The following contains spoilers from this Wednesday’s episode of Arrow.
Pop quiz: What does the Green Arrow’s latest adversary have in common with Oliver’s fiancée Felicity?
That answer, in a moment.
This week on the CW series, former team member Roy “Arsenal” Harper (played by Colton Haynes) was blackmailed by a hacktivist known as The Calculator to pinch some Palmer Tech toys. After Roy was rescued from his forced servitude, The Calculator (Everwood‘s Tom Amandes) faced off against Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards), over the computer wires and thus never laying eyes on each other. Ms. Smoak would emerge the victor in that clash of keyboards, but her business with the mysterious menace was far from over. Because after giving a rousing presentation to the Palmer Tech board, she came face-to-face with The Calculator’s public persona, Noah Cutler. Or as she knows him, “Dad?!”
With that reveal capping the episode, TVLine turned to showrunner Wendy Mericle for exclusive insight on the awaited introduction of Papa Smoak, how chilly a welcome he will receive and for how long he might stick around.
TVLINE | Before we get into who Felicity’s father is, I wanted to walk about who he isn’t. Why did you so freely dismiss the Damien Darhk theory at the beginning of the season? And why did you nix him as the eventual reveal?
You know, we did talk about it, and being perfectly honest, we knew Andy Diggle was going to be working with H.I.V.E. and with Damien, so we felt that if we had every relative of our core team somehow involved with H.I.V.E. it would feel very “Tiny Town,” very coincidental. It was purely a choice based on that. It kind of narrowed the scope of the world too much, and we felt it was better to find an organic way to bring in Felicity’s father. The other piece is that if it was Damien or tied to H.I.V.E., it would make it harder to bring him back, say, in Season 5.
TVLINE | I was going to say, Damien is probably a little too evil for these purposes.
It’s too close. And also it’d be very close to Thea’s discovery [about her own father, Malcolm]. There were a lot of things we felt we had skirted and done before, and we didn’t want to repeat stories.
TVLINE | So how did you arrive at The Calculator as his identity and the particular way you introduced him?
It was kind of a double whammy. We knew we wanted to bring Roy back, and we wanted to do that in a way that was organic. When we sent him off, we pretty much sold the world on the idea that he was the Arrow and he was gone, so we needed somebody who was going to be able to dig out that information and be really smart about it. We wanted Felicity’s father to be somebody who had a very similar skill set to her, to kind of explain the genetics of her brainpower, and it just seemed like a perfect marriage to have Roy working for this guy who seemingly has a higher, better agenda, something that has some socially conscious angle, but doing it in ways that are very questionable.
TVLINE | Why now, with Felicity’s dad? She’s got a lot on her plate at the moment.
[Laughs] It was really motivated off of what happened in [the midseason finale]. The fact that she goes through what she goes through and has to deal with this disability and the wheelchair, we feel like that really put her in the public eye and put her back on her father’s radar.
TVLINE | So, has he been keeping tabs on her?
I would say he has not been for most of her life, only in the past few months. It’s sad to say, but he’s not a devoted father! You’ll see a bit more of that [next week], his reasons for doing what he did. But he’s a complicated character.
TVLINE | It won’t be one of those things like, “Don’t worry, child, I’ve been keeping track of you from afar. I was actually there when you graduated from high school….“
That’s a little stalkery, yeah. [Laughs] But he did turn up in a fun place at the end of [this week’s episode].
TVLINE | What distinct reactions will Felicity and Donna (Charlotte Ross) have?
Well, Donna will be very clear — she knows who he is and what he’s capable of, and she wants nothing to do with him. But Felicity, we really wanted to play the real of someone who is in her twenties and really has not known their father, and what kind of emotions would that bring up for somebody in her position. I think she’s really conflicted. She wants to believe that her father loves her and that he has a vested interest in who she is and knowing her and having a relationship with her, and she feels very torn about that — even though she knows right off that bat, at the top of [next episode], who he really is.
TVLINE | And as you said, you also want keep it different enough from the Thea/Malcolm reveal and tension.
Very much. There were a lot of echoes and we went down a lot of avenues as you would do when breaking a story of, “Oh wait, we did that with Malcolm and Thea.”
TVLINE | Plus whatever Wally and Joe are going through on The Flash.
TVLINE | For how long will Tom Amendes be around?
We love him. He’s one of those rare actors who can be both menacing and really warm and kind and fatherly, so we would love to keep him around as long as possible. It’s just a question of us having a lot of other fish to fry this season. But our goal would be to have him play a part in Felicity’s life going forward.