Some may have felt betrayed by the lie. But that’s the wrong way to look at it. Instead, it’s best to focus on the sentiment behind Oliver and Felicity’s moment, rather than its immediate outcome.
Slade Wilson appeared to be undefeatable throughout the season and even into the finale. Oliver may have had the mirakuru cure, but he could never get close enough to administer the dose.
Felicity could, though.
Since Oliver knew that Slade was after “the woman he loves,” the hero knew that his foe would stop at nothing to get that woman. The initial choice seemed to be Laurel — which makes sense when you consider how much Oliver was mourning Laurel’s loss back in his island days. But when Slade heard (via the bugs planted in Queen Manor) that Felicity was the real choice, how could he resist?
And Felicity had long since proven herself a valuable and resourceful member of Team Arrow. Give her the cure, and there’s no way she wouldn’t stick it in Slade.
While the chemistry between Oliver and Felicity is strong and totally undeniable, it’s also really inconvenient. Because Oliver is not at all ready for a healthy relationship these days.
Think about Oliver’s love life as we know it: He dated Helena (a disturbed killer) and an old cop friend that he dumped as soon as there were any emotions. Then there was the rekindled relationship with Sara, a woman way more messed-up even than Oliver. Along the way, Oliver has also bedded Isabel Rochev (a vengeful villain) and Laurel (thereby betraying Tommy).
Do you really think Oliver could successfully date a woman like Felicity, someone with only the normal amounts of baggage and reasonable emotional availability?
Quite frankly, even if Oliver — deep down — meant every word of his “I love you” to Felicity, there’s no way he could, at this point, recognize that love in himself. Felicity is his friend, possibly his best friend. She and Diggle are the only two people Oliver really counts on. He owes his life to her.
A man like Oliver, who still sees himself as a destructive force, would never hurt a friend by making her more.
Long-arc plots matter as much as emotion on TV
Here’s the thing: The chemistry between Oliver and Felicity wasn’t a planned part of the first seasons of “Arrow.” It just kind of happened, thanks to brilliant acting by Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards. There wasn’t a quick relationship pre-built into the plot, which meant the attraction has evolved organically.
In the real world, yes, this would either turn into something or fizzle. But “Arrow” is television. Unrequited emotions are the bread and butter of the TV drama, and part of the fun is the wait for a payoff.
At this point, if Oliver and Felicity got together, plot standards require that they would break up again, probably quickly. Then, the audience would have to endure one of those interminable lost-love plots for a few seasons at the very least.
That would be no fun at all.