The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak

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"The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak"
Arrow episode
Episode no. Season 3
Episode 5
Directed by Michael Schultz
Written by Ben Sokolowski
Brian Ford Sullivan
Original air date November 5, 2014 (2014-11-05)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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Arrow (season 3)
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"The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak" is the fifth episode of the third season, and 51st episode overall of the CW series Arrow. The episode was written by Ben Sokolowski and Brian Ford Sullivan and directed by Michael Schultz. It first aired on The CW on November 5, 2014.

The episode focuses on the character Felicity Smoak, with flashbacks to her time as a student at M.I.T alongside her then boyfriend Cooper Seldon (Nolan Gerard Funk), which has repercussions for her in the present day. It also sees the introduction of Felicity's mother Donna Smoak (Charlotte Ross). The episode ends with the apparent revelation of Sara Lance's murderer. The episode stars Stephen Amell (Oliver Queen) alongside David Ramsey (John Diggle), Emily Bett Rickards (Felicity Smoak), Katie Cassidy (Laurel Lance), Willa Holland (Thea Queen), Paul Blackthorne (Quentin Lance) and Brandon Routh (Ray Palmer).

The episode received generally positive reviews.



The flashbacks centre on Felicity Smoak five years previously, during her time as a student at MIT. She is shown to have been a dark-haired goth. Together with her boyfriend Cooper and his roommate Myron, she considers herself a hacktivist. To this end she has created a computer virus that enables them to access government mainframes. Cooper decides to infiltrate the Department of Education's database and wipe all records of student loans from the system, an action which both Felicity and Myron object to, with Felicity managing to stop him. However, the attempt is tracked by the FBI who turn up on campus the next day and arrest Cooper. Felicity visits him in jail and offers to tell them that it was her who created the virus. Cooper tells her that he has already taken responsibility, and that it was his fault not hers. Felicity is later shown to have dyed her hair to her more familiar blonde, and to have abandoned her goth style wardrobe.

Present day

The episode opens with a montage of the main characters in training – Oliver with Roy, Laurel with Ted Grant and Thea with Malcolm Merlyn. It then switches to Felicity in her apartment, dressed in pyjamas attempting sit-ups with a fitness programme playing on the television. Answering a knock on the door, Felicity is embarrassed at the arrival of Ray Palmer who, seemingly oblivious to her appearance, begins to discuss the potential of cogeneration as a means to give back to Starling City. A second knock on the door sees the arrival of Felicity's mother, Donna, who is particularly impressed by Ray, who in turn gives her his prototype smart watch, which he gives her.

Following a series of cyber-attacks by a group calling itself 'Brother Eye', Felicity manages to crack the virus code, and discovers that it is based on the one she created at M.I.T. She explains the history of its creation to Oliver, and is adamant that Cooper is not responsible for its’ use now insisting it must be his former roommate Myron. Oliver, as the Arrow, confronts Myron, but discovers it couldn't have been him. Following a confrontation with Oliver, Felicity reveals that Cooper in fact committed suicide in jail. They are interrupted by Donna, with whom Felicity gets into an angry confrontation. This leads to Donna angrily confessing her fear that Felicity, like the father from who she inherited so much, will eventually abandon her, even though she was the one who was always there for Felicity, after which she storms out.

Felicity finds her mother at her apartment, where she reveals that she received a text message, saying she had won a free round-trip to Starling City, making Felicity suspicious that something more is going on. Before she can investigate, masked men burst through the door and kidnap both women. They are taken to 'Brother Eye's' hideout, where it is revealed that Cooper is in fact alive and well, and the one behind the organisation. He explains that his death was faked in order for him to work with the NSA. He needs Felicity to hack into the Treasury Department in order to reroute money bound for Starling National to him. Felicity agrees to help, as he is holding Donna at gunpoint, but also manages to contact Oliver using Palmer's smart watch that Donna is still wearing.

While Roy and Diggle protect the treasury trucks, Oliver goes to Felicity's aid. Arriving at the hideout, he takes out Cooper's sentry guns, enabling Felicity to disarm Cooper. Back at the lair, Oliver tells Felicity that whatever she went through in the past helped build the woman she is today. Donna and Felicity make amends, with Felicity telling her mother that she gets her strength from her. Laurel goes to Ted Grant's gym, where he tells her she should be training for herself, not to catch Sara's killer.

The episode ends with Roy waking from a nightmare in which he sees himself shooting Sara Lance, making him wonder if he is in fact the killer.


