After rescuing Felicity, defeating Slade Wilson and saving Starling City from an army of Mirakuru-enhanced soldiers, Oliver Queen and company were looking forward to a well-earned break.
Unfortunately, the unthinkable happened when Sara was killed by an unknown assailant in the "Arrow" season three premiere. Still reeling from her death six episodes later, Team Arrow has become a stronger unit, while gaining a new-found appreciation for what's truly important in life.
We spoke with "Arrow" Executive Producer Marc Guggenheim about all of that and more, including Ray Palmer's secret agenda, ramping up Laurel and Thea's roles as season three progresses, what to expect from the midseason finale and when Oliver and Felicity shippers might see their dreams realized.
CBR News: This year kicked off with the murder of Sara (Caity Lotz). How long will her death, and the mystery behind who did it, continue to drive season three?
Marc Guggenheim: I would say her death probably drives key components for the entirety of the season. As to when we reveal who the killer is, if we haven't done so already, it will happen before the end of the year.
Poor Roy (Colton Haynes) has been experiencing these crazy nightmares that he killed Sara. Where's his head at when it comes to understanding how to handle that information?
It's a little bit of a mess for him. He's definitely wrestling with a lot of big stuff. All will come to a head in episode 6, "Guilty." As we typically don't, we're not going to draw this out. You're going to see exactly what his reaction is. I would say Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) plays a very key part of that.
Fans have been vocal about Laurel (Katie Cassidy) and Thea (Willa Holland) not having enough to do on the show. This year, they are much more active. Did you feel there wasn't enough time dedicated to them in the past, and how much, if at all, did the fan reaction have to do with their additional development?
I think the fans' feelings mirrored our own, which is Thea and Laurel at times were some of the hardest characters to write for. By that, I mean develop story for. We're really excited about both their trajectories this year. Willa and Katie are doing phenomenal work -- certainly the best work either one of them has ever done on the show.
We are really blessed to have such passionate fans, and we're really blessed they are so opinionated. A lot of times, their views and opinions mirror our own, or at a minimum, mirror a lot of the conversations that we have in the writers' room. I'm just glad fans this year are as excited about the storylines for Thea and Laurel as we've been. We've also felt frustrated in the past about not adequately servicing these great characters and great actresses.
Laurel seems ready to follow in Sara's footsteps, but you don't become a superhero overnight. What are some of the tough lessons she has to learn?
One of the dimensions of what you're talking about we'll see in tonight's episode, "Guilty." We've always said for Laurel, it is not going to be a quick journey. I wouldn't confuse wearing a costume with being a superhero. That's the big stumbling block for Laurel -- a mask does not a superhero make. The process of discovering that is going to be painful. I mean that literally. We're in a world where people sometimes talk their feelings out, but a lot of times they get shot and stabbed and hit repeatedly. It's not going to be a piece of cake for Laurel going forward, no matter what costume she may or may not put on.
So far, Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) has been Mr. Nice Guy. When is he going to make a big move and reveal why he's in Starling City?
The big move you are talking about, and revealing exactly what he's up to, that's going to happen in our midseason finale. That said, you will get a really big hint at it at the end of episode 7.
Felicity and Oliver obviously have the hots for each other. What do Olicity shippers have to look forward to?
The one thing we've always sort of shown is that there are ups and downs. Felicity and Oliver have a very complicated dance, and it's not going to go in a linear progression by any stretch. Episode 7 shows that. We just released a promo where Felicity is kissing somebody other than Oliver.
My favorite fans are the ones who enjoy the torture. Not that we're trying to torture anybody, but certainly the star-crossed nature of these two characters is part of their appeal.
The slow burn can be more rewarding.
I think so. I'm definitely from that school of thought. There are a lot of cool moments coming up. The fans of the slow burn, and the fans of their relationship, are going to be happy. At the same time, I read a lot of times on Twitter that we are catering to the Olicity shippers. The truth of the matter is that one of the things that excites me about "Arrow" is the show is multi-faceted. There are a whole lot of things going on in the show in any given episode.
In some episodes, there will be more Olicity material than others. It's not the only thing we talk about in the writers' room, but it's one of the components of the show at least some people are interested in.
Oliver has a lot on his plate. How responsible does he feel for what's happening to his family, his friends and Starling City?
Oliver is going to have to go through a couple of different adjustments over the course of this season, and in terms of how he feels about his responsibilities to his family, friends and the city, it's really going to get tested, particularly in the middle of the year. Something is going to happen in the midseason finale that will radically alter not just the Arrow's relationship with Starling City, but also the nature of what Team Arrow is doing for Starling City.
Beyond the upcoming "Flash"/"Arrow" crossover, how much do you want to keep integrating those two worlds?
It's always something we're feeling our way through. Greg [Berlanti], Andrew [Kreisberg] and I never sit down and say, "Okay, how much do we want to integrate the two shows?" Instead, we really approach it the same way we approach every element of the show, which is, "What's fun? What's interesting? What's something we want to see?" It's not about creating a policy going forward. Sometimes it's a fun Easter egg. Sometimes it's, "I really want to see this character go over to that show." Sometimes it's, "Let's do a full-on crossover." For us, the advantage of having the two shows is the fact that it opens up all these creative opportunities for us. We just go with what's fun and what's working.
Viewers get a thrill out of seeing comic book characters realized on television. Which villains and heroes are at the top of your laundry list for future episodes?
At this point, we've pretty much charted out in broad strokes who is appearing in what episodes. By the end of episode 9, you'll have seen a lot of the big pieces placed on the board in terms of characters. The back half of the year is not so much about introducing the new characters -- that was sort of the front half of the year. It's rather about seeing the different combinations and shifting allegiances and different interactions between the chess board pieces that we've set up in the first nine episodes.
It's a little different than last year, where we had this stretch of episodes that Andrew called "Villains A-Go-Go." We had a different villain every week. Those episodes, 10 through 15, we have a very different plan. We just wanted to try something new. It's an approach that is different, where other elements feel a little more like season one in terms of the mystery. There's also some stuff on the show that we've never done before.