Teased for weeks, it finally happened on last night’s “Arrow.” Of course, “it” means a couple of different things.
For one, Oliver Queen/the Arrow (Stephen Amell) accepted Ra’s al Ghul’s (Matt Nable) offer to join the League of Assassins — as al Ghul’s eventual heir, to one day take over as leader of the League. Also, the long-teased romance — have you seen Tumblr lately? — between Oliver and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) paid off in a big way, with the unresolved sexual tension suddenly becoming very, um, resolved; fresh from Felicity breaking up with Ray Palmer/The Atom (Brandon Routh). Also, the Lazarus Pit — unlike “The Dark Knight” trilogy version, which is depicted as an actual magical, life-reviving force a la the comic books — was seen in action, specifically used to restore Thea (Willa Holland) back to relative normality, with only some dramatic confusion and mild memory loss, though more side effects are likely yet to come.
With the third season of the DC Comics-based CW hit nearing its finale, “Arrow” Executive Producer Marc Guggenheim joined a group of assembled entertainment press, including CBR News, to discuss the major events of the episode — addressing the timing and venue of the hookup long-awaited by “Olicity” fans, what happens to Team Arrow if Oliver is leading the League of Assassins, how Nyssa al Ghul (Katrina Law) fits into all of this, what the future holds for the Atom and going all the way with a comic book-accurate depiction of Ra’s.
Will there be more consequences from Thea’s Lazarus Pit-induced revival?
Marc Guggenheim: That’s something we’ve been talking about a lot in the writers’ room. You can expect that there will be more consequences. We’ve sort of established, very clearly, that the Lazarus Pit returns you, but not always in the condition in which you left. There’s a lot of stories still to be told with Thea and her recovery.
On the decision to present a more comic book-authentic depiction of Ra’s al Ghul, complete with a life-reviving Lazarus Pit:
We never thought that we couldn’t go all the way, so it was just a question of, “What version of Ra’s do we want to put on the show?” The one thing we were dead set against in the beginning was making it too similar to the Ra’s in the “Dark Knight” movies. We’re all comic book fans, and we certainly recognize the story potential of the Lazarus Pit. We didn’t really have any long, protracted discussions of, “Is this where we want to go or is this not where we want to go?” We had a hunger for it.
On the timing of Oliver and Felicity sleeping together for the first time:
In the writers’ room, there was a strong desire to have Oliver and Felicity sleep together before the events of the season finale. We wanted to almost take that off the table prior to the season finale. We went back and forth in the writers’ room — we knew that episode 20 was the right episode to do it in. We went back and forth in the writers’ room on the right venue for it. Does it happen in Starling City? Does it happen in Nanda Parbat? As you can see, they end up sleeping together in Nanda Parbat. I think we all liked the romance of that.
I’m personally found of the fact that it’s Ra’s who gives her the final push. One of the things that I keep seeing on the Internet is, “Well, Felicity’s never told Oliver that she loves him.” That was very deliberate. We were holding that back, in the same way we were holding back them sleeping together. We wanted it to be part and parcel with that moment.
Will Oliver struggle morally with his decision to join the League of Assassins?
[Episode 21] answers that question pretty definitively. Even the opening moments of 21, quite frankly.
Are Ray and Felicity done for good?
They’re pretty well and truly kiboshed. They do have a very meaningful exchange in episode 22, but we’re not going to do an off-again, on-again, off-again thing with them. Romantically, this is where we leave them. But their scene in 22 — in fact, I was in the editing room today on 22, and I’m watching that scene, and I had to remind myself that they broke up. Regardless of who you “ship,” and people’s feelings about Ray and Felicity, there’s a lot of chemistry between Brandon and Emily. Even when they’re broken up, I watch them on screen in that scene in 22, and I feel all the chemistry, and I have to remind myself, “No, they broke up in 20!”
Will The Atom take a more active role in Team Arrow following Oliver and Roy’s departures?
Yes, in an organic way. One thing we’ve avoided doing this year is, “Ray’s a superhero, therefore Ray is a member of Team Arrow.” Every time he interacts with Team Arrow or allies himself with Team Arrow, there’s a story reason behind it, as opposed to just the assumption, “OK, he’s part of the team.”
Ray plays a very large role in 22 and 23. 21, Ray’s not in, because it’s a very Team Arrow-centric episode.
Where will Team Arrow base operations now, post-Arrowcave?
They’re going to end up hanging out a great deal at Palmer Technologies. We had to expand Ray’s workshop to allow for scenes with a large group of people. That basically is the lair for the remainder for the season. That said, you haven’t seen the last of the lair yet. It makes one final appearance in 21.
With Oliver gone, is Thea going to lean on Malcolm in any real way?
By the end of the season, I feel there’s a nice bit of closure between Malcolm and Thea. You feel like their story has had a beginning, middle and end. The feelings that Thea has, vis-a-vis Malcolm, I think are pretty clearly explicated by the end.
What happens to the team’s dynamics in Oliver’s absence?
In the wake of episode 20, there’s a real trinity formed between Laurel, Diggle and Felicity. They’re all sort of leaning on each other. They’re processing things in different ways. I think Laurel is throwing herself into her work saving the city, I think Felicity is struggling with heartbreak and grief. She really goes through the seven stages of grief with Oliver. Diggle — something happens in 21 that really upends Diggle’s world, certainly vis-a-vis Oliver. That’s something that will have repercussions for the remainder of the season.
When will viewers see Nyssa’s reaction to Oliver deciding to join the League?
That’s a big, big topic of 21. If you’re a Nyssa fan, 21’s your episode. We’ll learn a lot of things about Nyssa. We’ll learn how she reacts to things, and how she’s dealing with life, and how Oliver joining the league affects her, both emotionally and as a practical matter. There’s a lot of Nyssa still to come. She looms very large in these final three episodes.
“Arrow” airs 8 p.m. Wednesday on The CW.
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