Arrow is poised to take aim at the homicidal side of its titular hero following Wednesday night’s atypical gun control-themed episode.
During the hour, a disgruntled husband and father, who lost his family in a mass shooting, opened fire at the mayor’s office, killing at least seven people. While Oliver The Politician took a strong stance on gun control regulation in the tragedy’s aftermath, the question remains: Will the loss of life and ensuing firearms debate impact his stance on killing as Green Arrow?
“One of the things you’ll see in the second half of Season 5 is the gray area becomes a lot more gray,” executive producer Marc Guggenheim says. “We’re really delving into the complexities of Oliver being a killer in a way that we’ve never done on the show before, with a lot more nuance. In the past, it was like, ‘I’m a killer,’ or, ‘I’m not a killer.’ It was very binary. This year… it’s super gray and it’s really messy, and this [episode] is a component of it.”
“In many ways, Oliver killing is the seminal, moral quandary of the show,” the EP continues. “That was something that spoke to us as writers and spoke to the audience back in Season 1. Like, this guy kills people. It was a big part of the original pitch. We said, ‘At the end of Act Two, he’s going to break someone’s neck.’ One of the things we’re doing in the back half of Season 5 is really getting underneath that and what that means, not just in terms of morality, but in terms of psychology, specifically Oliver’s psychology. There are things about Oliver’s killing that you have yet to learn.”
The archer is not the only one who will be tested by the choices that he’s made. Whether he kills or not also has “huge moral implications” for Team Arrow, co-showrunner Wendy Mericle previews. “For the rest of the season, we’ll definitely be exploring the ramifications of that decision… in respect to Felicity and, to some extent, Curtis as well. How do they square their own circles morally with the actions that they’ve taken?”
And if you’re wondering just what kind of middle ground was reached by the new gun control regulations, don’t expect a detailed answer.
“We left that intentionally vague,” Guggenheim explains. “My first gig in the business was on a show called The Practice. [Creator David E. Kelley] always said, ‘I’m not interested in the verdict. I’m just interested in both sides in the case having equal arguments.’ Very intentionally, we didn’t want to provide [an] answer to the problem of gun violence. We wanted to leave that open to the audience as almost like a Rorschach test.”
But will the new laws, whatever they might be, come into conflict with the vigilantes? “Not the regulations, specifically,” Guggenheim says. “In the very next episode, Team Arrow is going to come up against the police for a very different kind of reason.”