Warning: The following contains spoilers from Monday’s Arrow.
On this week’s Arrow, Oliver Queen went to war with Ricardo Diaz within the walls of Sladside prison— and came out the other side a free man!
After Diaz let all the inmates loose, an epic battle ensued in which Oliver teamed up with former foe Bronze Tiger, and Brick and Sampson met their end. (Oliver’s “pal” Stanley, meanwhile, escaped the prison after killing Brick.) As for The Dragon, he survived, but Oliver did lock up Diaz in a cell. Then, as promised in his deal, Oliver was released from prison, and reunited with Diggle and Felicity, who were waiting for him just outside the fence. As relief washed over both their faces, Oliver and Felicity kissed — but the couple is far from out of the woods.
During their battle, Diaz told a disbelieving Oliver that Felicity almost shot him, and “pretty quickly, [Oliver learns] that a lot of the stuff that Diaz was saying about Felicity is true,” star Stephen Amell previewed during TVLine’s recent set visit, adding that he and his TV wife Emily Bett Rickards share “some really fantastic scenes” in next Monday’s episode.
While reconciling this new, darker version of Felicity takes some adjustment, “we do work it out pretty quickly,” Amell said. “We come to an understanding that nothing’s ever going to be perfect. … Nothing’s ever going to be perfect or normal about our relationship, and I think that the sooner that the two of them accept that, the sooner that they can move on with their lives.”
But it’s not just Felicity who has changed during the past few months. “I spent a lot of time talking with [showrunner] Beth [Schwartz] about Oliver when he gets out,” Amell noted, “because I felt like in the first episode this year, we were really trying to charge ahead with a lot of cool new ideas, but it didn’t necessarily lend the proper weight to what happened at the end of Season 6 in an episode that’s titled ‘Life Sentence.’ The first episode of Season 7 focused a lot on Oliver focusing on good behavior so that he could get released, and I was like, ‘Well, one way or the other, he’s been in there for five, seven months, whatever the case may be. He’s got at least 14 [or] 15 to go if he has good behavior.’ So we changed the focus a little bit.”
The “same thing happened when I read Episode 8,” which picks up after Oliver’s release, Amell continued. “I know they wanted Oliver back in the world, and he is, and in a new and exciting way. Concurrently, it felt like we were treating my experience at Slabside like I spent a night in county jail. In actuality, even for Oliver, it was a pretty horrific experience.”
To reflect what the character has gone through, “I wanted a change in him in the way that he interacts with people, with the public, and even so far as his wardrobe,” Amell described. “I went to [costume designer] Maya [Mani], and I’m like, ‘Oliver’s in his mid-30s, he’s a former politician. I want him to dress a little bit more like he used to dress for Sunday brunch at the Queen mansion.’ WASPy’s the wrong word, but it’s not totally the wrong word. … In the first episode that I’m out, we had him going to a gala, and I was in sort of the same suit that I would wear as the mayor. I didn’t like that. So we pushed that in a different direction.”
All the little tweaks add up to a picture of a man who’s been to hell and back. “The first time that you see Oliver [in Episode 8], we came up with a really interesting way, I think, of showing what prison life did to him without really bashing people over the head with it,” Amell teased.