Arrow season 7 has introduced a change to the normal storytelling. It was a welcome twist in the premiere, and continues to be fruitful, but could it lead to disastrous consequences for the future of Arrow?
Instead of featuring flashbacks of Oliver, or anyone else’s, time before they ended up in Star City as the people they are in the present, we’re seeing a story presented far into the future as an adult William struggles to figure out Felicity’s code.
On William’s adventure, he has teamed up with Roy (and now Dinah and Rene’s daughter, Zoe) to uncover why Felicity left him a memento of Oliver’s with coordinates to Lian Yu, where he discovered Oliver’s bow.
However, it’s been revealed that not only has Felicity Smoak perished, but Oliver’s (probably) dead and Star City has fallen to the Glades, which have been overtaken by villains. Meanwhile, Dinah is patrolling the city as a vigilante, struggling to survive, and Zoe revealed that her father would not come near the city anymore.
The anti-vigilante law, established at the end of Arrow season 6, is still in effect in the future, which means it will likely be hard for any vigilante heroics to occur in the present day, even when Oliver is out of jail.
Likewise, Roy’s clearly been through some shit in the future as he went to Lian Yu, the literal worst island on Earth, to forget his past, most notably his trip around the world with Thea, which clearly went sideways from his comments on the matter.
Not only that, but Dinah questioned Roy about why he returned, and Roy stated he “doesn’t forgive so easily” when speaking about Team Arrow. Whatever happened with Roy, it’s clearly something we’ll have to see sooner rather than later.
The flash-forward has presented some interesting questions and mysteries that have me excited to see answered in future episodes, like what role Oliver had with the current state of Star City in 2040.
However, there’s a bigger issue here, which relates to the end of the series (whenever it happens).
According to Beth Schwartz, the new Arrow showrunner, the series will remain “grounded” as the flash-forward scenes continue on in future seasons. Basically, this means that nothing that happens in the present day, including anything Barry does and time traveling, will change what we’re seeing in the flash-forwards.
Even if it somehow was changed, the entire premise of these flash-forwards would be erased, rendering them useless and a waste of our time that could have been spent creating a deeper plot and character growth in the present day.
Regardless of what happens in 2040, can there ever be a real, satisfying conclusion for Oliver Queen and his friends and family?
After watching Oliver fight to save his city for the last seven years, it’s going to be very disappointing to know, when the series finale ends, that Oliver won’t get a happy ending until at least 2040 and Star City will have just recently been saved.
There’s no happy ending for these characters in the present, and even if one is introduced, we know it eventually fades to lead into the characters’ lives in the future.
After everything that has been sacrificed for this mission, it seems terrible and extreme to think about these people fighting for their lives every day.
With these flash-forward scenes, as interesting as they are, it creates a larger issue as I laid out before. Is it worth it?
Unlike shows like This Is Us, where these people are going to keep living life regardless and there’s no huge threat for their existence, flash-forward scenes (that can’t be changed, like on The Flash or Legends of Tomorrow) just prolong the happiness of the characters.
It’s disappointing, frankly, to know these people never get a chance to breathe for two more decades, not to mention that some of them have taken such dark paths (i.e. Felicity taking on her villainous father’s Calculator alter-ego).
Arrow airs Mondays at 8:00 p.m. ET on The CW.