Arrow's Felicity Smoak: Love Her or Leave Her?
Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards
Oliver's Scooby Gang on Arrow has expanded over Season 1 to include stylish hacker Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards). While many cheered the news that Rickards was being promoted to series regular next year, TVGuide.com's Sadie Gennis couldn't help but roll her eyes in dread. Although Sadie often feels like the minority in her frustration with Felicity, she's finally gotten the nerve to speak out against Starling City's go-to IT girl. Of course, TVGuide.com's resident comic-book expert Natalie Abrams couldn't let her diss Felicity without a fight. Check out their arguments for and against Felicity below.
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Sadie Says: I don't want Oliver to have a moral compass. My love of psychopaths and Oliver's (Stephen Amell) darker side is well-documented, so why would I want him to have a bigger conscience? And that's exactly what Felicity brings to the gang. Since returning from the island, Ollie's dead eyes have already bid adieu as Oliver has adjusted to real life and become naturally sympathetic toward others (all without losing his edge, thank God). That's mainly thanks to Diggle (David Ramsey), who's provided just enough ethical grounding to keep our hero nice and bad. We don't need yet another outside force guilt-tripping Oliver over his vengeful nature. Just let him do his thing! Everything was going fine before Felicity came in on her high horse, because when it comes down to it, no one wants a domesticated vigilante.
Natalie Says: Felicity is needed to keep Oliver from turning into Showtime's serial killer Dexter. Sure, Diggle has been able to provide some moral balance for Oliver, but even he isn't perfect, as evidenced by his path for vengeance against Deadshot. When it comes to vigilantes, there's a fine line between justice and revenge — a line that Oliver constantly walks — but thanks to Felicity, who has always held Oliver to a higher standard, he toes the line without becoming the villain. Because who really wants to see Oliver end up being the bad guy?
Sadie Says: Felicity's quirk is only good in small doses. Felicity's scenes with Oliver often bring a smile to my face, because after so much murder it's refreshing to hear a joke or two. But while I applaud her ability to lighten the mood, the idea of Felicity being around even more next season makes me cringe. Her quips themselves may be clever, but there's something about the way Rickards delivers her lines that both frustrates and bores me. I can't help but compare her to other female TV hackers and sleuths (especially my beloved Veronica Mars and Mac), who infused every line with such personality and sass, whereas Felicity is just sort of ... there. Instilling Arrow with any more of her quirk (especially the overly contrived "Look at me! I'm different!" moments) will have me reaching for the mute button.
Natalie Says: Have patience and appreciation for Felicity's quirks. To be fair, Rickards has so few previous credits to her name, so I'm all the more impressed by her quick-witted delivery, which adds levity to the dark world of Arrow. She also seems to have grown more comfortable with this role — mirroring Felicity's comfort with being a member of the Scooby Gang — meaning she'll only get better each subsequent season. We haven't even gotten a chance to know Felicity's past yet, which will surely be enlightening on how the quiet IT gal became the hero's sidekick. And as for the sass, who needs it? Sometimes nice girls can finish first.
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Sadie Says: Olicity should never happen. I don't hate Felicity, but I do hate the notion of her as a love interest for Oliver. Felicity is Oliver's first post-Island female relationship that hasn't led to romance, which is exactly why it should stay that way. In a refreshing gender reversal, he's only interested in what's between her ears — not her legs. I love that Ollie doesn't objectify her (because she is, without a doubt, hot), but I wish Felicity was equally unfazed by Oliver. Yes, he's constantly flaunting those abs and biceps, but that doesn't mean she has to turn into a slack-jawed school girl every time. I can understand if the producers want Felicity to act as an in-show surrogate for our own ogling gaze, but I can't root for their potential romance when just the thought of his body infantilizes her.
Natalie Says: Olicity should happen, but not be the end game. We all know that — unless the producers decide to wildly change the canon — Oliver and Laurel (Katie Cassidy) are the end game. But why watch Oliver pine after his former flame for multiple seasons until they're ready for a real, game-changing relationship? Enter Felicity, who's always harbored a crush on him. The duo could share even the shortest of flings before realizing that they aren't right together, but at least she could facilitate Oliver's growth in the relationship department in order to prepare him for the end game.
Sadie Says: She's just another Manic Pixie Dream Girl. What does Felicity want? What does Felicity fear (besides kangaroos, that is)? Beyond the most superficial observations, I have no real sense of who Felicity is — except in regards to her relationship with Oliver. That's because she's just another one-dimensional, eccentric girly girl whose only purpose is to teach our brooding hero to embrace life and be less cynical. She, in short, is the very definition of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, whose shallow character development is hidden by spontaneity and easy-to-digest quirk. I love the idea of Arrow having a smart, tough, feminine woman, but only if they allow Felicity to exist autonomously, with her own agenda and desires.
Natalie Says: Felicity has hidden depth! Maybe you're not looking deep enough. Here's this girl who clearly didn't have any friends or family — certainly no one is wondering why she's constantly MIA while helping Oliver — who was completely ensconced in work and was lacking in both social skills and street smarts. Now, Felicity is preparing for her second go in the field and she's able to not only talk to Oliver without acting like a fool, but assist him in tracking down villains. Her compassion is exactly what's kept her on the team and there has to be a reason why — something I'm sure we'll find out next season.
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Sadie Says: We don't need another superhero. This isn't The Avengers. All of our main characters don't need to have super-alter egos. We've already unmasked Helena (Jessica de Gouw) and Merlyn (John Barrowman); and with Laurel, Tommy (Colin Donnell), Thea (Willa Holland) and Roy (Colton Haynes) already positioned as potential heroes (or villains), we really don't need one more vigilante roaming the streets — at least not another one from Oliver's inner circle. But since Felicity has now begun training, I'm starting to worry she'll one day follow Oliver into the field. They already have The Huntress and Black Canary, so who's to say she wouldn't complete the original Birds of Prey trio and become Oracle? She's certainly got the smarts for it. But Felicity's everyday-girl vibe is one of her greatest attributes and making her a superhero would take that away.
Natalie Says: Bring on the superheroes... at the right time! While I always loved Smallville, it certainly lacked in introducing other superheroes into the fold until later seasons — darn you, licensing rights! If Arrow has the opportunity to bring the whole darn Justice League on board, I'd be more than excited. And I agree that making her Oracle would be interesting, but as the producers have always said, it took five years on the island for Oliver to become Arrow, which means it will take a lengthy evolution for any of those listed above to turn into their comic-book counterparts — Felicity included. By Season 3, Felicity could certainly come into her own and even take up training with the guys. Believable in Season 1? Of course not, but at the rate Arrow is going, we've got plenty of time!
Who do you agree with? Hit the comments with your thoughts!
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.