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Producers say the ‘Arrow’ flashbacks will end after Oliver’s Lian Yu story, but showrunner Marc Guggenheim says not so fast

It’s established in the very first episode of Arrow that Oliver Queen has been stranded on the island of Lian Yu for five years. As the series progressed, the flashbacks have moved along at roughly the same pace as the present-day story. With that in mind, it makes sense that the show’s fifth season would be the final season to feature the increasingly criticized flashback sequences. Well, yes and no, say producers.

During The CW’s Television Critics Association panel yesterday, Arrow producers Wendy Mericle and Marc Guggenheim seemed to give a pretty clear-cut answer. After Ollie’s adventures in Russia come to a close this season, the flashbacks would come to an end.

Afterwards, however, IGN caught up with Guggenheim and got a much more complicated answer:

“Last year, when we sort of realized we’re going to go past Season 5, we basically made a collective decision that Season 5 would be the final year of flashbacks,” said Guggenheim. “Next year, in Season 6, what we’ll end up doing is we’ll do some episodes without any sort of flashbacks. We’ve [also] established over the first four seasons of proof of concept that we can do flashback stories that don’t involve what I call the island narrative, even when he’s not on the island.

“We still want to make that part of our storytelling, because we do like them. We like when those non-island flashbacks sort of illuminate what’s going on in the present day. That’ll always be a part of the show and a part of the show’s storytelling structure. It just won’t be telling a serialized story.”

So essentially, the regular weekly flashbacks showing what Oliver was up to during his missing five years will indeed come to an end. In their place, however, episodes will occasionally feature flashbacks that don’t have anything to do with Lian Yu and will likely include other characters.

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Guggenheim specifically mentioned Curtis Holt (Echo Kellum) as a possible candidate for a flashback, saying, “We would totally do other characters.”

“We might even do a flashforward. You never know!” Guggenheim said. “I think it would be fun to do it with Oliver. It might be fun to do it with Diggle.”

So at least we’ll be rid of the troublesome Lian Yu flashbacks after next season, even if we will have to endure some kind of flashbacks (or flashforwards) for the foreseeable future.

Arrow returns for Season 5 on Wednesday, October 5 at 8/7 on The CW.

  • Tor Berggren

    “We’ve [also] established over the
    first four seasons of proof of concept that we can do flashback stories
    that don’t involve what I call the island narrative, even when he’s not
    on the island.”

    Well no quite the opposite. That’s just about the only thing the fandom agrees on. The (Oliver-centric) flashbacks in seasons 3 and 4 have been bad.

    • maryjanescomicsandrecordshop

      I agree. The flashbacks have been so bad, I cannot see any correlation to the present day antics in the show. Therefor, the show lost me in season 4 and I won’t be back. Ever.