I have seen many posts that said that the way Felicity has been grieving has not been what they expected and was even a sign of bad writing.
I have to respectfully disagree. And I will do it in a loooong post lol.
Felicity has been in the show for almost 3 years now and until recently we knew almost nothing about her past. Oliver always claims that he doesn’t open about what happened to the island and to all the years he was missing. But when the time is right he does open up even with difficulty either to Diggle, or Felicity or even Sara when she was alive. He has opened up to his mother partially and to Thea at some moments and even to Tommy and Laurel to an extent.
However Felicity is the person that indeed doesn’t open up almost at all. We know that she has felt the absence of her father deeply and that it has scarred her however she never talks about him. She never talked about her past with her ex boyfriend either and her hactivism adventures. Not even once. She was forced to do so (partly) in both situations.
How does Felicity respond to pain, absence, trauma and grief? She puts a brave face, she keeps it all in and she starts anew. This is her defense mechanism. Her father abandoned her and she worked hard and went to MIT while she acts like her father never even existed in the first place. Cooper got in prison and supposedly died. How Felicity acted? She re-invented herself, she changed her appearance, she put on a smile and moved on by completely changing her lifestyle and life all together. She never talked about what happened to her, not even to those closer to her. When Sara died? She immediately did the same. She started a new job in Ray’s side and changed her everyday life by entering a new (one more different) chapter in her life.
When Felicity is in pain she doesn’t wail, she doesn’t scream, she doesn’t scratch her face with her nails. She shuts down and turns the page. She is similar to her computers actually. She stores her bad memories to the deep ends of her hard drive and then reboots herself.
People have many ways to grieve. Felicity’s is one of the hardest and more dangerous ones. She is a person that holds a certain light and innocence but with each loss she loses parts of herself by shutting down. She keeps everything in. She smiles while all the pain gets locked inside and eats her up alive. Felicity won’t wear a vigilante mask, she won’t make an atom costume or learn how to shoot arrows; she won’t learn how to fight. Her pain, anger and rage will remain deep inside her with no exit doors. Everything will pile-up inside. Felicity will move on and will push everything inside. She will smile, she will joke and part of her will remain empty and in pain. The kind of silent pain that follows you everywhere and is always present in your every waking moment.
Felicity was the one that held on to hope the longest. She hoped that Oliver was alive, she refused to even think anything different. And when she realized that all hope was gone she immediately shut herself down and went to her job and once more she tried to change her life by leaving team arrow behind and acting as if this was in her past. Because this is what she does in the face of pain. She refuses to give in and she keeps on moving until she won’t feel it anymore. However the only thing she manages is to keep her ghosts inside of her.
This is why her father is an unresolved subject that sooner or later will come back to haunt her. This is why her history with Cooper changed her (even her appearance) and then it took five years for her to face everything she felt and that only when she was forced to by the circumstances.
Felicity distances herself and the bigger the pain the bigger is also the shield she is using.
However now things are a little bit different. Because this time Felicity stayed. She remained with team arrow because the cause is her own too. In all this time if we sum it up the few times that Felicity truly opened up to anyone was with Oliver. Oliver knows that she fears abandonment, he knows that her father issues hurt her, he knows about her past because Oliver truly got to see the real Felicity.
Oliver is one of the biggest most meaningful parts of her life and right now Felicity is simply functioning by existing. She doesn’t act. She reacts to the circumstances all around her. Right now Oliver and his memory is a driving force for her and a ghost inside her. She won’t be able to breathe until he comes back but she will keep working and living as if nothing happened.
This is why she reacts in that way with Ray. Because Ray is there, he is safe, he is a friendly face. However he is not Oliver. And that says it all. Because Oliver has been Felicity’s breaking point and this is why when Oliver comes back things won’t simply be easy again. Because the magnitude and the fear Felicity felt after Oliver’s death was so huge that even after his return it will still be there.
Did you notice Felicity’s face when she realized that the blood from the sword Merlyn gave to them was indeed Oliver’s? Time stopped for her there. When Oliver returns there will be a sort of PTSD for her in some ways. Because everything she felt at the point where time stopped will still linger inside because now she has faced what Oliver’s death actually means. It became a harsh terrifying reality, one that will still be possible in the future and that is going to be one of Felicity’s greatest fears if not the greatest and that of course will influence her relationship with Oliver more.
People have many ways to express their pain. Felicity simply acts as if nothing happened. She did the same after she realized she couldn’t be with Oliver. She does the same in each and every crucial moment in her life.
Those are “the quiet dreams she keeps to herself”.
The fears, the hope, the love, the pain, the loss, the grief. Everything. She keeps it all to herself because everyone in her life sooner or later leaves. In that moment even Oliver left her. This is a pattern that keeps repeating in her life and Felicity won’t be able to connect with anyone until she truly opens up and faces her demons. Ray isn’t able to open her up for the simply reason that he is only reaching the surface. Felicity keeps on giving him the glimpses she allows to show. Oliver saw deeper and he is already rooted deep inside her and he understands all the things Felicity keeps inside and everything she won’t allow anyone else to see. It is a different connection all together. Ray knows the masks Felicity wears and is infatuated by those images. Oliver sees the girl beneath the mask and loves her for what she really is, with all her insecurities and imperfections.
Right now Felicity is hollow. She could even have the perfect life with Ray. She could even smile as if nothing happened and she even tries to do so. But the thing here is that perfection is just an image. And Felicity puts the shield of perfection in order to cover that she is not perfect and that her imperfections hurt more than she could ever express.
Ray is the simple, easy option. He is the sweet guy, the one that is the safe choice.
Oliver is the option that keeps on hurting her. The one that is hard, and difficult and meaningful and the one that happens only once in a lifetime and takes her breath away and is the real thing for her and right now he is gone so all she has left is the void and all the things she cannot express. So she moves on by standing still and letting the world move around her while she tries to turn the page once more and she simply acts as if everything is okay while inside of her the mourning is too great and unable to come out and basically suffocates her.
Ray makes life seem easy to her and Felicity needs that safety net but Oliver is what makes her feel alive and until he comes back Felicity won’t feel alive. Not really. But being alive also means pain and that will come along too once Oliver returns.
Basically Ray is a great guy that happened to come to Felicity’s life in the worst possible time. Because right now he is her grieving pill. The anesthetic that numbs the pain. And this is why it could never and will never work between Felicity and Ray. Not in the long run anyway. And this is why Felicity might try choosing Ray but in the end it won’t work because deep in heart she has already made her choice. And that choice is Oliver.