Arrow is channeling Lost in Season 7.
Arrow spent its first five seasons telling the story of Oliver Queen’s evolution from a spoiled rich kid into a hardened vigilante through flashbacks to his time on Lian Yu – but in the Season 7 premiere, the superhero show introduces a new twist on the plot device, flashing forward in time to offer a different hero’s journey.
We see a mystery man traveling to Lian Yu in the midst of a brutal storm – only coming to realize at the episode’s end that we’ve jumped forward in time, and we’re seeing Oliver’s son, William, all grown up. He’s seeking out an older Roy Harper, who has apparently been living on the island, and it seems like William hasn’t seen his father, or Roy, for quite some time.
New showrunner Beth Schwartz says the flash forwards will be a season-long arc, much as they were in the first five seasons – and that they’ll continue to play out for as long as the show remains on the air: “We always knew after Season 5 there [wouldn’t] be flashbacks, so we had talked about doing flash-forwards years ago, like ‘is this what we’re gonna do when there aren’t flashbacks?’ So we’re gonna keep it all season and series.”
Schwartz says the timeframe of the flash-forwards is around 20 years in the future, but we can still expect to see William in the present-day storyline, despite being sent away by Felicity to keep him safe from Diaz. “Part of what I think made this series so successful in having the flashbacks is that you were able to really get into your characters – especially with Oliver, you knew how he became the way he is,” she says. “And now with the flash-forwards, you’re able to see what is happening in the present day, how that affects the characters in the future. Which is really, really, really fun creatively to tell those stories.”
While Schwartz is hesitant to reveal anything about the plot of the flash-forwards or where Oliver is in the future timeline, she confirms that “we’re gonna see some of our characters” aged up in the flash-forwards besides Roy. She also admits that the non-linear storytelling structure of Westworld and This Is Us are inspirations for that story arc this season.
“I feel we have our own unique way of doing our flash-forward story. But yeah, I love that kind of storytelling, of where you are kind of putting the pieces together and that’s what I love about the premiere,” she says. “Because all the pieces are kind of there and at the end you’re like, “What the f***?” So, there will be a lot of, hopefully, those kinds of moments this season.”
Back in the present-day timeline, we’ll continue to see Oliver struggle with being in jail while his loved ones are in danger, but as the episode’s final moments make clear, he’s no longer content to remain passive and avoid fighting back when threatened.
“As we saw [in the premiere], he was kind of different than we have ever seen him, where he was not the hero, and just laying low, and just thinking that was the best way for him to be in prison,” Schwartz tells reporters. “And then, obviously, when his family gets attacked he can’t not be the Green Arrow, even if he’s in prison. So he’s going to continue to struggle with what does that look like, being the Green Arrow while you’re behind bars? It’s not easy.”
As for the identity of the new Green Arrow operating in Star City independent of the existing team, Schwartz says, “We’ll definitely unveil and explore [that] before the end of the season.” Could it be Roy, pre-flash-forward? Schwartz plays coy on whether we’ll see Roy in the present-day storyline or only in the future, teasing, “You’ll have to keep watching.”
Who do you think the new Green Arrow is, and what do you think happens in the future to prompt William to go looking for Roy on Lian Yu? Share your theories in the comments, and read our review of “Inmate #4587” here.