“Spectre of the Gun” is far from the first time that Arrow has given a flashback storyline to someone other than Oliver Queen. In season 2, while Oliver was involved, Sara had a pretty heavy flashback storyline in “Heir to the Demon.” Season 2’s “Suicide Squad” handed things over almost solely to Diggle in the flashback and the same is true of season 3’s “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak.” “Spectre of the Gun” involved another character getting their flashback spotlight with Rene. The episode should start a new trend for Arrow. Every character should be getting their share of the flashback wealth.
Something Old Is New Again
Arrow season 5 has improved on many of the downfalls of the previous two seasons. While the flashback storyline of season 5 hasn’t gotten anywhere close to the heights of season 2, it is a marked improvement over season 3 and 4. After season 5 wraps, Arrow is going to have to change things around. The flashbacks of Arrow season 5 will lead directly into the events of season 1. Unless the show wants to start going back ten years in time to explore pre-Queen’s Gambit crash, playboy Oliver Queen, something is drastically going to have to change.
While some fans might prefer the flashbacks being phased out of existence, “Spectre of the Gun” gives enough hope to the idea that other characters can pick up the slack. The Rene flashbacks of “Spectre of the Gun” weren’t the most amazing flashback story in the world. This lack of quality can mainly be boiled down to the fact that Rene’s wife, Laura, was not the most dynamic of characters and/or actresses. It was clear she was going to die from the moment she came on-screen and there wasn’t much reason to care about her.
“Spectre of the Gun” did manage to fill out Rene’s character in important ways. Thanks to Rick Gonzalez’s performance, Rene has always been a stand-out among the new recruits. Rene did seem a little simple though. He was just the rebellious one, the unpredictable teammate, the “Wild Dog.” “Spectre of the Gun” gave us a deeper understanding of Rene and illuminated some of his present-day actions. Even if the flashbacks weren’t fantastic they added to the show far more than they detracted. The show barely scratched the surface on Rene’s life, but with one short episode we already have a better idea of his character. This can only improve.
Adding to the Ranks
If Arrow is going to keep expanding the cast, like it has in season 5, more characters getting flashbacks will be vital. As enjoyable as some of new members of Team Arrow have been, like Rene and even Rory AKA Ragman, they do fail in comparison to the original trio of Oliver, Felicity and Diggle. Since none of the recruits have five seasons of history with the show they feel like second-class characters. Dinah Drake is taking over the iconic mantle of the Black Canary and we hardly know her.
Flashbacks are a very easy and effective way for Arrow to flesh out its ever-expanding cast. Oliver, Felicity, Diggle (and occasionally Thea) can still be the focus of the present-day story but if a side character gets a flashback it won’t feel like they are being ignored. We could learn more about Dinah’s history as an undercover cop. We could get to see Black Siren’s past and life with her Oliver on her original Earth. It would even be great to see how Rory’s magical rags made their way into his family’s possession.
Arrow isn’t even beholden to the idea of the flashback telling a season-long storyline anymore. This is one of the big reasons that Oliver’s flashbacks have failed in recent years. The storylines are either too boring or even worse, too complicated to be told in short bursts in between the main action. The flashbacks should really supplement the present day story, not overwhelm it. By jumping around from character there would be no ongoing storyline to track. It could just be a method to get know certain characters better for one episode.
But what do you think? Would you like to see a different kind of flashback episodes on Arrow? Would you rather the show do away with flashbacks altogether? Did you enjoy Rene’s flashbacks from “Spectre of the Gun?” Which character would you like to see receive a flashback next?