Arrow threw us all for a loop in its Season 7 premiere by proving that the flashback/forward formula isn't dead and gone after all — it's just getting a major overhaul!
The final shot of the premiere shed some light on who the mystery guy headed to Lian Yu was, and in a shocking twist, it actually turned out to be William — 20 years in the future! That's right, Arrow fans, forget flashbacks, this season is going to be all about flash forwards!
While Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) will be trying to keep William (Jack Moore) safe from Diaz (Kirk Acevedo) in the present, grown up William will be on a quest of his own in the future; a quest that has put him back on the godforsaken island with a slightly grey Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) of all people.
Showrunner Beth Schwartz spoke to reporters about the new twist, revealing that a big flash forward shift like this has actually been an idea tossed around the writers' room for a while now. "We didn't know how long the show was going to go on for, so we always knew like after Season 5, there wouldn't be flashbacks," Schwartz said. "So we had talked about doing flash forwards years ago. Like is this what we're going to do when there aren't flashbacks? So we're going to keep it all season and series, yeah."
In the same way that the flashbacks in earlier seasons shed light on Oliver's history and how he turned from a self-involved party boy into a ruthless killer, Schwartz said these flash forwards will serve to illuminate the paths other characters are on now and where it will one day lead them.
"Part of what I think made this series so successful in having the flashbacks is you were really able to get into your characters because you knew - especially with Oliver — you knew how he became the way he is. And now with the flash forwards, you're able to see like what is happening in our present day, how that affects our characters in the future, which is really, really, really fun creatively to tell these stories."
Schwartz was understandably cagey about any details regarding the flash forwards, such as whether we'll get to see Roy both in the future and in the present (that question got the standard, "you'll have to keep watching," answer), but she did confirm that we'll see several other characters future selves in the jumps. She also confirmed that this is a fixed future, so we don't need to worry about Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) turning up and resetting the timeline or anything. Phew!
The most interesting part of this peek into the future though, is that we'll get to see how all of Team Arrow's relationships have evolved over the 20 years between now and that dark and gloomy night William arrives on Lian Yu. We're crossing our fingers that the gang is all still together (and alive, that's a big one), but something tells us certain dynamics will have shifted once we skip forward two decades.
"I love how the characters relationships have developed in the future," Juliana Harkavy told TV Guide at the CW Fall Launch Party. "I just think it's so interesting to see where they start and where they end up. And also the makeup! Just seeing everybody old has been really, really excellent."
"I think we're all benefiting from having Beth Schwartz come along and bring these ideas to the show that are going to excite the fans and keep them engaged and for the characters to go to a place where you probably didn't think they would go," Rick Gonzalez added.
Show of hands, who's as bananas excited for these flash forwards as we are?
Arrow airs Mondays at 8/7c on The CW.
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