In many ways, Arrow's fifth season has been a bit of a return to form for the series, following two critically-panned previous seasons. Introducing a large batch of new characters, one of the most admirable and exciting aspects of the season so far has been its willingness to throw out traditional character dynamics and cliches; giving the series the kind of mature, refreshing pace and tone that feels fitting for a superhero series that's been on the air as long as Arrow has. After having continuously changed the Team Arrow roster as well, the show's 2016 midseason finale continued to throw wrenches into the lives of its heroes - with the unexpected and shocking death of Billy Malone, Felicity's (Emily Bett Rickards) love interest in the season.
Billy's death, as most fans are already aware, came at the hands of Oliver (Stephen Amell), after being tricked into killing the police detective by the villainous Prometheus. In the episode itself, Felicity seemed to handle the news much better than fans might have expected, or she might have in one of the show's earlier seasons. However, it now sounds like Malone's death may send Felicity down a path unlike any she's been on before.
Speaking with EW, executive producer Marc Guggenheim talked about what fans can expect from the second half of Arrow season 5, and teased specifically, how it will test Felicity's moral compass in a way that really only Oliver and some of the other characters have encountered before - in which she'll be tempted to take shortcuts in the hopes of bringing justice to Prometheus:
"At the beginning of every year, we figure out: What do we want to see our characters go through? What are their emotional journeys for the season? We were intrigued by the idea of Felicity flirting with the dark side. The reason I say flirting is Felicity is very much the light of the show; she provides a lot of lightness in what is otherwise a very dark drama. One thing you don’t want to do is you don’t want to tell a story where she suddenly starts becoming this dark element. You don’t want to tell a story where all the reasons why people love the character are gone. It’s this delicate balancing act.
In the wake of Malone’s death, she’s very influenced by her prior four years of watching Oliver and Diggle — and Laurel, Roy (Colton Haynes), and Thea (Willa Holland) for that matter. She’s been watching Team Arrow respond to darkness with what I would describe as moral compromise. What we’ve done is we’ve found a story where Felicity could be tempted by taking moral shortcuts in the name of the greater good, which is very much in keeping with the central dilemma at the heart of the whole show, which is becoming judge, jury, and executioner is the ultimate moral shortcut. She’s not going to become judge, jury, and executioner, she’s not going to become a killer, but we found the Felicity version, or the Felicity equivalent, of making a moral compromise in order to accomplish good. I don’t think she’s really pushing everyone away, but she’s definitely on her own path."
After taking more than a month off for its winter hiatus, Arrow is set to return tonight with "Who Are You?", an episode that will feature Oliver and the rest of the team trying to come to terms with and understand the truth behind Laurel's unexpected and unexplained return, while Felicity begins her road to vengeance on Prometheus. Following the villain's big moves in the final couple of episodes last year too, it seems like Arrow has some big plans in mind for the rest of the season; as it tries to not only keep the momentum from its midseason finale going, but also maintain a certain sense of mystery around its main villain, for at least a little while longer.
Just a little less than halfway through the season, though, and already Prometheus is shaping up to be one of Arrow's most formidable villains to date. Unpredictable, merciless, and calculated, he's the kind of mental and physical match that Oliver really hasn't faced in quite some time, and one that forces him to reckon with the mistakes and choices he's made over the past five years since returning to Star City. It looks like Oliver won't be the only member of Team Arrow forced to suffer the consequences either, and seeing how Felicity evolves and struggles in this second half of the season should prove to be one of its most interesting and emotional storylines.
Arrow returns to The CW tonight with ‘Who Are You’ at 8 p.m.