If you’d asked me sometime last year if I could ever get excited about a Ray-centric episode of Arrow, I probably would have laughed in your face before collapsing onto the floor in hysterics.
Not that I’ve ever really had anything against him per say, I’d just previously never really seen Ray Palmer as anything more than a temporary character with the occasional one-liner who was meant to cause the obligatory bit of romantic tension between the show’s leads. Ray was essentially introduced as a good-looking cardboard cutout, with a few catchphrases that he’d spit out to add some levity to a situation, meant to represent the antithesis of Oliver Queen.
So… no. Most of last season I wouldn’t have had even a modicum of interest in spending 42ish minutes watching an episode of Arrow with Ray taking center stage.
Cut to Season 4, after Ray managed to establish himself as someone worthy of being 1/? of an ensemble spin-off (cue that midseason Legends of Tomorrow premiere), and my answer to the same question would now be, yeah actually. I could get behind a Palmer-centric episode of Arrow and, thanks to, “Lost Souls,” I actually did.
Could it be because, though Ray-centric, there was actually very little Ray? Perhaps. While Palmer’s presence was certainly felt in, “Lost Souls,” the episode approached him, and more importantly portrayed him, as a person rather than a caricature. And while the focus was on him, the episode predominantly concentrated on what his friends, loved ones, and future team members (hey Sara!) were willing to do to get him back.
As it turns out… they’re willing to do quite a bit.
The episode begins shortly after where the last left off, Felicity is in full FRM (Find Ray Mode, c’mon keep up!) which apparently involves a ton of computer work and a couple tons of caffeine. We’ve seen how wired Felicity can get when presented with a challenge but she takes it to a whole other level when said challenge involves finding and saving her former boyfriend turned friend capital ALL the letters. Holed up in a Palmer Tech lab Felicity is playing Ray’s message on loop and doing everything in her power to figure out where the hell it came from.
Oliver, doting beau that he is, shows up and expresses his concern over Felicity’s recent working habits. He of course is still none-the-wiser that Ray is alive, something that Felicity promptly remedies by playing the recording again. It sparks his interest, naturally, but not enough to make him succumb to Felicity’s usually fool-proof combination neurosis/puppy eyes. He all but drags her away from Palmer Tech, imploring her to take a nap and perhaps a much needed shower.
Just when it seems that Felicity might do one or, ideally, both of those things, she and Oliver get a live video message from Ray, who explains that he’s currently the size of the average person’s thumb. He also conveniently mentions a design he’d drawn that can make him go from Borrower to human, and Felicity runs back to Palmer Tech to find it and convince Curtis to build it. But before leaving the swanky Team Arrow lair, she makes it pretty clear that there’s nothing Oliver can do to help.
Which, y’know, kinda bums him out. Look who’s whipping out the puppy eyes now!
Anyways, Felicity finds Ray’s plans and Curtis says he can build the device no problem… save for the rather enormous problem that is the fact that Palmer Tech’s #1 Rival (Kord Industries) has the only existing part necessary to make Ray’s device work.
Then of course Curtis utters the one phrase that everyone with common sense knows not to say, “The good new is, it can’t get any worse,” and…
Mama Smoak appears!
Curtis you were totally right because Donna Smoak’s presence literally couldn’t make anything worse. Those italics aren’t sarcastic. I find her to be positively delightful and, lets be real, Donna is approximately 100X more perceptive than literally everyone in Star City and, while Team Arrow saves the day for the city, Donna tends to save the day for Team Arrow.
Felicity is none to pleased to discover that her mother’s presence is kudos to a phone call from Oliver, and makes it known to anyone and everyone who will listen (or, is forced to listen since all of their comms are open during their break-in at Kord Industries) that she’s pissed at her boyfriend. Despite the tension, the Arrows, Canary sisters, and Diggle manage to successfully steal the final piece of the, “Regrow Ray,” device.
There is a minor snafu AKA Sara goes Lazarus Pit crazy on one of the guards and beats him within an inch of his life, but the rest of the team pulls her away before any permanent damage is done. While Team Arrow makes its way back to the lair, Felicity gets another video from Ray and is horrified to discover that he’s being kept prisoner by none other than Damien Darhk.
Felicity is very much approaching the whole Ray situation from an emotional standpoint, which only serves to increase her conflict with Oliver whom is his typical pragmatic self. He realizes that Lance can likely meet with Darhk and aid in tracking him and decides that, in the meantime, he and Felicity can enjoy a nice meal with her mother.
Sounds great right? Maybe to everyone but Felicity who snaps that their friend is in danger and makes an, honestly pretty good, point that maybe it’s not really an appropriate time for home cooked meals. But Oliver won’t hear it and tells her he’ll meet her and her mother back at their apartment at 7.
Of course, this is Oliver we’re talking about, meaning he rolls up late to his own party and is greeted by the sight of a raw chicken and the Smoak women. After Oliver not-so-subtly hints that he’s trying to figure out what he’s done wrong to make Felicity so upset with him, Donna uses the old, “I’m gonna grab some takeout,” excuse to give the young couple some time to talk.
And boy do they.
