In a new podcast interview at The Huffington Post, showrunners Marc Guggenheim and Greg Berlanti discussed a wide range of topics relating to their CW series, Arrow.
While a good piece of the interview focused on the series's politics, there was a fair amount of discussion of Oliver's journey from vengeance-driven vigilante to justice-seeking hero (a move that will please comics fans dismayed by his anger and violence in the first half of the season). Here's the bullet points on the podcast, as laid out by HuffPo, and a link to the podcast itself:
- At least one other person (aside from Diggle) will learn Oliver's secret identity fairly soon, the producers said.
- The villain in Wednesday's episode uses fire, which is a special challenge for Oliver. "We thought: What's more scary than fire? And also: Let's make things doubly difficult. Let's have him confront a villain he can't punch. He doesn't have a fire-extinguisher arrow," Guggenheim said.
- Ben Browder ("Farscape") guest stars in Episode 12 as Diggle's former commanding officer and mentor. John Barrowman, who's been appearing as Tommy Merlyn's father (Malcolm Merlyn/Dark Archer), will also be in that episode.
- Seth Gabel arrives as "the Count" in Episode 12, and he will almost certainly be back. Count Vertigo, a character from the comics, is the loose basis for this villain, but it sounds as though the writers have some tricks up their sleeves when it comes to the Count, whom Gabel discussed in this recent interview. "We love Seth and his interpretation of the character and the Count was always introduced with the plan to make him a recurring villain. In fact, Episode 12 ends with a set-up for his next appearance," Guggenheim said. "Seth plays the character with a lot of flair and it's a new color for the show. Those people who think the Arrow is all about business suited one-percenters will really want to check out this episode."
- David Anders ("Once Upon a Time") arrives in Episode 14, and he'll play a brand-new villain created specifically for the TV show. "We wanted to have a villain who was purely sociopathic and without conscience and limitations, but also someone who was so incredibly smart that his tactics and the intelligence of his strategy would rival Oliver's tactics and ability to strategize," Guggenheim said. "We'd been having so much fun with established DC villains that we thought it was time to create someone new and add a new toy to the toy box. The fun about Vanch is that he's absolutely ruthless, but at the same time, a great tactician. He's the thinking man's villain."
- Manu Bennett, best known to "Spartacus" fans as Crixus, arrives in Episode 13. He's playing Slade Wilson/Deathstroke -- or is he? "I'd caution against making any assumptions about the role he's playing," Guggenheim said. "We're a bit crafty over here at 'Arrow' and we've demonstrated a certain fondness for using people's comic book-based expectations against them. That said, Oliver will make a shocking discovery about Manu's character that will completely change how much -- or even whether -- he can trust him."
- James Callis appears as the Dodger, a jewel thief, in Episode 15. There are no specific plans at the moment to bring him back, "but Andrew and I were watching James' first day of [shooting] and immediately vowed to bring him back. He's terrific," Guggenheim said. "The Dodger is a new type of adversary for us. He offers a slightly lighter touch than previous villains we've had on the show, but James really grounds him with an air of menace that makes the Dodger fit with the tone we've established in the first 14 episodes."
- Haynes ("Teen Wolf") arrives as Roy Harper in Episode 15 as well. Hey, wasn't Harper known as Speedy in the Green Arrow DC comics? And hasn't Oliver's sister Thea also been called Speedy on the TV show? Yes and yes. The producers wouldn't say much more, but they did offer that Thea meets Roy, who's from the rough part of town and who is a potential love interest for her, after he steals her purse. Aww, what a meet cute!
- Supervillain alert: There will be a team-up between Deadshot and China White in Episode 16. Yes, Deadshot is not dead -- he's going to return with "an all-new look," Guggenheim said, and the show will address how he can do what he does with only one eye.
- Badass alert: Huntress fans, rejoice! Jessica De Gouw will be back as Helena Bertinelli in Episode 17 of the season. For more on Oliver's relationship with the character, check out the two-part interviews my colleague Laura Prudom did with Amell and Ramsey.
- There will be a new development in the life of Diggle (David Ramsey) that "affects him pretty profoundly," Berlanti said.
- Thea's arc will change "fairly immediately" as the show begins to give her more things to do (more than complain, that is -- and fixing that repetitive problem was near the top of the writers' to-do list, Guggenheim said). In Wednesday's episode, "she has this terrific scene with [her mother] Moira, which takes all their previous scenes and turns them on their head," Guggenheim said. Thea (Willa Holland) will soon have more people in her orbit and a wider variety of storylines (including one in which she gets in trouble with the law).
- Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards), the computer expert Oliver's been consulting lately, has "a big role to play in the second half of the season," Guggenheim said. "Of course, she'll continue to be Oliver's unwitting assistant, but also remember that, thanks to Walter, she has a copy of the Second Notebook."
- When will we see a GLBTQ character on "Arrow"? Yes, that's certainly on the producers' list of things to do. "As an out writer/producer, that's always important to me, but it's also equally important to do it in a way that's fresh and interesting," Berlanti said. What they want to do is have the character be someone who works with Oliver and someone viewers see regularly, not just a villain fans might see only a couple times per season. "Hopefully we'll get to introduce the character before the end of year," Berlanti added. "It's definitely high on our priority list."
- Speaking of Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson): "Viewers who are wondering when Oliver is going to realize his mom is naughty will want to pay particular attention to Episodes 12 thru 14," Guggenheim said.
- Will Laurel evolve into the Black Canary? Will Tommy (Colin Donnell) start becoming a villain this season? We talked about those things at greater length in the podcast, but the important thing to know is that developments related to Tommy and his father "form the spine" of the rest of the season, according to the producers. "He doesn't know that his dad is the Dark Archer. What's going to happen if and when Tommy makes that discovery? How does his father's uber-scheme affect Tommy? Those are the questions we're raising [when the show returns] and then driving to our big finale," Guggenheim said.