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The biggest crossover event in the history of the Arrow-verse is set to hit the airwaves later this year with the five-show "Crisis on Infinite Earths," and it will be the last crossover to include the series that started it all. Arrow will end after a shortened eighth season, which already promises to be a big departure from the norm thanks to Emily Bett Rickards' decision to leave the series.
"Crisis" is going to be so huge and Arrow is going to be so different that it's hard not to wonder: will Oliver's final season journey be all about the crossover? There are still months before any of the Arrow-verse shows return for the 2019-2020 TV season, and even longer before "Crisis on Infinite Earths," but there are reasons to suspect that Oliver's story will be very crossover-centric.
Let's start with a post from Arrow showrunner Beth Schwartz herself:
Beth Schwartz took to Twitter to hype fans up for the new season by revealing the title of the premiere, and the post raised more questions than it answered. The photo of the premiere script revealed it will be called "Starling City," was written by Schwartz and former showrunner/current executive producer Marc Guggenheim, and directed by stunt guru James Bamford.
As Arrow fans will remember, there hasn't been a city known as Starling City since the end of Season 3. When it was believed that Ray Palmer had died, the name was changed to Star City to honor his initiative to rejuvenate the city, and the flash-forwards to 2040 revealed that the city is still known as Star City a couple of decades into the future. Starling City exists only in the past... on Earth-1, at least.
As you can see, the photo from Beth Schwartz wasn't just the front of the script all by itself. The front page is right next to an upside down version of the same page, with an Oliver Queen Funko between them.
Since I'm assuming the upside down script page wasn't Beth Schwartz's way of revealing an Arrow/Stranger Things crossover, does it mean that Oliver will split his screentime between Earth-1 and another reality, where Star City is still known as Starling City? Perhaps hanging out with The Monitor, who came to claim him at the end of the Season 7 finale?
I won't rule out "Starling City" as the title of a premiere simply featuring some flashbacks to pre-Season 4 Arrow, especially considering a certain tease from Stephen Amell. Still, Arrow is definitely continuing with the flash-forwards. Would it also pack in flashbacks that are so significant that they inspired the title of the show's very last premiere?
The Arrow team also chatted with CinemaBlend and other press outlets about the final season at San Diego Comic-Con, and some of what they had to say may point toward Oliver having a "Crisis"-centric story. Stephen Amell said this about Oliver early in Season 8:
Oliver in the first three episodes basically closes the book and reconciles in some way, shape, or form with five different characters that I don't think the fans ever would have expected that he would have reconciled with.
Stephen Amell's comments sound like Oliver could be getting his affairs in order quite early in the season. That does make sense all on its own, considering the deal he made with The Monitor. That's why Oliver could be closing "the book" sooner rather than later; why would Arrow do it unless there's a larger plot in mind for Oliver?
Following those first three episodes, could Oliver's focus be on the coming crisis? There are plenty of heroes running around Star City as it is, and Oliver is primed to have a huge part of the biggest event in Arrow-verse history. The Flash showrunner already stated that much of the first portion of Season 6 will be leading to "Crisis," so Arrow wouldn't be the only show with a big build-up.
David Ramsey, who plays John Diggle on Arrow, addressed what he's most excited about for "Crisis," and his words also suggest that an ongoing build to the crossover is in the works. Here's how he put it at SDCC:
I think how we get into 'Crisis.' How we get into it. And each episode is kind of obviously a sprint to that finish line. That's what's kind of exciting me the most. Just in terms of each piece is kind of like, oh, you're getting closer and closer. The anticipation of it. But in terms of 'Crisis' itself, the actual script and what we'll see on that day... I don't know if I have any expectation because I'm kind of deeply involved in the journey at this point... Getting there has been very exciting...
According to David Ramsey, each episode of Arrow's final season will be a "sprint" to the finish line of "Crisis on Infinite Earths." That does not imply nothing more than the occasional nod to "Crisis" or even Arrow adopting The Flash's system of closing episodes with mini cliffhanger tags.
What more direct way to sprint to "Crisis" than to follow Oliver's progression to his crossover fate, perhaps with The Monitor? Surely Oliver wouldn't have left his wife and infant daughter behind just to fall back into his old habits of fighting casual crime in Star City, right? He has to have a higher purpose.
Throw in the fact that David Ramsey got himself a fancy new crime-fighting suit as Season 8 Diggle, and it's looking more and more like the role of chief superhero in Star City will be Spartan. He's even wearing some good old-fashioned Green Arrow green!
He may not be the Emerald Archer in that outfit, but I know I'd back Diggle as the hero of Star City over any of the other masked crime-fighters other than Oliver, even if Black Canary does get a new suit herself.
Arrow could arguably get away with Oliver spending a lot of his time preparing for "Crisis," even if that's not necessarily the Arrow that fans are all looking for out of the last season. Would it be a fitting farewell to the hero who started it all on The CW? Maybe, maybe not. Could it make sense? Yes.
James Bamford, who will direct the series finale as well as the Season 8 premiere, shared some of what to expect from Arrow when it returns. When asked about the biggest challenge of Season 8 outside of the crossover, Bamford said this:
The biggest challenge is each episode is being written like a finale. So each episode has the scope and scale and the cast and the budget, the over-budget of a finale. So it's full-on. We are all-hands-on-deck 24 hours a day trying to get just the premiere done, and we're going to be shooting until the end of November. So aside from that, the scripts are coming in early. The writers are delivering these wonderfully crafted epic scripts you'd think are impossible for television. We are charged with making them possible. That's the biggest challenge, and we want to do justice, of course. It's the last season. So we're going, all cylinders are firing, and we're going for it as hard as we can.
Although James Bamford didn't detail anything about "Crisis" or how Arrow will specifically build to "Crisis," his comments do suggest that Season 8 will be very different from seasons that came before. This is objectively true already, as no other season has run for only ten episodes, happened without Felicity Smoak at least recurring (and Emily Bett Rickards has already weighed in on a potential return for Felicity), led up to a massive five-show crossover, or obviously been the last.
Still, it could also be true that what is really requiring all-hands-on-deck is Arrow devoting a lot of the hero's time to launching an ambitious TV event rather than just fighting crime in Star City. We'll have to wait and see. Whether or not Oliver's final season journey is mostly defined by the build to "Crisis on Infinite Earths," at least it's safe to say that James Bamford's comments are reason to get excited about all the stops being pulled out to close out Arrow.