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Arrow Character Development: Hacker or Hero? We Learn All About Felicity in “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak” 

The title for this episode pretty much says it all. Sure, Oliver had to endure a traumatic, life-altering adventure the last 5 years — surviving a ship wreck, escaping an island, fighting with his good-friend-turned-mirakuru-monster, being forced to kill people in Hong Kong — but that doesn’t mean that the rest of Team Arrow hasn’t had their fair share of drama. And I think it’s about time they get their minute (or 60) in the spotlight. To anyone who reads this blog regularly, it should come as no surprise that I’m a BIG fan of Miss Smoak. She’s cute and witty. She has bouncy blond hair and wears smart-person glasses. She does sit ups in her pjs, can stand up to company CEOs and is pretty much always the smartest person in the room. But as we learn, this hasn’t always been the case and I’m loving the twist.

Photo Credit: Cate Cameron/The CW
Photo Credit: Cate Cameron/The CW

Our first ever Felicity flashback shows a goth Felicity hacking her way through a server at MIT. The scene suggests a whole lot of nefarious activity, but as she later explains to Oliver, even from day one, she imagined this virus as a social good.

Felicity: I was in this, I guess you could call it a group, in college. We were hacktivist, for a better lack of a word. Civil disobedience via the world wide web. I created this, this super virus that could give us root access to an infected server. We could expose government fraud, start virtual sit ins, digitally deface criminals. I guess you could say it was my first attempt at being a hero.

Proof that deep down, Felicity has always been the good-hearted person we know and love. However, unlike our Felicity now, her love interest wasn’t a good-doer but rather a bit of a crazy person, played exceptionally well by Nolan Funk (who was equally malicious during his time on Glee).  Yes, Cooper thinks he is doing good by attempting to wipe out all student loans and in an clever moment of foreshadowing, he even has the nerve to say to Felicity that “Its all about what you want to be when you grow up, baby. A hacker. Or a hero.”

Photo Credit: Cate Cameron/The CW
Photo Credit: Cate Cameron/The CW

Nevertheless, Cooper gets arrested (as Felicity warned he would) and goes to prison where he allegedly hung himself before his trial. And this, my friends, is where our Felicity emerges from behind the dark eye-liner and poorly-dyed hair.

Now back to current day,  Felicity’s genius hacker virus comes back to bite her in the butt and she’s forced to again revisit this question of hacker vs hero when her ex “returns from the dead” with another attempt at equalizing the economic balance. But what I loved so much about this is that now Felicity knows that she doesn’t have to choose. She can be both a hacker and a hero. And sometimes both at the same time. After all, she has to be a hacker and direct the money truck to Cooper’s warehouse in order to protect her mom, played by Charlotte Ross (NYPD Blue, Days of Our Lives). But in doing so, this also allows her to be a hero. She hacks in to the wireless connection via her mom’s smart watch and alerts Team Arrow to their location so they can take down the bad guys. Major hero points.

And speaking of Felicity’s mom, I can’t end this article without discussing their relationship and how it ultimately shaped Felicity.  At first glance, Felicity’s mother make look like Felicity, but in so many other ways, they could not be more different.

Photo Credit: Cate Cameron/The CW
Photo Credit: Cate Cameron/The CW

After Donna points out how she’s hardly seen her daughter during her visit because Felicity is so focused on work, work, work, Felicity shares her own perspective.

Felicity: You don’t understand, it is so much more than work. But all you care about is my love life or how much cleavage I don’t show.

Mom: That is not true.

Felicity: That is completely true. And I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I’m terminally single. I’m sorry that I have an actual job. I’m sorry that I don’t dress like a porn star, which I realize is a complement to you. So I’m so sorry that I am such a disappointment to you.

Mom: I’m not as smart as you, Felicity. Or your father. I know that. Even when you were only 6 years old, I could barely keep up with you two. And maybe I wasn’t always the mother you wanted, but I was always there. I stayed and I tried and he left me. He left us. But when I look at you, all I see is what he gave you. There’s nothing of me, in you. You know, it’s so funny, I was always so afraid that one day, you were gonna leave me too. And now I finally realize, you already did.

Ouch! While it’s hard to disagree with Felicity (after all, who doesn’t feel the pressure of mom’s comments about your hair being in your eyes, your choice in clothing, your love life, etc.), I kind of loved that Donna showed that she’s more than just perfectly-coiffed hair and giggly-flirtation. She’s more like Felicity than Felicity realizes and after surviving a life-threatening scenario, Felicity comes around.

Felicity: You were right

Mom: About what?

Felicity: I haven’t always been appreciative of you. You were always there for me every day and night. So if I haven’t said thank you enough, thank you. But you were wrong too. When you said all you saw in me was dad, there was nothing of you in me. Well, I can’t really explain it but over the past two years, I have been through a lot and I have learned I am a lot tougher than I thought. That, I get from you.

Seriously, such a good episode and so much valuable insight in to Felicity. And as Oliver pointed out, if she hadn’t gone through all of these challenges with both her mom and her hacker-past, she wouldn’t be the person she is today. But that storyline aside, this episode also had a handful of great quotes, which I couldn’t let fall by the wayside. So as a bonus, here are some of my favorites:

Felicity: Okay, okay, before you say anything, just know I never imagined the virus being used for something like this. I mean, sure, I could’ve imagined it, I actually have a very vivid imagination. Like cronuts, I had a vision of them before…


Oliver:  Why is Sarah here?

Diggle: Lyla is on assignment and the nanny called in sick.

Oliver: But, we can’t bring her down there.

Diggle: Why not, Oliver? Who’s she gonna tell?


Felicity: Well, I’m glad you’re still here.

Mom: You are a terrible liar, Felicity. Which may be the only thing we have in common.

Felicity: I have blond hair.

Mom: You dye it.


Mom: Hey, you want to wave that gun at me, fine, but don’t you dare threaten my daughter.

Cooper: And here I thought you were all nails and hair.

Mom: Try single mom, who’s worked 60 hour weeks in 6 inch heels for tips in order to see that genius child you see right there. I maynot understand all that cyber-whatever, but I know that without that gun, you wouldn’t last ten seconds without my girl.


Oliver: Are you okay?

Felicity: I will be. Old lovers have a way of opening old wounds….lovers, it sounds creepy no matter how you say it.

Oliver: {Smirk} Felicity, I want you to know that whatever experiences you had to go through, I’m glad that you did. They shaped the person you are today and you know how I feel about her.


Yes, Oliver, yes, we do. And we feel the exact same way.

Be sure to watch Arrow Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.

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