What do you think would make for better flashbacks in Season 4?
LAUREL: Less Oliver sitting around and/or pining for his family. More Oliver turning into the hardened killer with incredible skills that we saw in season 1. His time in Russia being involved with organized crime might be a lot of fun. That, or he needs to get himself back into a position — like the island — in which going home wasn’t an option.
DEREK: Specifically? No idea. They’ve kind of exhausted both the survival angle and the military angle. I’m concerned that there isn’t much farther for flashback Oliver to go, since, character-wise, he’s pretty much exactly who we met in season 1. So either we only see a handful of scattered flashbacks instead of one per episode, or we get a really, really expansive plot. Considering the track record, I’d prefer the former.
MATT: True relevancy, both to the present storyline and to the flashback storyline. Yes, the relationship with the Yamashiros played a part in Oliver’s present-day story last year, as did the Alpha Omega bioweapon, but it frequently felt tangential. In Season 2, there was a decided arc and a feel to the flashbacks that they could almost be told separately as their own season of the show. The stakes felt high and essential, and the flashbacks served to fill in necessary backstory to really sell the present conflict. There was a clarity that was frequently missing in the Season 3 looks at the past, and that’s really what’s got to be established in Season 4.
Otherwise, there’s really little point to offering the flashbacks any longer. The biggest events left to fill in for the remaining two years of the flashback timeline are Oliver’s extended time with the Russian Bratva and his return to Lian Yu to grow into the disheveled mountain man who is “rescued” at the start of the series. That’s not to say there aren’t things to be plumbed from the past. Oliver’s had hellish experiences over the first three years of his exile, and it’s changed him from the careless playboy he once was, but he’s hardly the scarred, bereft man we see at the beginning of the show. He’s also got to develop his actual plan for becoming the Arrow. But, if there aren’t clear goals and defined storylines to accomplish those things, the flashbacks will continue to feel like wasted time.
STEPHANIE: I think the flashbacks should tell their own story that might not relate to the present day story every week. Once they began tying in minor events that happened in Hong Kong to Oliver’s actions in the present (looking at you, magic memory candle), it broke my interest. I know that the so-called “rules of good storytelling” dictate that there should be an emotional or thematic resemblance between the two. It worked for Lost, but that’s because they told one big nonlinear story that could have supporting flashbacks picked from any moment of a character’s life. Arrow tells two linear stories at the same time, so when they tie together, it’s less plausible.
CRAIG: Well, I was hoping it would involve Hal Jordan in Coast City, and it doesn’t… so… I really don’t know. Maybe “less of them” would be the answer?
I also wouldn’t mind seeing flashbacks to Sara’s journey from the end of Season 2’s flashback through to when we saw her in the present day. I guess that would all depend on the availability of Caity Lotz, though, and she might be too busy with Legends of Tomorrow.