Arrow TV Reviews

TV Review: Arrow, “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak” (S3,EP5) – The Good & Very, Very Bad

It all started off so promising, this “Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak.” It opened with a beautifully conceived overhead shot linking together separate early morning training sessions between Roy and Oliver in the Arrow cave, Laurel and Wildcat in the gym, and Thea and Malcolm in, I dunno, their den of evil. We quickly established our current pairs of heroes and quasi-villains, showed them behaving exactly how normal people don’t, before cutting on Thea’s line (“What do normal people do in the morning?”) to an adorable moment of Felicity struggling to pull off 5 sit-ups along with her exercise tape. Holy crap, they’d actually just dropped us into Felicity’s apartment for the first time! Sure, I took one look at Emily Bett Rickards physique and second-guessed whether or not she really struggles to pull off 5 sit-ups (maybe she’s just naturally that fit), and, sure, her apartment was far more colorful than I had imagined with very few of the standard, Big Bang Theory-esque nerd signifies you might have expected. But, hey, this was actually a genuinely funny moment, a nice bit of comedic juxtaposition in a show which has been looking especially grim this year in comparison to its easier-on-the-eyes spin-off, The Flash.

That’s the last time I remember enjoying “Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak” without reservation. That’s not to say the rest of the episode lacked even a single moment of entertainment. It just means that the bad greatly outweighed the good from that point forward, and in my own viewing experience I was keenly aware of that dynamic.

Secret OriginThe Good –

One reader commented last week that we learned nearly as much about Felicity in her one Flash episode as we have in 2 full seasons of Arrow. They weren’t wrong. So, Felicity was long overdue for a showcase episode, even if it risked eliminating some of the tantalizing mystery of her or robbing her of that every-woman, audience surrogate status she initially occupied.

The Bad –

Felicity was a hacktivisit in college who wore a crappy black wig (okay, Felicity wasn’t wearing that wig; Emily Bett Rickards was) and dressed like someone who wanted to replicate Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’s Lisbeth Salander on a CW budget? Really, that’s her big background, a poorly conceived and executed attempt on the show’s part to somehow tie this all into real life events, Felicity basically being a part of Anonymous and her boyfriend a pathetic Bond-villain version of Edward Snowden?

Why They Did It –

There has to be some reason why these people have converged on Oliver’s cause. Diggle is an ex-soldier forever attempting to make up for his brother’s death, Roy is a street kid who’s life had no purpose until the Arrow came around, and Felicity is a girl with daddy issues who wanted her surrogate father figure, Walter, rescued. Why did she stay beyond that, though? That’s what “Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak” tried to answer, roughly drawing a parallel between college Felicity and season 1 Oliver as people with heroic ideals who instead became noble failures. We’re supposed to see that she briefly flirted with using her hacking for good, and it ended so poorly it took Oliver coming along down the road to inspire her to try again in a far more focused manner. However, to go along with it you had to not laugh at Felicity’s goth phase (it’s all so very TV’s version of a female hacker cliche), and you had to completely buy that her boyfriend’s imprisonment would really inspire her to so radically alter herself. That last part failed to work for me, though. Felicity emerging from her dorm room bathroom as the Felicity we knew when she showed up on Arrow and not the goth girl we’d seen to that point in the flashbacks felt like the show trying to tie too neat a bow on something as opposed to the believable end of an emotional arc.

The Good –

Felicity and Oliver essentially switched roles this week, with the central conflict emerging from Felicity’s past and Oliver mostly acting as a passive cheerleader, ultimately steering Felicity in the right moral direction much as Felicity just did for Barry Allen in her Flash episode. The flashbacks gave us our first real look at a sexually active Felicity (look at her, making out with her boyfriend in public), and the conclusion featured her saving herself, physically subduing the bad guy while Oliver simply watched, likely relieved he no longer had to ponder violating his pesky moral code. Remember that when Felicity was held at gunpoint by The Count last season she couldn’t defend herself whereas here she could. That’s progress.

