SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched the “Arrow” series finale.
In the aftermath of Oliver Queen’s (Stephen Amell) death, the CW’s “Arrow” ended with a relatively happy ending.
The post-“Crisis” world revealed that Oliver’s death had indeed been a spark that saved his city, which was now crime-free. Additionally, nearly everyone whom Oliver lost over the years — including his mother Moira (Susanna Thompson), best friend Tommy (Colin Donnell), and foe-turned-friend Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) — was revived. An exception to the rule was Oliver’s father, Robert (Jamey Sheridan), about whom the Queen family speculated that only things that didn’t change the titular hero could be undone.
Undoing, to a degree, past key emotional moments was a delicate line to toe, the “Arrow” team admits.
“One thing we didn’t want to do was invalidate the entire series. There’s 169 episodes that come before this one; all those stories happened,” says executive producer Marc Guggenheim. “In my mind, things would be different if this was just the eighth season finale and not the series finale and suddenly Tommy and Moira and Lance are all back. It’d be like, ‘What? Why’d you jerk me around for eight seasons?’ But we’re not telling those stories — this just felt like a way to honor the completion of Oliver’s mission, a mission that included going through all of these losses.”
Adds “Arrow” executive producer Beth Schwartz: “Without Oliver going on the Queen’s Gambit, without his father sacrificing himself so Oliver can live, he would have never become the Green Arrow. So I think that was also what was really important: that’s what triggered everything.”
Although Oliver remained deceased, he did have a reunion with his wife Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) in the future, thanks to the Monitor (LaMonica Garrett).
The scene, set in the first place Oliver ever saw Felicity, came to Guggenheim after a meditation session, he says; he saw the entire sequence, which would serve as the series’ final moments, and immediately wrote it down. However, the question then became whether Rickards, who left the series at the end of Season 7, would return to film it.
“We didn’t even think of another ending,” Schwartz says. “We didn’t have a backup plan at all. We were just [feeling], ‘Emily needs to do this.’ And luckily she was she did.”
Originally, the flashback element of the finale was set to include Rickards, who was only available to the producers for two days. But with the limited time available, they scrapped that and focused instead on the start of the core relationship between Oliver and Diggle (David Ramsey), who was also the emotional backbone for the series in present-day after the loss of Oliver.
“You see [in those flashbacks,] as Oliver says, the proof of concept, of what that relationship could be,” Guggenheim says. “It was very nice and rewarding for us to see that and the eulogy speak to each other. And you really do see how much things have changed [between the duo].”
Diggle also had his own big moment, as his final scene paid homage to the long-running theory that the character could evolve into the Green Lantern. With Diggle and his family moving to Metropolis and a green artifact crashing to the ground, what exactly does that mean for his future?
“He did get a green box,” Ramsey says. “And it was very exciting. And I don’t know what that means. But he does go to Metropolis and he got a green box. We’ll see.”
Adds Guggenheim: “This was something that was worked out over a year ahead with DC Entertainment. We very specifically negotiated and discussed the parameters [of that scene]. And I feel like to say anything beyond what we have showed you would violate our agreement with DC.”
But Ramsey won’t be gone from the “Arrowverse” for long, as he appears on the next episode of “The Flash” as Diggle lending a hand for a case. And there’s room for him to return to the world in the future.
“David and I, we’ve actually talked a lot about Diggle’s and David’s post ‘Arrow’ future,” Guggenheim says. “We’ve got some really good ideas. And I’m going to stand pat on that. I will also say David has become a remarkable director, so we’re as interested in him behind the cameras as we are in front.”
“Arrow” also managed to give a happy ending to legacy characters Thea (Willa Holland) and Roy (Colton Haynes), as the off-on duo reunited with an impromptu engagement.
“I always wanted them to be together in the end no matter what,” Schwartz says. “I love them together and I think they’re one of my favorite relationships in the series. And then Marc went further with the engagement; he surprised me.”
The choice to stick with Earth-2 Laurel (Katie Cassidy) also may have been a surprise for some viewers. The producers admit the decision to keep Earth-2 Laurel (versus bringing back the character that kicked off the “Arrow” series in the post-“Crisis” world) was prompted by the potential “Green Arrow and the Canaries” spinoff.
“We’ve really fallen in love over the years with the Earth-2 version of Laurel,” Guggenheim says. “We love Katie’s take on that character. We love writing for that character. We love the complexities of that character’s sort of moral seesaw. She’s always been a more interesting character to us.”
“In Season 7 and 8, she was really able to redeem herself,” adds Schwartz. “And we felt that that was such an important story for her character. And she’s come such a long way from murdering people all the time to becoming the hero she was at the end of season eight — and will continue to be in the spin-off, hopefully. It felt like we would shortchange her if we didn’t really honor the growth that her character went through.”
That also allowed for a noticeable spark between her and Tommy — who revealed in the new timeline that he had been married to Earth-1 Laurel prior to her death. (The two never married in the original timeline.)
“[The chemistry,] I think, was in the stage direction, and was certainly in the tone meeting,” Guggenheim says.
Adds Schwartz: “We can play that in this spinoff. We will find a way.”
Thinking about the future also was a big priority for the finale as a whole. “Part of constructing any series finale is you want to close off a certain number of loops, but you also want to open a certain number of loops,” Guggenheim says. “These characters lives go on beyond the show. Even when it’s not a shared universe, even when there’s no spinoff, these characters don’t cease to exist.“
And that could also mean that even Oliver might pop up again at some point.
“As we’ve sort of said, in the saga sell, he’s become something else,” Guggenheim says. “The whole point of making him the Spectre was just to give us story opportunities, because who knows what’s going to happen in the future? No one’s ever really gone. While I would love to always see Stephen back, [the question of] are we honoring or dishonoring [his story if we brought him back] would be how we brought him back and when.”