It's not often that a TV show decides to blow up the entire world in its final season, but Arrow is apparently looking to boldly go where few series' have gone before. In its Season 8 premiere, Arrow decided to do the one thing we never expected — destroy Earth 2.
The entire episode, which took place on Earth 2, retold the story of the pilot, where Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) was found on Lian Yu, rescued, and taken back to Starling City to reunite with his loved ones. Only this time, he hadn't been missing for five years — he'd been gone a whole decade. Naturally, paths from the pilot diverged from there, with Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson) marrying Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman), Adrian Chase (Josh Segarra) somehow becoming the Hood, and Thea Queen (Willa Holland) tragically dying from an overdose at 18. A world without Oliver kind of sucks, right?
The biggest change, however, was in Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell), who played a huge role in this episode as the Dark Archer. That's right, don't adjust your screens: Tommy Merlyn took up his father's mantle on Earth 2, becoming the Dark Archer, hellbent on destroying the Glades after his half-sister Thea was ripped away from him.
The whole thing culminated in a come-to-Jesus moment between Oliver and Tommy, and then the complete destruction of Earth 2 in the episode's final moments. TV Guide spoke to Stephen Amell about Arrow's shocking final season premiere and what it was like to pay service to a fan theory many had held since the show's first season.
What was your reaction when you heard that Tommy was coming back as the Dark Archer?
Stephen Amell: There were so many fan theories in the first season that Tommy Merlyn was going to become the Dark Archer, and then it ends up being his dad. I just thought it was a very cool track for the producers to go.
What was it like having Colin back — especially considering all the emotional stuff happening between Oliver and Tommy this episode?
Amell: He and I, over the past eight years, have become very great friends. I saw his first night of previews for his new play down in San Diego a couple of weeks ago. Our families have become friends; any time he's back, it's just great. It's also kind of sad. It wasn't supposed to go this way. Tommy's not supposed to die. I still remember how devastated I was when I got the news during our first season that that's how we were going to end. Having him back is really special.
Do you think Oliver got some closure with his mother that he didn't necessarily have before?
Amell: Well, yeah. He's seen [Moira] before, but it was a dream world. This is Earth 2. Earth 2 is a real place in our universe. So for him to be able to say he's sorry, for him to get some reassuring parenting advice, all that stuff was just so special. I'm so thankful that not only the writers wrote it but that Susannah was willing to come back and play it. Again, I think it's a real testament to both Susannah and Colin. It's not just fondness and nostalgia for Season 1, it's that these two in a very short period of time created characters that people just love seeing come back.
What do you think Oliver took away from this "It's a Wonderful Life" situation, seeing what a world without him would have looked like?
Amell: I think everything, for all of this year, has been a lesson. He's learning a lesson, it feels like — and a very specific one — every episode. Everything is not in the service of Crisis but at the same time, everything is leading there. So all these lessons are important. It's a real advantage this year, only doing 10 episodes. Frankly, really, only doing like seven because once you get into Crisis, that's a different thing. So the writers, going into this year, we knew where every episode took place. They told me before the season, "This is what happens in [Episode] one, two, three, four, five, six, seven." And I was like, "OK!" I don't know, I'm very proud of it, and I think everyone has done a great job this year.
With Earth 2 getting destroyed, does that kind of make it clear to Oliver what the stakes are leading into Crisis?
Amell: Yeah. I just shot a scene in Crisis where I'm sitting around a big table with a lot of people in a lot of leather, and Crisis is effectively being explained to us. And I speak up, and I just go, "No, no guys, seriously. I watched an entire Earth be obliterated instantly." And coming from me, who's not - like, I don't have superpowers, I'm not a time-traveler, I'm the one that would typically be doubting something like this. So for me to go, "Guys, this is unlike anything we've ever faced before," it makes people pay attention.
Will Oliver be less reticent to let the team help him with this mission moving forward?
Amell: Yeah, I mean, Dig's (David Ramsey) involved and Laurel's involved, and by the time we get to our seventh episode, we've got a pretty big team with a lot of very familiar faces and a lot of really cool team-ups. It's good, it's exciting.
We got a short look at Oliver's relationship with the Monitor in this episode, but what can you preview about that partnership moving forward? Right now, it feels like the Monitor is jerking him around a lot.
Amell: Things aren't always what they seem. Right now the Monitor is being portrayed as evil incarnate, and we'll see. We will see.
Are there any particular episodes this season that you're looking forward to the audience reactions to?
Amell: I just watched a cut of 806 last night, which is David Ramsey's episode, and it's spectacular. It's so cool. It's so, so, so cool... He did a spectacular job, and it's a narrative technique that for obvious reasons we've never done on the show before, and I don't think that we'll ever get a chance to do again. So I thought he executed it extremely well, and it's a fun one for me. It kind of kicks off our endgame so to speak.
Arrow Season 8 premieres Tuesday, Oct. 15 at 9/8c on The CW.
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