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The CW’s Arrow owes much of its success to the charisma of geeky computer genius Felicity Smoak – and the actress who plays her, Emily Bett Rickards. While consistently strong and capable throughout the show’s run, Season 3’s overwhelmingly dark tone gave Felicity less opportunities to crack wise – now it seems Season 4 will return the former IT support girl to her comedic glory.
At The CW’s TCA press tour party, Marc Guggenheim – co-showrunner for Arrow – spoke candidly with TVLine about injecting more of Ms. Smoak’s trademark humor into the show’s future,
The show got really, really dark last year, and I think [Felicity] reacted accordingly… Certainly no one was more tired of the crying than Emily [Bett Rickards], but right behind Emily was the rest of us.
The cast and crew of Arrow have made no secret that Season 4 will go in a more lighthearted direction, and Felicity represents a central aspect of that. Part of the appeal of Olicity – the fans’ nickname for the romance between Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and Felicity Smoak – came from the balance her character’s lightheartedness gave to Oliver’s darker presence. When other characters – most with tragic pasts and violent temperaments – would express somber brooding, Felicity would stumble over her words or crack wise in a way that broke the tension.
During Season 3, Felicity – while still resourceful and useful to the team – found herself at odds with many members of Team Arrow. Between her love triangle with Oliver and Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh), the death of Sara Lance, and demons from her own past coming back to haunt her, she never had a chance to express the sides of the character that the fans fell in love with.
That doesn’t mean Season 3 of Arrow was devoid of humor; charming awkwardness still defines the character, she just has become more three-dimensional, and not a caricature of a cute girl hiding behind glasses. The reveal of her sexpot mother Donna in the Season 3 episode “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak” stood out as a humorous illumination of the character’s ultimately sympathetic backstory.
Though Guggenheim promises that Felicity’s sense of humor will return, it’s hard to say what will become of Olicity. Many of the best comedic moments between Oliver and Felicity over the last three seasons stemmed from the unrealized sexual tension between the two heroes of Starling City. Full embrace of their romance could lose some of the “will they or won’t they” charm that Arrow previously possessed. Still, Felicity’s humor may prove pivotal towards Oliver’s overall shift from the solemn Arrow to the happy, more optimistic Green Arrow.
Arrow returns to The CW October 7.