Spoiler warning for anyone who hasn't yet watched Arrow's Season 7 premiere. Be sure to check it out before reading on.
After a single season that wasn't wholly devoted to multiple timelines, Arrow twisted its original M.O. by jumping far into the future for a flash-forward. In the final moments from the premiere, it was revealed the hour's mystery traveler was actually grown-up William Queen. According to showrunner Beth Schwartz, the show will keep the flash-forwards going throughout Season 7, in order to showcase the longterm consequences of Team Arrow's actions. In her words:
When we had flashbacks in every episode, sometimes it felt like a little too much. I wanted to make sure that we were telling the story we needed to tell instead of being forced to tell them in every episode. With the flash-forwards, we're able to see the consequences of what our team has done in the present day story. In the future storyline, you're going to be able to see were vigilantes effective? How did that affect Star City in the future? How did it affect The Glades? How did it affect all the characters we love? Are people going to be the same or different? It opens up the world a lot.
Flash-forwards are hardly a new tactic for primetime dramas to dig into, and Arrow had its own future-set mystery in Season 4 with Laurel's death. However, shows don't usually leap forward as much as 20 years, so Arrow deserves some credit for taking a unique risk like that. It will be very interesting indeed to play catch up with more familiar settings and characters in later episode, such as that all-important island. We're assuming Oliver won't be locked up that whole time.
Fans were no doubt surprised to see Lian Yu making its return to the mythology after it was blown up in the Season 5 finale. As Beth Schwartz put it to THR, the island did not get fully destroyed, and its return could lead to interesting things.
We definitely talked about that. He blew up the island but he didn't decimate it. We figured that 20 years in the future, life finds its way back on the island so that's why we had some greenery having grown over the graves. And he just didn't burn Robert Queen's grave.
Perhaps Arrow is taking a page from The Flash's playbook where its timeline plotlines are concerned, since the Scarlet Speedster's series is dealing with its own future-focused reveals. Of course, Arrow's William doesn't appear to be utilizing time travel to make his discoveries about Roy Harper's current whereabouts. Just good old-fashioned boat travel.
Beth Schwartz is very excited for fans to see where Season 7 is taking these characters' journeys, saying Arrow almost feels like two different shows now. While flash-forward scenes won't appear in every single episode of the season, they will show up in most. So expect to see quite a bit of Star City 2038 moving forward, which will obviously include more from Colton Haynes' costumed return to the franchise.
According to Schwartz, Arrow won't be drowning Roy in rainbows and sunshine as his story gets fleshed out in Season 7.
You'll see a lot more in Episode 2 that he's much darker. He's definitely been burned. There will be a lot of mysteries to reveal throughout the season about what happened to him in that time span. We don't like the happily-ever-afters, apparently.
What else happened between Roy and Oliver, or between Roy and others? Where are all of the other beloved Team Arrow members in this non-happily-ever-after future? Will the Longbow Hunters have anything to do with it? Perhaps most importantly: how closely has William Queen followed in his father's footsteps?
Arrow will continue taking viewers into the future every Monday night on The CW at 8:00 p.m. ET. To see what other kickass shows are yet to premiere this season, head to our fall TV premiere schedule.