It's been an odd season for Arrow. Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) has spent the entire time cut off from those he cares about. Instead, he's stuck behind bars in a maximum security prison filled with convicts that would like to kill him. Warning: The following contains spoilers for the episode "The Slabside Redemption."
Now that Oliver is out of jail, though--after some of the show's most impressive fighting and action scenes to date--he can't simply go back to the man he was before. Speaking to a small group of outlets during a visit to Arrow's set in Vancouver, Amell admitted that would be the cheap way to wrap up this particular storyline.
"I spent a lot of time talking with [showrunner] Beth [Schwartz] about Oliver when he gets out because I felt like in the first episode this year, we were really trying to charge ahead with a lot of cool new ideas, but it didn't necessarily lend the proper weight to what happened at the end of Season 6 in an episode that's titled 'Life Sentence,'" he said. "You know, one of the first drafts in the first episode of Season 7 focused a lot on Oliver focusing on good behaviors so that he could get released, and I was like, well, I mean, one way or the other, he's been in there for five, seven months, whatever the case may be. He's got at least fourteen, fifteen to go if he has good behavior. So we changed the focus a little bit."
According to Amell, the same thing happened when it came to episode 8, the first to feature Oliver adjusting to life after prison. "It felt like we were treating my experience at Slabside like I spent a night in county jail," he revealed. "In actuality, even for Oliver, it was a pretty horrific experience. So I did want a change in him. I wanted a change in him in the way that he interacts with people, with the public, and even so far as his wardrobe."
It makes sense to evolve who Oliver is after this experience. After all, he's been beaten up, stabbed, and mentally tortured, among other heinous acts, while in prison. Surviving something like that is a life-changer, no matter how you look at it.
As Amell explained, though, the things Oliver faced in jail aren't necessarily all bad. The mental torture at the hands of a Slabside Penitentiary doctor, for instance, made Oliver take a hard look at the man he had become.
"It teaches him a net lesson," Amell said of the brainwashing attempt. "I think that the person who was trying to teach him that didn't use the most nice tactics to get him there. So I think that the answer's a little less black and white. But it definitely teaches him something, and it's addressed, I think, in the first episode after he leaves prison and sort of what his new mantra is going to be if and when he puts the suit back on."
Before he puts the suit back on, though, there's that pesky detail of another Green Arrow dispatching vigilante justice on the streets of Star City. Thankfully, fans won't have to wait long to get Oliver's take on the new hooded protector. "He runs into the new Green Arrow, or runs into the new Green Arrow’s exploits, pretty quickly," Amell teased.
As for what Oliver is going to do about the new figure, it's actually someone else in his inner-circle that might have the solution. "We come up with that idea pretty quickly, but I think one of the fun things is it’s not Oliver who comes up with it," the actor said.
What will be interesting to see now is what happens when the new Green Arrow comes face-to-face with the original--and how the original's new perspective on vigilante justice will come into play. Arrow airs Mondays at 8 on The CW.