SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for this week’s recently aired “Suicide Squad” episode of “Arrow.”
The Suicide Squad made the leap from DC Comics to The CW’s “Arrow” this week, with a team supervised by Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) and comprised of Ben Turner/Bronze Tiger (Michael Jai White), Mark Scheffer/Shrapnel (Sean Maher), Floyd Lawton/Deadshot (Michael Rowe), Lyla Michaels (Audrey Marie Anderson) and a rather skeptical Diggle (David Ramsey).
Series executive producer Marc Guggenheim — along with special guest Ramsey via telephone — spoke to reporters, including CBR News, about the episode (directed by Larry Teng and written by Keto Shimizu and Bryan Q. Miller) during a press event at The CW’s Burbank headquarters.
How long has the Suicide Squad been planned for “Arrow”?
Marc Guggenheim: The truth it, is happened so organically, I don’t have a memory as to when it crystallized for us. The year started, as year one did, with DC providing us a list of characters who were available, and who they would like to see on the show. One of the characters that spoke to us was Bronze Tiger. ‘That’s a character we could very organically “Arrow”-ify. It seemed to make sense to us.
We started talking: “We’ve got Amanda Waller happening in episode 6, we had Deadshot last year. That gives us two members of the Suicide Squad, three if you count Amanda.” We just started whispering the words to each other — “Wouldn’t that be fun to get to?” It really started out, quite frankly, with wanting to do a Lyla/Diggle story. Someone pitched in the writers’ room: “If Lyla was involved with the Suicide Squad and Diggle was not approving of it, that would be a nice source of conflict for the two of them” It really started from a character perspective, and us recognizing we had a lot of pieces in place.
One of the reasons we decided to call the bomber in episode 10 “Shrapnel” is, Shrapnel is a member of the Suicide Squad. We thought, “If we do Suicide Squad, we could use Shrapnel, also.” But it just came together incredibly organically. I wish I could say we were like Marvel — “we know we’re doing an Avengers movie.” But we just slowly put the pieces on the board, and slowly realized it was possible.
On Diggle working alongside Deadshot (Michael Rowe), who killed Diggle’s brother:
David Ramsey: At the end of the day, Floyd Lawton is a hired gun. There are some bigger puppeteers behind him that pulling strings. I think John Diggle comes to a closure after this episode.
On the episode’s touted, mostly off-screen Harley Quinn cameo:
Guggenheim: We didn’t expect it to end up in the promo. We were caught off a little off-guard on that score. I want to manage expectations with respect to Harley Quinn. She was always intended to be an Easter egg. But I will say there is an element to the Easter egg that was not spoiled by the promo, that I think a lot of people will find a lot of fun.
Will “Gotham” have an affect on the availability of Bat-characters to “Arrow”?
Guggenheim: Things have not really changed in the sense that it’s the same thing as it always is: We have an idea, we go to DC, we talk about it, we find out where the lines are, which characters are available, not available, which ones we should stay away from, which ones we can tack towards.
On the decision to kill Shrapnel (Sean Maher):
Guggenheim: If we’re going to do the Suicide Squad, and we’re really going to sell the idea that any of these guys are expendable, we should do the thing you’re least expecting: We should kill one of them off, and do it pretty soon. We do it at the end of Act Two. “They literally are the Suicide Squad, no one could get out of this team alive.” Shrapnel felt like the right character, because he has all these ideals, and sees himself as this crusading patriot. If anyone was going to bolt and therefore be killed for it, he would be the most likely candidate. We wanted to do it and not just be shocking, but do it in a way that felt organic, and felt true to all of our characters.
Does the fact that his death occurred off-camera leave the door open for a return?
Guggenheim: He’s dead. He’s very dead. We only shot it that way because we wanted the moment to play on Diggle. That’s why you see it from his perspective.
On the significance of Felicity’s comment to Diggle, “I had a life before you and Oliver”:
Guggenheim: In episode 13 of this year, we talked a little bit about Felicity’s parents. We’ll learn a little bit more about Felicity’s parentage in future episodes. Felicity has sort of become this little mystery box where we slowly dole out pieces of information about her background and her life. That’s proven to be an unexpected source of fun for us, and we will continue to do so. We have this whole backstory for her that we came up with, and it’s just been fun to dole out a nugget here, dole out a nugget there. More will be forthcoming, not only in season 2, but also in season 2.
On whether the number of people who know Arrow’s (Stephen Amell) secret identity will go down or up by the end of the season.
Guggenheim: It’s going to go up by the end of the year. We talk about this a lot in the writers’ room: “Are there too many characters that know, and does it diminish the secret identity?” When members of our casts of characters know, it draws them into Oliver’s world, and it draws them into the show more. We tend to get more story out of people knowing than people not knowing. We always use “The Dark Knight Trilogy” as our North Star. A lot of people knew, particularly by the third movie, that Bruce Wayne was the Batman, and it doesn’t diminish my enjoyment of watching those stories unfold.
Guggenheim: I don’t think anyone is ever in a good place for too long on “Arrow.” Where they are right now is not where they’ll end up at the end of the year, either personally or professionally.
What’s next for the Suicide Squad and Amanda Waller on “Arrow”?
Guggenheim: We certainly tease two things: A backstory for Oliver and Amanda, and we tease a sense of future involvement. I don’t want to spoil too much where we’re headed, but you haven’t seen the last of Amanda, and you haven’t seen the last of the Suicide Squad.
On next week’s episode “Birds of Prey,” featuring the return of The Huntress (Jessica De Gouw):
Guggenheim: Her last episode was 117, this is 217. She’s literally been off the show for a year. What’s Helena been doing? What mental state is she in? What emotional state is she in?
“Arrow” airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.