The Bad –

That boyfriend’s name (Cooper Sheldon) was a silly inversion of Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper. More importantly, there was no real mystery as to who’s behind everything, despite the episode’s efforts to throw us off the trail. Once Felicity’s ex-boyfriend did make his bad guy reveal (btw, he’s a new version of a comic book villain known as Brother Eye), his back story was just too ridiculous. The NSA comes off as some kind of criminal factory, and what, they just let him go after a couple of years? His sudden hatred for Felicity also seemed completely out of proportion, painting too simplistic a “she’s a corporate sell-out!” for the girl he took the proverbial bullet for in prison. If the idea is that he actually resents and blames Felicity for his prison term and soul-crushing job with the NSA that was not communicated effectively. Plus, Felicity’s use of WiFi via her mom’s convenient smart watch as prelude to Oliver easily neutralizing some truly ineffective motion-detecting machine guns was a pile of narrative shortcuts on top of some laughably bad action.

Secret Origin2The Good –

Glee’s Charlotte Ross gives it her all as Felicity’s mom Donna, and she wasn’t quite the slutty mom she could have been. It would have been so easy to have her brazenly flirt with Ray and Oliver. There was a considerable amount of exposition to be parsed from her dialogue with Felicity, but Ross and Rickards did a good job of coming off as a mother and daughter with a long history of in-fighting. Plus, her realization that Felicity knew not one but two billionaires was genuinely funny, and her entire scene meeting Oliver and Diggle was oddly delightful.

The Bad –

Why did it take so long for Felicity’s mom to mention the mystery e-mail which gave her the free ticket to Starling City? Also, didn’t it seem kind of like they lost track of who exactly was taking care of Sara when? Actually, it was supposed to be funny but came off as just odd that Oliver wouldn’t allow a baby in the Arrow Cave in the first place, but after that point when Felicity’s mom confronted her at Queen Consolidated I kept wondering, “Wait, where’s Sara?” Plus, as much as Rickards and Ross acted their asses off weren’t those emotional speeches they shared fairly cheesy?

Laurel, Not a Good District Attorney | They did so try to make this more than just the Felicity hour, but months from now you’re not likely to remember that this is the episode where Oliver and Thea decided to move in together and Laurel finally told Wildcat the true reason she wants to train. In fact, the more you can do to actively forget anything about the following Laurel story points the better: a) Somehow having no idea she was the acting district attorney in the event of the D.A.’s absence; b) Sending in a riot squad without even trying to contact her dad, the Captain of the police; c) Causing Oliver and Roy to show up and solve everything with trick arrows which emit tear gas. The best you can say about any of that is that it was mercifully short. Of course, if they didn’t have any of that you could criticize the episode for failing to illustrate the effect Brother Eye was having on the town, but, eh, they could have done a lot better than this. It was also nice to again seeing Paul Blackthorne being the patient, loving father, but wasn’t there a huge conflict of interest there for Captain Lance? Didn’t Laurel the acting D.A. just royally screw up, not just Laurel the grieving daughter?

Secret Origin3Look At Those Abs, Thea – First of all, how has it been this long before Thea finally noticed and tried to open the door that leads to the Arrow Cave? That was an incredibly fun scene to have, although was she really buying Oliver’s excuse? Otherwise, it was interesting seeing Thea stand up to Oliver as well as superficially impressive to yet again see Willa Holland seriously rocking another belly shirt. Oliver tends to try to exert his will on others, and that Thea wasn’t going to hear it this time was cool. This was also another case where if you forget anything about prior episodes what happened made sense and was maybe effective, Oliver logically arguing any money she received from Malcolm was blood money. However, it’s a bit much seeing Oliver throw out stats about the number of people Malcolm’s killed when just last week he told the League of Assassins that Malcolm was under his protection. The intent was clearly to connect Thea/Oliver’s conflict to Felicity/Donna’s, and while I respect the effort I don’t know that it landed as much as they thought. Honestly, everything outside of Felicity, her mom, and the flashbacks just seemed to exist in that “I watched it, I’ll soon forget it” territory this week.

