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'Arrow' Boss on Felicity's New Reality, Alarming Flash-Forward: We Should Be Very 'Worried'

by Philiana Ng 6:00 PM PST, January 20, 2016
Photo: The CW

Warning: Major spoilers ahead from Wednesday’s winter premiere of Arrow!

Whew!

Arrow fans breathed a collective sigh of relief when it was revealed that Felicity isn’t the beloved character buried six feet under in four months’ time. But, Felicity will be going through one massive change following the devastating shooting that left her hospitalized: She won't have the use of her legs.

If the scene in the limo between Felicity and Oliver -- the tension between the two could be cut with a knife -- is any indication of what transpires in Star City during those four months, it’s not looking good for the power couple. Are they still engaged? (Answer: Nope.) More importantly, are they still together? 

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As executive producer Wendy Mericle tells ETonline, “It will definitely be one of [their big tests] this season but it will pale in comparison in some ways to some of the things we have planned for later.”

Mericle jumped on the phone to answer several of our biggest questions following tonight’s winter return!

We have to start off with the final scene in the cemetery. Now that it’s established that Felicity is not in the grave, why was it important to make that point now?

The real reason is we felt that we raised that question in 4x09 and put it to bed at the top of 4x10, and there really wasn’t much to be done in continuing to ask that question with respect to that character in particular. The other reason is, it was important to us to show that this loss that we’re headed for has an impact not just on Oliver, but on a lot of people. It’s going to be a big shock and a big game-changer, and it’ll have an impact on Felicity as well.

How frequent will the flash-forwards be for the remainder of the season?

I can tell you that we have no immediate flash-forwards, other than that one. We want to use them judiciously because we know how anxious it makes everybody. (Laughs.)

It also looks like, in four months’ time, Felicity’s spinal injury is put to bed. Is that an accurate read or is there more to the scene in the limo?

The most interesting part in the limo to us was where it sets Oliver and Felicity in their relationship. We were less trying to answer the question of where her spinal cord injury lands, as opposed to where she and Oliver are -- especially vis-a-vis Damien and whoever it is that’s responsible for what happens and whoever this loss is.

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Photo: The CW

Oliver and Felicity certainly seemed distant in the limo. Should fans be worried about what may transpire during the four-month span to get them to that point?

I’m not going to pull any punches: We should be worried. Our goal this year was to explore the reality of a relationship between two vigilantes essentially and I don’t think we’d be good at our jobs if we weren’t throwing some significant curveballs their way. That was our goal and we’ll see them go through some big ups and downs, for sure.

Because there’s a timetable on Felicity’s recovery, how do you navigate those waters without diminishing the severity of what she’s going through?

What we want to explore with what Felicity’s going through is be as respectful as we can be with the reality of what it’s like to go through what she went through, to have a spinal cord injury and how do you move forward with your life emotionally, physically, on the team, off the team, and the way we have been exploring it on the page in the writers’ room is through the prism of Oliver and Felicity’s relationship and we want it to play really real. Oliver is very optimistic that we live in a world where The Flash exists, so things are possible, and for Felicity, she’s grounded and practical, and this is her new reality, so that’s really where we’re at. It’s less about the timeline and much more about finding the emotional reality of where they are.

How does this fundamentally change Felicity’s role on Team Arrow?

She’s really grappling with what it means and the fact that she doesn’t have the freedom or the independence that she had. That said, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out you don’t need your legs to do what she does. She’s a hacker. She uses her brain -- that’s her superpower. The truth is, as much as the team might still want her there, I think she herself realistically would go through some real fundamental questioning of her role and her new place in the world.

There were moments where Oliver felt guilt over the entire situation. What’s his mindset like moving forward?

At the beginning, he’s bent on revenge, no question about it, but once he’s got a second to think about it and think about it and question his actions in 4x10, he is going to feel guilty. If he had just gone farther and been more brutal and been the killer that he was in the pilot, would this ever have happened? He does feel responsible for what happened and the consequences in [the midseason finale]. He’s definitely questioning a lot.

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Photo: The CW

Is this Oliver and Felicity’s biggest test for their relationship?

It will definitely be one of [their big tests] this season but it will pale in comparison in some ways to some of the things we have planned for later. (Laughs.) In an interesting move, Damien Darhk spared Oliver a few weeks.

What can we expect from those two as their cat-and-mouse game continues?

One of the things we were intrigued by in that moment -- Oliver’s been pursuing Damien the entire episode and then he finally encounters him. This is one of the realities Oliver’s going to walk away from the episode is Damien has magical powers and he is not as easily defeated as Oliver, The Flash, the Green Arrow may have hoped. It’s a combination of two things: It humanizes Damien -- he has a family -- and Oliver chooses in that moment save his family thinking, wrongly, that they’re innocent but [Damien’s wife] Renee is definitely not innocent. By the same token, try as he might, this will raise the stakes in the back half because as much as Oliver has gone after Damien, he hasn’t won and vice versa. They’re both formidable and they’ve proven themselves to be more challenging to defeat than either side thought.

Felicity’s father will eventually come into the picture, so how does his impending entrance complicate matters?

One of the ways we were most intrigued by with that storyline was with respect to her mother. What does Felicity learn about herself through this flash from the past, so to speak. What does her mother know? What does that dynamic look like? She was very young when he left and she doesn’t really remember -- she remembers the abandonment but she doesn’t know who he is aside from what her mother’s told her. There’s going to be a lot of emotional tension and some pretty big questions that she’s going to want to get answered.

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Photo: The CW

In the background of all of this, Oliver still has a mayoral campaign to spearhead and he’ll soon be facing off against a new opponent. What’s ahead in Oliver’s political and public persona?

We see him doubling down on this idea that he can change the city in legitimate ways and in an open, public way. What happens in the [midseason finale] really makes him question his decision. He’s going to continue to pursue it but with the entrance of an opponent and with everything that’s going to be going on with his personal life, there are question marks about what’s going to happen to that campaign. I can’t tell anything specific but it’s going to be complicated. Staying in that race is going to present significant challenges to him, both personally and as the Green Arrow.

There seemed to be a step toward reconciliation between Andy and Diggle at the end of the episode. Is there hope for their relationship to be fully mended?

That is something we’ve been excited to explore and dig into, pun intended, this season between the two of them. For Diggle going forward, he still has a lot of questions – for as much as he comes back and has that moment with Andy, the story is not going to end there. It’s not going to be that easily wrapped up. Andy has a lot more history that Dig is going to find out about in coming episodes, both good and bad, that are going make him question who his brother is. He’s already going through that, he’s had to completely recalibrate who he thought Andy was. When he found out Andy was actually a competitor of H.I.V.E., that alone has turned his world upside down and it won’t be righted for a while.

Lastly, we must talk about Roy’s return to Arrow.

We’re really excited about Roy’s return. Colton [Haynes] is such a great guy to work with and he’s great on the show. The chemistry between him and Willa [Holland] on-screen is amazing, so seeing them having that moment is definitely going to raise questions moving forward. When we see him again, Roy is going to be back to some old habits.

Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.

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