Warning: major spoilers ahead for the Season 4 midseason finale of Arrow.
Arrow isn’t exactly the sunniest series on primetime television, and midseason finales tend to be distinctly gloomy. Last year’s midseason finale saw Oliver run through with a sword and kicked off of a cliff, and the last thing that he saw as his life flashed before his eyes was his one and only kiss with Felicity. This year’s installment - entitled "Dark Waters" - was intense from the beginning all the way through the climactic battle against H.I.V.E., so it felt like a relief when it seemed like last year’s final scene of Oliver yearning for Felicity as he died was going to be contrasted this year with a final scene of Oliver proposing to Felicity as he smiled. Huzzah! It was a Christmas miracle.
Sadly, Oliver proposing wasn’t the final scene of the episode. The episode continued long enough for a legion of H.I.V.E. bad guys to shred Oliver and Felicity’s limousine with machine guns to the tune of “Little Drummer Boy.” Our last glimpse of the newly engaged couple saw Oliver on the ground next to the remains of the ruined limo, holding Felicity in his arms as blood gurgled out of her mouth.
Pa-rum-pum-pum-pum. Merry Christmas to you too, Arrow.
The final scene was a surprise in more ways than one. The "Previously On" segment at the beginning of the episode featured a clip of the flash-forward from the Season 4 premiere that featured Oliver weeping at a grave, so it seemed likely that the midseason finale would end with another flash-forward. Instead, it ended with Felicity knocking on death’s door in the present.
Subtlety, thy name is not Arrow.
Felicity has always been many fans’ top candidate for the big death of Season 4. The show has aired nine episodes and one crossover showing just how crazy in love Oliver is with all things Felicity; given Arrow’s penchant for torturing Oliver, Felicity dying after becoming that which he cares about most would be par for the course. It’s been hard not to wonder whether Felicity Smoak is going to be the next Gwen Stacy or Rachel Dawes, doomed to die for the development of the superhero in her life.
At the same time, there’s no denying that Oliver has already lost his fair share of Gwen Stacys and Rachel Dawes. He’s already on the upswing of his journey from poorly-coiffed toolbag Ollie to ruthless murderer to hero who fights in the light. He doesn’t need another woman to die for his development. If anything, Felicity dying would set back his development. Hopefully, Arrow will let Felicity live, if only at the very least to prevent another Oliver Queen developmental backslide.
It is worth noting that even if the second half of Season 4 opens on a shot of Oliver clutching a copy of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and getting ready to pull Felicity off of life support, she won’t be the person in the grave in the flash-forward. The funeral in the flash-forward happened six months after the premiere; the midseason finale is still three months short of the deadline. Felicity dying from her injuries sustained in “Dark Waters” wouldn’t mean that anybody else is safe.
Arrow won’t be back until 2016, so we’ll have plenty of time to wonder about just what fate awaits Miss Smoak in the second half of Season 4.