Did The Flash Go Too Far With Its First Big Change To Arrow?
The Flash was bound to look different in Season 3 thanks to the Season 2 cliffhanger that featured Barry Allen racing back in time to meddle with the past. Given that The Flash shares a universe with a couple of other shows on The CW, the cliffhanger also meant that Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow might look different as well. The second episode of The Flash Season 3 gave us our first glimpse at a change to Arrow, and it's a big one. John Diggle's baby daughter Sara has been replaced with a son named John.
Now, any of us who knew anything about the epic Flashpoint story of DC Comics knew that Barry did a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad thing when he changed the past, and even those who have never picked up a comic book had to know that altering the long-distant past couldn't possibly be a good idea for the status quo of the Flarrow-verse. Legends of Tomorrow was probably going to be safe due to its use of time travel to tweak history on a regular basis, but Arrow is a different story.
It's been a given for a while that Digg was probably going to have a son named John at some point. Legends of Tomorrow Season 1 revealed that a John Diggle, Jr. would take on the mantle of the Green Arrow after a goateed Oliver Queen lost his arm and retired. It was only one possible timeline, but the odds were pretty good that Digg and Lyla would have a baby boy at some point. Digg and Lyla are two of the most badass characters on Arrow. The more kids, the better for Star City!
There was no reason why John, Jr. couldn't have a big sister named Sara in his life. Flashpoint didn't need to wipe Sara from existence in order for John to be born. It's not like Oliver's first move as mayor was to decree a one-kid maximum in Star City. He was far too busy erecting statues and playing hooky to even think about anything like that.
Personally, I'm puzzled by the decision to remove a young girl who is an original character from Arrow and replace her with a young boy who has a superhero destiny on another show. None of the series in the Flarrow-verse have a great track record when it comes to treatment of female characters. Honestly, I'm still annoyed that one of Laurel's final acts before her death was to tell Oliver that he's totally the love of her life but it's totally cool that she's not the love of his, and I didn't even like Laurel. The last thing any of the shows in The CW's DC universe needed was to literally delete a female character from existence for no good reason. Little Sara can't even be mourned by her parents. She never existed.
Admittedly, Sara was never a huge character on Arrow. She was barely even two years old, and her biggest contributions to the series were fantastic reaction shots and adorable outfits. The point of her was never that another superhero had been born. The point of Sara was that wonderful things can still happen despite the doom and gloom of Star City. She was a happy accident and a normalizing element to keep the show grounded. Even if she wasn't a huge character, she was a character that helped the show feel like it was filled with people rather than comic caricatures.
Another problem with the replacement of Sara Diggle due to Flashpoint is just that not everybody who watches Arrow also watches The Flash. Viewers who watch Arrow for Arrow shouldn't have to deal with major changes because of something that happened on a show they don't even follow. It's one thing if changes happen due to a crossover; the Sara/John, Jr. switcheroo happened on a regular episode of The Flash that happened to briefly feature Felicity.
We knew there would be Arrow changes due to Barry's actions on The Flash, but did they have to include the removal of an existing character? The Flash was able to add somebody new without erasing anybody else. Why couldn't the Arrow changes just have been a sibling for Sara or Oliver getting sleeves back on his Green Arrow suit or Digg getting a new helmet as Spartan? Nobody would have complained about a new helmet for Digg.
Finally, there are practical reasons why the removal of Sara Diggle from The CW's DC universe was a bad idea. Pivotal moments of Arrow history actually stem from the fact that Digg and Lyla were having a baby girl. Arrow fans may recall this scene from Season 3:
If Oliver and Digg hadn't had their heart-to-heart over the necklace for Sara, Oliver might not have made a move on Felicity. They might not have gone on their date, which means that an Italian restaurant wouldn't have blown up, and Oliver wouldn't have crossed the line from friendship to romance by kissing Felicity at the hospital. Oliver and Felicity might not have slept together, and Felicity might not have given him the "Fight to live!" pep talk in the Season 3 finale, which means that he might have died at the hands of Ra's al Ghul. If he survived, Oliver might have left Star City by himself, which means he wouldn't have had Felicity to persuade him to return in Season 4. Damien Darhk might have killed a lot more people without the Green Arrow around.
Alternately, if Digg and Oliver didn't have their chat and Oliver didn't make his move on Felicity, Felicity might not have been so conflicted in her bizarro relationship with Ray. They might not have broken up, which means that Ray might not have kinda sorta blown himself up and become the amazing shrinking Atom. Vandal Savage might have successfully taken over the world because Ray never became a legend on Legends of Tomorrow. Who knows? Maybe Oliver never getting his date with Felicity blown up means that his showdown with Count Vertigo would have happened differently, Sara Lance may not have ended up at the wrong place at the wrong time to be killed, and the League of Assassins plot in Season 3 might never happened. Huge changes could happen to Arrow based simply on the switch from Baby Sara to John, Jr.
Obviously, none of these huge changes are likely to happen, because I'm being melodramatic and probably putting too much thought into the implications of time travel for a bunch of CW superhero shows. Still, I think my point stands. Changes to Arrow from Flashpoint can happen, but they should be chosen carefully in order to make sense with the show's history and honor the characters that have developed so far. These shows are really, really good when they're good. Hopefully future effects of Flashpoint will be handled in ways that are fun rather than frustrating.
Tune in to The CW on Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. ET to see what happens next on Arrow.
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Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.
By Nick Venable