Tonight's episode of Arrow saw Oliver Queen (series star Stephen Amell) and Bronze Tiger (guest star Michael Jai White) working their way through Slabside Supermax prison, trying to save the lives of guards put in danger by a prison riot orchestrated by Ricardo Diaz.
The battle featured one of director and stunt coordinator James Bamford's trademark long, action-packed single-take shots -- this one pushing Oliver up the stairs, fighting back to back with his tenuous ally all the way.
"The episode itself is a stand-alone episode, so it's not really a cookie cutter episode," Bamford said recently. "I should actually go back a year, and the episode was actually born out of a conversation Marc Guggenheim and I had. He was like, 'you know what we should do? We should do a whole episode that has like three words and the rest of it is just action beats.' I was like 'Yeah, that's what we should do. It should be like a silent film. The rest of it should be action like Buster Keaton. I'll do you one better; it should be like Birdman, the whole episode should be a oner.' He goes, 'Yeah, let's do that, yeah.' And then he kind of stepped back. So 707 came along, and turned out to be Beth and Rebecca writing it, and we started discussing what the original aspirations were -- a giant oner with no words that was just carnage and murder and mayhem and vigilantism. It turned into what you guys saw. They asked me right off the bat, 'how much screen direction do you want?' I said, 'well, just tell me the story you need to tell -- the beginning, the middle, the end, any details you want specifically -- and I'll fill in the rest of the blanks.'"
Amell had the same impression, basically admitting that he had never seen a shooting script so thin -- and renewed his oft-repeated call for the Arrow stunt department to get more recognition.
"[This week], they just turned the stunt department loose," Amell said. "It was the shortest script that I’ve ever read because it had such little stage direction in it. It was basically Beth going to James Bamford and saying, 'This is through line of what happens to Oliver from start to finish. Do what you can in the time that you have. Go.' There’s some specific stuff like Stanley gets Oliver with a needle and Oliver’s tied up or whatever, but all that choreography, that was something that the stunt department I think really excelled in. We’re not going to get nominated for a stunt Emmy, because we don’t get nominated for a stunt Emmy. But we should get nominated for a stunt Emmy."
Arrow airs at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW, before episodes of DC's Legends of Tomorrow on The CW.