers are not easily ruffled. She runs a gargantuan tech company by day and plays vigilante hacker at night, all the while cracking the best zingers in the D.C. universe. (No offense, Cisco.) As Diggle puts it, she's "one of the smartest and most badass women on the planet."
It's refreshing to see a female character that's so intelligent, self-assured, and hilarious. Still, that doesn't mean I don't enjoy seeing her missteps or brief moments of doubt — and there were plenty of both in this excellent episode.
Last week, Felicity and Curtis learned that Ray was still alive and trying to contact her. Felicity, like any good ex-girlfriend, responds by downing energy drinks and trying to trace the message. The sleepless, Ahabian obsession twisted her into a mean girl. She snips at Curtis's "intervention" and snaps at Oliver's attempt to persuade her to nap and shower, a callback to Felicity's similar urging to Ray in "Nanda Parbat".
Just as Oliver convinces her to chill, Felicity's computer-hacking device somehow reveals a live video feed of Ray. (I'll be honest, I can't even pretend to understand the tech in this episode.) Then, Ray reveals a few things of his own: He's been kidnapped, but doesn't know who kidnapped him or where he's being kept. Also, he's been shrunk to the size of a tater tot and is trapped in a small glass box.
Ray-in-a-box has a plan, though, to supersize himself. He needs Felicity to pull up blueprints for a gunlike device that will zap him back to his old self. Oliver wants to help, but Felicity swats him away, repeatedly and with a disdain she rarely shows anyone. For a former assassin, Oliver keeps his cool fairly well. His curiosity seems more piqued than his feelings hurt.
Felicity's irritation with Oliver does not subside when she finds out that he organized a surprise visit from her mother. This leads to a fun sequence in which Felicity and Oliver "Chatty Cathy" Queen argue during a mission and unintentionally air their dirty laundry to all of Team Arrow. This scene works well because it's so rare to see Oliver and Felicity mix their personal and vigilante business. It must be tempting to have more of this now that they're a couple, but I'm glad the show has mostly taken a church-and-state approach to Olicity and Team Arrow.
Once the tiff is over, Team Arrow (including a newly resurrected Sara/Canary!) focuses on the mission at hand, which is to retrieve — er, steal — a missing component of the Ray gun. Felicity can't exactly borrow or buy it because it's made by Kord Industries, the major competitor of Palmer Technologies. This forces Team Arrow to break into Kord Industries and grab the missing piece, but not before Canary gets the Lazarus bloodlust and nearly kills a Kord security guard. While Team Arrow is out on the mission, Felicity watches the Lil' Ray cam and realizes who kidnapped him: It's Damien Darhk!
While the Ray gun is being built and Captain Lance attempts to get information from Darhk on Ray's whereabouts, Oliver suggests that Felicity take some time off and have dinner with him and Mama Smoak. Felicity sees Oliver's offer as an attempt to distract her from the rescue mission. After some effective mediation by Dig, she reluctantly agrees.
At dinner, it doesn't take Mama Smoak too long to figure out that there's tension between the two lovebirds. Felicity's sharp wit, usually the source of her charm and delight, is now a knife, cutting Oliver down enough that he finally confronts her. She admits that she blames herself for Ray's predicament. If she had been in town after his accident, she could have intercepted his message sooner. The conversation isn't about Ray, though. It's really about Felicity's choice to leave behind her work and city to follow a man. She doesn't really see herself as that kind of girl, so she can't make peace with how much of her identity she's lost by dating Oliver.
This scene was terrific. Not only did Emily Bett Rickards turn in a powerful performance, but her character's development was spot-on as well. As much as I was rooting for Olicity to happen at the end of season three, I did cringe when Felicity left her life and job without a moment's notice. To have Felicity question that choice in this episode — or at least acknowledge that it didn't sit well with her worldview — was a satisfying twist. She is such a fun and funny character, it'd be easy for Arrow to keep her as a cartoonish manic-dream-hacker girl. These story lines and episodes keep her character grounded and, if it's even possible, more likable.
Luckily, Arrow doesn't take the easy route too often. A lazier show would have used Ray's return to foster jealousy or spawn a love triangle. Arrow already explored that, and has (thankfully) moved on. Instead, Ray becomes a catalyst for Felicity to question her independence. Fortunately, she can also confide in Mama Smoak. She admits that Oliver is wonderful, but recognizes why that's also part of the problem: "It's too easy to lose myself in him." Mama Smoak suggests that's what love is.
Oliver is not handling Felicity's crisis too well. Dig tries to soothe him with a glass of whiskey and some words of wisdom; he says that Felicity chose him for a reason and reassures him that their relationship isn't doomed. A glimmer of hope flashes in Oliver's eyes.
Too bad there's no time for Mama Smoak–approved "makeup sex" yet. There's still a Lil' Ray to save! Lance tracks Darhk to a highly secured high-rise office building. Arrow arrives only to be knocked out by one of Darhk's Ghosts, who delivers him to Darhk in chains. It seems like things could not be going any worse for Team Arrow, but then it's revealed that the "Ghost" was actually Diggle, and Arrow is only pretending to be chained up. When Darhk approaches to see the man under the hood, Arrow breaks free and attacks him. Darhk still has that magic thing going for him, though. The chains float up to Arrow's neck and choke him, but he narrowly escapes with a magical distraction of his own.
Meanwhile, Felicity and Curtis BASE jump into the building and meet Diggle, who leads them to Ray. Something something technology and — voila! — Ray is restored to his normal self. Even though Team Arrow successfully rescued him, all is not great: Darhk harnesses energy from Ray's super-suit for an unknown purpose, and after Sara snaps the neck of a Ghost, she can’t deal with the reality of her bloodlust and decides to leave town. (That’s got to sting, Laurel.)
With Ray rescued, and the tension dissipated, Oliver and Felicity can finally "clear the air." And by clear the air, I mean "have a hot yin-yang make-out session that leads to Felicity climbing on top of a shirtless Oliver like a surfboard."
Romance is in the air all over Star City! Thea, who rebuffed the advances of Oliver's new campaign manager, Alex, decides she wants more normalcy in her life, so she gives Alex another chance. And even better: As Captain Lance drowns his Sara sorrows in a glass of club soda at a bar, an attractive, friendly blonde woman strikes up a conversation with him. It's Mama Smoak! Lose yourself, Quentin! Lose yourself!
*taps foot* Are we in Russia yet?
- "You're married. He's straight. You're married. He's straight." Curtis is everyone, everywhere. Or at least everyone on my Twitter feed.
- I MUST KNOW WHAT OLIVER WRITES IN HIS JOURNAL AND I MUST KNOW NOW.
- Felicity is officially on Darhk's target list. Yikes.
- Kord Industries is everywhere this season. I'm guessing some connection to Darhk?
- I love how both Diggle and Oliver are fearful of snappy, pissed-off Felicity.
- Oliver's crestfallen face at the sight of his deflated Chicken Cordon Bleu. (These are words I never thought I'd type in an Arrow recap, but here we are.)
- Of course Mama Smoak's casual around-the-house footwear is white, platform-heel flip-flops.
- "Just because I understand science doesn't mean I'm not bored by it." Damien Snarhk strikes again!
- Oliver and Alex. I ship it.
- Because they've had Mama Smoak and Quentin meet-cute, the odds of Quentin being in the grave seem slightly smaller this week. Why would they kill him off? Doesn't Mama Smoak deserve a nice guy?
NUMBER OF SHIRTLESS STEPHEN AMELL SCENES: 1 (Supine has never looked so fine!)
Come find me on Twitter and tell me what you think Oliver writes in his journal.