Arrow Season 5 Thea

Arrow Boss Explains Thea's Absence, Obstacle Facing Laurel's Next Return

This Wednesday on Arrow (The CW, 8/7c), Thea Queen returns from the longest, most conspicuous off-site conference regarding local government ever. And though her absence was explained on-screen, viewers nonetheless wondered: Why was series regular/original cast member Willa Holland MIA for weeks on end?

At a Monday press screening of this week’s weighty, Rene-centric episode, co-showrunner Marc Guggenheim accounted for Thea’s here-and-there presence.

“Everyone’s like, ‘Where’s Thea? Where’s Thea?’ Willa’s [contracted for] 14 out of 23 episodes this year,” Guggenheim revealed. “She’s not in all 23. That’s not her contract. We’ve had to write around that.”

Contractual matters also may prove a hurdle in bringing Katie Cassidy back for another encore as one Laurel or another, even though Cassidy (as reported over the summer) entered the season with one of those #DCTV-wide deals that theoretically would allow her to pop up on Arrow or any of its many offspring.

“We have an idea for how to see [Katie] again, but we haven’t made a deal with her,” Guggenheim shared. “She’s not a series regular anymore, so we have to make a contract with her, and she’s got to be available. We haven’t had those conversations. But… we know exactly what we do want to do.

“You now know more than Katie does in terms of her involvement at the end of the season,” the EP quipped.

Touching on the larger issue of contracts, Guggenheim acknowledged that it gets “complicated” trying to retain actors for when you might need them, without keeping them from going out for pilot season this time of year.

“We try to make the process invisible in terms of our storytelling,” he said, “but there are just human realities and contractual realities that not only tie our hands, but tie the hands of everyone running a show these days — unless you’re Game of Thrones and you can just literally afford to, like, hold people for an entire year for ungodly sums of money.” (Reporting by Vlada Gelman)