So much about this episode just seemed off, as if challenging you not to laugh at it. Here’s a big, spooky Eye thing, but don’t laugh when you realize it looks just like the Eye of Sauron. Here’s the big, spooky Eye thing addressing a crowded city street, but don’t laugh when you realize that as soon as it’s message is over everyone on the street other than Oliver seems to go right back to their normal business. Isn’t it cute of Oliver to tell Thea he showed up at Verdant to look after her since there was just a city-wide blackout, but don’t question why she doesn’t ask him where the hell he went to when that city-wide blackout first started, leaving her completely alone in her ridiculously spacious loft apartment. Isn’t it sweet of Oliver to counsel Felicity to see to her mother before worrying about the virus, but don’t laugh when we repeatedly cut back to show Oliver, Roy, and Diggle standing around Felicity’s computer, possibly having been standing there in silence for hours, examining Felicity’s computer screen like caveman first discovering fire. Yell “Girl power!” when our beloved Felicity kicks some ass, but don’t laugh when you realize how really stupid her villain was. And so on and so on.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Any time a show does a showcase episode for one its supporting characters your enjoyment is going to depend on whether or not you like that character or think that person is a good actor. Laurel had a big showcase episode last year, and if my comments section was any indication so many people hated it because in order to elevate Laurel the show made all the other characters take complete leave of their senses. Plus, some people just don’t think that Katie Cassidy can act. Now, the same is likely going to happen with “Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak.”  Some will gleefully embrace it because, seriously, who can resist the joy of more Felicity Smoak?  Others will admit they cringed (in a bad way) a little bit every time the episode called upon Emily Bett Rickards to cry. Personally, I am glad that they finally did get around to giving Felicity her big showcase, and that for now they’ve yet to go too comic book-y with her background (I’m still nervous about what they’ll do with her father).  I just…I just couldn’t completely connect with this episode, though.  Some of my criticisms are admittedly nitpicky in nature, but I would simply joke about those things if the episode had done enough to earn leniency.  For example, maybe I’d forgive a predictable, weak villain and embrace Felicity’s mom if I didn’t also have to remember that dreadful sequence involving Roy and Oliver acting as crowd control.  Maybe I’d be touched by the emotional connection between Oliver/Thea and Felicity/Donna if Oliver hadn’t been behaving like such a hypocrite about Malcolm.  There was some good here, genuine enjoyment to be had.  There just wasn’t enough of it.

THE NOTES:

1. Oliver’s mantra used to be “You have failed this city,” then it became something along the lines of, “So….about that one time on the island I never told you about, but now directly affects our lives,” and now it’s somehow become, “Are you okay?”

2. Next week: The Secret Reason Felicity Smoak Still Has Her Job After Taking So Many Personal Days In Her First 2 Weeks

3. I’m totally weird, right? – I don’t think Felicity has ever looked cuter than when she was just in her PJs and had her hair all curly while attempting to work out and completely wake up in the morning.

4. Felicity: “I don’t dress like a porn star.” – Holy crap, thank you Felicity.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on how to best describe Charlotte Ross’ little-to-the-imagination blue dress

5. Did you think Felicity’s goth wig was terrible?  Or not that bad?  Or at least definitely better than Oliver’s during the season 1 flashbacks?

6. This is not my own joke, but Ray Palmer is officially becoming the human version of Hank Serpico (Albert Brooks), Homer Simpson’s ultra friendly one-time boss who turned out to be a Bond villain.  Also, apparently his attempt to re-name Starling City Star City is dead now.

7. I’ve joked before about whether or not anyone gets tired of talking to Oliver’s back considering how often he turns his back to them while delivering his sad monologues. Well, now he got a taste of his own medicine as Felicity used that same exact trick on him at one point this episode.

8. “Do we even know a fraction of what happened to you on the island?” – Touché, Felicity.

9. Is anyone ditzy enough to be able to compose a text message without knowing how to actually send it?  Either way, I did actually laugh at that.

10. Oh, btw, screw that “Roy dreams he killed Sara” ending.  Seriously.  Just screw it right in the ear.  We’ll have time to discuss that more next episode.

NEXT TIME:

SECOND OPINIONS:

AVClub.com – They gave it an B+, concluding, “The Secret Origin Of Felicity Smoak” is another strong entry for the season, mostly because it remains so difficult to resist the charms of a Felicity-centric episode. Indeed, as the show subtly adjusts her character to better function as the protagonist of a larger-than-life Arrow story, so too does the show shift a little in response to its heightened emphasis on Felicity.

