*Be aware that major spoilers are discussed*
After eight seasons and the launch of an entire multi-verse of superhero shows, including The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Black Lightning and Batwoman, The CW series Arrow has come to a satisfying, tearful and heartfelt conclusion. And while it’s sad to say goodbye to the show, its characters live on and it’s likely that we’ll see at least a few of them again.
Following a screening of the series finale at the offices of The CW, actor David Ramsey (“John Diggle,” aka “Spartan”) was joined by executive producers Marc Guggenheim and Beth Schwartz to chat with various media outlets about where that Oliver Queen statue will go now, that green box that Diggle opened, whether we’ll ever get to see what Diggle’s life in Metropolis is like, bringing back past characters without diminishing their previous loss, how they chose the specific flashbacks, how Emily Bett Rickards’ availability affected the story they could tell with Felicity, Thea (Willa Holland) and Roy’s (Colton Haynes) happily ever after, being on set during the final days of filming, that spark between Laurel (Katie Cassidy) and Tommy (Colin Donnell), and whether there’s a chance we might ever see Stephen Amell (aka Oliver Queen) in the Arrow-verse again.
Question: So, who’s taking home the Oliver Queen statue?
MARC GUGGENHEIM: I’ve been joking that it’s gonna look great in my backyard. The truth of the matter is that it’s actually carved out of Styrofoam, so it’s not actually really meant to withstand the elements. Actually, Warner Bros. took a ton of stuff for their archives, and that was among them. Though, obviously, if the spin-off gets picked up then, we’ll take it back. We reserve the right to repossess anything that we’ve given the archives.
Diggle got a green box from space and he’s moving to Metropolis.
DAVID RAMSEY: Yes, he is. Yeah, he did get a green box, and it was very exciting. I don’t know what that means, but he does go to Metropolis and he got a green box, and we’ll see. We’ll still see, believe it or not. We’ll find out.
GUGGENHEIM: We’re just gonna continue to tease you guys. I feel like a little bit like how, in Rocky 4, when Rocky did the press conference for his Ivan Drago fight and he said, “It’s gonna be Christmas in Russia.” And people were like, “Why?” And he was like, “That’s what I was told.” So, every time David and I field questions about, “What was in the box?,” basically it’s like, “That’s what I was told.” What I mean by that is, this was something that was worked out, over a year ahead, with DC entertainment. We very specifically negotiated and discussed the parameters, and I feel like, to say anything beyond what we have shown you, would violate our agreement with DC.
How important was it for you to pay off that fan theory?
RAMSEY: That was very important. I’m also just amazed that we compared Arrow and Green Lantern to Rocky 4, which was a very good movie.
GUGGENHEIM: A long -running inside joke between me and Greg [Berlanti] is how you can learn almost everything about story from Rocky 3. It’s true, by the way. In a separate venue, I could give you a whole song and dance about it.
RAMSEY: It’s exciting. This whole thing has been exciting. Yes, the tease has had a bit of a pay-off, but we’ll see what all that means. I’m with Marc. Anything beyond that is violating these parameters that we’ve been given by DC, that we have to honor. But I think we’ve done some justice to the six-year tease that we’ve given.
With Diggle moving to Metropolis, could we see him on the upcoming Superman and Lois TV series?
GUGGENHEIM: David and I have actually talked a lot about Diggle’s and David’s post-Arrow future. We’ve got some really good ideas. I will also say that David has become a remarkable director, so we’re as interested in him behind the camera, as we are in front.
Oliver’s father wasn’t brought back because his death was something that shaped him, but so did the deaths of Moira and Tommy. How did you approach bringing them back, so that you didn’t minimize the impact of those deaths and the character growth that came out of them?
GUGGENHEIM: It was a tricky decision, as most of our narrative decisions on Arrow have been, and lord knows there’ll be people up and down my Twitter feed that disagree with me. One thing that we didn’t want to do was invalidate the entire series. There are 169 episodes that come before this one, and all of those stories happened. You can watch, knowing everything. In my mind, things would be different if this was just the eighth season finale, and not the series finale. If we were doing a Season 9 and, suddenly, Tommy and Moira and Lance were all back, then, yeah, it’d be like, “Why’d you jerk me around for eight seasons?” One hundred percent. But we’re not telling those stories. There isn’t a ninth season of Arrow. There is no more Oliver Queen. So, this just felt like a way to honor the completion of Oliver’s mission – a mission that included going through all of these losses that he suffered.
BETH SCHWARTZ: Without Oliver going on the Queen’s Gambit and without his father sacrificing himself, so that Oliver could live, he would have never become the Green Arrow. That was what was really important. Out of all the other characters, that’s what triggered everything.
