SPOILER WARNING: This article contains detailed discussion of the events of "Nanda Parbat," last night's new episode of "Arrow."
Last night's "Arrow" certainly left fans -- and Oliver (Stephen Amell) -- with a lot to think about. The episode wrapped with Ra's al Ghul (Matt Nable) presenting title character Oliver Queen with a very unique prospect: Taking over for him as the seemingly ageless head of the League of Assassins.
And that was merely the closing seconds of a particularly noteworthy episode. The last new installment for three weeks, "Nanda Parbat" also saw the return of Katrina Law as Nyssa, daughter of Ra's al Ghul; Thea (Willa Holland) turning over her biological father Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) to that same League, and Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) becoming significantly closer than their past employer/employee relationship.
And, oh yeah -- Ray took flight in a finished version of The Atom suit he's been building for the last few episodes.
"Arrow" executive producers Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg, plus Law and Barroman, spoke about the events of "Nanda Parbat" earlier this week in front of a group of reporters gathered at The CW headquarters in Burbank, discussing the value of the villainous Malcolm Merlyn being truly afraid, what's next for the Atom and how Nysaa fits into things if her dad sees Oliver as the right person to take over the League.
On when viewers will see Oliver's reaction to Ra's offer, following the show's return on March 18 with new episode "The Offer":
Marc Guggenheim: It picks up literally 10 seconds before the end of this episode.
Andrew Kreisberg: You want to keep that conversation going. Obviously, Oliver's completely taken aback. He is not expecting that to be the case. It was something that Greg [Berlanti], Marc and I talked about -- it was important to have a different villain this year, somebody who was going to be doing something completely different. In season one, we had the incomparable John Barrowman, who had his mission. And obviously, last year, Slade's mission was one of vengeance.
For this year, to have Ra's, who's presented as this giant, malevolent force, but then to basically offer the keys to the kingdom to our hero -- it just felt like such a different way to go, and a different relationship for Oliver to have with the villain. What Oliver's reaction to Ra's offer is -- the next episode is actually titled "The Offer" -- what Nyssa's reaction to it is, what everyone's reaction to it is, makes up the bulk of the next run of episodes.
On Nyssa's reaction to Ra's asking Oliver to take his place:
Kriesberg: Nyssa is the heir to the demon, so you can imagine how she feels when she finds out that what she would consider to be her birthright is being handed to Oliver.
Guggenheim: There's a scene in [episode] #16 between Nyssa and Ra's that definitely addresses that. From Nyssa's perspective, it has everything to do with Sara. From Ra's perspective, maybe, maybe not.
Does Talia, Ra's most famous daughter from comic book lore, figure into the storyline?
Katrina Law: She's my twin, I ate her in the womb. [Laughs]
Kreisberg: We haven't made any firm decisions about whether Talia exists in our continuity. We are so, so happy with Katrina and Nyssa. If we ever think of a reason to have a Talia, whoever or whatever incarnation we decide to do, it would be in service of furthering Katrina's story.
On the broader implications of Ra's' offer to Oliver:
Kreisberg: It's a different kind of threat, because they're asking him to join up. And as Malcolm tells him in a subsequent episode, he's not really asking. That leads to all sorts of interesting combinations, and new paradigms.
The most fun for us in doing the show in general is when we pair new people up. So much of the fun for us writing this season has been John and Willa being together, John and Katie [Cassidy] in this episode -- watching Laurel with more verve than skill think for one second that she can take on Malcolm. She's not the Black Canary, yet. Sara might have gotten him, but there's no way Laurel can. Yet, again, she gets knocked down, and she gets right back up again, and that's what we really love about Laurel.
On Ray and Felicity taking their relationship to the, ahem, next level:
Kreisberg: We often talk about what life would be like if Twitter existed back in the days of "Cheers" or "Moonlighting." Part of the fun of watching couples on television is keeping them apart, and watching how other people come in and out of their lives. There are a lot of people who believe that Oliver and Laurel should be together, and people who believe that Oliver and Felicity should be together -- we're not sure how it's all going to end up, we just do what's right at the time.
For right now, Oliver has decided, "I can't do this," and Felicity's not just going to sit around waiting for him. She's probably the most healthy of all of them. He's the one who's shutting himself down emotionally, when he has this amazing person who's basically offering him hope and guidance and friendship and love, and he doesn't feel he deserves it, and doesn't feel that's what's best for her, whether she agrees with it or not.
Then you've got Ray, who in a lot of ways is a real analogue to Oliver. He's had a tragedy, and he's trying to do right by it, but he's opening his heart to her. And he's Brandon Routh, how can you blame her?
What type of effect does Ray Palmer being in operation as The Atom have on the series as a whole?
Guggenheim: I think 317 is definitely the episode you'll want to check out first. It's not just the Felicity/Ray/Oliver love triangle, it's the fact that there's a new superhero in town, and he's going to go about things in a very different way than the Arrow does -- and he's not a part of Team Arrow. Right now, he's just a very smart guy in a very, very powerful suit. Oliver's definitely going to have an opinion, and the first instance of that will be episode 317.
Will the show firmly establish Ra's al Ghul's famed Lazarus Pit?
Guggenheim: I think all the answers to that question have already been presented on the show. You've seen everything you need to see to know where we're headed.
Kreisberg: Our version of Ra's on the TV show is a lot closer to the comic books than you've seen in other live-action adaptations.
Does Oliver's humanity prevent him from taking over for Ra's al Ghul?
Guggenheim: Ra's has an interesting perspective on that question, which you'll get in the first act of 316. One of the things we reveal in 320 is where the name "League of Assassins" came from, and what it means to be an "assassin." If you're an historian, you'll know that it has a different meaning than what it's become in the modern day.
What's next for Thea?
Guggenheim: We're working towards telling a different story with Thea. It's not just always her acting out -- she's processing a huge amount of guilt, and a huge amount of regret. At the end of 15, she's essentially attempting suicide by Nyssa. It's a continuing progression, it's not just going to be a repetition of her acting out. But certainly, in 16, she looks for closure in another way, because spoiler alert: Nyssa's not going to kill Willa Holland's character.
What the future holds for Nyssa:
Law: I think Nyssa's journey going forward is going to be really interesting, just because she was so dead-set on who she was, what she was going to be, how she laid out her future for herself -- then everything's been thrown up in the air. She's no longer heir to the demon, she no longer has her lover. She's essentially, at this point in the story, lost everything. I think for the first time in her life, she is vulnerable, and she feels weak, and she feels useless, and doesn't know where she stands or who she is at the moment. It's very jarring for her, because she's never had to go through that, ever, in any capacity in her life before. You're going to see Nyssa trying to figure out who she is, and what she stands for now.
On the significance of seeing Malcolm legitimately afraid:
John Barrowman: The one person that you fear is Ra's. He's touched on that fear prior, in moments when he's been talking to Thea -- "We should be scared, we need to leave the city." But to finally see him in front [of Ra's], he knows that he is not in control at that point. There's not much he can do. He has to face the maker, and he knows what he can do, because he was one of his assassins.
I think it's important that you see the fear in Malcolm. The one thing I've read with people who have "fallen" for Malcolm, the best compliment they give me is, "Oh my God, we hate you. But we love you!" They get why he's doing it, and they understand why he's doing what he's doing. That's why it's important to show that emotional side to him, because that's what the fans then connect with, to see it's not just a villain -- there's something right behind it. There's a reason to why he's doing it. There is a reason as to why he's scared, and you're finding out.
"Arrow" returns with a new episode, "The Offer," Wednesday, March 18 on The CW.