The season four premiere of Arrow opened with an uncharacteristically upbeat and happy Oliver Queen. The episode ended with the pendulum swinging in the opposite direction, giving us a look six months into the show’s future… which would put the screen capture above squarely at the end of this season.
Someone appears to be dead. Someone that Ollie feels enough of a connection to that he appears to come to the graveside alone. Until Barry Allen shows up and apologizes for being late. It is to Barry that Oliver, teary-eyed, confides what Ollie has come to realize. Ollie is going to have to kill “him.”
With three episodes behind us this season (at the time of this publication), the mystery of who is in this grave hangs like a black curtain over the goings-on. How can we feel Ollie’s peace in his relationship with Felicity if we think it might be short-lived? How can we fist-pump now that Ollie and John seem to be back on the same page with the chance that Ollie’s first and best partner may not make it to season five? How comfortable can we be that any member of Team Arrow is “safe” when it could any one of them in the ground? What if more than one doesn’t make it to the end of this season, and the flash forward wasn’t the death this season, but the latest death? The one that forces Ollie to crush this new leaf he’s turned over and become a killer once more.
Let’s take a look at our major characters and speculate on why or why not that particular character might be wishing that Nyssa hadn’t fouled up Nanda Parbat’s famous hot tub.
First up, the top three candidates:
Why her: She has to be the default choice, based on what we know so far, right? She is the one who has stood firm on the idea that Ollie can be better than the killer he was when the two first met in season one. With Felicity dead, it would be reasonable to accept Ollie slipping back into killer mode. Aside from Ollie (or maybe including Ollie), she is the person on Team Arrow who is closest to Barry Allen, which would explain his showing up at the gravesite. She seems to be taking Darhk and the “ghosts” a little too lightly this season, filling the communication waves with chatter about things like nicknames and the like (possible foreshadowing, in episode 4.02, Ollie calls Felicity and Diggle by name on the communicator and Felicity comments that if the “ghosts” are listening, they know that the Green Arrow works with a “Felicity” and a “John” now). Prior to the television series, she didn’t exist in DC Comics canon, so her fate is fair game. If we’re ever going to get the Ollie-Laurel hook-up (read your comics, folks), then Felicity is going to have to be out of the picture at some point.
Why not: Mainly because it seems a little too obvious. I expect that we’re going to have a swerve or two thrown at us, making us think that Felicity’s life is in danger, only to find out that –gotcha!– she’s fine. Otherwise, I don’t have a reason to keep her character around. Felicity is a great character, but the story could potentially be better served without her to ground the team.
Why him: OTA (Original Team Arrow). Like Felicity, Diggle is one of the few characters that anchor Ollie to his humanity. The loss of John–who would leave behind a wife and young daughter–would be a devastating blow that would leave Ollie questioning his tactics, particularly if the good guys are dying because of those no-kill tactics. Diggle is hell bent on finding out why the HIVE had his brother, Andy, killed. I can see Diggle’s recklessness leading him into a trap from which no one can save him.
Why not: Diggle just got his helmet. Again, might be a little obvious as a candidate.
Why her: She’s a sidekick, so she’s expendable. Just ask Roy Harper. Another of the few people who tether Ollie to his humanity, if for no other reason than because Thea is the only other Queen left. In a fit of blood lust, Thea might make a bad decision that gets her killed… or requires the heroes to have to put her down.
Why not: She already died once. Sorta. Surely the producers and writers wouldn’t killer her again, one season later, would they?
Next up, the outliers.
Why her: The daughter who lived. Laurel’s life has been threatened this season by Damien Darhk. Should Quentin Lance decide to stand against Darhk, Laurel could be the casualty of that decision.
Why not: Around 50 years of comics history. That’s a lot of potential baggage to kill off. Plus, we’re all waiting for Ollie and his first girlfriend to get back together, right?
Why him: Lance has made some sort of deal with the devil that is Damien Darhk. There has to be a reckoning associated with that, right?
Why not: While I can see Ollie being upset over Lance’s death, I have a harder time imagining him and Barry at the graveside together, Ollie vowing to kill whoever put Lance in the ground. At this point, I’d be more inclined to believe that Lance is the “him” Ollie vows to kill… the one who Ollie trusts to protect the city but whose betrayal leaves us with the mystery corpse.
Why him: Holt seems like a good guy. A likable fellow. The new Felicity, if you will. By the same token, his death might serve as a catalyst similar to the above… the death of the innocent who got caught between a rough gang of “ghosts” and a team of vigilantes battling for the soul of Star City.
Why not: Does it make sense to introduce a new character–someone with no ties to the principal characters–that has a history in the DC Comics world, only to kill him off in the same season?
Why one or both of them: While Lyla is not as much an innocent as someone like Curtis Holt, she is one of the good guys. Lyla and John’s daughter, Sara, however, is just about as innocent as they come, being no more than a toddler. The death of one or more of these characters would certainly upset Ollie and the rest of the team, as well as likely unmooring John from any semblance of rational thought. With Ollie’s kidnapping of Lyla being what created the divide between him and John in the first place, her death would be expected to be rough on Ollie.
Why not: These are side characters at best, background characters at worst. I don’t know that their deaths would meet the expectations set by giving us a glimpse six months into the future in the season premiere. If it is revealed that one or both of these turn out to be the one killed, then you can bet that the “him” Ollie has to kill is John, somehow.
Finally, the long shots.
Why her: Because she poisoned the Lazarus Pit! Karma.
Why not: Again, not a big enough death to warrant a flash forward. If Nyssa is the one in the grave, then bet that the “him” Ollie swears to go after is Malcolm Merlyn. Always Merlyn playing the antagonist.
Why her: Because she died once. Stay down, already!
Why not: Because she died once. And the producers and writers went to great lengths to bring her back so she could be used in the Legends of Tomorrow spin-off. Why go to all that trouble just to kill her? Again.
Why him: People think he’s dead now, right?
Why not: See “Sara Lance” above.
Why him: We first heard about Damien Darhk from last season’s Ras al Ghul. With that Ras dead and Malcolm the new Ras, it makes sense that Darhk would want Malcolm out of the way so he could either assimilate or disband the League of Assasins.
Why not: Would Ollie really cry over Malcolm’s death? I mean, Ollie thought he killed Malcolm at the end of season one and wasn’t exactly torn up over it.
Say what?: Hear me out. Ollie and Barry are the only two at the gravesite. So, no one else would see that Ollie isn’t dead, only pretending to be. In his upcoming run for mayor, Ollie will be a big target. Perhaps letting the HIVE think they killed Ollie is the only way for the Green Arrow to defeat Darhk and his HIVE. With the death of Oliver Queen, Ollie knows that he and Felicity will never have a “normal” life, and that is what he is mourning. Finally, with Ollie dead, the Green Arrow can live and do his thing without scrutiny falling on those closest to Ollie.
Why not: You did see him standing at the grave, right?
One more crackpot theory: Ollie’s not the one in the ground, but because of that death, Oliver Queen–the public figure–is the “him” that Ollie has to “kill.”
What do you say, Arrow fans? Sound off in the comments and check back in as we update our list each week this season.