GUGGENHEIM: When I saw The Search for Spock, it didn’t invalidate The Wrath of Khan to me. Younger people can look up what movies I’m talking about.
As far as the flashbacks go, what was the reasoning behind those particular moments and what did you want to show with those scenes?
GUGGENHEIM: Good question. Because Oliver Queen dies two episodes earlier, we always knew that we obviously wanted to have Stephen [Amell] in the finale, apart from just the end scene. That was number one. Number two, the obvious solution to that seemed to be to do a flashback story, which also would honor the flashback convention that’s been so important to the show, particularly in its first five years. It seemed to make sense, since in a series finale, you’re looking backwards and going back to Season 1. The original plan was for it to be something with Oliver, Felicity and Diggle, probably right after Episode 114, when Felicity was brought into the circle of trust. The problem was that Emily [Bett Rickards] was only available to us for two days. Basically, if we had a third day with her, we would have been able to tell that story. Once that didn’t materialize, we were like, “Okay, our back-up plan is do something post Episode 105, after Oliver and Diggle have started working together, and just tell a piece of the story you didn’t see, which is really the start of their relationship, as partners and, as Diggle says later, as brothers. You see, as Oliver says, the proof of concept of what that relationship could be. What was very nice and rewarding for us to see was how that and the eulogy speak to each other, and you really do see how much things have changed.
We haven’t seen Felicity this whole season, so what was it like to figure out her whole story in there, in the two days that you had with her?
GUGGENHEIM: It was really challenging. As with pretty much every episode of Arrow that we’ve ever done, we wrote Emily without regard to how many days we had her for. We always write without regard to production, and then we modify, based upon whatever time or budgetary limitations are placed on us. In the case of Emily and Felicity, what worked out well was that we realized we were able to schedule all of the present day story elements that we had written for her, in those two days. The only thing that had to change and fall out was that the flashback story had to change, which was obviously really disappointing to us. But as always, we’re presented with lemons and we make lemonade. I’m really happy about the story with David and Stephen. They really brought it, and they really made it work. And just speaking of the flashbacks, one of the things that was always one of our checklist items was that we were gonna leave it all on the field, as far as our action sequences were concerned. This is my bugaboo and my hobby horse, but in seven seasons of Arrow, we have not received even a nomination for a stunts Emmy. We don’t even want the award, at this point. We just would like this amazing team to be recognized for the work that they’ve done.
SCHWARTZ: They work so hard and they deliver.
GUGGENHEIM: Yeah, week after week.
What was behind the decision to have Roy and Thea get engaged, having spent so much time, both off the show and apart?
SCHWARTZ: I always wanted them to be together, in the end, no matter what. I love them together. They’re one of my favorite relationships in the series. And then, Marc went further with the engagement. He surprised me.
GUGGENHEIM: I was doing my pass on those scenes and I was like, “Oh, this feels right. Why don’t we do this?” I’m also a big fan of that relationship. Something we had discussed and agreed upon, very early on, was that they had to end up together. I’m trying to remember what motivated me to do it. They’d been together, off and on, over the course of eight years.
SCHWARTZ: I think I’ve written about 20 of their break-ups.
GUGGENHEIM: Yeah, and 20 reconciliation scenes. So, working in one of those reconciliation scenes, I was like, “How do we keep this from being different, the previous 20 times?” Their relationship had to move forward. They had to make a long-term commitment to each other, and it just felt right. I knew it’d be an easy sell to Beth. I was like, “I know Beth will go for this!”
SCHWARTZ: We also wanted a few happy endings. Even though we are Arrow, we do have souls and hearts.
GUGGENHEIM: That’s what you bring to the show.
SCHWARTZ: We have Dig and Lyla, as our happy couple, and we wanted Roy and Thea to be happy, as well.
What was it like, being on set for these final days of filming? What was the final scene that you shot?
GUGGENHEIM: It was the final scene. It was past midnight and we were all there, including several cast members who didn’t even work that day. Colin Donnell showed up. Rick [Gonzalez] and Juliana [Harkavy] were there.
SCHWARTZ: A bunch of the writers came, too.
RAMSEY: There were scenes that we finished because the whole day was done, and we just stayed around for that scene. Everyone celebrated. I’m sure there’ll be several posts on Instagram, after it airs.
SCHWARTZ: There were a lot of speeches and tears.
