TV Recap: Arrow: “Lost Souls”

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Lost Souls Plot SUmmary:

When Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) discovers that Ray (Brandon Routh) is still alive and being held captive by Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough), she enlists Team Arrow’s help in rescuing him. However, her ex’s return causes her to question if dating Oliver is the best thing for her.

If you’re not a fan of Felicity Smoak, first of all, your values are wrong. Second, this episode of Arrow was not for you. While the season premiere was very Olicity-heavy, the smarter half of that ‘ship has been a little busy lately helping the writers set up DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. I did not mince words in expressing my dislike for Ray Palmer last season and while seeing Brandon Routh‘s disturbingly handsome face in real life has certainly influenced my opinion, the fact that his return caused Felicity to question her relationship with Oliver makes me almost like him.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always thought that relationship was the right move writing-wise, but Felicity made some really odd choices at the end of last season. Team Arrow’s resident tech wiz has always been the show’s moral compass, but she lost sight of the bigger picture sometime after Oliver’s apparent death. The moment in the finale where Ray had to remind her that saving the city was more important than saving Oliver’s life was probably her lowest point. But Felicity has been making sacrifices for Oliver’s benefit for a long time (being his secretary despite being an MIT graduate, not jumping Barry Allen’s (Grant Gustin) bones because she was holding out for Oliver, etc.) and it was really satisfying to finally see her realize that.

Rickards is one of the show’s stronger performers, but she had to walk a thin line between being a passive-aggressive nag and keeping the character sympathetic here and she handled it beautifully. Her performance was especially strong in her moments opposite Charlotte Ross’s Donna Smoak, whose ditzy, va-va-voom presence is always welcome. We all know Oliver has problems, but pointing out that Felicity’s got some trust issues too thanks to her absent father is the right way to create conflict in the relationship. Speaking of Oliver, Amell deserves equal recognition for why the relationship drama worked so well.

It was actually incredible to see how soft and understanding Oliver was in dealing with Felicity’s anger considering how heated their arguments have gotten in the past. The writers said months ago that the island hostage girl played by Elysia Rotaru is meant to provide contrast to Oliver’s relationship with Felicity and this episode finally made that more explicit. It’s a little tough to imagine how their relationship could have turned Oliver from the guy who sleeps with his girlfriend’s sister to the guy who had such inadequacy issues in this episode, but we’ve likely got a whole season before her death to find out.

It might seem a little early in that chemistry-less relationship to predict island girl’s death, but if she’d survived Lian Yu, we’d have met her long ago. And while the possible parallelism to her impending death and Darhk’s newfound awareness of Felicity’s connection to Team Arrow would suggest Palmer Tech’s current CEO is dead in the flashforward, I’m still not buying it. “Lost Souls” was a low-key treatise on why the show needs Felicity Smoak. It’s a red herring—or I’m in denial. I’m comfortable either way.

Arrow Death Watch

Felicity Smoak: -10% fight me.

John Diggle: 2%

Quentin Lance: 5% because he’s not going to start a romance with Mama Smoak just to get killed off. Dear Jesus Lord, if Quentin still ends up becoming Oliver’s father-in-law after dodging that fate with his own daughters, I will never stop laughing.

Thea Queen: 90% that girl is so ready to sacrifice herself to take Sara’s bloodlust away.