Grant Gustin was as surprised as anyone to learn that Stephen Amell would reprise his role as Arrow‘s (dearly departed) Oliver Queen in one of The Flash‘s final episodes ever.
“I didn’t think it was on the table,” Gustin shares with TVLine in the video above. “Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect” from The Flash‘s last run of episodes, he adds, laser-focused as he typically is on the script at hand.
Titled “It’s My Party and I’ll Die If I Want To” and directed by original cast member Danielle Panabaker, the Wednesday, April 26 episode of The Flash opens with a surprise birthday bash for Barry, who is turning 30… again. (The Season 8 finale’s supercharge, it is explained, de-aged the speedster some.)
Alas, Dr. Ramsey Rosso aka Bloodwork (returning guest star Sendhil Ramamurthy) proves to be quite the party crasher, having escaped ARGUS to catapult Barry, Iris, John Diggle (Arrowverse vet David Ramsey), Wally West (Flash and Legends of Tomorrow vet Keiynan Lonsdale) et al into a nightmare scenario. As Barry labors to navigate the perilous situation, “A hero returns,” the trailer tells us, in the form of of Amell’s character.
With that encore, The Flash closes a full circle started with Arrow Season 2’s “The Scientist,” in which Gustin made his TV debut as someday-speedster Barry Allen.
For Amell, who filmed his final Arrow scenes in November 2019, “Honestly, it didn’t feel weird at all” to be back after so long a break, he tells TVLine.
“It was nerve-wracking, getting picked up on the first day and shooting my first scene,” he admits, “but after 15 minutes, it was like, ‘OK. I’m here…. When’s lunch?’”
To be a part of Gustin’s own Arrowverse swan song — well over three years since they last shared a scene together — “was really special,” Amell says. “It was nice to be there, and it was nice to see him.”
Comparing how Gustin must have felt at this point in the season to when he himself was knocking out Arrow‘s own final episodes, Amell notes, “They filmed, what, 13 episodes? And we’re the ninth. So though it would seem like you’re close to the end, trust me when I tell you that none of those casts thought that they were close to the end. Because those last episodes are so big and involved.”
Not that Episode 9 is any small potatoes. Far from it….
“It’s My Party and I’ll Die If I Want To” is “one of our biggest [episodes] of the season,” Gustin declares, “with the exception of probably the last two — and honestly, in a lot of ways it might be the biggest.”
And that speaks volumes about the faith that showrunner Eric Wallace has in cast member Danielle Panabaker, that she was tapped to direct this guest star-studded, action-packed installment.
“I ended up with such a stellar script and an incredible guest cast,” Panabaker told TVLine during an early-season chat. “I’m grateful that they believe in my abilities as a director and felt comfortable giving me an episode of this scale, because… it’s huge… a pretty ambitious episode all around.”
It also was no small thing to have an Arrowverse vet such as Panabaker direct an episode that speaks so much to the deep, deep history between two of the CW franchise’s lead heroes.
“It was really important to me to be respectful and pay homage to the different shows, particularly Arrow, and incorporate that into our storytelling as much as possible,” Panabaker explained. “I really hope I delivered some moments that all of the Arrowverse fans will be satisfied by.”
The moments Panabaker speaks of include a climactic clash that purposely evokes Arrow‘s go-to style of close-quarters combat.
“We did a fight sequence that, again, was my homage to the incredible fight sequences that they did on Arrow all those years,” says the actress/director. “And my understanding is that one of the stunts we did was one of the biggest stunts that has even been done on Flash. It’s a packed-full episode, absolutely.”
As Gustin himself recalls with reverence, “[Danielle] had a big sequence in downtown Vancouver that took a couple of nights” and involved “insane wire work and blew up some cars, a lot of background [actors], a lot of superheroes.”
“Danielle was great. She nailed it,” Amell also attests. “This was the first episode back after [holiday] break, so there were COVID protocols and a bunch of moving pieces, but she was totally in charge and really communicative with great notes. She was like an old pro.”
But as much punch as the hour has to deliver, it also has a lotta heart, and emotion, as these most unexpected reunions take place….
Working again with Amell, with whom he perhaps shares most of his scenes in the episode, was “just like getting the band back together,” says Gustin, smiling. “Good times, a lot of laughing….”
“We’re here to play the hits! We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel,” is how Amell puts it. “It’s like, if Im gonna come back, [it’s] because the fans would enjoy me coming back. Well, if the fans are going to enjoy it, then what are they going to enjoy? You start there.”
TVLine had exclusively reported on how Amell had a specific ask when first approached by Flash boss Wallace about this encore. Speaking (very vaguely) to that, Amell tells us, “I’m not particularly precious when it comes to dialogue, but I wanted to make sure that Oliver had something to offer, be it new information or the opening of a door, something that would intrigue people. And we got a couple of those things in there. I can’t say enough about how collaborative Eric was.”
And for the longtime #Olicity fans out there, Amell also promises “a nice allusion” to “how the family is doing. The script is just really well done.”
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