RAMSEY: The whole day was a celebration, but it was also just surreal. Obviously, this was ending, so people were sad and there were a lot of tears, but also, there was an expectation. Just to have the opportunity to go out the way we wanted to go out, that was doing something to us, too. We felt like we had some control over it, and over what we said and how we said it. So, there were a lot of emotions that day.
GUGGENHEIM: We actually wrapped the show three times. We never do anything once on Arrow. The final scene was the final scene, but then we did pick-ups and drone footage, the day after, so that was the second time that we series wrapped the show. And then, the Ezra Miller cameo came up, at the last minute. The cut had already been locked, and we opened up the cut and shot that on The Flash stage.
There was a little bit of a spark between Tommy and Laurel. How much of that was planned, and is there room to play with that, in the potential spin-off?
GUGGENHEIM: I think it was in the stage direction. It was certainly in the tone meeting. They nailed it.
SCHWARTZ: We can play that in the spin-off. We’ll find a way.
GUGGENHEIM: There’s lots of potential. Part of constructing any series finale is that you want to close off a certain number of loops, but you also want to open a certain number of loops because these characters lives go on beyond the show. Even when it’s not a shared universe and even when there’s no spin-off, these characters don’t cease to “exist.” By the way, who doesn’t hook up at a funeral? Am I right? No.
The multi-verse has been a great reason why the heroes, especially Supergirl and Superman, don’t just show up and solve everyone else’s problems. Now that everyone is on Earth Prime, how are you going to handle that, going forward?
GUGGENHEIM: First of all, I would argue that this has been a “problem-tunity” for us, ever since The Flash joined our world because, why doesn’t Oliver just call up Barry to fix things? If you’ve seen Iron Man 3, why doesn’t Iron Man call the Avengers for help? This is a classic problem, or problem-tunity, that all shared universes share. The answer is invariably because Barry and Kara and Clark are all busy saving their own cities and saving other planets, even. That’s always the answer. Because we’re now all on Earth Prime, it’s more beholden on us, just to try to acknowledge all of the other shows, going forward. That’s part of the fun. One of the things that David and I have talked about is, how do we create more cohesion among all of the shows, so that you really feel like you’re living in a shared universe? That, to me, is what’s really exciting. I think all of the other showrunners share that.
Is there room left for Stephen Amell to come back, for crossovers or something else, or do you feel like that would dishonor this ending that you’ve created for him?
GUGGENHEIM: That’s a good question. As we’ve said, he’s become something else. The whole point of making him The Spectre was just to give us story opportunities because who knows what’s gonna happen, in the future. The one thing I always say, every time a character dies on any of these shows, is that we’ve got alternate realities, time travel, and flashbacks. You name it, we have all of these different devices. No one’s ever really gone. Look at Colin Donnell. He’s practically a series regular, still into Season 8. From my point of view, while I would always love to see Stephen back, it would be about how we brought him back and when. If we brought him back in the seventh season premiere of The Flash, it would probably diminish this a bit.
SCHWARTZ: There’s always an opportunity to cut to him and Felicity in the afterlife, just hanging out and living their best life.
GUGGENHEIM: There’s a contingent of fans, where all they want is to see Oliver and Felicity at Bed, Bath & Beyond. It’s been a long joke. I’m like, look, we gave them beyond. One out of three. Not too bad.
How did the nod to the DC TV series Powerless come about?
GUGGENHEIM: You’re talking about the billboard. The art department, a lot of times, will tell us, “Hey, listen, we’re gonna be on this location, and to cover something up, we’re gonna put up a billboard, and put up this or that.” We’ve trained them, over the course of eight years, to look at that as an Easter egg opportunity. I’ll be totally frank, by this point, we were through with Crisis, I was completely spent, and also spent with just the amount of fights and battles and seductions that you’ve gotta do to get all of these Easter eggs, and I was like, “I dunno if I have anything left in me.” So, I called up Dan Evans, who’s been my partner in crime for so much of this, and was like, “Okay, Easter egg for the Arrow finale? What do you think?” And that was his pitch. I was like, “Great, wonderful, done.” Anything I can also clear, at this point, was like, “Let’s do that.” Plus, I also loved that show, so it worked out really well. That’s the good, the bad and the ugly on that Easter egg.
What can you say about David Ramsey’s upcoming appearance in The Flash, in Episode 610?
RAMSEY: We continue. People are still recovering. There’s a whole cast, over there on The Flash, that are still recovering from Oliver’s death, and part of that connection to Oliver is Diggle, obviously. Diggle’s presence there serves as that conduit and a way to grieve, but there’s also a case. There’s something to solve, that’s going on over in The Flash’s world and that Diggle is a part of.