In "Starling City," tonight's episode of Arrow, Oliver Queen returned to his earliest days as The Hood while series star Stephen Amell got to revisit the first season of Arrow -- complete with appearances by Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman), Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson), and Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell) -- and an unexpected appearance by the Earth-2 Green Arrow in the form of Adrian Chase (Josh Segarra). While some of the scenes were a new twist on some old ideas, some of them were disconcertingly similar to the first go-'round -- like an introductory scene that was almost beat for beat the first minute and a half from the series pilot, with one notable exception.
Oliver's return to Starling City took place on Earth-2, where he had to obtain an item for The Monitor, apparently something that will be a pervasive theme. But throughout it, he got to revisit some of the first season's most memorable beats.
"It was so much fun. You look back at the pilot and I wasn't nervous, per se, but I was certainly inexperienced relative to now," Amell told ComicBook.com. "It was so fun to poke fun at scenes -- not that they weren't important to me, and I certainly gave them significance and my full attention -- but just to have some fun with them, that was such a treat. It was really special."
Of those scenes, one of the most heartbreaking was the reunion (again) of Oliver with his mother, Moira. It was nearly identical to what Amell and Thompson had done so many years ago...which was one of the pilot's most effective moments.
"It was weird," Amell admitted. "I cannot thank Susanna Thompson enough for coming back. For her to give a performance that is so effective, where it doesn't look at all like it's an impression of what she's done before, speaks to her immense talent...but yeah, that was weird, man."
There was a fair amount of emotional rawness in Amell's performance this episode, as well as those of David Ramsey and Katie Cassidy, both of whom have also been with the series since the pilot. Amell tells fans to expect more, and reveals that his real-life emotional state has helped bring him to the right place for Oliver's current mindset.
"I've had the real benefit this year of my emotions," Amell explained. "Because this is the end of a personal journey as well as a professional one, my emotions are pretty close to the character's. I always embark on remaining true to the character, but I'd be lying if I said that I didn't tap into some of the ways that I really feel about not only the end of this journey, but the people I'm working with. I love Susanna, and I love Colin and Josh, and all the people that I've gotten to have closure with this year, it makes scenes like that really special."
Arrow airs on Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.