Arrow is going to look very different in its eighth and final season thanks to a new event-episode format and the shortened episode order, but also because it's missing a beloved and familiar face.

Emily Bett Rickards announced this spring that she would not be returning as a series regular for Arrow's eighth season, and at the end of Season 7, we saw her enter a portal in the future timeline to presumably be taken to reunite with Oliver (Stephen Amell) in the afterlife — or whatever the inter-dimensional equivalent of that is. In the present timeline, Felicity is in hiding with baby Mia in their quaint cabin in the woods, which explains Rickards' absence, but don't expect her to be far from the hearts and minds of those characters still on-screen.

"She is ever-present in Oliver's mind," Amell said of Felicity in Season 8. "We found Oliver can't wear his wedding ring in the premiere for a very specific reason, but he can wear it in the second episode. And it wasn't built into the script, but I spoke to our director, Antonio Negret, and we built a moment of Oliver putting his ring back on and thinking about it. So Emily's gone, off the show, but Felicity and William and Mia are ever-present in Oliver's mind."

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One person Oliver will no doubt depend on for support while he's forced to be away from his wife and children is Diggle (David Ramsey), and Ramsey is completely in agreement that a season entirely without Felicity Smoak is just not an appealing prospect for anyone.

"You can't have this season of Arrow without talking about Mia and Felicity," Ramsey told TV Guide. "I think there's even talks that Emily will be back. Who knows? So, you know, there's hope."

Speaking of that hope, Amell said that Felicity's promise that they'll find each other again one day is what's keeping Oliver going through this final season. "That gives him purpose and allows him to move forward because he knows that somewhere along the way, in the immortal words of Chris Cooper from The Town, 'This side or the other,' they'll find each other."

Feel free to go sob now.

Arrow's final season premieres Tuesday, Oct. 15 at 9/8c on The CW.

(Disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of CBS Corporation.)

Emily Bett Rickards, <em>Arrow</em>Emily Bett Rickards, Arrow