What are the odds of Emily Bett Rickards returning in Arrow season 8?
Note: contains spoilers for the final episode of Arrow season seven
Arrow fans have dealt with a lot over the years, including fan-favourite deaths and a bizarre yet brief foray into the world of magic but perhaps the hardest thing of all was hearing that Emily Bett Rickards would leave the show by the end of season seven.
Even as the Arrowverse continues to expand outwards, Team Arrow remains the heart and soul of this franchise. Felicity Smoak was a core member of that team so her exit came as a huge surprise.
In the season-seven finale it briefly seemed like Felicity and Oliver Queen might retire in peace along with their newborn baby Mia but, unfortunately, that wasn’t meant to be. Before long, The Monitor – who we last saw in the Elseworlds crossover – returned to collect his debt from Oliver, forcing him to leave Felicity behind on a fatal mission to save the Multiverse.
The show then jumped forward in time to visit an older version of Felicity, who bid her children goodbye before meeting The Monitor again. This time round she stepped through a blue portal to rejoin Oliver in some unknown location but before she went, The Monitor reminded Felicity that “Where I’m taking you, there is no return.”
Moving forward, co-star David Ramsey recently admitted to Digital Spy that he and the rest of the cast are also struggling with this "no return" scenario: "We go back and Emily's not a part of it. That's a big thing. Y'know, no one really wants to do that show."
Fortunately though, there’s still a chance that Rickards could reprise the role in some capacity before Arrow bows out completely at the end of season eight.
Speaking to TVLine, The CW president Mark Pedowitz revealed that Olicity may still reunite somehow on screen, explaining that "if Beth [Schwartz, showrunner] can find a way to bring her back that makes sense, and Emily is available, we'd love to have her. Otherwise, I'm pleased by how they said goodbye to the character."
Story-wise, it’s hard to disagree with what Pedowitz is saying. Felicity’s goodbye was heart-wrenching and yet made total sense, bringing her seven season story arc to a natural close. However, her absence in the final episode ever would still feel strange even so and plenty of fans remain hopeful that Rickards will return at least briefly by the end of season eight.
Arrow’s 100th episode brought back a number of familiar faces to celebrate that milestone, so it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to imagine the final episode doing something similar, reuniting the core of Team Arrow briefly one last time.
There are plenty of ways to bring Felicity back without detracting from her departure, most notably in the form of flashbacks. More than perhaps any other show, Arrow does love a good time jump – perhaps the finale could go back to where it all started when Olicity first met in the third episode of season one?
Other possibilities include time travel and even the existence of alternate versions of Felicity from other Earths but whatever happens, any potential return would likely be brief. When Arrow comes back later this year, the final season will only last for ten episodes and won’t have much room for a big Felicity arc anyway, assuming that Rickards would even want to return so soon after leaving.
In a recent interview with Collider, the Arrow star hinted that Felicity’s tenure on the show might really be over for good: "I don’t know if anybody is going to like what I’m saying, but I feel like Felicity has done her time. We knew this was coming for a while – for over a year – so the whole thing is exactly what we wanted to happen. I trust the writers, and that’s in their hands."
However, Rickards has since provided fans with some hope during a recent appearance at MCM Comic Con in London, saying that, "[A return is] not completely up to me. Never say never."
Whether Rickards wants to appear on the show one last time or not, it’s clear that the role of Felicity means a lot to her.
When she first announced her departure from the show, Rickards thanked the character for all the time they spent together: "Felicity and I are a very tight two, but after one through seven we will be saying goodbye to you… I will keep her in my heart for always and I hope that you can too because she would not be alive if it weren’t for all of you."
Whatever happens, Arrow fans should also be grateful. In an often po-faced programme, Felicity balanced Oliver out with her own warmth and light. Although she might be gone for good, Rickards is still very much the heart and soul of the Arrowverse’s founding show.
Arrow airs on The CW in the US, and Sky One and NOW TV in the UK.
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