While all of Team Arrow felt the loss of Black Canary in “Eleven-Fifty-Nine,” Diggle in particular found himself suffering from emotional blow after blow. Not only did Diggle’s brother Andy turn out to be a loyal member of H.I.V.E., his betrayal resulted in the death of Laurel at the hands of Damien Darhk.
Now, as the entire cast of “Arrow” comes to grips with the tragic loss of their friend, Diggle becomes consumed with guilt over trusting his brother. As a result, the vigilante hero has found himself crossing moral boundaries in the name of vengeance.
In a one-on-one interview with CBR News, David Ramsey spoke about the impact Laurel’s demise and his brother’s betrayal has had on Diggle. The actor delved deep into what is really behind his character’s current emotional tailspin, the need he and Team Arrow have to track down and punish Damien Darhk, and what Season 5 holds in store for the popular character.
CBR News: Last episode featured the shocking death of Laurel at the hands of Damien Darhk. How emotional was it filming that hospital scene and saying goodbye not only to Laurel, but Katie Cassidy?
David Ramsey: It was very difficult. Those tears you’re seeing in that death scene in the hospital — every single frame of that scene was heartfelt, genuine and completely devastating. We knew that moment was coming, so we shared some of that.
The crew and the cast genuinely like each other. That’s something that can’t be said about a lot of shows, particularly going into their fifth season. We are all very close. The questions were, “When can we see you again? Is there any hope of you coming back?” Those were the things we immediately asked of the producers. None of us were happy to see Katie go. It was very difficult to get through and, as I said, every frame of that hospital scene was heartfelt and completely honest.
Prior to his betrayal, Oliver warned Diggle about Andy’s loyalties. How heavy does Laurel’s fate weigh on Diggle’s conscience?
Probably heavier on Diggle than it does on any member of Team Arrow. There’s a straight line you can draw: “I trust Andy. He’s my brother.” Arrow says, “Don’t trust him.” I trust him anyway. Diggle might as well have put the arrow in Canary himself, in terms of how closely related to her death he is. He draws a straight line. He made the choice to trust Andy, to let him into the inner circle against Oliver’s wishes. There’s been a complete reversal of relationships here. That would have normally been Diggle’s sound advice given to Oliver that he didn’t heed, but it was Diggle, this time.
Can he accept the dark side? Can he push away the dark side? Those are the questions Oliver usually starts to ask himself. Diggle goes to a different place. Diggle is dealing with this clearly catastrophic choice to trust his brother and does things we haven’t seen him do before. He makes choices we haven’t seen him make. He cracks. He’s a fractured man. This is a Diggle we haven’t ever seen. It’s going to be Oliver who helps reel him in. It’s great storytelling, and it’s a great place for Diggle, a guy who has been the mentor. There’s a fall from grace we’re going to see.
At the same time, are Oliver and Quentin Lance blaming Diggle for Laurel’s death?
No. This is a family; there is no blame in that sense, that Diggle will be ostracized from the team for his part in misjudging Andy. In fact, it’s just the opposite. There’s an embracing. There’s a sharing of grief. “How do we turn this grief into a constructive plan to stop this force that is Damien Darhk?” So, the answer is no. Diggle will not be ostracized by Team Arrow.
Even with the support of family and lloved ones, grief is an emotion that can eat you alive. How does Diggle deal with these feelings of guilt and loss?
Not well. Diggle is not well-equipped with the gray, with the betrayal. There are some great moments that Lyla had with Oliver last season in terms of them understanding that sometimes lives are lost in battle, there’s collateral damage. Even her reconciling with Oliver quicker than Diggle did in terms of being kidnapped by Oliver — we see that, at the beginning of this season, she has let it go. She’s willing to move on, understanding that he made a choice. There was a ruse to be played, and Lyla was part of that in order to take down a man for the greater good.
Diggle doesn’t deal well with that. He sees these things in black and white. It’s betrayal, period, full stop. These big issues of betrayal and this gray area, Diggle is not very well-equipped to deal with them. He’s a “nuts and bolts” kind of guy. “We’re on the team, I take the grenade — period. If someone has to die, I’m the man to do it. You go on with your life. Get the bad guy.” That’s the type of guy he is.
When we have to deal with people coming back from the dead, people moving faster than the speed of light, a 14-foot, mutant shark — these are things Diggle is not prepared for. Even those very human elements, like betrayal and this dark side of ourselves that we can’t really reconcile with, he doesn’t do well with that. In the following episodes, you’ll see a Diggle that really has to deal with betrayal, accountability, responsibility and guilt in a way that he’s never dealt with. We are going to see a fractured man making hard choices.
What can viewers expect when Diggle finally confronts Andy again?
We can expect a man possessed. We can expect a man that’s willing to do whatever it takes to bring him to justice, and more importantly, do whatever it takes to protect the people he loves. You are going to see a Diggle like a man possessed to bring Andy and Damien Darhk down, particularly to bring his brother to justice.
At this point, is Team Arrow’s top priority Damien Darhk?
It is. Damien and Andy have it coming to them with the death of Laurel. We saw that scene between Oliver and Felicity where she says, “You have to kill him.” There is something we have to pay off here. The driving force of the remaining episodes is to kill Damien Darhk.
The season finale is fast approaching — how does it pave the way for next year?
What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. That’s the big theme. You are going to see a team that’s more fractured than it ever has been. The elements that remain of that team, ultimately, in Season 5, will be the strongest of the strong. I’m excited, because you are going to see a team stronger than it has been.
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