ScreenCrush.com – “Overall, “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak” won’t win any awards for upending the series, or drastically altering our perception of the title character, but still made for a strong episode in its own right, one we should feel lucky a 22-episode order allowed the time to explore. Apart from tight plotting and some resonant family emotions all around, Felicity just flat-out deserved the spotlight, and made a strong case for more stand-alone episodes down the line.”

TV.com – “It’s a testament to Rickards’ talent and the writers’ obvious glee in crafting Felicity’s dialogue that the character has been so successful as something other than a computer-related plot widget and romantic interest. That it took so long for Arrow to get around to fleshing her out should be troubling—Either way, while I wish it’d happened sooner, and in a more interesting episode, at least it finally happened.”

I’m done with my ramble. What about you?

17 comments

  1. This is the first time i totally disagree with you 🙂 this wasn’t a great episode but it was not bad, for me it was ok. I enjoyed acting and directing in this episode more then in other episodes in 3rd season. It was a filler episode and much needed in my opinion, arrow was really dark since episode 2…

    1. From what I have seen this episode is really dividing fans. So it makes sense that it would divide us, although it’s not exactly a ringing endorsement that I am saying I am glad I will never have to watch this episode again and you’re basically saying that, eh, it was kind of ok.

      1. Well yes, i would put it somewhere in between: definitely not among the best ones and i have seen worse, like some episodes in s1 and 2nd part of s2 with lance family drama… I don’t think it is dividing fans, majority of Felicity fans liked the episode, majority of Laurel fans hated it by default. Really childish if you ask me. In reality, like i said, there have been both better and worse. The thing is that i am still having troubles with them killing Sara, i am boring you every week, i know 🙂 i just do not get it. Lazy writing, crappy writing.

      2. Falling along pro-Felicity/pro-Laurel lines is probably more accurate, you’re right. I’d also agree that this was not their worst episode of all time or anything like that. I am with you on Sara. You’re not boring me about it. Her death is clearly a huge part of this season so far, and if you’re struggling with that story direction then it is tough to really get into the season as a whole. It is hard to move past that when it is not going away anytime soon.

  2. Arrow used to be one of my favorite shows, but the more they try and cram the Laurel and Felicity characters down our throats, the more I realize how poor the acting really is on that show. Laurel has been established as an immature, incompetent, and irresponsible public servant…and I’ve yet to understand what it is I’m supposed to find so fascinating about Felicity. Frankly both characters bring out the worst dramatic acting from Stephen Amell, when his best acting is done with short and simple dialogue. The show has potential and I don’t want to give up on it, but if the poor female character building continues, I don’t think that I’ll be able to take much more…

  3. I have to say I really disagree with your assessment. I am just going to paste here what I said elsewhere: Late to the game as far as review goes, but I am writing this anyway. This episode—WONDERFUL. And reading some of the reviews and comments is very reminiscent of my NCIS watching days. I would read reviews and comments on TVLine. Almost ALWAYS they said “plot was hokey and predictable but the character development and team dynamics ROCKED”. I kid you not this was almost ALWAYS the case. It was the character developments and the TEAM that made — and still make — NCIS the TOP SHOW. Learn this Arrow, learn this. This was everything that this episode was this week. Sure the plot wasn’t the most original and the villain was predictable but the TEAM and the development and dynamics of O/F/D and later Roy as well as mama Smoak — Spot. On. THIS is why we (or most of us at least) watch. Yes the Bamford stunts are phenomenal, but we NEED these types if episodes as well! They are so vitally important to reminding us why it is we love these characters. Besides, I would take a million Felicity punching a foe and rescuing herself and her mom stunts over Arsenal flips and Arrow takedowns. BEST

    The scene between Felicity and her mother was brilliant. They owned it because I felt it. Mama Smoak needs to make a return… Nay, several return visits. You see where Felicity gets her strength and emotional acumen — fantastic casting.

    The scene between Oliver/Felicity/Diggle — first meeting her mom, and then off to the side was just GOLD. It really made me realize just how much I miss them! It was just so … Perfect and natural.

