In order to force Oliver Queen into becoming the new Ra's al Ghul and the League of Assassins' leader, the current Ra's tarnished the Arrow's good name by assuming his identity and killing people. His most recent target, Starling City's mayor, made Arrow public enemy #1.
To make matters worse, Ra's al Ghul captured Captain Quentin Lance and revealed to him Oliver Queen's vigilante identity. Lance quickly organized a manhunt, resulting in Oliver's arrest. When Roy Harper suited up as the Arrow and publicly declared he was the true hooded vigilante, Lance wasn't buying it, and the tension in Starling City is only going to escalate in upcoming episodes.
Paul Blackthorne spoke to CBR News about Lance's agenda, his strained relationship with Laurel, Roy's heroic sacrifice and meeting Detective West. In addition, Blackthorne discusses his work for elephant poaching charity Air Shepherd, and how "Arrow" fans can make a difference.
CBR News: In last week's episode, "Public Enemy," Lance spearheaded the manhunt for Arrow. Is he acting out of anger for Sara's death, or simply doing his job to capture the murderer of the mayor at the hand of Ra's al Ghul posing as Arrow?
Paul Blackthorne: It's a combination of both. There's absolutely some anger fueling this manhunt. He's not too happy about the situation with Sara and the Arrow withholding that kind of news for three months. That's pretty heavy stuff. But, look. Arrows are flying around. People are getting killed. It certainly looks like the Arrow is doing it, so all the more reason for the manhunt. Those two aspects are definitely fueling that, for sure.
How has this Arrow crusade affected his relationship with Laurel?
Oh, it's been a bed of roses. We're getting along just fine. What's the problem?
Well, they've really been on some pretty sketchy ground here for a while, haven't they? As we saw in episode 18, Laurel was not just wearing that mask and running around and getting her own life threatened, which is a heart-breaking thought for Lance, but she's also now basically representing the other members of Team Arrow. She's setting up deals of protection for those guys. Immunity. That's his daughter betraying him on that front as well. It's all pretty tough for Lance to take. The rift just gets bigger and bigger between these guys.
Lance believed Oliver was the Arrow. Is he confused by Roy's confession? Is Oliver still on Lance's hit list?
Well, he's not confused by it. He's downright confounded by it, because he knows for damn sure Roy Harper is not the Arrow. He had those conversations with Oliver Queen, especially in the back of the van. He knows Oliver is the Arrow.
What is confusing him is the idea Roy Harper should be set up to take the fall for Oliver Queen. There's a history between Roy and Lance. Lance has known about Harper for years. He was a little kid running around the Glades doing wrong since he was knee-high to a grasshopper. Lance tried to protect Roy once in the past when he was showing Harper the corpse back in Season One, to try to stop this adulation that Harper was showing for Oliver. Now, here is Harper taking the fall for Queen. Lance is going to do all that he can to stop that being the case and all that he can to continue the pursuit of Oliver Queen and prove once and for all he is the Arrow.
"The Flash's" Detective West and Cisco are crossing over to "Arrow" in an upcoming episode. What brings them to Starling City?
As the writers often do, it's never quite as it seems. There's always a little twist. "Oh, we're off to the 'Flash.'" This time, they're coming to us. The case that Detective West is working on leads him to Starling City to ask a few questions. It was a lot of fun. Lance got to sit down and have a cup of coffee and talk about daughters and being a cop. It was a breath of fresh air for Lance to smile for once.
Lance is used to dealing with the bow-and-arrow vigilantes. What's his take on the super-powered heroes and villains running around Central City?
There isn't much note comparing on superheroes. It's more of comparing daughters, and they are discussing the case at hand. There are some lovely moments where Lance is asking, "How did that guy Barry Allen do with that whole lightning thing? Is he okay? Did he come out of that all right?" Detective West's reaction and responses to such questions are very amusing.
There are only a handful of episodes left this season. What are Lance's priorities going forward?
His initial priority is to continue pursuing Oliver Queen to prove that he is the Arrow. That is certainly the case in the near future. He has a lot to work on with his daughter. There's a huge rift there. So, we have to see if they resolve something. As I said, there's a lot to get through. There are some difficult times ahead for the Lance family.
What can you say about the finale? Will it be as balls-to-the-wall as previous seasons?
Has there ever been an episode of Arrow that isn't balls-to-the-walls? Sixty-nine episodes are balls-to-the wall. It never stops. What the writers come up with for this show always blows me away. The twists and turns that they take -and the story progression with the character development and the conflict - the layers of the onion keep peeling off and peeling off. This season-three finale is big stuff.
Lastly, you've been involved in charity work to raise awareness against elephant poaching. Why is this an important issue for you, and how can "Arrow" viewers support the cause?
It's important to me because "Jungle Book" was one of my favorite films. I don't know what it is about elephants. I just adore these majestic, incredible creatures. I've spent time with them in the wild in Africa and India. If you've been anywhere near a wild elephant, you are near something incredible and mind-blowing. The poaching that has increased in recent years is terrifying. There's an elephant basically getting killed every 15 minutes. That's 96 elephants being poached for their ivory each day. At that rate of killing, in 11 years, wild elephants will be extinct. That just blows my mind that we've gotten anywhere near that situation.
There are many organizations doing an awful lot of work to stop that, but the one I've chosen to work with is Air Shepherd. What these guys do is use super computers to predict the movement of poachers and elephants and also rhinos, because they are threatened too. They send in drones to confirm that information. Then they send in rangers to stop the actual poaching. Basically it's simple. Where the drones fly, the poaching stops. We need to increase the areas that the drones cover.
So, the money that I raise through the t-shirt campaign, "Poach Eggs, Not Elephants," is all going to Air Shepherd. The more money they have, the more drones they can fly and the less poaching will take place. The last thing we want is for elephants to become extinct in 11 years' time. I would appreciate anybody who wants a lovely t-shirt with my face on it, if you can put up with that, and the line "Poach Eggs, Not Elephants." Go buy yourself one. A hundred percent of those proceeds are going towards Air Shepherd, and anyone who buys a t-shirt during the campaign will automatically be entered into a random drawing to win a t-shirt signed by the whole "Arrow" cast!