‘Arrow’ Producers Talk Season 4 Premiere Shocker: ‘It’s Not a Fake Out’

“We want to bring stakes back to the show,” says producer Wendy Mericle

“Arrow” kicked off its fourth season with big revelations and one big death — though it looks the identity of the deceased will remain a mystery for the time being.

In the episode’s final scene, a “Six Months Later” message is seen, before Oliver (Stephen Amell) appears, dressed all in black, standing somberly in front of a tombstone. After Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) shows up and apologizes for not making it to the funeral, Oliver drops to his knees and sheds a tear.

The death is real, and it will stick, according to executive producer Marc Guggenheim.

“It’s not a fake out. That’s not how we roll,” he said.

On a show with a magical pit of water able to bring the dead back to life, you can hardly blame skeptics who think dead doesn’t necessarily really mean dead.

“They will stay dead,” said EP Wendy Mericle. “We want to bring stakes back to the show, so we’ll be finding a way to handle the Lazarus Pit portion of Season 3 and Season 4 in a new and inventive way that I can’t reveal. It’ll be cool.”

The showrunners also promised there would be time after the reveal of the deceased to dig into the aftermath, though they stayed mum on a timeline of when it might happen.

Below, the producers weigh in on five more big revelations from the Season 4 premiere of “Arrow.”

1. Oliver (almost) pops the question
Caught up in domestic bliss, Oliver plans a cupcake proposal for Felicity early in the episode, before the crisis in Star City forces him to leave any chance for a “normal” life behind. By the end of the episode, he hides the ring somewhere more inconspicuous, seemingly putting a potential marriage on hold for the time being.

“When Oliver hides the ring, we’re also dramatizing the fact that okay, he’s with Felicity, they’re together, but its not the same as when they were back in Ivy Town,” Guggenheim said. “We wanted to get at that concept that their relationship had changed now that they’re back in Star City, but how do you do that? So that’s how we came up with the ring.”

Having moved into Thea’s old apartment, the lovebirds’ cohabitation also necessitated the building of a new set piece for Season 4.

“You haven’t seen it before on the show, but we built a bedroom – there is a bedroom,” said Guggenheim.

2. Flashbacks return to Lian Yu
With five-years-ago flashbacks rapidly catching up to the show’s timeline, Oliver was unexpectedly returned to Lian Yu, the Chinese island where he spent the first two seasons’ flashbacks, in the Season 4 premiere. And what he encounters there his second time around will affect events in present day Star City.

“He’s going to encounter who we hope is a love interest, a woman he’ll fall in love with,” Mericle teased of what awaits Oliver on the island. “And he’s also going to encounter a lot of magic and mysticism on the show, and that is going to inform what he’s dealing with in Star City in the present day with Damien Darhk.”

3. Lance goes Darhk
Detective Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) is no longer the moral center of “Arrow,” as the premiere revealed Laurel’s dad in cahoots with the evil mystic. But he may be getting in over his head.

“Lance is working with Damien and you’ll see later in the season that he didn’t know what he was signing up for,” said Mericle. “We’re going to play it as a sort of crisis for Lance in terms of why he chose to do it and what it means for him. He’s always been sort of the moral center of the show and someone who lorded his morality over Oliver’s. When all of this comes to a head its going to be very interesting to see how these two characters work it out.”

4. Thea is still reeling from the Lazarus Pit
Oliver’s little sister is a little too aggressive in battle, something he notices immediately but which others seem to be brushing off. But Oliver’s instincts are correct, and her sudden personality shift has everything to do with her brief stay in the Lazarus Pit last year.

“That’s something that’s going to come into play,” said Guggenheim. “We’re going to acknowledge very directly — ‘Wait a second, she went into Lazarus Pit back in episode 320 and it’s been six months, so why is it only showing up now?'”

Meanwhile, her father will try to be there for her. Though Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) wasn’t present in the premiere, he will return soon, and his new role as Ra’s al Ghul will be a focal point.

“You’ll see him early,” promised Mericle. “His arc for the season is really revolving around Thea, and trying to be a good father while also being a very evil, badass Ra’s al Ghul. I don’t know how you work that out, but if anyone can do it, it’s Malcolm and John Barrowman playing him.”

5. Is Green Lantern showing up next?
In a throwaway shot casual fans may have missed, a faceless man is briefly glimpsed wearing a uniform bearing the name Jordan – as in Hal Jordan, the alter ego of DC comic book character Green Lantern. But showrunners are staying mum on this one, for now.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” joked Guggenheim, laughing. “If certain things happened to have gotten past me while I was watching dailies, I can’t take responsibility for that!”

“Arrow” airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.