    Felicity’s flashbacks help us understand further why she is walking away from Oliver right now he basically told her he was giving up on life and accepting death and she has already experienced that with her first love with his “suicide” — she’s not doing that again. In the meantime, Oliver is still opening up to her, but he’s talking to Diggle about not wanting to die down there and to Thea about family and living life together. The two will come back around in this journey of theirs this season, and in the meantime, I will soak up ALL the moments we are given like in this past episode.

    This episode may have lacked something on the surface, but it’s what we got in depth that counts. We need more like this.

    1. Team Arrow meeting Felicity’s mom for the first time was pretty delightful.

      Interesting take on Felicity’s past experience with an apparent suicide influencing her decision to walk away from Oliver this season.

      Plot was hokey but team development rocked. That’s a dependable formula. Sometimes it works for Arrow, sometimes not.

  4. With a comic book show, as Arrow is, it’s always going to be cheesey and not believable in terms of what’s going on. So what I look for it whether it hits realistic emotional beats. I can accept Malcolm Merlyn’s Undertaking and coming back from the dead, and Slade’s mirakuru soldiers, and yes, Oliver avoiding the targeting system in this episode, but what I can’t accept is no one in Starling City noticing that Merlyn is still alive and walking around, or Oliver letting him go in spite of killing 500+ people because he said he didn’t kill Sara. That’s the line that I draw, not whether the action is ridiculous but whether the emotions and decisions are real.

    Arrow has been so dark and depressing this season, so filled with storylines I don’t care about, that I was ready to give up on it until this episode. For me, this episode brought back the humor and the characterization I watched the show for.

    The show continues to struggle to fit in a Laurel/Black Canary origin story into a show that has settled into being about the Arrow and Team Arrow. That’s why we continue to get scenes like Oliver and Roy acting as crowd control for Laurel’s sub-plots. I know that in the comics the Black Canary was the original fighter and Oliver Queen’s lover but the writers are having a hard time making this fit into this show. When Sara arrived a fully-formed Canary, she slipped seamlessly into the Arrow cave, but developing Laurel from the CNRI lawyer into the Black Canary is a harder task because they have to give her motivation to become a vigilante (I wish they had done it with Tommy’s death) and then spend years training her and when she finally does get there, the writers will have an even harder time balancing her role on the Team with those who have been there longer and the reactions of the audience if they make the Black Canary equal to the Green Arrow and more important than Diggle, Felicity and Roy.

    I agree, Cooper Sheldon was an awful name, and the switch from hacker to money-grubbing villain huge (who knew working for the NSA for five years could do that to you?) but you’re right that I’m more willing to accept narrative flaws because I was so happy to get a Felicity episode, and a Felicity who I could really like. Besides, Cooper was never really a nice guy; he thought it was okay to wipe out all those student loans (twisted in a sociopathic way) and he thought he was a hero for doing it (narcissistic). I guess working for the NSA just refined that. And he let Felicity think for five years that he was dead. As a villain, I thought he was like Leonard Snart on the Flash last week, nasty just because he can be, with no real explanation as to why.

    Dressing Felicity as an homage to Death was strange. On the other hand, as a rebellion against her blonde 6″ heeled mother, it was understandable.

    On the plus side, the humor was finally back. David Ramsey’s deadpan “Who’s she going to tell, Oliver?” when Oliver didn’t want the baby in the lair may have been the best but Charlotte Ross stayed on the right side of quirky vs all out camp, and EBR had some great facial expressions in her embarrassment at her mother’s behaviour, right along with Ray asking “Are you adopted?”. I liked the understatement of Felicity saying “Turns out dead is not necessarily dead” to which Oliver replied “I’ve had some experience of that.” Also on the plus side was Oliver being able to stand back and help someone emotionally, a far cry from season 1.

    “and you had to completely buy that her boyfriend’s imprisonment would really inspire her to so radically alter herself. That last part failed to work for me, though. ”

    Not his imprisonment but his suicide. He took the blame for her program written for fun on her part with no idea of what Cooper intended to use it for and then he committed suicide before sentencing, or so she believed for five years. If she blamed herself for that (and she’s the kind of person who would), then it’s understandable why she never went near hacking and tech stalking again till Walter asked her to look into Moira’s financial affairs, and also why after Cooper’s ‘death’ she ditched the goth look and went to the other extreme. It also puts into context her walking out on Oliver in the episode “Sara” when he opts for the passive suicide of being a vigilante and waiting for his turn on the metal table rather than embracing life with her.

