Revenge is a dish best served by a vigilante, and in the trailer for season 4, episode 10 of Arrow, Oliver Queen is serving some real, vengeful rage. Check it out if you haven't indulged already...
At the risk of pissing off several thousand fanboys, am I the only one who feels Arrow has pulled back ahead of The Flash this year? Season 3 was kind of messy, but everything about the first half of season 4 has been a huge return to form.
The "who's in the grave?" mystery has revitalised this show, whilst Barry Allen runs in circles and his show creates ever more convoluted alternate timelines that don't feel sustainable in the long run. At some point, probably in season 3, The Flash will have to streamline its ideas or risk losing viewers, which is what Arrow has successfully achieved this time around.
Not that Arrow has made things easy for itself - expectations for the big reveal toward the end of the season are so high that some people are bound to be disappointed regardless of who's dead, but in my opinion this team of writers are talented enough to pull it off.
It goes without saying...
Now that you've been warned, let's take a look at a few of the various possibilities for who won't make it out of season 4 alive.
1. Captain Lance
Quentin being the body in the box would be a safe choice. He's been there since the start but he's hardly the most beloved character on Arrow, and it would give Laurel something to sink her teeth into next season.
In the new flash-forward scene teased in the "Revenge" promo, a brooding Oliver standing beside the grave swears a vow to "kill him", but he doesn't actually look upset (as you'd expect if Felicity was dead). It's more like anger.
Then again, why would Barry be there for Captain Lance? Truthfully, it would probably be a disappointing climax to such a big mystery.
Chances of death: 30%
2. Damien Darhk
When a villain becomes popular the writers need them to stick around, and for that the villain needs to be humanised, as happened with Malcolm Merlyn (to a degree) - but to retain their popularity, there needs to exist a degree of threat, a potential to cross back over to the dark side.
In time, Merlyn will come to exist again as an enemy of Oliver and the team - Ra's al Ghul is a fundamentally bad character, after all - possibly in connection with H.I.V.E. He may seize control of Damien Darhk's mysterious organisation, or he may even have control of it already. (I don't believe Damien is the one ultimately calling the shots; there's always a foot soldier playing that role.)
The problem with this theory: Oliver wouldn't blink if Darhk was dead, except to pop a bottle of his best Dom Perignon. I'm almost certain Darhk will die this season (Neal McDonough's characters always seem to die - he's the budget Sean Bean), but I don't know if he'll be the body in the grave.
Chances of death: 90%
Diggle's death would hit Oliver the hardest of anybody beside Thea or Felicity, and spark an epic vengeance plot in season 5, but it's impossible to imagine the writers giving him the boot.
Chances of death: 15%
4. And of course... Felicity
Felicity being dead would be the most controversial choice. No other character splits the fanbase like the team's resident tech genius. Her shooting in the midseason finale feels like an obvious red herring, and my perspective is that killing her after all would be a double-bluff too far.
We've also seen that this show can be less enjoyable when it gets lost in darkness, and you know it'll have to go some even darker places if Felicity is actually dead meat. Throw in the fact that Felicity's father is joining the cast - and he could be the Calculator - and I'd put my money on Felicity making it out of the season scarred, but with her life intact.
Chances of death: 40%
5. Bonus Theory: Zero Deaths
AKA the "stage a false funeral and lure the villain to a deserted graveyard for the ultimate one-on-one fight in which only one can survive (and it will obviously be Oliver)" option. The downside: the fans might feel tricked and ego-bruised by such an elaborate deception.
Possibility of playing out: 25%
Whatever happens, they're gonna keep us guessing for another five months, so hold onto your bows and keep sharing those theories, however insane they sound.
Arrow season 4, episode 10 airs on the CW Wednesday January 10th.