Warning: The following contains spoilers from the season 8 premiere of Arrow, which aired Tuesday night. Read at your own risk!
Lives are already being lost on Arrow.
In the long-running drama’s eighth and final season premiere, Oliver (Stephen Amell) traveled to Earth-2 to retrieve dwarf star particles the Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) needed to prevent the impending crisis in the multiverse. Unfortunately, after completing his mission, he was forced to watch the Earth-2 versions of his mother Moira (Susanna Thompson) and his best friend Tommy (Colin Donnell) die in front of him again because an anti-matter wave á la Crisis on Infinite Earths destroyed Earth-2. In other words, the titular event of this winter’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths” may already be here.
“It does indicate that ‘Crisis’ is starting earlier than we thought,” Arrow showrunner Beth Schwartz told reporters at a recent screening, explaining that this has been part of the plan since they mapped out the premiere in the spring. “We knew pretty fast when we started breaking the season as a whole that we wanted to start — you know, we don’t have that many episodes — big and we wanted to introduce the upcoming crisis immediately because that is what this season is about and what Oliver is struggling with the entire time.” She also revealed that they had to ask The Flash writers for permission to kill an entire Earth. “They were very gracious,” she said.
Witnessing the destruction of Earth-2 definitely increases the urgency of Oliver’s mission for the Monitor. “Certainly, he believes the Monitor when the Monitor says you have to come with me because he’s seen what the Monitor can do,” Amell recently told EW in a separate interview. “But for him to see the destruction of an entire Earth, that certainly cements the reality of what’s about to happen. To me, the most important part was that at the very last moment, he grabbed Laurel [Katie Cassidy] and brought her with him. That’s really important to the rest of our year.”
Before the destruction of Earth-2, the season 8 premiere followed Oliver, who pretended he was from Earth-2 and has been stranded on Lian-Yu for all these years, infiltrated a version of his old life. This trip down memory lane, though, allowed him to get some closure with several characters from his past, including his mother Moira, who gives him some parenting advice.
“I can’t thank Susanna Thompson enough for coming back and just jumping in so seamlessly,” said Amell. “They rebuilt my bedroom from the pilot! It was the same. So that scene was really special because it was our last scene of the day, and I think a lot of the emotions you saw in that scene were real just because I was so happy to get that moment and I think it was important for Oliver,” he continued.
Schwartz added: “I think what we like the most about having her in the premiere is that he now has his own children. To have his mother give him advice about motherhood now that he’s a father was just such a perfect moment that I tear up every time I see the scene between the two of them because they’re just so great together. And yeah, it was to give them some closure as well, to say he’s sorry for what happened to her.”
Oliver also found closure with his best friend Tommy Merlyn, who became the Dark Archer on this Earth after their half-sister Thea died from a drug overdose on her birthday because Oliver wasn’t there to save her. Like any good Dark Archer, Tommy was plotting his own Undertaking to avenge Thea, but Oliver managed to get through to his friend and talked him out of it.
“It was so perfect because part of this episode was a little of It’s a Wonderful Life and what would’ve happened if Oliver didn’t come back from Lian Yu and if he really had died, and how all these characters would be affected by him. So, it just was the most natural way if Oliver wasn’t there that Tommy would’ve gone bad. It was just fun to see him, obviously, in the Dark Archer suit,” said Schwartz.
Alas, Moira and Tommy aren’t the only characters Oliver will have to say goodbye to in the final season as he heads toward his death in the crisis. “There have been no easy days this year,” said Amell. “Rare has been the day that’s gone by where my character isn’t saying goodbye to someone because it’s our last go-around. I had that with Susanna and multiple characters. I guess I had that with Colin Donnell as well. As difficult as it’s been for Oliver emotionally, I feel like it’s been the same for me.”
In the forthcoming episodes, Oliver will return to Earth-1, which is where he’ll stay for the rest of the season (apart from the crossover), but don’t expect him to spend too much time in Star City. “We visit places that we’ve gone to in our previous seasons. So they’ll take place in different locations. I think we only have maybe one or two episodes actually in Star City,” said Schwartz.
Arrow airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on The CW.
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