    Whereas Laurel is letting in the darkness (e.g.Birds of Prey episode last season) and embracing it, Felicity is deliberately turning her back on the darkness in her past and present and going out into the light.

    Felicity’s mom said that someone from ARGUS came by for Sara.
    Oliver, Diggle and Roy standing around staring at the computer was supposed to show that this was a foe against whom their formidable fighting abilities didn’t matter. It was a war of technology that required Felicity’s skills rather than their own and Felicity wasn’t around. I’ve been trying to think how the writers could have shown that in another way but I haven’t come up with anything.

    I liked the episode because it was funny and it was good to get away from the depressing happenings of the past 3.5 episodes, and yes because it was about Felicity who is a character I’m interested in. But more than that, it worked on an emotional level for me. I understood Felicity’s embarrassment about her mother and her desire to make herself into someone completely different, first in the Goth outfit and then in the buttoned-down ponytail. (Very different from Thea’s rebellion in season 1, which was rebellion for it’s own sake and within a privileged lifestyle.). And later I admired Donna, who as a single parent worked 60 hours a week in six inch heels for tips to provide for her daughter, a daughter she didn’t understand at all and felt she had nothing in common with. And then they got to the core emotional part: Felicity is one of the strongest characters on Arrow, she’s willing to fight for what she thinks is right, she’s afraid of heights but will jump out of an airplane to bring Oliver back to do his job and zipline across buildings to get away from Mirakuru soldiers, and she repeatedly walks away from Oliver when he “dangles maybes” in front of her. This episode showed where that strength came from, a place Felicity herself didn’t know it, her mother.

    I thought Charlotte Ross did a great job as Donna Smoak and I’d really like to see her back. Preferably dating Quentin, the poor man could use some lightness in his life.

    Sorry for the long comment.

    1. Apparently one of the episode’s writers said that the boyfriend’s name wasn’t a TBBT reference. Cooper’s original last name didn’t pass legal and so they used Seldin from Asimov’s Hari Seldin from the Foundation books.

  5. Agreed poor episode but the whole season has been awful.Pushing Laurel who is an awful character played by an even worse actress and all the crap olicity cheese is making this show hard to watch ‘The 100’ destroys this show in writing,acting and production

  6. Kelly and Anna, it is actually a bit incorrect to interpret the diverging opinions of this episode solely as a result of the Felicity/Olicity versus Laurel divide. Judging by what I have seen on some large online discussion forums, there are plenty of viewers who couldn’t care less about Laurel, but who still thought this episode was really poor. I also happen to know many Laurel fans who liked this episode. That is probably because most Laurel fans like (or don’t have anything against) Felicity, as opposed to many hardcore Felicity/Olicity fans who are violently opposed to anything that pertains to Laurel. If LAUREL had gotten a whole episode that focused solely on her and her relationships (romantic or familial), the majority of the Felicity/Olicity fans would have protested wildly, believe me. I mean, there were oliciters who were upset that Laurel was featured AT ALL in a Felicity-centric ep! Not that I think that Laurel needs a stand-alone episode…I’m just making a comparison, based on the behavior of many Olicity shippers on social media.

    So, I definitely agree that many Felicity fans thought this was the best ep ever. However, among those general fans who are less invested in Felicity (and her life and romantic attachments) there were many who noticed the same flaws that Kelly noted in his review. Here is a representative thread, from reddit:

    As you see, these posters are not concerned with the fact that Felicity got her own episode, but with the poor execution. I have seen similar posts on other forums. It’s the overall quality of the season three writing many fans are concerned about, and this ep illustrated the decline in plotting and characterization since the best episodes of season two and three. Many fans also felt that the depiction of Felicity’s college days and her relationship with her Mom was filled with clichés. I personally liked Momma Smoak and I think the interaction between Felicity and her Mom gave a much-needed insight into Felicity’s background and personal life. That is why I’m prepared to forget the incredibly silly “villain of the week” plot and the inconsistencies in Felicity’s character portrayal. By that I mean that I didn’t find the transition from the cool and uninhibited hacker persona in the 2009 flashbacks to the babbling, socially awkward geek stereotype we saw in season very convincing or well motivated.

