Oliver, rushing to CNRI to save Laurel, found Tommy instead, trapped beneath the rubble and bleeding out. In their final moments together, the men — who grew up together as boys, practically brothers — shared a beautiful, heartfelt goodbye. Despite what we thought, these guys were never meant to be enemies. They were opposite sides of the same coin, allies through and through, in every sense of the world.
It’s a sad moment — particularly for those of us who were looking forward to Tommy’s potential descent into villainy and his ultimate face-off with Oliver (Stephen Amell). But there’s also a certain satisfaction to the fact that Tommy didn’t become that dark, twisted version of himself. He died honorably, without losing the solid moral compass that kept him steadfast and reliable throughout the season.
Tommy was never permissive when it came to Oliver’s violent brand of justice. To watch him turn into a murderer would have warped the foundation of his character, and as sad as we are to see him go, we’re very glad we get to remember him as the guy who stood for something truly honorable, instead of something questionable and murky.
Still, given our obvious expectations for the character based on his comic book fate and his father’s devious proclivities, the death comes as a pretty big shock. It was surprising for Donnell, too.
“I found out toward the end of February,” Donnell tells us. “[Executive producers] Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg came up. They were really cool about it, they came up to Vancouver and they asked me to come into the office to have a meeting. I was like ‘I wonder what they want to talk about? I’m sure they just want to talk about what’s going to happen in Season 2!’”
Obviously, the meeting quickly took a mournful turn. “As we sat down, they just said ‘Hey, man,’ and I looked at them, and I was like, ‘Oh, man! You’re killing me off, aren’t you?!’ It was a bit of a shock, of course it was a shock, because I had one idea of how things might go, but ultimately, once they explained it to me, I totally understand. That’s the way stories have to go sometimes.”
Tommy certainly wasn’t this season’s sacrifice because he didn’t have anything to contribute. He was one character with deep ties to the entire community. Tommy grew up as part of the Queen family, and when Oliver was on the island, he was a significant figure in Thea’s life. He was incredibly important to Laurel’s development this season, and his death will have a profound impact on Season 2.
“I think one of the coolest things about the way they’ve written him is that he’s really the most universally beloved character by all the other characters in the show, from Malcolm to Oliver to Laurel and Thea — even Diggle and Felicity, in their conversations with Oliver, kind of understand why Tommy might be a little pissed off about things,” says Donnell. “Some of my favorite things were the family dynamics, coming in and having conversations with Thea and Moira and all that stuff, really being able to show how he kind of wove in and out of these people’s lives.”