Arrow Season 7 has featured some big returns in surprising ways, and it looks like one former star just spilled the beans on another. John Barrowman — who has played the recurring thorn in the side of Team Arrow, Malcolm Merlyn — has now confirmed his character will make a return at some point in upcoming episodes. The news, while exciting for Arrow-verse fans, may have others wondering exactly how the superhero series will pull this one off.
John Barrowman apparently didn’t have the details, as SpoilerTV reported he dropped the big Arrow news in the midst of a Torchwood panel at the Supanova convention in Brisbane, Australia. The announcement, while exciting, surely has some fans confused — as Malcolm Merlyn is currently believed to be dead following Season 5’s Lian Yu incident. Merlyn allegedly laid down his life to save his daughter Thea Queen, and others, by detonating a landmine under his foot to cause a diversion.
Of course, there’s been a lot of speculation about whether or not John Barrowman’s character is truly dead — as the event was shown off-screen — but his death has been assumed up to this point. Arrow has killed Malcolm Merlyn before, only to bring him back via other means, which makes it plausible he might have escaped death to fight another day. As mentioned, Barrowman didn’t spill any secrets, but did tease a future announcement possibly happening on his Instagram.
If Malcolm Merlyn survived Lian Yu, that’s a bit of a game-changer for Season 7 of Arrow. It opens up the possibility Merlyn could be subbing-in as the mystery Green Arrow, or kicking around somewhere in the future with adult William and older Roy. Fans shouldn’t get too wild with speculation like that just yet, however, as Barrowman seemed pretty adamant his character went off to greener pastures following his death episode.
John Barrowman’s return to Arrow isn’t entirely contingent on Malcolm Merlyn’s survival in the present day. The character could pop up during a flashback, or even appear as another hero or character in the Arrow episode of the “Elseworlds” crossover. Perhaps there’s an alternate Earth in which Merlyn is the Green Arrow?
What reason would there be to use Malcolm Merlyn in Arrow Season 7? The character’s link to Thea would’ve been the strongest way to justify Merlyn’s return, but she’s long gone. The two have had their fair share of storylines together, with the first being Merlyn revealing Thea was his lovechild with Oliver’s mother Moira Queen. With presumably no Thea return, it’ll be interesting to see how Merlyn plays into the events of Season 7.
Arrow airs on The CW Mondays at 8 p.m. ET. For a look at what else is coming to television before the end of 2018, be sure to visit our fall premiere guide.