The CW’s Arrow has always excelled at producing a killer cliffhanger, and the cliffhanger from the midseason finale of Season 4 was a big one. The episode closed on the image of Felicity shot and unconscious, and the weeks since have been filled with rampant speculation about what’s next for everybody’s favorite Star City hacker. One popular and well-supported theory was that Felicity would be left paralyzed from the waist down, eventually taking on the identity of popular DC cyber-heroine Oracle. According to executive producer Wendy Mericle, however, that won’t be the case.
That’s something we definitely talked about [doing] with Felicity in the beginning. But yeah, it will not be Oracle, sadly. People have to tune in to see what happens.

Wendy Mericle’s illuminating chat with TV Line may have revealed that the folks behind the scenes at Arrow were a bit sad that Oracle was not going to work out as Felicity’s new alter ego in Season 4, but fans might not be too disappointed. Arrow has been accused of stealing from Batman lore in the past, and taking former Batgirl Barbara Gordon’s code name might have gone a bit too far. There’s no reason why Mericle and Co. can’t take Felicity in a more original and equally awesome direction with a code name and storyline when Arrow returns from its winter hiatus on January 20.

That said, we have plenty of reasons to believe that Felicity’s story in the second half of Season 4 will be awfully similar to that of Oracle, and not just because of their cyber skills.

Warning: major spoilers ahead.

For one thing, the Season 3 episode about Felicity’s hacker beginnings was originally titled “Oracle” before being changed to “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak,” and Felicity’s skills have always been so close to those of Barbara Gordon that it seemed likely at the time that she could take the name of Oracle without necessarily suffering the same tragedy as Barbara. Felicity being shot in the midseason finale this year just seemed to prove that she’d be getting the tragedy as well.

More telling were the recent leaked set photos that featured actress Emily Bett Rickards in a wheelchair. Most telling of all, however, was the Australian trailer that seemed to definitively answer the question of just how close Felicity’s story would come to that of Oracle: pretty damn close.

So much for the reports of a lighter Season 4 and a return to funny Felicity. Crippling Felicity a la Oracle is one of the darkest things that Arrow has ever done to a character. Of course, only time will tell if Felicity is destined to remain wheelchair-bound and Oracle-esque forever. Few things are ever permanent in a world of time travel and magic and pools of resurrecting waters, and Felicity’s paralysis may well be resolved by the end of Season 4.

Arrow returns to its regular CW time slot of 8 p.m. ET on January 20. To see when the rest of your favorite shows are premiering and returning, check out our midseason TV schedule.

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