Arrow swings back into action tonight at 8/7c with the first of its three pre-holiday hiatus episodes. On tap for The CW’s freshman hit is the introduction of a lady friend every bit Oliver’s match, the revelation of who exactly the well-dressed John Barrowman is playing and a huge lump of coal that the Queen clan’s prodigal son aims to turn into holiday cheer. Exec producer Andrew Kreisberg shared with us a preview.
TVLINE | Coming out of the Royal Flush Gang episode, do you consider Oliver’s ideology to have shifted?
Slightly, I would say. We always talk about the idea of the overall arc of the series is Oliver going from being the Arrow to being the Green Arrow. That when he comes back from the island, he’s got a very specific mission to cross the names off of this list, but with the addition of Diggle [as a partner], Laurel’s influence and all the experiences in his life, he’s going to start to become the “superhero” that the city needs, he’s going to learn that there is more than one way to save the city. So moving forward, you’re going to see snippets of that, of Oliver helping people in a more direct way than he had probably envisioned himself. Right now, he doesn’t think of himself as a superhero; hopefully, by the end of the series, he’ll begin to believe it.
TVLINE | But his becoming “the superhero that his city needs,” is that something that this show will ever be about or is that the endgame, like Smallville turning the Blur into Superman?
No. I think that’s what this show is about every week. The Arrow grows from being an urban legend to something that people count on and believe in and call out for. That’s going to be playing out over the course of the entire series.
TVLINE | Helena Bertinelli aka The Huntress (played by Jessica De Gouw) arrives this week, and there’s been talk about how this is someone with whom Oliver can, at long last, “be himself.” But since they at first keep their alter egos secret and engage as regular people, why is that?
When Oliver talks to most people, they say, “Oh, dear, poor you. You were trapped on that island for five years.” They feel sorry for him. The people who knew him previously feel like what’s come back is a damaged, somewhat disappointing version of himself.
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TVLINE | Right, there are juxtapositions they can make.
But Helena doesn’t have any of those preconceptions. And because she herself has gone through, as she describes, “a crucible” — because her father murdered her fiancée — she’s the only person who’s ever said to him, “Do you miss the island?” For her, the thought of being alone on a deserted island actually holds some appeal. It’s her unique perspective on Oliver’s life experiences that make him look at her as a potential interest, because he doesn’t have to pretend to be the “Oliver Queen with the smile on his face,” saying everything is fine. He can actually let her know that it’s not fine and that there are times when he misses the island because there was a clarity, a purpose there.
TVLINE | Will the two of them get a “You show me your tricks, I’ll show you mine” sort of set piece like Arrow and China White did?
There are going to be both team-ups and face-offs.
TVLINE | We’re on the cusp of a new reveal about John Barrowman’s “Well-Dressed Man.” What more can you say about that?
In this week’s episode, “Muse of Fire,” we’re going to reveal John Barrowman’s identity, and we’re really excited because we feel like when people know that, the rest of the season is going to come into sharper focus.
TVLINE | Will just his identity be revealed, or also his agenda? Or do the two come part and parcel?
His agenda – or part of it — will be revealed in a few episodes. We love shows like this, as viewers, but we also know how we ourselves can get quickly frustrated with shows that ask a lot of questions but don’t provide a lot of answers. So, we’ve endeavored to pause at questions, then give answers and then ask new ones. Our goal really is to make the audience feel like they’ve gotten a complete meal but they’re still hungry for more.
TVLINE | Looking ahead to the Christmas episode (“Year’s End,” airing Dec. 12), it would seem that the holiday has a particular — if rather dark – significance for Oliver’s family and friends.
Well, for Oliver, as he says, there was no Christmas on the island. There were no birthdays. There were no Wednesdays. And ever since he and his father disappeared, Moira and Thea got into the bad habit of not celebrating. When Oliver finds out that Christmas has become a non-holiday in his house, he sets out to set things right for his family.
TVLINE | But we’ll stop short of him bounding into the mansion with a bag of presents slung over his shoulder, right?
Yes. He will not be dressed up like Santa!
TVLINE | And Laurel has her own yuletide demons to deal with?
We’ll discover that her sister Sara’s birthday was on Christmas, so it holds a particularly dark place for her and her father. But as Laurel begins this burgeoning relationship with Tommy and as she becomes clearer in her feelings for Oliver, she’s going to realize that she has spent a lot of time “stuck” and that she needs to start moving on from some of her grief. So, the Christmas episode is going to turn out to be cathartic for all of our characters, in a really positive way. Even though it’s starting in a very dark place, it’s going to be a surprisingly hopeful, holiday episode.
TVLINE | But amidst that catharsis, are you going to have a moment to give us a cliffhanger going into the winter break?
There’ll be a bit of a cliffhanger, but also, in a lot of ways, what we really like about Episode 9 is it feels like a sequel to the previous eight episodes. Questions that have been raised in the previous eight episodes that haven’t been answered, they are going to be answered in 9. We’re going to get a fuller perspective of what Oliver is going to be up against in the back half of the season [starting Jan. 16].