Season’s One & Two: “My name is Oliver Queen. After five years on a hellish island…
Season’s Three & Four: “My name is Oliver Queen. After five years in hell…
… Yeah, nice try guys.
Ever since Arrow made it’s debut on October 10th, 2012, airing on The CW, it has managed to thrive as a dark, gritty and often realistic take on The Green Arrow character. However, to say that the show’s quality has decreased ever since Season Three would be a massive understatement. The first two seasons of Arrow were great, giving us complex villains, dark storylines and legitimate character development for Oliver Queen. But possibly the most inventive thing about those seasons were the flashbacks. What worked for them was that it would cut between his time on the island to his time in the present as The Green Arrow and we were treated to seeing just how different a person he was.This gave us the chance to witness, first hand, how Oliver went from the careless, often rude, billionaire playboy he was in the past to the heroic, kind-hearted man he is in the present. It was an interesting thing that, from a narrative standpoint, no other superhero show had ever done before, at least not for each episode.
However, the writers made one mistake, in my opinion; they developed him into that heroic, kind-hearted man, far too early and therefore, it made it really difficult to care about the flashbacks anymore, especially after they took Oliver off the island for seemingly no reason. By then, the flashbacks just became convoluted and jarring, to the point where the show, at times, would be difficult to watch. At the time of this article, we are now deep into Season Four and the flashbacks are not only convoluted, they are boring. Oliver is back on the island (how convenient), and is learning about a magic idol that Damien Darhk is after in the present (how convenient… again). I’m not the only one who feels this way. While I still watch and enjoy the show (for some of it anyway) many critics and fans have been very open in voicing their displeasure with the last two seasons, especially in regard to the flashbacks. Recently, showrunners Marc Guggenheim and Wendy Mericle addressed the controversy and why it was hard to keep the flashbacks interesting in a statement with TvLine.com.
“Part of the appeal of the flashbacks – certainly in the first two years, but I think the first three years – is seeing what a big difference it is, between Oliver Queen in the present day and Oliver Queen five years ago. The problem is that we are telling a five-year story in the flashbacks of Oliver becoming the guy you met in the pilot. So the deeper you get into the flashbacks, the closer he becomes to being that guy, and, thus, you lose that element of the flashbacks that was so interesting, which is how different he was…. That’s something we have struggled with this year.” – Marc Guggenheim
Mr. Guggenheim, I completely agree with you. Mericle followed up Guggenheim’s statement by saying, “We know what we’re working up to. The season will be easier to break because we have an endpoint, and we work backwards from there. I don’t want to tip too much, but it’s a very good possibility that we’ll finally find out how Oliver got that Bratva tattoo and how he learned to speak Russian.”
Considering that the flashbacks will end with the next season, we can only hope that Mericle and Guggenheim will manage to make the flashbacks of the next season the best in the series. After all, Oliver only spent five years on the island and each season flashback story covers an entire year. Given this information, it’s safe to assume from this that there will be no more flashbacks if Arrow continues beyond its already renewed fifth season. I mean, what else would they flashback to? However, regarding the above statements, the concept of what they are leaning towards could potentially be interesting if they manage to do it well. As a fan of the show, I sincerely hope they do and I wish them the best of luck.
Arrow makes its return of April 27th, 2016 with the episode ‘Canary Cry’.
A graduate of Full Sail University with a Bachelors Degree in Creative Writing, Adam is a Writer and Film Critic, looking to make his mark on the world. When he isn’t at the movies, writing for The Nerd Stash, playing Duck Hunt (respect the classics) or delivering pizzas to his neighbors, he is back at school earning his Masters Degree in Film Production.