Spoilers ahead for this week’s episode of Arrow!
After fading to black with Felicity bleeding to death on the street, the midseason premiere of Arrow had a whole lot of story to pay off. Luckily for us, Wednesday night’s episode, “Blood Debts,” did it in spades.
Long story short: Felicity is drifting in and out of surgery for much of the episode as Oliver does the only thing that makes sense to him — hits the street in an effort to take Damien Darhk off the board once and for all. This being the middle of the season, he obviously fails in eliminating Darhk (we still have 10+ more episodes to go, people!), though that storyline does get a nice breaking point in a very interesting way.
Diggle also gets a nice C-story this week as he finally gets through to his brother (after beating the crap out of him in vain, but still) and persuades him to offer up some intel on Darhk’s location. John is having to deal with the reality of who his brother is, and his thought process really seems to mirror Season 1-era Malcolm Merlyn (as Diggle notes).
It’s great to see them start peeling back the layers a bit for why Andy is holding the line for the Ghosts, even though the brainwashing has worn off. Was it a bit rushed that a quick heart-to-heart got him to offer up some intel weeks after his capture? Sure, but it set up the sweet moment where Diggle decided to spend some quality poker time with his long-lost bro.
Felicity’s fate revealed
The big one: Felicity is alive! More than that, she’s definitely not the person in the mystery grave (more on that later). It took a few surgeries, but Felicity is one tough lady, and she seems to have come out on the other end with just one major consequence — she’s apparently unable to walk, permanently, due to spinal damage. Which is tragic, to be sure, but it’s great to know Emily Bett Rickards will be sticking around. Plus, this could actually turn into a really interesting storyline going forward, depending on how they play it out. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, producer Wendy Mericle said they plan to do just that:
“She’s really grappling with the question of getting through this tragic event and figuring out what her life is going to look like afterward. She knows Oliver has a tendency to revert to [his darker ways]. Despite herself, she’s still in shock about what happened, and her focus is going to be mostly, and interestingly, on Oliver and trying to keep him from falling back into this dark hole he’s been in the past.”
So, does that mean she’ll never walk again? Good question! The midseason teaser trailer already showed Felicity in her old school hacker garb standing up (though this could admittedly be a flashback), and Mericle noted that is most likely not an Earth-2 version of the character (that’s more of a Flash angle). From there, she teased she “definitely think[s] there will be a time and place in the future where we could see Felicity stand.”
Considering how many connections Team Arrow has in the scientific community, from STAR Labs to Palmer Technology, to the mystical realm with Constantine and the League of Assassins, it stands to reason a fix for Felicity’s longterm prognosis could surface eventually. But, for now, she’ll need to purchase a wheelchair. Oh, but just don’t call her Oracle.
Anarky is a reflection of Thea’s blood lust
Though much of the overarching narrative revolved around dark, Anarky (you remember, that dude Thea burned up at the start of the season?) was actually the episode's main villain. He turns up to go after Darhk, too, and Oliver goes to far as to bust him out of police custody in an effort to track him back to Darhk’s home. The plan doesn’t work, until it does, and Anarky manages to scurry away in the commotion to most definitely return another day.
But, it was his interactions with Thea/Speedy that proved the most interesting arc of the night. Turns out he’s not angry at all about her bloodlust-fueled fricassee of his face (he now wears a creepy, semi-clear mask to hide his scars), and thanks her on multiple occasions for essentially burning away his weakness. He also begs Thea to kill him, but she manages to push through her bloodlust and not put an arrow through his eye. We’d call that progress.
Dhark’s wife is pure evil
But, back to to Damien Dhark — he didn’t actually show up until the final act, and it was actually his wife who totally stole the show. Anarky had Darhk’s family held hostage, using them as bait to lure Darhk into an ambush. But, Team Arrow busts in and blows up that plan, and Oliver literally bumps into Darhk while walking out on the porch. After Darhk throws a few arrows into him (did anyone else get a total Yondu vibe when he was controlling those arrows, by the way?), he basically gives him a few weeks off as a “thank you” for saving his family.
But, the ice doesn’t really start going through the veins until we pick up with the Darhk family a bit later, as Damien’s wife tells him he should’ve used the situation as a chance to kill the Green Arrow once and for all. You know, moments after he literally just saved her from a psychopath with a flamethrower. It makes you wonder — might his mystery wife be the real baddie pulling the strings behind the scenes?
Four Months Later
This episode also brought us a desperate peek at the flashfoward that revealed a mystery grave, as Oliver vows to kill “him” (we’re assuming Darhk, but who knows?) for knocking off whoever is six feet under. But this time, we follow Oliver as he walks back to his limo … where Felicity is (alive!) waiting for him. She doesn’t move her legs in the scene, so it’s certainly possible she is still paralyzed four months down the line. But, the big reveal is the one you might not have even noticed…
She’s not wearing her engagement ring, which Oliver put back on her finger while she was lying in the hospital bed. This is huge, obviously, and there definitely seems to be some tension between the super-power couple. Whatever the situation is surrounding the body in that grave has also seemingly played a role in putting a divide between Oliver and Felicity. Why? Who knows. But, broken up or not, Felicity agrees that Oliver definitely needs to take out this mystery man.
As for the mysterious “he” they keep talking about — you almost have to wonder if it’s all a big fake out, and they’re not even talking about Darhk. Producer Marc Guggenheim previously teased they plan to throw a “game-changer” into the mix in Episode 15 for the Darhk storyline, meaning it could wrap early to set up another crisis that could be somehow related to the mystery death. Heck, could the “he” be someone we already know? If they go that route, talk about one heck of a fake out.
Latest odds on the mystery grave
Well, we can officially mark one name off the list — it’s definitely not Felicity. So, who is in that grave? My money remains on Thea or Capt. Lance, if only because Lance might have to face a comeuppance for working with Darhk, and it could make for a tragic but believable end to her bloodlust and Lazarus Pit arc.
Beyond that, perhaps it’s not even a main character, per se, but maybe Oliver’s estranged son and/or the child’s mother, who are somehow drawn into his world at a later date? Or, perhaps Roy will come back and make the ultimate sacrifice (he is set to return later this season, you know). While not a major cast member (at the moment), any of those options would still be a gut punch.
Tidbits of note:
Constantine’s tattoo: The flashback story is finally starting to get rolling, and it seems the mysterious power on that island is definitely tied to the tattoo Constantine gave Oliver during his time there. It’ll be interesting to see how that pays off.
Olicity: It makes sense Oliver is scared to see Felicity after the shooting, but c’mon bro, man up. You’re needed at her bedside. But, when he finally does go to see her, it’s the perfect moment. As Felicity asks: “Have you gone off the rails?,” all Oliver can do is give a sly smile and shrug. She is the light to his darkness. Literally. Don’t let that relationship fall apart now, Arrow writers. Hey, maybe she’s just getting her ring cleaned four months in the future during the funeral…