‘Arrow’ EPs on Crafting the Series Finale and How Long They’ve Known the Ending

     January 28, 2020

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 wraps up the story of the Green Arrow (Stephen Amell) with “Fadeout” (Episode 810). Exploring its legacy while also looking to its future, the namesake of the Arrow-verse will aim to provide a sense of closure with its past while opening doors for the possibilities to come.

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 the challenges of crafting this last episode, how much the world of Arrow has changed after the events of “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” how long they’ve known the ending of the series, getting Emily Bett Rickards (“Felicity Smoak”) back, the meeting between Felicity and Mia (Katherine McNamara), the emotions they were aiming for with the finale, and how they wanted to give everyone a satisfying conclusion.

*Be sure to check back for our spoiler-filled post-mortem after the episode airs tonight*

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Image via The CW

Question: What were the challenges of trying to craft this series finale episode, which was saying goodbye to this show, acknowledging the Crisis changes, adhering to what was set up in the pilot for the spin-off, but also honoring everyone, in case the spin-off doesn’t go forward?

BETH SCHWARTZ: Those were a lot of our challenges, as well as having a newborn baby, in my case.

MARC GUGGENHEIM: And a protagonist who’s been dead for two episodes.

SCHWARTZ: It was extremely challenging, for all of those reasons. Marc and I talked a lot about it and, in the end, all of those challenges is what made the ending so perfect.

How much have you guys mapped out all of the stuff that has changed, in this new world?

GUGGENHEIM: We’ve had a lot of discussions about what’s new, but at the same time, because we have the possibly with the spin-off and there’s also all of these other sister shows, we’ve given ourselves the freedom. It’s been the same approach that we’ve actually had with Arrow for the last eight years, which is, just because we’ve had these conversations, it doesn’t mean that we’re against a great idea, if one comes along. We’ve always given ourselves permission to deviate from the plan, if someone in any of the writers’ rooms comes up with an awesome idea, which happens, quite frankly, all the time.

SCHWARTZ: We had large conversations, just in Arrow, of the characters who were dead and the ones that we were bringing back. That was a larger conversation that Marc and I had, and that we had with the room, ‘cause we were really setting the rules. We spell it out, in the finale, that it’s the people who were important to Oliver that have come back. That doesn’t mean that we won’t surprise you, if the spin-off goes or on the other shows, if there’s another character that might come back.

What went into the decision, in terms of keeping Earth-2 Laurel versus bringing back the original version of Laurel?

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Image via The CW

GUGGENHEIM: We went back and forth on that a great deal, and truth be told, that was really driven by the spin-off. I think if we weren’t doing a spin-off, we probably would’ve gone a different way. We had a lot of conversations – me and Beth, and me, Beth, Jill [Blankenship] and Oscar [Balderrama], who will be running the spin-off, if it goes – about which version of Laurel we wanted in the spin-off, and we’ve really fallen in love, over the years, with the Earth-2 version of Laurel. We love Katie [Cassidy]’s take on that character, we love writing for that character, and we love the complexities of that character’s moral see-saw. She’s just always been a more interesting character to us.

SCHWARTZ: In Season 7 and 8, she was really able to redeem herself, and we felt that that was such an important story for her character. She’s come such a long way, from murdering people, all the time, to becoming the hero that she was, at the end of Season 8, and will continue to be in the spin-off, hopefully. So, it just felt like we would short change her, if we didn’t really honor the growth that her character went through.

David, how did it feel to be the one to deliver the eulogy?

DAVID RAMSEY: It felt great and appropriate. I didn’t expect it. I didn’t know exactly where we were going. There are a lot of challenges with how to bring your protagonist back, who’s been dead for two episodes. We were all thinking that, in the cast, too, when it came to the finale. I just think it was pieced together very, very nicely. I thought that Diggle delivering the eulogy was probably the right decision, and everyone going on their separate paths. I just think the story was told very nicely for Diggle.

There’s an interesting parallel with this episode and the previous one, with William getting kidnapped in both episodes. With so many characters that you could have put in peril, in both cases, what went into the decision to do that parallel storyline?

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Image via The CW

GUGGENHEIM: Part of it was that we realized, if we kidnapped William one more time, over the life of the show, we would get a free set of steak knives, and I wanted those knives. No, actually, the idea of William being kidnapped in the present day came out of the writers’ room. Beth and I had almost all of the pieces. We knew it would be a coda. We knew the build-up [with Diggle]. We’ve known the very last scene for months and months and months, since June. So, we’ve known almost everything, but one of the things we were debating was, do we need an A-story? Do we need a final villain? The writers’ room had pitched the idea of William being kidnapped, and the moment they pitched that, it really resonated for both of us because it did connect so strongly with the ending of Episode 809 . . . That was just really intriguing. Plus, steak knives.

SCHWARTZ: The challenge for the season was the crossover, the backdoor pilot, and then the series finale, so to be able to have all of those huge episodes speak to each other, instead of ignoring what happened, was really important to us.

You said that you’ve had the ending since June. When did you know that was going to be where Arrow would end? What were those conversations like?

SCHWARTZ: We always left it open, at the end of Season 7, to have that final scene. Marc called me or texted me in June, and was like, “I wrote the final scene,” after meditation.

GUGGENHEIM: I meditate every morning, and this has never happened to me, before or since, but I came out of the meditation with the entire scene in my head, literally word for word, exactly as you just watched it. I quickly opened up my laptop and had to get it down. For me, it just felt so right. I very excitedly texted Beth and was like, “I wrote the final scene and I’ve gotta send it to you.” I sent it and, of course, the big question was, is Emily coming back to be in it? I was like, “Now, she really has to because I really love this scene.” And fortunately, she did

SCHWARTZ: We didn’t even think of another ending. We didn’t have a backup plan, at all. We were just like, “Emily needs to do this.” Luckily, she did.

What can you say to preview the scenes between Mia and Felicity?

SCHWARTZ: I would tease that there’s a lot of wish fulfillment, for a few reasons. One is in being a parent and seeing your child in their adult self. That’s really crazy, and also amazing, when you’re proud of who she became, as a woman. Also, she’s honoring her father’s legacy. It’s obviously not under great circumstances ‘cause they’re at Oliver’s funeral, but it’s a very meaningful moment in their lives.

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Image via The CW

What emotions were you aiming for, in the finale?

SCHWARTZ: It was really important to me and Marc to honor all of our characters in this. We spent a lot of time in the room brainstorming endings for all of our characters. Whether they were series regulars in Season 8, or they were series regulars in Season 1, we really wanted to give everyone a satisfying ending, so that you could envision what their lives would be like, after the show was over.

RAMSEY: There’s a lot of emotions for me, and for John Diggle. This is the longest I’ve run on any show, and that’s for most of us. Just having this network of The Flash and Legends and Batwoman, and all of these tentacles is strange. It feels as if it’s over, but it’s also like, look at all of my children and look at this world that we created. It is not over. I’m used to, an actor, you do a show and you’re done, you move onto the next and, and there’s that. But there’s also this legacy with this thing that we’ve created, that just feels really special. And people are always interested and they’re always asking questions. It’s great to be a part of that. As an actor, we’re used to these things ending, but with this, there’s a piece that just feels like it doesn’t, which is also very good.

The series finale of Arrow airs on The CW on January 28th.

Television