Did 'Arrow' Just Set Up Felicity's Exit in "Spartan"?

As the season works towards its conclusion, Arrow fans are bracing themselves for a difficult goodbye. Emily Bett Rickards is leaving the show at the end of the season, meaning that her character Felicity Smoak will be exiting as well. With the character's departure set to be addressed before the season ends, each episode brings that goodbye a little closer. Tonight, that departure may have just gotten a significant set up in "Spartan."

Spoilers for tonight's episode of Arrow, "Spartan", below.

A significant plot development in the back half of Arrow this season has been Felicity's creation of the Archer program. She's even gone so far as to start up Smoak Technologies and hire her friend Alena Whitlock to help her further develop the program. While there have been challenges with the intrusive surveillance program things are looking up early in the episode. Dr. Will Magnus is looking to get involved with some serious money. However, The Ninth Circle soon makes a mess of that by showing up and stealing Archer.

Archer being stolen is a huge stressor for Felicity and not just because of the villainous applications it has. She's worried about her legacy, what mark she will leave on the world. As she tells Alena, she wanted it to be for more than just being Overwatch. It's this concern that creates a difficult moment for Felicity near the episode's end. She's able to track and gain some access to Archer but can't wrest control of it back from The Ninth Circle. Faced with that, she has to make the difficult choice to destroy the program. It's a move that in theory saves the world but destroys her hard work -- her legacy. Later, while she's still processing her decision, Alena reminds her that she will still have a legacy other than Overwatch and Felicity is set to work on the next, world-changing idea.

It's worth noting here that Alena did save Archer's root coding so it can be recreated. Felicity isn't interested in that, but as we see in the flash forward timeline, someone ends up doing it, eventually. But, back to the present. How does the episode set up for Felicity's departure? For starters, the repeated mention of Felicity having a greater legacy than Overwatch -- her Team Arrow role -- is significant. It appears that she's grown tired of filling that role in a sense and is ready to do something more for the benefit of Star City and the world. With her family expanding, that would make sense. There's also the fact that Dr. Magnus is an expert in robotic engineering. Given that Felicity had originally planned to go into business to change the world with the implantable bio-stimulant similar to what is in her own spine (back when Smoak Tech was Helix Dynamics and she was working with Curtis Hold, it wouldn't be too far of a stretch to see her looking to go that route again -- or too far a stretch to see Magus being interested in that as well.

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Whatever Felicity ends up doing going forward, "Spartan" definitely lays the groundwork for her to be seeking to make her mark away from the team and fans will have to keep tuning in to see exactly what that is.

Arrow airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.