Arrow @ PaleyFest: Talk of Oliver's Secret, 'Evil Bruce Wayne,' Black Canary and a Mystery Guest

Arrow Season 1 SpoilersThe producers and cast of The CW’s Arrow held court at PaleyFest 2013 on Saturday night to reflect on the freshman hit’s recent reveals as well as tease what’s to come in the final third of the season.

For starters, Tommy now knowing his BFF’s vigiliante secret “changes everything,” series lead Stephen Amell told moderator/DC Comics god Geoff Johns. “He saw me in the pilot kill three guys. And Tommy’s a good guy, he doesn’t want to have to reconcile that his friend would do that.” Plus, having Tommy in the know creates too thin of a “buffer” between Ollie’s worlds. “[Tommy] could just roll over in bed and say [to Laurel], ‘Oliver is the vigilante’ — and I don’t want that!”

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As for the bombshell Dinah Lance dropped on daughter Laurel’s literal doorstep — that Sara is alive — executive producer Greg Berlanti’s intention was to start paying off notions set up in the pilot, and the sooner the better. “If we hadn’t planted [that] flag in the ground now, by the time you do, the audience wants to pay attention to other storylines.”

And Laurel’s reaction? “As if she didn’t have it hard enough!” Katie Cassidy joked. But seriously, following the initial shock, “She kind of gets sucked in by her mother a bit…. Her mother also has a lot more information than you necessarily think.”

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Other topics touched on during the PaleyFest Q&A:

MOIRA VS. MALCOLM | Oliver’s mother, said Susanna Thompson, “is once again between a rock and a hard place,” charged by Malcolm to track down the person who ordered the hit on him — aka her! “Shes making another deal with this particular devil,” all of which she does “for her family.” Shedding a sliver of light on the elder Merlyn’s motivations, EP Andrew Kreisberg said, “In a way, Malcolm is ‘evil Bruce Wayne.’ We talk about that moment in Batman Begins when Bruce goes through the training with Ra’s Al Ghul, and then is told to execute a criminal. In the movie, Bruce doesn’t do it; in our minds, Malcolm did.” Coming up, “You find out a lot more about Malcolm and what’s driving him, and about the very scary-sounding Undertaking.”

WHEN WILL THE CANARY SING? | Noting that it took Oliver five years to turn himself from bad boy billionaire into a killing machine, Guggenheim stressed that Laurel’s corresponding conversion to Black Canary “has to be earned, it has to be real.” (Same goes for Roy Harper/Speedy.) “The inciting incidents have to have dramatic reality to them,” he stressed. “We don’t want to disservice Laurel or Oliver by saying she could have a bad day, put on fishnets and start killing people.”

LOVIN’ DEATHSTROKE | The producers love visiting the island via flashback and hope to have Slade Wilson back as much as Manu Bennett’s schedule permits. But in addition to he and Oliver as a dingy, dynamic duo, “an unexpected third element” will soon be injected into their existence.

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A FELICITOUS MOMENT | Everyone credited Emily Bett Rickards with turning the (almost-)randomly named Felicity Smoake into a fan fave. Warner Bros. TV boss Peter Roth reportedly called the producers to remark, “I love the blonde IT girl!,” while Amell noted to his bosses, “I don’t think my character had cracked a smile” before he first met the computer wonk. David Ramsey, who plays Diggle, welcomes the new blood into the Arrowcave, quipping, “How many sit-ups can I watch this guy do?!”

EASTER EGG HUNT | Guggenheim said that nods to other DC properties/touchstones are typically “the very last thing we do” before locking in a script. Case in point: Naming Episode 6’s bankrobbers The Royal Flush Gang, or erecting a Big Belly Burger in town. Speaking of which….

ROAD TRIPS? | The city of Bludhaven — glimpsed last episode on a sign — will actually be visited this season, though Nightwing “will be out of town that week,” Kreisberg noted. As for other well-known DC Comics cities, he acknowledged, “There are two we will probably never go to — and you can probably figure out which those are.”

CLOTHED CALL | Berlanti said Arrow‘s cast came together more quickly than with any show he’s worked on, and that it was Amell’s “brilliant” audition — and not his abs — that cinched the gig.  “We did not see him without his shirt,” the EP shared. But once pilot footage started trickling in, Berlanti observed, “The stunt guy is really ripped! And [the director] said,’ No, that’s Stephen!’ And so the salmon ladder was born.”

WHO’S THE MYSTERY GUEST? | Asked by an audience member about the show’s knack for guest-casting genre TV faves like Torchwood‘s John Barrowman (Malcolm) and Fringe‘s Seth Gabel (soon to return as Vertigo), Kreisberg chose his words very carefully to tease, “There is an episode coming up with somebody who is one of the stars of a very popular genre show that you will all recognize and be happy that they’re on our show.” Guesses, anyone…?