During the Arrow panel at the 2014 San Diego Comic Con, executive producer Andrew Kreisberg confirmed that the third season of the show would contain an episode exploring the history of the character Felicity Smoak, to be entitled "Oracle".[1] However, in an interview given in August of the same year executive producer Marc Guggenheim revealed that the title had been changed to "The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak".[2]

Actress Charlotte Ross was cast as Felicity's mother, Donna Smoak, in August 2014[3] followed by Nolan Gerard Funk as her former boyfriend Cooper Seldon later in the same month.[4]

Filming for the episode took place between August 25 and September 4, 2014.[5]

Kreisberg confirmed that the episode would explore Felicity's time at M.I.T, but denied that her father would be Anthony Ivo.[1] It was later confirmed by Marc Guggenheim that the episode would explore more about Felicity family history, introducing her mother and exploring the way "She and Felicity are two very different people", as well as "extending the mystery" of who her father was.[2] Speaking before the episode aired, actress Emily Bett Rickards noted in regard to Felicity in the episode that "She's younger, she was finding herself but she was on the track where we see her now"[6] and that the story of her past would reveal her "deep turmoil".[7]



The episode was watched live by 2.73 million viewers, and had a ratings share of 1.1, the third highest share of the show's third season.[8]

The episode attracted 995,000 viewers for its British premiere, making it the 3rd most watched programme on Sky One for the week.[9]

Critical response

Jesse Schedeen of IGN rated the episode 7.5 and noted that "This episode was definitely a great vehicle for Emily Bett Rickards to strut her stuff" and that "It was definitely a fun change of pace to see Felicity taking point in the conflict and using Ollie and friends as her muscle." Whilst he welcomed the plethora of DC cameos in the episode, overall he felt that "While it was great to see Felicity take the spotlight and interact with her mother and old boyfriend, the plot was predictable and the final confrontation with Cooper disappointing."[10]

Writing for Den of Geek, Mike Cecchini summarised that whilst the episode could have gone wrong, "What we got was a fun, charming episode of Arrow that still managed to not feel too lightweight." He also noted the number of DC related Easter Eggs present throughout the episode.[11]

Kelly Schremph of Bustle noted how it was "nice to see yet another one of Arrow's female characters really come into her own and take control of her life rather than letting a man do it for her" with the character of Felicity proving " that she's way more than just a genius hacker. She's also a hero."[12]

Kevin Fitzpatrick of Screencrush observed that both Felicity's "cartoonishly attractive mother" and Felicity's "stock "goth hacker" past at MIT" could have fallen short, but that they "end up much better in their execution than they might look on paper". In particular he praised Charlotte Ross for the "surprising amount of depth" she bought to the character and Rickards who "gave just the right amount of vulnerability and determination in having both family and past sins pulling from either direction." He also noted that it was nice to "see that the character always had something of a heroically badass streak".[13]


  1. ^ a b Pester, Lauren (July 25, 2014). "Arrow at Comic-Con: Get Scoop on a Two-Hour Flash Crossover, Oliver and Felicity's Romance and More!". "EOnline". Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Abrams, Natalie (August 18, 2014). "'Arrow' changes title of Felicity's backstory episode". "Entertainment Weekly". Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  3. ^ Abrams, Natalie (August 1, 2014). "Exclusive: Arrow Casts NYPD Blue Alum as Felicity's Mom". "TV Guide". Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  4. ^ Ng, Philiana (August 28, 2014). "'Arrow' Books 'Glee' Alum for Season 3". "The Hollywood Reporter". Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  5. ^ Guggenheim, Marc [@mguggenheim] (August 25, 2014). "Arrow Ep. 3x05 begins filming today. Written by @BenSokolowski & @briforsul and featuring @charlotteross @EmilyBett" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  6. ^ Ng, Philiana (November 5, 2014). "'Arrow': Emily Bett Rickards on Reinventing Felicity, Toxic Affairs and Superhero Suitors". "The Hollywood Reporter". Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  7. ^ Mitovich, Matt Webb (November 5, 2014). "Arrow's Emily Bett Rickards: 'I Was Sad to Know How Sad Felicity Had Been'". "TVLine". Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  8. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (November 6, 2014). "Wednesday Final Ratings: Arrow, The Mysteries of Laura & Chicago P.D. Adjusted Up; The 100 Adjusted Down". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  9. ^ "Weekly top 10 programmes". Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  10. ^ Scheedeen, Jesse (November 5, 2014). "Arrow: "The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak" Review". "IGN". Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  11. ^ Cecchini, Mike (November 5, 2014). "Arrow: The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak review". "Den of Geek". Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  12. ^ Schremph, Kelly (November 6, 2014). "On 'Arrow' "The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak" Confirms This Girl Is More Hero Than Hack". "Bustle". Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  13. ^ Fitzpatrick, Kevin (November 5, 2014). "'Arrow' Review: "The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak"". "Screencrush". Retrieved May 2, 2018.

External links

Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak on IMdB

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