Arrow began Season 4 with a new head on its shoulders. Oliver Queen is more cheery, willing to joke around like the wisecracking archer we know from our longboxes. He’s stopped using his deep voice distorter, presumably because more people know him as Green Arrow than Oliver. But it hasn’t been all smiles. A “happy” Arrow is still grim as hell. The dead have risen and Damien Darhk makes terrorism a regular occurrence in Star City.

The mid-season finale, “Dark Waters,” ends on a horrific note that serves as a portent of a possible returning darkness. Damien Darhk’s mafia-style hit on an engaged Felicity and Oliver threatens to change the two heroes of Star City forever. For Oliver, it might be a change for the worse. For Felicity Smoak, it might be a change for the weird.

Is she about to become [Oracle]((https://www.reddit.com/r/arrow/comments/3wepmi/spoilers_anyone_else_think_this_after_the_end_of/)?

A quick primer: Oracle is Barbara Gordon, also known as Batgirl until Joker shot her point blank. (Check out Alan Moore’s exceptional but now kinda overrated The Killing Joke.) Paralyzed from the waist down, Barbara becomes Oracle, an all-seeing super hacker who makes the Bat-Family’s crime fighting crusade a little easier. In the current ongoing comics, Barbara has regained function in her legs and has resumed her Batgirl identity.

In Arrow, that’s been Felicity Smoak all this time. Minus the paralysis and trauma/assault parables, Felicity has been Team Arrow’s “Oracle” without the cool codename since the first season. One would assume Oliver would have given her a name way earlier to prevent their enemies from identifying her when they’re screaming “FELICITY! WE NEED YOUR HELP!” over comms, but she probably encrypted them anyway.

At this point in Arrow, Felicity is gravely injured. Coma? Paralysis? All likely, because I definitely don’t think she’s dead anymore. Upon rewatching “Dark Waters,” her presumed murder came off as a cheap cliffhanger, made to hold your breath so you stay watching. The Arrowverse unfortunately values plot over individual character on a regular basis; I was disappointed when Barry’s own shocking paralysis at the hands of Zoom was quickly resolved without little much ado this season on The Flash. I suspect the same treatment will be given to Felicity.

Last February, Arrow’s producers said Felicity could become Oracle but the opportunity hadn’t formally presented itself. Yet. “Hopefully we’ll get there. That occurred to us as well but we didn’t have an opportunity to do that in [the second season episode “Birds of Prey”],” Marc Guggenheim told ComicBook.

In DC lore, the Birds of Prey are a faction led by Oracle consisting of Black Canary, the Huntress, and Lady Blackhawk. They were alluded to in the Arrow episode of the same name, when Huntress returned to Star City and battled Sara Lance’s Black Canary. With Jessica de Gouw not returning in the foreseeable future, we can rule out a full-fledged Birds of Prey in the Arrowverse.

Though it could be a hell of a midseason replacement show if Legends of Tomorrow — rumored to be a one time thing because of its expensive production — doesn’t prove fruitful. Then again, a Birds of Prey series isn’t that fresh of an idea either.

For Oliver, Darhk hasn’t just picked a fight, he’s declared war. While Felicity’s critical condition is a reasonable motivator to go berserk, it threatens Oliver’s own sanity and responsibility.

Oliver reminds me of Dom Toretto in Fast & Furious. He’s the beating heart and face to this ragtag group of daredevils, taking family seriously and offenses against them personally. It tore at Oliver’s heart when Diggle didn’t consider him like a brother because of his actions last season, and the two were unable to trust each other until the aptly-titled “Restoration”. Oliver has also been distraught over Thea’s worsening viciousness, a consequence of her Lazarus Pit resurrection.

As the Green Arrow, Oliver swore off murder. Darhk is pushing him to embrace that darkness again. This isn’t just about going from superhero to supervillain, this is about becoming — as Oliver has said in the show’s intro the last four years — “something else.”

So whether Felicity lives or dies, Oliver will turn into some kind of monster. We’ve already seen him tread supervillain territory last season, but this is different. When Oliver was Al Sah-Him, it was a deep cover to get close Ra’s Al Ghul. But Darhk threatens a more insidious transformation, one that changes the foundation of Oliver’s heart and psyche. Oliver has worked so hard to bring his family together again, but his overzealous protection of them may become his undoing.

Arrow will return January 20 on The CW.

Photos via The CW Networks