After months of speculation, tonight will finally resolve the question of which Arrow characters did and did not survive the attack on Lian Yu at the end of the show's fifth season.
As the culminating event of Prometheus's season-long plan to discredit, disgrace, and ultimately destroy Oliver Queen, the villain flew a group of heroes and villains out to the island where Oliver had once been stranded and ultimately blew it up with everyone except for himself, Oliver, and Oliver's son William still on the island.
The implication at the end of last season was that everyone had died, but that notion did not last long since the show had to eventually go into production and actors started showing up for work.
The episode will have a present-day story and a flashback story -- and in the flashback, Oliver will slowly reveal the toll that the Lian Yu explosion has taken on his team.
What do we expect to see? Well, read on...!
Who's NOT dead
Rather than running down the entire cast with "nope, not dead," we are going to do a speed round here...
Felicity Smoak is not dead. She has been spotted in numerous set photos and will play a key role in the upcoming "Crisis on Earth-X!" crossover.
John Diggle, Rene Ramirez, Dinah Drake, and Curtis Holt are not dead. Their costumes are hanging at the ready in the Arrow lair in recently-released concept art, and some of them appear on the poster for "Crisis on Earth-X!"
Quentin Lance is not dead. During our Arrow season 5 finale commentary track, showrunners Marc Guggenheim and Wendy Mericle said that they planned on dealing with the complex relationship between Lance and Black Siren, his dead daughter's Earth-2 doppelganger, in the upcoming season.
Black Siren, also, is not dead; she has appeared in basically ever piece of promotional material for the season.
Slade Wilson is not dead; stories featuring the character have been teased for the present day as well as flashback stories this season.prevnext
Talia Head & Nyssa Raatko
Actor availability, budgeting, and storytelling constraints may prove the end of the story for the daughters of Ra's al Ghul.
Even if that is not the case, there is the outside chance Gotham could play hell on the availability of those characters.
In any event, we don't know what the verdict will be for these badasses. It does not feel like the island explosion is enough of a blaze of glory to send two such awesome characters out in, but on the other hand, their fight in the season 5 finale may have been the logical endpoint of their arc in Arrow.prevnext
Another villain who might or might not make the grade: Artemis.
Evelyn Sharp was a big part of Arrow season 5, but once she joined the dark side we never really saw much of her. She would occasionally pop up as part of one Prometheus plan or another, only to get manhandled and make her escape.
In the season finale, she was one of the villains who was defeated but not killed on Lian Yu, suggesting that anything is possible for her. Was there an exit strategy, or did Prometheus simply think that she and the others were expendable? If there was a strategy, did it work?
We kind of doubt they will bring Madison McLaughlin back just to answer these questions in an already-packed premiere, so expect this one (like Nyssa and Talia) to hang over the fandom for a bit.prevnext
Whether or not Thea Queen survives the explosion on Lian Yu, actress Willa Holland will be back on Arrow this season. Showrunner Marc Guggenheim, though, hints that some of her episodes could be in flashback.
While the explosion at the end of season 5 might seem like the ideal way to get rid of an actor who doesn't want to be onscreen all the time, Guggenheim has said in the past that he doesn't imagine that Thea will die on his watch, since Oliver has already lost both parents.
So what's next for the character?
"All I'll say really, and you can interpret this however you want, is Willa is back on the show and we are doing flashbacks from people's perspective that does not always include Oliver's," Guggenheim said. "I'll let you extrapolate from that what you will."
Samantha Clayton seems as good as dead.
The character, played by actress Anna Hopkins, is the mother of Oliver Queen's illegitimate son William and has been a guest star for an episode or two since the show's second season -- but she ended up on Lian Yu at the end of season 5.
And previews for the episode show Oliver Queen hanging out with William, who is staying at Oliver's with no sign of Samantha in sight.
It seems more likely than not that William will be functionally orphaned and that Oliver will be forced into the role of loving dad.
Alas, poor Samantha. We didn't know her all that well, but Hopkins is really good so we hope to see her occasionally in flashback.prev