In a shocking turn of events, Emily Bett Rickards, who plays tech-genius Felicity Smoak, is exiting Arrow at the end of season 7, and thus isn’t returning for the long-running Arrowverse drama’s eighth and final season. When news of her departure broke on Saturday, executive producers Beth Schwartz and Greg Berlanti said they were “heartbroken” in a statement — and it’s easy to understand why: Felicity is an integral part of Arrow.
Rickards’ character was first introduced in Arrow‘s third episode, “Lone Gunmen.” In the comics (at least up until that point), Felicity ran computer software company and was typically associated with Firestorm, whose father she actually ended up marrying. Arrow reimagined the character as a sarcastic and accidental double-entendre prone IT specialist/M.I.T. grad/reformed hacker who worked at Queen Consolidated to whom Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) turned to for help. As the story goes, Felicity was only supposed to be a one-off character; however, that ended up not being the case because of Rickards’ endearing performance made her an instant breakout. So, Felicity became a recurring character, joined what is now known as Team Arrow midway through season 1, and Rickards was promoted to series regular status ahead of season 2.
Over the next few seasons, Felicity evolved into the CW drama’s leading lady and Oliver’s primary love interest, the latter being one of the show’s biggest swerves away from DC canon. At the same time, though, Arrow also established her as a force to be reckoned with. With the ability to hack almost anything, she became the personification of “information is power” and often the deciding factor between whether or not Team Arrow saved the day or not. Honestly, it’s hard to imagine both what the team and the show itself will look like without Felicity’s hilarious asides and compassion, both of which helped make her the heart of Arrow.
In honor of such an important character, EW is running down some of Rickards’ finest hours on the show, which is currently in its seventh season. Read on below.
1. “Lone Gunmen” (Season 1, Episode 3)
Rickards brought something different to Arrow from her very first scene. At the time, Arrow was still figuring out its tone; however, Felicity’s funny, awkward, and flustered energy cut through that murkiness, and her nervous rambling at meeting Oliver for the first time made her very endearing because it was pretty relatable.
Furthermore, Rickards and Amell’s chemistry was immediately palpable, too. In the season 3 premiere, Oliver (Amell) tells Felicity that meeting her in this episode was a defining moment because it was the first time he saw another person as a person after his five hellish years away. Sure, that felt like a bit of a retcon at the time; however, it actually works when you watch their first scene together back. Up until that point, all of Oliver’s smiles felt forced and fake, which was the point; however, his smile in this scene feels genuine because both the character and Amell clearly couldn’t help but charmed by Rickards. This scene would establish the duo’s dynamic going forward.
2. “The Odyssey” (Season 1, Episode 14)
Felicity continued to prove her usefulness to the show’s superheroics as season 1 went on, helping both Oliver and Walter (Colin Salmon) with their various investigations; however, “The Odyssey” cemented that Oliver and Diggle needed her. Even though she’s justifiably distressed over Oliver’s bullet-wound, she keeps a fairly leveled head during the entire crisis and even fixes the defibrillator on the fly, allowing Diggle to save a flatlining Oliver’s life. When you rewatch this episode, it’s no wonder why Oliver and Diggle asked her to join the team.
3. “Time of Death” (Season 2, Episode 14)
Arrow never shied away from revealing her Felicity’s insecurities. In “Time of Death,” Felicity struggled with a sense of inadequacy because she was comparing herself to the rest of team, all of whom knew how to fight and were more experienced in the field. As always, Rickards made Felicity’s feelings very relatable, which in turn made the moment when she finally outsmarted the Clock King (Robert Knepper) with a cell phone all the more rewarding.
4. “City of Blood” (Season 2, Episode 21)
While the Green Arrow acquires information through torture, all Felicity needs to bend people her will is a tablet and Wi-Fi. In the above scene, Felicity simply threatens to drain a minion’s off-shore retirement fund if doesn’t tell them what Sebastian Blood and Slade have planned for the city. Of course, he eventually breaks, but not without calling Felicity a bitch. “A bitch with Wi-Fi,” she brilliantly counters. This remains one of Arrow‘s cleverest scenes to date.
5. “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak” (Season 3, Episode 5)
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Arrow‘s Felicity-centric outing featured one of Rickards’ best performance. Written by Ben Sokolowski and Brian Ford Sullivan, “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak” sees the titular hacker forced to deal with two big people from her past: Her mother Donna (Charlotte Ross), which elicited a comically exasperated performance from Rickards, and her presumed dead college boyfriend Cooper (Nolan Funk), who used a super-virus Felicity created to cripple the city, which of course caused Felicity to feel incredibly guilty. In the end, though, Felicity overcame her guilt and kicked major butt, as always, and reminded us yet again that her brain is just as formidable as Oliver’s archery skills.
6. “Uprising” (Season 3, Episode 12)
Midway through season 3, Arrow essentially sidelined Oliver for three episodes after he lost a duel with Ra’s al Ghul. Thus, Felicity stepped up and held everyone together back in Star City. The moment, though, that sticks out from this run is her impassioned rejection of Oliver’s love once he returns. “Before you left, the last thing you said to me was that you loved me,” says Felicity. “Now you’re back and the first thing you tell me is that you are working with the man who turned your sister, a woman you’re supposed to love into a killer, who killed a woman you used to love. I don’t want to be a woman that you love.”
7. “Underneath” (Season 5, Episode 20)
In the Wendy Mericle and Schwartz-penned quasi-bottle episode, season 5 big bad Prometheus sets off an EMP that traps the two then-former lovers in the bunker, and thus forces them to deal with their issues — specifically, the double standard in their relationship: Felicity always backs Oliver no matter what, but he never gives her the same courtesy because he doesn’t trust her. Both Rickards and Amell took us on an emotional journey through their relationship that ended with reconciliation and understanding.
8. “We Fall” (Season 6, Episode 11)
Two words: Felicity’s monologue! At the end of this episode, Felicity delivers a poignant speech, written by Speed Weed and Spiro Skentzos, that touches on heroism, family, hope, and oh so many other things as she and William (Jack Moore) watch Oliver and the team in the heat of battle via security cameras. It’s one of the rare times where we’re shown an action sequence from Felicity’s perspective, and director Wendey Stanzler allows us to see the concern she no doubt feels all of the time camera by lingering on her face. Furthermore, Rickards’ delivery is perfectly restrained and her performance conveys the years of history.
9-10. “Due Process” and “Brothers & Sisters” (Season 7, Episodes 6 and 14)
At the beginning of season 7, Arrow took Felicity down a dark path as she was willing to do anything to take down Ricardo Diaz (Kirk Acevedo) and free her husband. On paper, Felicity considering killing Diaz seemed like a bit of a stretch given what we knew about the character; however, Rickards bridged that gap and effectively conveyed how constantly living in fear while Oliver was imprisoned change Felicity and made us actually worried that Felicity might cross that line. Thankfully, she didn’t, and we all breathed a sigh of relief at the end of “Brothers & Sisters.”
Arrow returns Monday, April 15 at 9 p.m. on The CW.
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