Arrow Won’t Ditch Its Problematic Flashbacks

Though initially a decent part of the storyline, and integral in terms of the second season, as The CW’s “Arrow” has continued forward its flashback elements have become increasingly pointless and complained about by fans – especially the current fourth season storyline and its return to Lian Yu Island.

It’s a storytelling device that has been there since the beginning though and those involved in producing the series are well aware of the fan restlessness but feel somewhat trapped by the show’s structure. Speaking at the Writers Guild Festival on Saturday, executive producer Marc Guggenheim told TV Line:

“Part of the appeal of the flashbacks – certainly in the first two years, but I think the first three years – is seeing what a big difference it is between Oliver Queen in the present day and Oliver Queen five years ago. The problem is that we are telling a five-year story in the flashbacks of Oliver becoming the guy you met in the pilot. So the deeper you get into the flashbacks, the closer he becomes to being that guy, and, thus, you lose that element of the flashbacks that was so interesting, which is how different he was…. That’s something we have struggled with this year.”

Fellow EP Wendy Mericle adds that she loved star Stephen Amell’s work in the earlier flashbacks and the unrest over the fourth season storyline, but the fifth season should see an improvement as they have an end point they have to get to and a more deliberate plan ready:

“I thought he really inhabited that character. It was less the very stoic superhero and much more dimensional, because he was so flawed. The way we write the story is still very much married to that backstory, and trying to change it up at this point would feel weird.

We know what we’re working up to. The season will be easier to break because we have an endpoint, and we work backwards from there. I don’t want to tip too much, but it’s a very good possibility that we’ll finally find out how Oliver got that Bratva tattoo and how he learned to speak Russian.”

The “Arrow” season finale is scheduled to air May 25th.