Arrow is pulling out all the stops for its eighth and final season. Only ten episodes are left before the final credits roll, and one of those episodes will be devoted to the mega "Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover. In the other nine episodes, Arrow will delve into Oliver's bargain with The Monitor, his life without his family, flash-forwards with the new Team Arrow, and developments on the Diggle front, all while bringing back some long-gone characters, now including one who died all the way back in Season 1: Yao Fei.
Yes, Byron Mann is reprising his role as Yao Fei for the final season of Arrow, according to Deadline. Is he the "gracious" guest star that Stephen Amell hinted at? No details are available just yet about how and why Yao Fei will be needed on Arrow, but his death was one of the earliest significant deaths in Oliver's journey following the sinking of the Queen's Gambit and being marooned on Lian Yu.
Yao Fei was Oliver's first teacher in physical combat, and the first man to put a bow in Oliver's hands. Of course, Oliver was incompetent and ridiculous with the bow (and his terrible, terrible hair) when Yao Fei first started working with him, but poor Yao Fei's options for allies were limited on Lian Yu. Yao Fei was also the first person to shoot Oliver with an arrow. Honestly, Oliver kind of deserved it at that point.
Unlike one of the other presumed dead characters who will return in Season 8, Yao Fei was quite definitively killed back in the first season. After being coerced into helping a group of mercenaries, Yao Fei was shot in the head and killed. So, how will Byron Mann reprise the role when Yao Fei is not only dead, but has been dead for around 13 years in-universe at this point?
The most obvious answer is via hallucination. Yao Fei appeared to Oliver in a hallucination back in the end of Season 5, and Oliver does have a history of hallucinating important people who died when drugged and/or suffering from a blow to the head. Alternately, Yao Fei could appear to Oliver in a dream.
Either a hallucination or a dream would make more sense than trying to reunite Byron Mann and Stephen Amell for more flashback scenes. It was already a stretch back in the early years of Arrow to believe that Stephen Amell was in his early 20s in the flashbacks; I don't see it working well at all with 38-year-old Amell in Season 8.
Of course, it's possible that Arrow could pull off a flashback of just Yao Fei without trying to make Stephen Amell look 22 again. Oliver landing on Lian Yu may have been 13 years ago, give or take, in the Arrow-verse chronology, but it's been far fewer years since Byron Mann played Yao Fei. Throw him in the Yao Fei wig, put him under a hood, and give him the Yao Fei facial hair, and it wouldn't be hard to believe!
Only time will tell how Arrow incorporates Byron Mann as Yao Fei in the eighth and final season. The show has a lot to pack into not a lot of episodes, so we may not want to expect to see a whole lot of him. Arrow returns (along with the rest of the Arrow-verse with one exception) in October as just some of the shows hitting the airwaves in the fall TV premiere lineup.
Resident of One Chicago, Bachelor Nation, and Cleveland. Has opinions about crossovers, Star Wars, and superheroes. Will not time travel.
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