"Arrow" returns on April 24, and as the episode's title "Home Invasion" suggests, things will hit close to home for Oliver (Stephen Amell), and his allies Diggle (David Ramsey) and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards).
The Huffington Post recently caught up with Rickards and executive producer Marc Guggenheim to preview what's ahead in the final four episodes of Season 1 and discuss the show's compelling relationships, including the unexpected popularity of what fans have termed "Olicity," the chemistry between troubled vigilante Oliver and tech-guru Felicity -- despite Oliver already being caught up in a potent love triangle with his ex-girlfriend Laurel (Katie Cassidy) and best friend Tommy (Colin Donnell). Superheroes really are chick magnets.
But first things first: Guggenheim previewed what fans can expect from "Home Invasion," which will see our hooded hero "torn between the two closest people in his life ... Diggle and Laurel. It’s really about, 'Where do Oliver’s deeper loyalties lie?' The choice that he makes in Episode 20 will have far-reaching consequences for the remainder of the season."
That conflict stems from the reemergence of Deadshot (Michael Rowe), the assassin who killed Diggle's brother. "In Episode 16, Diggle learned that Deadshot, who he previously thought Oliver had killed, was still running around alive. So, he’s been kind of obsessed with finding his brother’s killer and bringing him to his version of justice. That all comes to a head in ["Home Invasion"]," Guggenheim said. "But unfortunately, it comes to a head at the same time as Laurel is facing a new problem of her own. So Oliver finds himself torn in two different directions."
And while Laurel is never far from Oliver's mind, it's obvious that the writers are also paying attention to the sudden popularity of the "Olicity" dynamic. Guggenheim was recently teasing fans on Twitter with Oliver and Felicity quotes from upcoming episodes, and the executive producer admitted, "That's just been so much fun to do ... I had no idea it would be engendering such a response."
As for whether fans would be satisfied with those lines in context, Guggenheim was coy. "I think there’s a lot of really great moments between Oliver and Felicity in the final four episodes of the season. That’s really what people will respond to. There’s a scene that they share in Episode 22 where just the chemistry is just so palpable. I was actually just on set telling Stephen that you really feel there’s a lot of chemistry and heat between the two of them. So, the shippers are only going to get louder post-Episode 22."
Still, the EP added, "the final four episodes really are about this love triangle of Oliver, Laurel and Tommy. That’s the love triangle that we began the series with so we felt it appropriate to finish the season with a focus on it. That love triangle really starts to come to a boil with Wednesday’s episode, Episode 20. That kicks us off for the remaining three episodes of the season after that. The truth of the matter is that we sort of have to play that out first before we can play out Oliver and Felicity. But I love the fact that people are shipping them. It really is exciting. There’s nothing but love for Felicity among all the people involved in the show. So, stay tuned. But in the meantime, I gained a lot of satisfaction by teasing people."
Read on for our conversation with Rickards on her reaction to the Oliver/Felicity shippers and what's ahead for our favorite IT whiz, including a solo mission and characters she's hoping to work with.
People have really embraced Felicity so passionately, both in terms of her character and her chemistry with Oliver. What's your reaction been to that, being at the center of it all?
It’s so interesting to me because before Felicity, I haven’t been able to explore a character on TV as well as this, and seeing that evolve and watching the fans' reaction, watching the show, knowing what we felt in the scene, knowing what we felt reading it, is all strange along the same lines. It’s really interesting to see what people can pick up on. Because as Felicity, my first scene I ever did -- that I thought was going to be the only scene I was going to do with Oliver -- obviously I was thinking, “OK, Felicity thinks he’s hot.” He walks in there and he’s got that jaw and I’m sure he’s got abs, and I’m in glasses and a really unflattering pink-colored shirt -- which is flattering for Felicity. [Laughs.] I’m glad they want that to happen, because it’s the girl behind glasses trying to win the superhero, and that’s just sort of sweet. It would be nice for it to happen, but it’s also nice having the tension, because everyone loves the tension, the tightrope.
Marc has been teasing the fans on Twitter, throwing out Oliver and Felicity lines from Episodes 21 and 22 ...
He is good at that isn’t he? He has some good lines coming out.
Do you think they'll be what fans are expecting, in context? Do you think they'll be satisfying or disappointing when we actually see them?
