And Oliver Queen has fallen, hard, run through with a sword and pitched off a snowy cliff by the mighty Ra’s al Ghul at the close of the CW hit’s midseason finale.
Oliver surely will live to fight crime another day, yes? Amell won’t say as much. But in this TVLine Q&A, the show’s super ambassador gives reason for true fans to tune in (as Season 3 resumes this Wednesday at 8/7c), teases must-see stunt sequences and surveys the chance for great love on the action-packed drama.
TVLINE | That was a pretty bold move they did there with the trial by combat. That’s the stuff of season finales.
It is the stuff of season finales. Absolutely. You know, the break that you take in the wintertime is almost as long. So yeah, very bold, but that’s always been the move of [executive producer Greg] Berlanti & Co.
TVLINE | What can you say about Oliver’s circumstances right now?
In the present day? Nothing. Dragged on a rickshaw through the cold and the wind and the rain and snow, and hopefully heading for recovery.
TVLINE | Will we get to witness this crucible ahead for him, or is this fodder for future flashbacks in later episodes, later seasons?
Clearly, we’ve seen from the preview, we’re going to revisit the spot of the duel with Ra’s. And then as far as recovery goes… again, hopefully. But Oliver’s story, however it plays out, will continue to be told in real time, and the flashbacks will continue. The basic construction of the show will remain the same.
TVLINE | So we’re not done with the Hong Kong flashbacks. They didn’t end with Maseo’s wife disappearing?
No. Not at all. There are Hong Kong flashbacks in Episode 10 and 11, and then 12 is someone else’s flashbacks.
TVLINE | Why do you think it was important to put Oliver through this right now?
Well, I think that as much as I like being victorious over the Dark Archer or Deathstroke, there is an important element on any television show, and that is that you have to defeat your protagonist every once in a while, so that hopefully he or she learns something. And hopefully they’re alive to learn the lesson.
TVLINE | It’s a peaks-and-valleys thing. Coming out of Season 1, Oliver was at rock bottom. Out of Season 2, riding high, king of the world. And now he’s been knocked back down.
Yes. In fact, the whole first nine episodes [of Season 3] have been incredibly difficult for him — save for the first three acts of Season 3, until his dinner with Felicity gets blown up. It’s been tough sledding since then — to say nothing of his mother’s death, which we always try to honor when we’re discussing recent events on the show.
TVLINE | Will what’s happened here in essence trigger the back half of the season?
Absolutely, because it forces other people into roles that maybe they weren’t ready for or didn’t think they were ready for, but now they’re forced into them.
TVLINE | People like Roy….
People like Roy, people like Laurel. People like Ray Palmer. There’s a void.
TVLINE | You mention Ray — is Oliver’s latest death public knowledge?
No. For the team, he’s missing. For the public, Oliver is not really in public life anymore, so pretty much the only person who’s concerned about his whereabouts is Thea — but she is being misdirected by her father.
TVLINE | So the most that Ray might notice is that the Arrow hasn’t been out doing his thing.
Correct. And [Detective] Lance as well. Probably Lance more than Ray.
TVLINE | Are the Lazarus Pits part of the Arrow TV show world?
TVLINE | OK. Because I know the producers have always had a set of rules about what’s real, what’s…
How the Lazarus Pit works, I think, is up for debate. That being said, I’m pretty sure it was confirmed that when we first met Matt Nable’s Ra’s al Ghul, he had been in a Lazarus Pit. When he said, “It’s been 67 years since someone challenged me,” unless he was negative-15 when that happened, he’s looking pretty good!
TVLINE | What do you have to say to fans who are concerned that we’re going to be betting a little less Oliver these next couple episodes?
I would say that if you’re a fan of the show, you’re a fan of the show because of the story that the writers and producers have crafted over 53, 54 episodes. You should just trust and be patient.
TVLINE | Like you said, it’s a time for other heroes to rise.
Absolutely. You can’t have a television show that is going to sustain interest and continue to grow and become better if it’s just the same all the time. If you don’t elevate new characters and make them as important as the main character, then you’re dead in the water. You’re going to become stale. So, I want to see a discussion in the Arrowcave where Roy steps to the forefront and says, “I’m making the decision, let’s go. This is going to be my show this time.” I think that we have characters that are ready for moments like that.
TVLINE | One bit of housekeeping here: Why did Oliver not tell Thea his secret when he was confronting her about the trip she took? If he’s trying to convince her what a bad man Malcolm is, why doesn’t he come out and say…
Right. I think it’s because at that point in time Oliver thought he was going to win the duel [with Ra’s], and maybe he could have that discussion with her on the other side of it. But for the time being the focus was on having the opportunity to tell her that he loves her and that he’ll do anything for her.
TVLINE | On the romantic front, do you think there is a place on Arrow for a great love? I mean, Smallville had Clark and Lois, the Spider-Man movies always involve Mary Jane or Gwen…. A female is always a part of the hero’s journey.
I think that both Laurel and Sara, for Oliver, were loves that were principally from the past, from before the boat. And any other sort of brief relationship that he’s had has been flawed. Felicity has clearly, over the course of two-plus seasons, grown into that love for him. It’s just a matter of whether or not they can ever find a spot where they can make it work on an ongoing basis.
TVLINE | If/when Oliver resurfaces, do you think he and Felicity will be moved to be a bit more frank about their feelings for one another, a little bit more selfish, and just kind of go for it?
I don’t think that they could be any more frank than they’ve been, or certainly than Oliver has been. He’s told her that he’s loved her three times, actually, because clearly he meant it in the finale of Season 2, and she’s never said it back. But I think that they’re pretty much on the same page in terms of he loves her and I think that she reciprocates. I think. I don’t know, I can’t get inside her head. She certainly hasn’t said, “I don’t love you,” so it’s about whether or not there’s a time for them.
TVLINE | You’re always so great about teasing upcoming epic fight or stunt sequences. What’s an episode to watch?
From an action standpoint, I get special feelings about certain episodes — and I have that feeling about Episode 15, which we’re actually filming right now. But also, I think that Episode 14 is the biggest nod to the fans and will be one of the most enjoyable episodes that you’ll get to watch if you’ve been a fan of the show since the beginning.