As Arrow winds to a close, tonight's season finale will be a game-changer. Pitting Oliver and Team Arrow against Emiko and the Ninth Circle while in the background Star City and the SCPD are once again against them, "You Have Saved This City" threatens to end the season in the same place it began: with Oliver alone and at odds with the law. Executive producer and showrunner Beth Schwartz told ComicBook.com that some things in the writers' room were approached like a series finale rather than a season finale, and declined to comment on whether the eighth and final season will end as part of "Crisis on Infinite Earths," as most fans believe it will.
Schwartz joined ComicBook.com to talk about the episode, which airs after Legends of Tomorrow tonight.
Does it feel like the flash-forwards have more of a sense of urgency than the flashbacks did, since you can do big, sweeping things with your main characters that you couldn’t do if you knew their status quo in the present?
Yeah, 100%, I mean, because it's so far in the future, we are able to do things that we wouldn't necessarily be able to do in the present day.
I asked Juliana Harkavy about this earlier in the season, but did you worry at any point that showing things in such a state of disarray 20 years down the line would undermine what Team Arrow is trying to accomplish in the present day?
Not really. I mean, I know the outcome of things, and that was a story that we were telling this season for many different reasons, in terms of Mia's arc and what happened to some of our characters. It will become clearer, I think, possibly by the finale and definitely in the next season.
You guys have done versions of, "Does Green Arrow kill or not?" before, but Emiko is a very specialized version of that.
Yeah, it's obviously more personal, because this is his sister, and the whole season he's been dealing with redemption -- whether he's redeemable, whether other characters are redeemable. He's also, really, for the time realizing that his father was the cause of a lot of this cycle of violence that has happened with his family. It not only affected him and his son and possibly his future daughter, but as well as this whole other character, his sister, that he just realized he had this season. So it all starts to come together by the finale -- his feelings towards her, which are very different from any other big bad that we've had.
Because this show obviously exists in a heightened reality, I feel like it's really easy as a viewer to just sit there yelling at the screen, "Nope, kill her right now. You've got a shot, kill her." As a writer, is it challenging to take these incredibly larger than life characters, where sometimes it seems like that's the obvious thing, and to make believable these kind of moral conflicts?
I think it really is all the work we've put into Oliver's character. I mean, just like you said, he's had these debates to kill and not to kill, but he's a hero. Heroes don't just kill their siblings, just like they don't kill people without thinking. Obviously, he started out in season one that way, but so much has happened. He's so evolved, and for us, it's about honoring what the reality of what Oliver would really do.
The season where Oliver was the best at avoiding self-sabotage. Was it almost a challenge, writing a character who does that so often, and doing it in such a way that's like, "No, he's really grown, but he's still Oliver?"
No, I think...I don't know if it's just because I'm so familiar with his character -- that I've been writing him for seven years -- but it feels natural. I think for him, what was interesting this season is he was not only the hero that we all want him to be, but he was also supportive in everyone else's stories, and he was the sounding board, even when Felicity was going through wanting to kill Diaz, and he supported her. I feel like we were able to show more than ever this season how much he has really evolved as a hero.
The ultimate example of that evolution in a lot of ways, was his relationship with the SCPD, which obviously you guys spent 20 episodes building up, and then burnt it all down last week.
Yeah, that's what we do.
Does that basically make season eight feel like a reboot, or is it a little more complex than that?
No. That story will come to an end by the finale, with the SCPD and vigilante relationship, so we'll close that chapter.
With Diggle out of ARGUS and the team out of SCPD and Felicity gone, has Team Arrow stripped itself down going into the end of this season? I feel like it's now the most "simple" version that we've been since it was just Oliver and Diggle shooting things.
Yeah. By the end of the finale, we'll see what ends up happening to the team, so I don't want to say too much.
Arrow has gone through a lot of evolutions, but it's not like, say, Legends, where they intentionally reinvent the wheel every single season. But this year, I feel like you guys did. Starting with the jail and going to being deputized, it felt like this show was wildly different this year than it was 365 days ago. Was that a matter of you guys knowing the end was coming and checking things off your bucket list?
We didn't know the end was coming when we started, but I think it was just about wanting to do something different. A lot of us have been here from the beginning, and we wanted to open up the world, which is why we brought in the future story, and wanted to open this up to telling some new stories with new characters, but that were greatly affected by our main character.
I think in the SCPD storyline, it was just something that has evolved throughout the seasons, especially starting with him in prison and everyone being against the vigilantes. We just thought it was cool and different, to see them working together. Because if they could work together, wouldn't things be better for the city?
This season, you had essentially two big bads. What was the thinking behind getting rid of Diaz halfway through and moving on?
What we liked about continuing his story is that we had never done that before either, carrying a big bad over from the previous season. And that story obviously didn't end. And I think it gave us the time to hide Emiko as our big bad, and get to know her, and get to like her, only to be very disappointed to find out that she's the head of The Ninth Circle. So I think that the combination of those things helped because having one big bad for the entire season, which we've done before, obviously worked, but we wanted to do something new.
Arrow airs on Monday nights at 9 p.m ET/PT on The CW. The season seven finale, "You Have Saved This City," will air tonight.
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