'Arrow' must do justice to Colin Donnell's Tommy Merlyn when the character returns in the final season
'Arrow' has introduced many amazing characters over the seven seasons it has been on television so far. A lot of them have died, but quite a few of them have been resurrected from the dead as well. Now that the show is entering its final season, 'Arrow' will be bringing back two fan-favorite characters: Adrian Chase (Josh Segarra) and Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell).
When he was alive, Tommy was Oliver Queen’s best friend. He died as collateral damage when his father Malcolm kicked off his plans to destroy the Glades. His death affected all the characters on the show, especially Oliver. Tommy's death is what finally convinced the Emerald Archer to stop taking lives and truly become a hero, not just a vigilante.
That wasn't the last time we saw the character, of course. Since his death in season one, Tommy has reappeared several times. Over the years, Donnell has reprised the role in flashbacks and hallucinations. His most recent return was in season seven's 'Living Proof' as a hallucination created by Oliver's concussion. Before that, he appeared in the Season 6 episode ‘Docket No. 11-19-41-73’ as one of the Human Target's disguises.
According to Entertainment Weekly, executive producer Marc Guggenheim teased that Donnell is "not coming back as the Tommy we know."
Donnell did appear in the fourth Arrowverse crossover 'Crisis on Earth-X' as an alternate reality version of Tommy that became the villain Prometheus, suggesting that the Tommy who appears in the final season may be one from another world too. It is somewhat symbolic having the character who had such a strong influence in making Oliver the hero he is now come back one last time for the final season, even if it isn't really the same Tommy.
Of course on the downside, 'Arrow' cannot afford to fail the character now. In death and in life, Tommy has been an important figure to Oliver and his team and a huge fan-favorite. His death was a touching moment in the earliest season of the show, which is probably why it was never truly reversed. Bringing back the character might be a great move but the show will have to take care to do full justice to the character.
When 'Arrow' enters into its final season, "Oliver will find himself pit against his most challenging battle yet, one that will leave the multiverse hanging in the balance," according to the official season eight logline. After The Monitor departed with Oliver at the end of season seven, it is expected that the final season will feature the duo traveling across the multiverse to warn worlds of the coming 'Crisis on Infinite Earths', a conflict the Green Arrow is not expected to survive. The logline also teases that in season eight, "Oliver Queen is forced to confront the reality of what it means to be a hero."
'Arrow' will return for its final season on October 15 on The CW.