The crafty creatives behind The CW’s Arrow (Wednesdays at 8/7c) are famously loath to reveal too much, so as to keep the superhero drama’s many mysteries and mythologies churning.
But during our in-depth conversation with Marc Guggenheim, the showrunner put to rest at least one theory that’s making rounds, while also teasing this week’s exploration of Ted Grant’s “Wildcat” alter ego (and how it will shed light on Starling City’s pre-Arrow vigilante past), the imminent moment fans have long waited for, Sara’s “return” and a juicy reveal to be unleashed during the two-night crossover with The Flash.
TVLINE | Would you say that Season 3’s first five episodes were spent getting certain characters to certain places before diving deep into the Big Bad/Ra’s al Ghul storyline?
Not really…. One of the things we always take into account when we’re planning out the season is the fact that Episode 9 (airing Dec. 10) is typically our midseason finale, so we try to create with those first nine episodes sort of its own little mini-season. Obviously there’s a certain amount of pivoting off of where we left our characters in the finale, there’s bringing various people back into play, there’s mixing up the kind of episodes — Villain of the Week, Mythology, Relationships-Centric…. There’s a whole host of different things that go into it, and it’s different for every season.
TVLINE | Coming out of the last episode, obviously it’s easy for us to speculate, “Oh, Roy has implanted memories,” or he was brainwashed, or it’s Mirakuru aftereffects…. Regardless of the truth, why was it important to hit this beat?
That’s a good question — I appreciate the way it is phrased, so as to avoid spoilers — but it’s a hard one to answer. The one thing I’ll say is that hopefully in the first two years of the show, we’ve done so many crazy things, things that people have found unexpected, that even the stuff that seems patently crazy on its face you are wondering, “Well, that really might happen, because those guys really are just that nuts!”
TVLINE | It was definitely a most unexpected tag to that episode. I for one was like, “What the….?!”
That’s great to hear. That was definitely part of our game plan. Look, certainly the mystery of “Who killed Sara?” is a mystery where there’s only so many suspects, mainly because were not going to be jerks and introduce some day player character at the last moment. When the ultimate reveal happens, it will be someone who you know. Or maybe the reveal has already happened? Hopefully we’ve opened up a world where anything is possible, and to me that’s the most fun part of working on the show.
TVLINE | The “Who killed Sara?” mystery won’t run all season, though, right?
No, it wont be the entire season, but at the same time, to tell you when we’re going to turn that card over — if we haven’t already done so — would be bordering on spoiler territory.
TVLINE | And we definitely will be seeing Caity Lotz again, in some form of new scenes?
Yeah — we actually know when we’ll be seeing Caity Lotz again, but it’s a little down the road. We have a really clear plan as to when it’s going to happen.
TVLINE | Tell me about Arrow‘s take on “Wildcat,” because I was not expecting to see any semblance of a costume, but the promo for this week’s episode teases something.
One of the things that we started the year off talking about was the idea of doing Ted Grant and Wildcat, for a couple of reasons. First of all, as comic book fans know, Ted Grant trained the original Black Canary, and the idea of him training Laurel, given what I call “her comic book trajectory,” was too juicy to pass up. Plus, the character of Wildcat is a very grounded, street-level vigilante, and that fits very nicely into Arrow‘s world. With Ted, we have a bit of a spin; one of the things we found intriguing as the idea of “What if Oliver wasn’t the first vigilante in Starling City?” So we’ll get a chance to, with this week’s episode, do a deep dive into the backstory of Starling City. We’re really excited about this episode, because it’s got a little bit of everything for the fans – and there’s one moment in it that fans have literally been asking for since the pilot, so we’ll get to deliver on that.
TVLINE | I’m admittedly not that familiar with the Cupid character aka “Oliver’s No. 1 fan” being introduced Nov. 19 (and played by Amy Gumenick) — is she some sort of ongoing stalker pest, like Rose from Two and a Half Men?
[Laughs] Basically, by the end of Episode 7, she’ll have what I’ll describe as “a new status quo” that will suggest to you exactly how and when and under what circumstances we’ll see Cupid again.
TVLINE | Speaking of: Has no one in town noticed the surge in archery equipment sales in sporting goods stores?
[Laughs] It’s a good question.
TVLINE | Or, maybe mail order is the answer.
I think that’s the thing — no one’s really buying stuff in the brick-and-mortar stores, which is a shame, actually.
TVLINE | Speaking of the new generation of badasses: People are wondering if it could it be that Thea actually knows Oliver’s secret identity. I invite you to make an argument for why Malcolm would not have dropped that bombshell on her.
I’ll tell you, because I don’t think it’s a spoiler: Thea does not know that Oliver is the Arrow. We sort of played that trick with Moira — the idea that ever since the end of Season 1, Moira knew that Oliver was the Arrow — and to have Thea be in possession of that knowledge and not be telling Oliver would be repeating ourselves a bit, which we try hard to avoid doing. That said, the reason Malcolm doesn’t tell Thea Oliver’s secret is because that is Oliver’s secret to tell. The thing about Malcolm is we’ve always tried to write him as “the word’s most principled bad guy.” He has a very distinct code of honor. Even when he destroyed the city at the end of Season 1, he considered it to be for very noble, altruistic purposes. He was “burning the village to save it.” So where Malcolm is concerned, he doesn’t act like your typical villain. He believes that he’s doing the right thing by Thea, and he also believes that Oliver is like a son to him. Being like a son to him, he’s not going to spoiler Oliver’s secret.
TVLINE | What is the Ray Palmer plan? We’ve only been getting drips and drabs, the occasional raised eyebrow….
For us, one of the fun things of Season 3 is, “Who is Ray Palmer? And what’s going on with him? And what is his plan?” There’s certainly history to suggest that whoever’s in charge of Queen Consolidated doesn’t always have the city’s best interests at heart. We got a little tease of it at the end of Episode 3, and we’ll get another tease at the end of Episode 7 (airing Nov. 19). And we’ll probably get our most concrete “mission statement” out of him at the end of Episode 9.
TVLINE | Stephen Amell recently teased an epic shirtless fight scene that had to be shirtless. That’s still on the horizon?
That’s still coming up – that’s Episode 9.
TVLINE | Also, there have been many hints about a great Arrow reveal during the two-night crossover (airing Dec. 2 and 3), but it’s in the Flash episode. Will the payoff continue the following night, on Arrow?
No, actually. The great thing about the Arrow reveal in Flash is that it’s basically a reveal just to the audience. We’ll be seeing more things happening with it down the road.