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It’s been a long winter break for fans of The CW’s “Arrow,” after December’s midseason finale left Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) on death’s door following a brutal attack from Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough). Given that cliffhanger, it should come as no surprise that when the superhero series returns on Wednesday night, we see our hero, Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), “falling back into some old habits,” according to executive producer Wendy Mericle. “[He’s] going very fire and brimstone in his attempt to get revenge for Damien’s attack on him and Felicity.”

(If you’ve seen the midseason return, “Blood Debts,” click over to our postmortem for more intel on the episode’s twists.)

Mericle promises that episode 410 will “pick up in a very dark place” for Team Arrow. “We’re really intrigued by the idea of seeing what happens when Oliver has someone he loves as much as he loves Felicity get hurt like that, and we’re intrigued by what he would do.”

Darhk’s attack will put him firmly in Oliver’s crosshairs, but Mericle teases that even as the vigilante is “dead set on getting Darhk and making sure that he never hurts anyone again, we also get some very interesting human insight into Darhk in this episode. It doesn’t necessarily complicate matters as much for Oliver, but it definitely does for the team, and it makes Oliver’s task quite a bit harder. We’re hoping that will provide some interesting challenges and context as they continue to battle through the rest of the season.”

With Felicity’s life in the balance, the show intends to keep us guessing about the identity of the person in the grave seen in the flashforward from the Season 4 premiere. Mericle says we’ll finally learn who dies “towards the end of the season. I can’t tell you which episode – you’ll have to watch! But it’s big stakes and it’s going to be a big shock, so we want to make sure that we handle it with as much care as possible, and that means making sure that we are ramping into it in all the right ways, so that pushes it towards the last few episodes of the season.”

A newly released midseason trailer offers a few possibilities for who might end up dead, either by Darhk’s hand or some other means, and fans can expect a “crazy back half,” according to Mericle. “We’re really excited about some of the things we’re throwing at the team; they’re gonna be taking on some villains-of-the-week that we’ve never seen before, with tactics that the team’s never gone up against; we’re going to have Laurel (Katie Cassidy) helping to challenge and possibly even take down Darhk, at least temporarily, in a surprising way that we haven’t seen her use in a while. We’re intrigued by seeing where Thea (Willa Holland) goes with this bloodlust and where it takes her, and most importantly, really evolving Oliver’s relationship, not just with Felicity, but with the rest of the team.”

“Blood Debts” also sees the return of DC Comics villain Anarky (Alexander Calvert), who serves as “a really interesting counterpoint to both Oliver and Darhk. He has a big ax to grind so it felt like a really good place to bring him back,” says Mericle of tonight’s episode. “He’s a wild card; by virtue of his name we know what kind of person he is … He’s completely insane and only gone darker since we last saw him, so it felt like a great way to kick off the midseason premiere and a great character to take us into this new, dark set of episodes leading up to the season finale.”

“Arrow” returns Wednesday, January 20 at 8 p.m. on The CW. Once you’ve seen the episode, head over to our postmortem interview with Wendy Mericle.

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