    I have the impression that many non-shipper fans saw this episode as “filler”, because for them “Arrow” isn’t about a secondary character (even a secondary character who desperately needed some backstory) or about romance, but about comic book action. So, whether they liked it or not has little to do with Laurel and her storylines, and more with what they expect of “Arrow” as a comic book adaption.

    1. Some of the comments from the reddit thread:

      –“The backstory for Felicity was extremely unneeded. I preferred the idea that Felicity was just an unremarkable person before she came across Oliver…The only parts of this show I’m enjoying this season are the very few moments between Roy and Oliver, and Ray Palmer (who’s stchick won’t be able to last long if they don’t explore the character soon).”

      –“After it finished I looked at my roommate and said “Wow I like Felicity when she’s quipping but I really didn’t give a shit about her back story.””

      –“I had never even had the thought, “Hm, I wonder what life was like for her before this.” It was a completely unnecessary episode.”

      I’ve read and heard comments like that elsewhere too. I think there is another divide — those who want the show to stay as a comic book focusing only on Oliver and other action heroes and those who want more about the characters than a modern recreation of the Adam West Batman and Robin show. The comic book side maybe wanted more of Oliver zipping away from those targeting lights, or more Oliver and Roy shooting tear gas arrows instead of Felicity flashbacks, or maybe Oliver being the one to save Felicity instead of her doing it herself. That problem can never be solved because the comic book show many of those posters want is not going to get the number of viewers that a show even on the CW needs to keep it on air. There is only so much you can do with Oliver’s backstory and the manpain they keep creating for him by killing off significant women in his life, While I got bored with the Lian Yu flashbacks last season, the Hong Kong ones are even less interesting.

      I read through the comments on that thread. I agree that the hacking and general computer stuff gets done too fast, but that’s true of every other show on TV from SHIELD to Criminal Minds to NCIS. I can see why they thought the mother was cliche, although I thought they stood that on its head with the ending of the episode. But for most of the comments, I was thinking “Were you even watching the episode?” and the answer likely was ‘no, not closely enough’. (Sorry Kelly, but even you got some facts wrong that earlier you would have caught, which I think speaks more to your disenchantment with this show now.)

      Is Cooper a worse villain than Cyrus Vance or Mister Blank? Is he less realistic than Fyers or Brother Blood? I’d argue no, and the Slade storyline was so silly that I’m in awe Manu Bennett pulled it off. But back in season 1 and even 2, Arrow was new and shiny and had no real competition in the superhero world. Now, partly thanks to the success of Arrow, there is Agents of SHEILD The Flash, Gotham, and Constantine with Agent Carter coming soon. People are pickier, and they are less willing to invest if they can get what they need elsewhere.

      I think they will end up losing viewers no matter which way they go, Will Laurel be the Black Canary? Will she not be the Black Canary? Will they go more toward comic books? Will they spend more time on character development of the secondary characters? Should they have Sara come back alive in the end as Malcolm Merlyn did? Or will she, like the other women, stay dead? Each one of those decisions will cause some viewers to leave, and other to reinforce their decision to stay.

    2. Korinna, You would be right if Arrow was watched by comic book fans but that is not the case. My guess is that about 5-10% are comic book fans and readers. Whether you like it or not, everything comes to what i said. It is a cw show after all. There are a lot of plot holes this season. In this particular episode mostly (i am saying mostly, not all) Laurel fans complain. When it is Laurel episode mostly Felicity fans complain. It is so obvious. Reddit is not a representative of the show’s audience, not by a long shot. You know that. Twitter and facebook are the most accurate ones. So, as much as you and i can talk about this objectively, majority of fans can’t.

      1. It’s funny that you’d say that about how many people who watch are also comic book readers. I’ve always kind of wondered what the percentage breakdown would be if the CW took some kind of poll. Heck, I bet some fan site out there has taken such a poll I’ve never heard of. However, I know that in my experience writing about Arrow and fielding comments on my site it seems like I get a 50/50 split of those who’ve read the comics vs. those who are discovering all of this through the TV show.

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