“Arrow” Season 4 has adopted a tone of levity while raising the stakes for each of its characters. However, with the CW series improving on the highly criticized third season, many fans still recognize one area of deficiency on the show — the island flashbacks.
For those that are unfamiliar with the general format of “Arrow,” episode 1 began with the protagonist, Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), being rescued from an island after being lost at sea for five years. Each season continuously flashes back to the character’s days on the island as viewers slowly learn how he went from being an immature rich boy to the hero of Star City. In past years, the island storyline has directly impacted the events of the present day, such as the return of Deathstroke (Manu Bennett) in Season 2. However, in the most recent season, the island plotline has felt disconnected and at times gets in the way of the narrative in the present day. Yahoo TV notes that the show’s own promotional materials in Season 4 have reduced the island plotline to a single photo per episode and largely leaves it out of any teaser videos or episode synopsis. Luckily, when the show returns for Season 5, the writers have plans to combat this perception of the flashbacks.
“The problem is that we are telling a five-year story in flashbacks of Oliver becoming the guy you met in the pilot,” executive producer Marc Guggenheim told TV Line. “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.
Apparently, the minds behind the show are finding it increasingly difficult to write a changed character that still encounters adventures in the past that affect the present. Season 4 tried very hard to connect its island storyline this year by using it to explain what gives Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) his powers, but after nearly 20 episodes of anticipation, the entire reveal felt like too little too late.
The good news for the writers and the fans is that Season 5 will mark the most important year for the flashback plot device on “Arrow.” Theoretically it will be the last time the show can lean on that tool to drive its narrative forward. When “Arrow” premiered in 2012, it revealed that Oliver had been marooned on the island of Lian-Yu for five years. If each season depicts one year in the life of Queen, Season 5 will mark the end of that journey and, presumably, end with the hero being rescued in the Season 1 premiere.
As for what’s in store for Oliver next, executive producer Wendy Mericle teased TVLine as well with the notion that fans might finally learn how Oliver cozied up to the Russian mafia and what ended up happening to his new partner Taiana (Elysia Rotaru).
What are your thoughts on the Season 4 isalnd plotline so far? Comment below or tweet your thoughts on the matter to @TylerMcCarthy.