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Arrow Recap: Finding Normal

Ray wants to be 6-foot-2 again. Sara wants to take names, not lives. Thea wants to grab drinks with the cute campaign guru. And Felicity and Oliver want to know that they haven’t lost themselves in their love.

Indeed, the oft-uttered theme on Arrow this week was rediscovering or redefining normal, on a storytelling canvas that in the past dozen episodes has resurrected at least three people and introduced magic. No easy feat.

It’s funny, just the other day I was commenting that, with regards to someone’s gripe about the #Flarrow crossover “team photo,” I’m very OK with an episode that has 10 masked people doing stunt fights for 42 minutes. But then an episode like this week’s Arrow proves that, every now and then, a superhero show — even a moodier one — can’t be faulted for taking a moment to ask: “How is everyone holding up?”

We knew that “neurotic” Felicity was on the menu this week, as Ray’s ex-love scrambled to deduce where (and how small) he was. But what perhaps no one saw coming was the damage that her single-mindedness — born of her own sense of guilt — almost did to her relationship. For as Felicity confessed, she fears that she “lost” herself in Oliver, in their romance, in their getaway to the suburbs — which, she fretted, left Ray’s original distress calls unanswered. “I was never that girl,” the onetime “IT girl” lamented to Oliver. “That is not who I am.”

Each of them then engaged in a heart-to-heart with third parties: Diggle, and the delicious dynamo that is “Mama” Donna Smoak. Over good ol’ Tennessee whiskey, Diggle marveled that he was laying witness to a jealous Oliver, as his partner in crimefighting puzzled over Felicity’s choice of Ray over a guy who takes five minutes to log onto a computer. But Felicity did choose Oliver, John reminds.

Donna meanwhile shared with Felicity the truth about why she was cheated out of space camp as a kid — because they couldn’t afford it, no thanks to her deadbeat mystery dad. “No one ever looked at me the way Oliver looks at you,” Donna notes, before assuring her daughter that she’s “supposed to feel” like she gets lost in the man she loves — because ultimately they’ll find themselves in each other. (Besides, Donna notes, where will Felicity ever find another guy “that hot, who cooks”?)

In the end — after an all-hands-on-deck, Felicity-in-the-field caper — Felicity tells Oliver she is confident, “We’re going to be fine,” for all the reasons her mother told her. (Donna may find her own bit of “fine,” too, having finally met Quentin Lance, at a bar — precisely as I predicted they would meet.)

As for the nuts-and-bolts of the episode: Ray’s intermittent video chats with Felicity revealed that he got tiny, and mathematics for a gizmo to resize him were in his office. Ergo the need to bust into Kord Industries to pinch a quantum manifold. Later, upon realizing that Damien Darhk was holding Little Ray captive, everyone — Oliver, Thea, Diggle, regular Canary and bloodlusty flavor, Felicity and Curtis (arriving his parachute!) — infiltrated his lair. Ray was found and “grown,” Sara (oops!) snapped a goon’s neck, and Oliver barely escaped another mystical showdown with Darhk.

Afterward, Sara gave a much kinder version of Henry Allen’s own KTHXBAI!, telling Laurel and Thea that she needed to “start over,” maybe visit “a couple somewheres” (or a spinoff?), as a way of managing her own post-Pit issues. (Ergo, Quentin’s need to belly up to a club soda and bond with Donna over complicated daughters.) Meanwhile, Darhk tasked one of his scientists with using some of Ray’s “dwarf star” power source somethingoranother to… I’m not quite sure, but it involved a fancy map or schematic of some kind.

Over in Flashbackland: Reiter uncovered some mystical markings using the orb Constantine had left for Oliver, then tasked Oliver with leading an excavation to find a “gift.” Conklin kept dogging his colleague, though, inviting one of the workers to kill Oliver — though the Starling City native came out on top of that skirmish, snapping his attacker’s neck in front of the other workers, making him look awfully bad. You know, for a drug lord’s henchman and all.

What did you think of this week’s Arrow?