I don’t think even I can guarantee Felicity’s delivery on any of these lines, because a lot of them are momentary. They only happen once a certain way, because they are all very unfiltered, those lines that Marc's giving out, with the underlying double entendres ... I think they'll always be happy with how they come out -- I sure hope so.
What can you preview about this week's episode and what Felicity will be up to when Deadshot resurfaces?
She’s doing her thing behind the computer. She’s tracking people, she’s finding people, she’s trying to help the team, and she’s also trying to keep the camaraderie and relationship between Oliver and Diggle and Felicity strong. She doesn’t want it to falter or tip more. With tension -- and breaking through tension -- in any sort of relationship, friendship, family, love, that sort of thing, you get through tension and it makes us stronger. I think what Felicity would always rather do is avoid tension completely. We get to see the balance of Felicity, Oliver and Diggle’s trio waiver. The scales are tipping.
Are the guys actually going to come to blows with Felicity caught in the middle?
Yeah, Felicity gets to spend a little bit more time with Oliver, which I’m sure everyone will be happy with, and she gets to spend time with Diggle too, and she’s trying to be neutral -- she's Switzerland. She knows that they need to figure it out, but she’s just trying to help it move along faster, because there are lives at stake. “Come on, guys! There are people going to die here. There are arrows being shot, and somebody has a gun!"
Next week's episode, "The Undertaking," will see Felicity's first mission in the field alone. What can you reveal about that?
We get to see her out in the field and she’s playing a character, which is also kind of fun. The character has a name actually, so that’s kind of cool. We get to see her sort of step across dangerous borders, and she’s voluntarily putting herself out there. She does volunteer herself to do it. It is extremely dangerous. She has her superhero on standby, but that is the last resort. Her going out on the field is a last resort, and Oliver coming into the field that she’s on is also a last resort, so there are stakes and danger with both situations. We do [also] get to find out a little bit more about Walter [Colin Salmon], and I think the audience will be really happy with where it leads.
We've seen Diggle and Oliver trying to train her in hand-to-hand combat. Is she going to be fighting while she's out in the field?
Not quite. She doesn’t get into close quarters combat quite yet. I think what the training with Diggle and Oliver is doing is building her confidence as well. Just being able to protect yourself in any sort of way or feeling strength, you do become more confident, and I think that’s really important for her. She does volunteer herself in this episode to go out on to the field, and that has to come from confidence. It has to come from some sort of self-security in some way. In Episode 3, there was no way that she was going to be, ”Hey, I’m going to go out and look at a gun." She would be like, “I’m never going to look at a gun ever.”
We don't know much about the penultimate episode, "Darkness on the Edge of Town." Is there anything you're allowed to tease?
The finale …people think it’s going to be big. It’s going to be huge. [Episode] 22 could be a finale -- 22 is also huge, so if you think 22 is huge, what is 23? I don't know: it's enormous.
Might we see a Dark Archer encounter before the end of the season? Obviously, she wouldn't be going head to head with him, but perhaps crossing paths?
We don’t see them going head to head. We do see Felicity learning more about the Dark Archer, as Diggle, Felicity and Oliver learn more about the Dark Archer ... There are episodes that are going to revolve around the Dark Archer, which is really fun, but no.
Felicity has mostly been involved with her core trio so far. Have you had the opportunity to work with characters outside of Diggle and Oliver in the final few episodes?
No Roy, no Thea -- hopefully in Season 2. We do get to see Felicity meet more characters out and about. I was thrilled, personally as a selfish Emily Rickard sort of thing: ”I get to work with more of the cast!” because we hang out, but working with them is totally different. So yeah, Felicity does get to meet more characters, and that’s exciting. It's just nice to see people meet ... I always find it really interesting watching people meet on the street, do you know what I mean? And we never actually get to see it unless you’re really looking for it, and you never really know who the people are, so it’s always interesting in a show or a movie to see characters meet, just cross paths, or say hi, or “Sorry, I bumped into you.” Those things are always really cool. I love that sort of stuff. Felicity gets to say hi to Laurel at some point, but you’ll have to watch for that.
"Arrow" airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.
Are you rooting for Oliver and Felicity to get together, or do you think he should end up with Laurel? Weigh in below!