Revisiting Arrow Season 1
Arrow’s final season starts off by going back to the beginning, literally. The premiere opens by revisiting the dramatic opening of the pilot, as Ollie is rescued from his years-long seclusion on Lian Yu and brought back to Starling City. Only, as we quickly realize, this isn’t the Arrowverse we know. We’re actually watching our Oliver infiltrate an alternate universe and impersonate his own self, all at the behest of the all-seeing Monitor.
Amell reflected on just how strange the experience of revisiting Season 1 was, revealing the production team went to the trouble of rebuilding old sets and pulling old costumes out of wardrobe for the occasion.
Arrow: “Starling City” Photos
“They rebuilt my bedroom. They put me in the same wardrobe,” said Amell. “A) I’m glad it still fit. That’s one thing. And B) it was crazy because it was really surreal. It’s like I’m watching it from 30,000 feet. And it’s not often that you get a do-over, not as a character per se, but as an actor. It was almost like writing a test that I knew the answers to. It was very strange. I don’t know that I would ever get a chance to have that type of feeling again.”
We asked Amell how difficult it was to pull off the trick of playing one version of Oliver Queen pretending to be a younger version of Oliver Queen. He told us, “I’ve probably seen the pilot a hundred times. Because inevitably a pilot makes up so much of the iconography of the series that I remembered all of it. That’s to say nothing of the fact that it was the greatest professional experience of my life up until that point and might still be. So, all of these moments – I remembered all of them. So, I didn’t want to do an impersonation of myself.
Amell continued, “Even though there’s some emotional moments, there’s actually something quite pleasant about what Oliver’s going through because he is getting moments with all of these people that have meant so much in his life.”
The Return of Tommy Merlyn and Moira Queen
Amell noted that while we have seen actors like Susanna Thompson and Colin Donnell reprise their roles after their respective characters died, those encounters tend to involve dream sequences or impostors. Even though “Starling City” is set in an alternate universe, there’s something more authentic about these versions of Moira Queen and Tommy Merlyn.
“It’s different,” Amell said of Oliver’s reunions with his mother and Tommy on Earth-2. “When he saw Moira before, he realized immediately that it was fake. It was a mirage. And whenever he had seen Tommy before, it was the same thing. It’s like, ‘Okay, yeah, this is not real.’ So, this is real. And these are real people and Laurel touches on that in the second episode [after Earth-2 is destroyed], like, ‘This world was real to me. It’s real.’ So it’s pretty special for him.”A big part of “Starling City” is examining the impact Ollie has had on his family, friends, and enemies over the course of seven years. We see a glimpse of a world where Oliver Queen stayed gone much longer, with that one change rippling outward and having some fairly significant consequences for his city. And as Amell discussed, not everyone is actually worse off for a lack of Oliver Queen in their life.
“Clearly within his circle, which happens to affect a lot of people, [his absence] had a pretty profound impact,” said Amell. “But I like the fact that in the case of Tommy, in the case of Thea, that that impact was negative. And in the case of Adrian Chase it’s actually quite positive. I always thought that one of the things I liked about Josh [Segarra’s] portrayal of Adrian Chase was that he’s one bad thing not happening away from being a hero. So I like the fact that he’s a hero in this episode and then a damn good one. He’s a very adept, accomplished version of the Green Arrow, which is awesome.”
Preparing for Crisis on Infinite Earths
The premiere also gives us a much better idea of what Ollie’s new mission is in Season 8. We learn Ollie has been sent to Earth-2 to recover vital dwarf star material, part of a larger quest to prepare for and mitigate the damage of the Crisis we know is coming in December. According to Amell, Ollie will continue carrying out missions for the Monitor in the buildup to the crossover.
“He’s carrying out various tasks for The Monitor. Some are about retrieving things and some are simply about learning lessons,” hinted Amell. “It’s retrieving and it’s learning. And it’s all in preparation for the threat that’s coming. We present a lot of reasons to distrust The Monitor, and maybe we should, but everything that he does has a purpose.”
Every Character in the Arrowverse’s Crisis on Infinite Earths Crossover
One thing hasn’t changed with Ollie’s ongoing story: He’s still a man reluctant to reach out for help and put his trust in others, even as David Ramsey’s John Diggle goes through the trouble of following Oliver to another world.
Amell said, “Obviously, he eventually accepts his help. But I do think that this threat really is different. This is it. This is the final chapter. It doesn’t get more daunting than Crisis on Infinite Earths. So yeah, Dig is on the journey with him, but I think that Oliver’s been pretty clear that, when push comes to shove, he’s going to be going at it alone. It doesn’t mean that he can’t use some help along the way, though.”
Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like we can expect Oliver to keep exploring the multiverse in Season 8. The rest of the pre-Crisis episodes will still take place on Earth-1. Though, as Amell teased, most won’t be set in Star City.
“There’s only one episode prior to Crisis that starts and finishes in Star City. Technically one takes place in Star City, but when you see it, you’ll understand that it’s not actually, not really Star City. It’s an object lesson. Which is a big deal. It’s a big departure for us and our crew and our set [decorators] and the people who build, they’ve been working their asses off because this is not business as usual for us. We’re a show that relies on being at the studio and doing a lot of stuff from the bunker, and I don’t think I set foot in our actual bunker until the end of the third episode or something like that. And even then it’s like the final scene. So yeah, it’s been real different this year. But yeah, this is the only episode that takes place on a different Earth until Crisis.”For more on Arrow’s final season, find out how the series will set the stage for Crisis on Infinite Earths, see everything we know so far about the next Arrowverse crossover and learn about Canaries, The CW’s planned Arrow spinoff.
Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.