Arrow fans were stunned on Saturday by the news that Emily Bett Rickards, who plays the fan-favorite character Felicity Smoak, will be leaving The CW series at the end of its current season, Season 7. With Season 8 set to be Arrow's last, the announcement left fans wondering how the exit will be handled on the series. Now, while we don't know exactly how it will happen, showrunner Beth Schwartz confirms that it will be addressed at the end of Season 7.
TV Line spoke with Schwartz at the Writers Guild Foundation's WGFestival on Sunday and she confirmed that Rickard's exit from the series won't be left for explanation in the Season 8 premiere.
"[It] is addressed at the end of this season," Schwartz said.
She went on to note that going into writing the Season 7 finale "we kinda knew" that Rickards may be departing the series.
Rickards made the surprise departure announcement via a poetic message to fans on Instagram Saturday.
"Felicity and I
are a very tight two
But after one through seven
we will be saying goodbye to you," Rickards wrote in part.
Rickards' role as Felicity on Arrow started as what was intended to be a one-off appearance in "Lone Gunmen", the third episode of Arrow's first season., however, positive reaction to the character prompted Rickards' role to be expanded to recurring and then regular. Because of how deeply integrated Felicity is with Team Arrow -- she serves as de facto operations leader for Team Arrow and is a major part of Oliver Queen/Green Arrow's (Stephen Amell) non-vigilante life as his wife, the character's absence is going to be a significant one.
However, the show has somewhat been setting up for it. Recent episodes have revealed that while Felicity is currently pregnant with the child that will grow up to be Mia Smoak/Blackstar, not everyone on Team Arrow will be aware of this development. Even more specifically, the episode "Star City 2040" revealed that Felicity and Oliver retreat to a home in a remote area where Mia is actually born and grows up without Oliver in her life. While it's not explained where Oliver is, much is made about how important it is that their remote location is for their safety. It's not impossible that this is roughly how Felicity's departure will be presented: a self-imposed exile in order to protect their daughter from the Green Arrow's various foes.
As for whether Rickards will return for Arrow's series finale -- the show will return for ten episodes this fall -- Schwartz was unable to offer any information on that front.
"I cannot comment on that," Schwartz said.
Arrow airs Mondays at 9/8c on The CW.
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