Fans aren't the only ones who've noticed that the flashbacks, once an intriguing look at how Oliver Queen went from spoiled brat and island castaway to burgeoning superhero, have fallen off a bit in season four.
"Part of the appeal of the flashbacks – certainly in the first two years, but I think the first three years – is seeing what a big difference it is between Oliver Queen in the present day and Oliver Queen five years ago. The problem is that we are telling a five-year story in the flashbacks of Oliver becoming the guy you met in the pilot. So the deeper you get into the flashbacks, the closer he becomes to being that guy, and, thus, you lose that element of the flashbacks that was so interesting, which is how different he was… That’s something we have struggled with this year," EP Marc Guggenheim said at a Writers Guild Festival panel.
Fellow EP Wendy Mericle said that they need to be more "emotionally or thematically connected" to the present-day storyline to work well.
She told TVLine that season five's flashbacks, which will end by bringing the past up-to-date with season one's start, should thus be more focused.
"We know what we’re working up to. The season will be easier to break because we have an endpoint, and we work backwards from there," Mericle said.
As for what those flashbacks will show, well, Oliver's Russian tattoo (and mastery of the language) hasn't happened yet in the flashbacks, and needs to before he gets back to Starling (as it was still known at the time) City.
"I don't want to tip too much, but it's a very good possibility that we'll finally find out how Oliver got that Bratva tattoo and how he learned to speak Russian," she teased.