Felicity confesses that she thinks this entire situation is her fault since she let herself fall so hard with Oliver and wasn’t around to hear Ray’s earlier attempts at distress calls. She’s upset with herself for getting so lost in her relationship that she lost herself, and Oliver realizes that all of her recent tension and irritation has more to do with them than it does with Ray. He tells Felicity that he’ll give her some space while she figures things out and heads back to the lair.
Cue the relationship pep-talks!
In corner #1 we have Diggle following bro-code or whatever and pouring Oliver a generous amount of whiskey before launching into advice hour. (Honestly, if the vigilante thing doesn’t work out, Dig should consider getting a job with Star City’s newspaper writing for the advice column) He literally and verbally rolls his eyes at Oliver’s pitiful, “It makes me wonder, why did she choose me?” before very bluntly reminding his friend that, “Felicity Smoak is one of the smartest, most badass, women on the planet,” and that such a badass wouldn’t have chosen to be with Oliver unless she wanted to.
Cut to corner #2 where Mama Smoak is knocking just as much sense into her daughter. Felicity’s (apparently) been looking at her relationship with Oliver as a borderline sign of weakness. She’s so convinced that she’s lost who she was that she doesn’t quite realize that being with Oliver has helped shape who she is. Donna points out that Oliver has lost himself in her just as much as she’s lost herself in him, and assures her daughter that it’s not a bad thing. Then she tells her not to screw things up by getting in her own way because if Felicity and Oliver split, she’ll never find someone else that attractive that likes to cook.
Felicity’s saved from what probably would have turned into Donna regaling her of her past flings by a text from Oliver saying they’ve found Ray’s location. Team Arrow meets up in their lair, create a plan more quickly than literally ever, and only hesitate for a few awkward seconds when Sara rolls up and offers her assistance before Laurel jumps in and says, “Suit up.”
Team Arrow breaks into the building Ray’s being locked in, going their separate ways to use their respective skill sets to divide and conquer. Thea and the Canaries take out whatever guards come their way, Dig kind of does whatever, Felicity and Curtis take the regrow device to Ray, and Oliver… gets chained up in the basement and choked (via magic obviously) by Darhk.
Naturally he ends up escaping kudos to a little smoke bomb that distracts Darhk long enough to release Oliver from the magic chokehold. Ray gets un-shrunk thanks to the genius minds of Felicity and Curtis and Team Arrow manages to live to fight another day.
(Know who doesn’t live to fight another day? The poor guy who gets his neck snapped by Sara during her Lazarus Pit-induced, blood-lust, rage attack. Oops Part 2?)
The rest of the episode gets tied up in a pretty nice bow considering it’s Arrow and it’s a show that usually loves to tease with a bunch of loose ends. Ray gets and gives the lowdown about his time away, Sara realizes that she has a problem and decides to take some time away to fix it, and Oliver and Felicity have a long-overdue discussion that ends with some heated kissing and the realization that they’re better together.
Also, there were the obligatory flashbacks but, honestly, not much happened in them. After finding a glowing message in those caves, Oliver gets sent down to the Cove to look for whatever the hell said glowing message was discussing. He briefly chats with his female hideaway before returning to the lake and being attacked by one of the prisoners… whom he kills in like, two seconds. That’s basically it.
All in all, “Lost Souls,” was a pretty solid episode of Arrow. As someone who tends to prefer the more humorous episodes, I naturally enjoyed this one quite a bit more than some of the others of the season. Having a Ray-centric episode really was just code for Felicity-centric, meaning that there were numerous one-liners that re-cemented her as the comic relief of the show. Throw in her mother and you have a hysterical group of scenes that actually balanced out the more emotional moments in the episode.
What’s interesting about, “Lost Souls,” is that, despite the fact that there were dangerous situations, we all knew that there wouldn’t really be any drastic consequences. Ray Palmer would obviously be saved because, again, Legends of Tomorrow, meaning that Felicity’s worry over his situation wasn’t really one shared by viewers.
Because we didn’t actually have a reason to.
Episode Grade: B
- Any episode where Felicity’s mother tornadoes her way into town is a good episode. Charlotte Ross is hysterical in her role as Donna Smoak and, despite mostly being used for some much-needed comic relief, Mama Smoak tends to be way more perceptive and wise than most of Star City’s residents.
- The multiple comparisons made by Felicity between Ray and small foods were hilarious. Ex. “The fact that Ray’s being held against his will and could be killed at any moment because he’s the size of a Cheeto has dampened my enthusiasm somewhat.” Hey Felicity, is it true that Ray is… “The size of a tater tot.”
- Minimal amount of flashbacks!
- I get that the scenes with Thea and Alex in the candidate office were there to show her progression from, “My life is complicated,” to, “I just want a normal life,” but… I mean… were they really necessary? Were they? Really?
- I feel like Sara kind of got lost in Ray’s (admittedly tiny) shadow. There wasn’t ample enough time to explore the repercussions of her coming back from the dead in the chaos of finding Ray and, poof!, she’s already leaving town.
- Thea has pretty terrible taste in men TBH (looking at you random DJ/ League of Assassins member) so… how long until we find out that Alex is some sort of serial killer or, even worse, the rugged nephew of Damien Darhk?
- Of Felicity, Laurel, and Oliver: Who’s going to be the most grossed-out, who’s going to be weirdly excited, and who’s going to completely ignore the heavy flirting between Captain Lance and Donna Smoak?