'Arrow' Boss Breaks Down Flash-Forward Reveal and Felicity's "New Reality"

Executive producer Wendy Mericle talks with THR about the decision behind Wednesday's big reveal and how the events of the episode will "challenge" Felicity going forward.
Katie Yu/ The CW

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the Arrow midseason premiere, "Blood Debts."]

Arrow just crossed one name off the list of Damien Dahrk's (Neil McDonough) potential victims.

The grave revealed in the flash-forward storyline, which both Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Barry (Grant Gustin) visit to pay their respects and vow to get revenge on Dahrk for putting that person in the grave, is not occupied by Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards). The final scene of the midseason premiere instead showed that Oliver's fiancée was waiting for him in the limo at the cemetery, so "Olicity" fans can breathe a sigh of relief.

However, the fan-favorite couple still have other hurdles to overcome. It was also revealed that, due to Dahrk's attack, Felicity will be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Arrow executive producer Wendy Mericle about what this means for Oliver and Felicity's relationship going forward, why they chose to reveal that Felicity is not the person in the grave and more.

That final scene is going to inspire so many new fan theories about who is in the grave.

As we intended. (Laughs.)

Now that it officially isn't Felicity, have you decided in the writers room who it the person in the grave is going to be?

We have a pretty good idea, but as always on the show, we try to take stories and break them from an organic place. Truth be told, the episode is not written yet. We have a good idea but nothing is ever done until it's done. It's not a full question mark with us, but there are still some questions. We still have to figure stuff out.

When will that episode come about?

I can't tell you exactly which episode, but it will definitely be closer to the end [of season four] than to right now.

Why did you decide to reveal that it wasn't Felicity?

Honestly, that came from a place of wanting to play fair with the audience. At the end of [episode] 409, that was the question on everyone's mind. And rightfully so. She was brutally attacked and as we know now, she suffers a very significant spinal cord injury as a result. But the question of Felicity being in the grave, we really felt it was asked and answered by these two episodes. To continue teasing that just wouldn't be fair to the audience and it felt like we could raise the stakes in more interesting ways by shifting focus elsewhere.

In the present day storyline, Felicity just learned that she is never going to walk again, but she seemed pretty calm about the whole diagnosis. How is this going to affect her going forward?

What we're going for with this, as much as possible on a DC Comics show, is to try to play the reality of someone going through something that difficult and challenging. At the moment where you see her, it's in a place of shock with respect to her own issues and shifting her focus on Oliver and making sure he doesn't fall back into old habits and do something he would regret. Going forward, it's not going to be easy. The reality is, making an adjustment of that kind for someone at her age, it's not an easy thing to do. We wanted to be as respectful and real towards people who are facing that reality and explore the ups and downs of it. So yes, you see her calm in [episode] 410, but I don't think it's realistically possible for anyone to very calmly accept this new reality. She'll be dealing with this for the next few episodes, at least.

A lot of fans have always hypothesized that Felicity was on the path to becoming Oracle. Now that she's wheelchair-bound, should fans read into that theory again?

To echo my co-showrunner Marc Guggenheim, Oracle is still off the table. It was really never our intention to go that direction. We wanted to throw Felicity some big curve balls this season. And this seemed like an interesting way to go. We want to explore what her place is going to be on the team and her relationship with Oliver. It was less about trying to honor Oracle, which is obviously a great comic book character, and more about trying to playing the reality of this situation for her.

Oliver wasn't by her side throughout her whole hospital stay, although she didn't seem mad or upset about it. Is their relationship going to be affected by her diagnosis?

The traditional way would have been to have her be really upset that he wasn't by her side. But the nice thing about Felicity and Oliver is that she's been with him since season one. She understands who he is and what he's been through. She knew and, I hope this played in that last scene with them in the hospital, she understood that this is what he was going to do. He wasn't going to rest until Dahrk was off the board. Even though he doesn't succeed in accomplishing that, he does realize his mistake. That's what we love about this season. Oliver is evolving and he's able to see, "Oh, that's what old Oliver would have done, and this Oliver is not going to leave your side going forward." That's the progress he's made.

How is this going to affect the dynamic of Team Arrow now that Felicity is going to be in a wheelchair?

The rest of the team will welcome her with open arms. Obviously they will want to give her space to deal with her new reality but they do not see it as any sort of limitation for her in any way whatsoever. For her, it's adjusting to a whole new world and how she's going to navigate that world. She herself is going to be dealing with it more than the team. The team loves her and will do anything for her. But this experience will challenge Felicity in a direct way.

The new sizzle reel for the second half of the season showed Thea (Willa Holland) back in the hospital on life support. What puts her there?

She's been grappling with her blood lust all season, and as much as it seems like Damien Dahrk whammy-ing her in [episode] 407 put that to bed, it is going to come back in a surprising and visceral way. That's the root of how she ends up where she ends up in that trailer.

The trailer also showed Roy's (Colton Haynes) big return to Star City, suiting up in his Red Arrow costume along with the rest of the team. What brings him back after essentially getting out clean?

We're so excited to have Colton back. I don't want to give too much away, but I can tell you that he and Thea will have some really moving scenes together. We're going to raise some interesting questions about their relationship and also when we meet him again, he is going to, just like Oliver in [episode] 410, have slipped back into some very, very old habits. We'll be wondering what the hell happened between the last time we saw him and now.

Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.

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