With season 5 of Arrow coming out today on Blu-ray and DVD, ComicBook.com had the opportunity to join showrunners Marc Guggenheim and Wendy Mericle to record a special "podcast commentary" for the season finale.
The episode, which was acclaimed by fans and critics and wrapped up five years of story as well as five years of flashback before leaving viewers with the biggest question mark in the show's history, was a major moment for Arrow. The changing home video market tends to mean far fewer special features, especially for TV shows as opposed to movies, than there used to be, and so we asked around and discovered that there were no plans to give the producers an opportunity to do an audio commentary over "Lian Yu," the season finale.
That's where we came in, offering to put something together that the fans will enjoy and give the producers a chance to talk at significantly more depth than they would usually get to do publicly about a single episode.
Along with the finished product, which you can listen to above, or download it directly right here.
If you are watching the episode digitally and seeing the “previously on Arrow” sequence, you can just hit play on this file and it will run alongside your episode. If you are watching on DVD and the “previously on Arrow” sequence is skipped, you can begin the episode at the 55-second mark, when Marc Guggenheim says “here we go.”
The episode presented a bit of a technical challenge, since both Arrow's long-running flashback device and the present-day story were going to be taking place in the same setting (Lian Yu, the island where Oliver's journey began). The filmmakers took advantage of this by shooting certain mirroring shots, but also had to reckon with how to quickly and easily discern between the two eras. They opted for a shift in the color palette in the flashbacks.
“We’ve always tried to make the flashbacks distinctive in some way with a color palette, and this year with Russia, we had gone to a lot of greens and grays,” Mericle explained. “It just helps delineate the present from the past. In terms of Lian Yu, it was really a conversation between us and our camera department, and our colorist. It was a process,where we talked about it and it was shot with certain filters and certain lighting and those choices were made and then they were enhanced in post production, so it was really a team effort like everything in television.”
With almost everyone in Oliver's life kidnapped by Prometheus and taken to Lian Yu, and a handful of powerful villains like Black Siren and Talia al Ghul teamed with the other guys, Team Arrow did not have much time to stop and breathe -- so the writers had to be very aware of pacing the episode in order to keep the emotional stakes grounded for the characters.
“I think we’re always looking for those moments,” Mericle said. “Most of the time on the show, in a regular episode it’s not that hard to find it. You can have a down beat in the bunker or you can dedicate a scene in the loft or city hall to having two characters having a heart to heart. In a finale, as you pointed out, it is really challenging because we always have so much story, and we are bringing in so many stories for landings that it becomes a question of how you carve that space out. It really does help to create a ticking clock or build a natural lull into the action that allows you to have those moments and let them breathe a little bit.”
The episode also marked the finale (?) appearance of Dolph Lundgren as Konstantin Kovar, a role that got bigger as the season went on because Lundgren's performance was impressing producers so much.
And since the actor once again played a big Russian, we had to ask why he never said "I must break you." Especially after finally giving in to the fans' constant desire to hear the joke about Ray Palmer looking like Supergirl's cousin in the "Invasion!" crossover.
“it was super tempting,” Guggenheim admitted. “We did get in, in I want to say 521, ‘he is like a piece of iron,’ which is another line from Rocky IV, far less well-known. I think when in doubt we like to go a little more subtle, but it was very, very tempting. It’s always like this fine line of you want to do the meta jokes, or at least I want to do the meta jokes, but you want to do the ones that aren’t going to take the audience out of the viewing experience. I think sometimes what you’re writing is more amenable to it. I think the nature of the crossover almost invites, at least in my mind, the opportunity for more meta-humor. That, to me, is one of the more fun aspects of writing the crossovers.”
You can now own Arrow Season 5 on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital.
New episodes return on Thursday, October 12, at 9 p.m. ET/PT following the season premiere of Supernatural.0comments
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