With Batman and Superman poised to team up in the near future the DC universe is about to blow up on the big screen, but until then you can get your weekly DC fix with Arrow. The CW show stars Stephen Amell as the vengeful vigilante of Starling City, and in its brief runtime Arrow has already brought to life a good number of DC characters, both beloved and semi-obscure. Season two looks ready to take things to the next level with a slew of new characters (and the continually impressive guest stars who play them) ready to muck things up for The Hood as he tries to deal with the ramifications of season one’s catastrophic finale.
In anticipation of their Comic-Con panel the cast and crew spoke with the press. They talked about their approach to a second season, the long-term consequence of the season one finale, what’s in store for fan favorite characters, new characters to expect in the coming season, and more. Check out what they had to say after the jump and be aware there are some spoilers.
The first thing on everybody’s mind was Tommy (Collin Donnell). He can’t really be dead, can he? After all he was primed to become Oliver’s ultimate nemesis and they wouldn’t just throw all that away, right? Amell put those questions to rest succinctly, saying:
Executive Producer Greg Berlanti confirmed, saying:
He’s dead. I think just the nature of television today. [One of the first shows I killed somebody off on and everyone was like, “Oh my gosh, you did that?” And now it’s kind of expected. TV takes all sorts of risks.
Amell went on to say that Tommy’s death is so important that it will forever change Oliver and even have a massive impact on the course of the show:
We’re seeing the idea of Oliver going from one thing to another, and the lasting imprint on this season, and the lasting imprint on however many seasons that we do, is Tommy’s death and what Tommy thought of Oliver when he died. That informs every single decision that Oliver makes going forward…One of the last things he called me was a “murderer” and that doesn’t sit lightly on me and that informs everything that I do going forward.
Berlanti also spoke on the lasting implications of the tragic finale, including Tommy’s death and the destruction of The Glades:
[Season two] is very much a continuation of events you saw in the finale last year. I think of [season one] very much as a pilot for this year. It’s a reaction to that. The other thing I would say is, as Oliver goes so goes the show. His journey is sort of the spine of the show. And our hope was always to introduce a character who was very different, who still had some elements, but was very different from the Green Arrow that we knew and loved from the comic book. This is sort of the second leg of that journey. This year is very much making that turn from vigilante to something more hopeful, which is what I think the city needs in the wake of – he won a lot of battles last year, but The Glades still half blew up and bad things happened. So I think he wants to bring the city back and lift them up, and that requires a slightly different masked hero than we saw.
Obviously going into season two we have a lot to go off of from season one, and it’s all just reaction to the finale. It’s nice to see these characters each evolve and grow on their own…in a way as characters we’re all each on our own journey and individually growing and evolving into our own hero.
David Ramsey noted that Diggle will have a much different reaction than most of the other Starling City residents:
The end of the last season affected everybody; the destruction of The Glades, Tommy’s death, it affected everybody personally. Everyone in the first few episodes, particularly Oliver and Laurel, are reeling from that. Diggle is very purposeful. He particularly is very stalwart, military, and he keeps on course, and the destruction of The Glades, unfortunate as it is, as a soldier he’s still like, “The mission is what’s important.” But other people in the show, Laurel, Oliver, other people, have really dealt with this in very unique ways. It’s very painful. You’re going to see that. That’s the first part of what you see, how they’re dealing with the destruction of the glades and Tommy’s death.
According to Executive Producer Andrew Kreisberg they are trying to up the ante for season two in every way, considering the second season as a sequel to the first:
There’s joke in the first episode about it being a 2.0 and I think that’s the thing that’s most exciting for us. All the stories we’re doing, where every character is, every storyline, it really is the sequel. We actually say in the writers’ room a lot, “What’s the season two of this?” Because so many of the scenes that were doing, so many of the ways our characters interact, the way characters who didn’t even speak to each other last season are now speaking to each other, is really exciting because we’re still writing the same show, but it feels like a completely new show in a lot of ways.
We love sequels and this whole season is designed basically to be a sequel to season one. It’s got that feel to it. And the way a really good sequel does – we spent a lot of time in the room talking about what are the best sequels? And what makes them great? And I think the universal answer is they feel like an evolution…they’ve taken a step forward and not just retreaded or told the same story over in the same way.
Amell is excited that after the success of the first season the DC universe is really open for the creative team to cull and explore:
[On season one] DC Entertainment was our partner, we’re part of the DC universe, but having a season under our belt, and having had success with that first season, they are partners with a capital “P” and maybe an exclamation point. It’s a really good opportunity for us. We are a part of the DC universe and we are going to exploit that, as we should.
When asked what he’s most excited for fans to see in season two, Kreisberg promised a big surprise in episode four:
We have a bunch of really cool surprises coming. There’s one that you’ll get in episode four that will just make everyone’s jaws drop. I don’t think I’m overhyping it.
Guggenheim backed him up, saying:
No, it will change everyone’s lives on the show.
One of the unique elements of Arrow is the show’s split timeline, telling Oliver’s story from five years in the past parallel to the contemporary timeline, Berlanti confirmed that the show will maintain the same structure though the next season:
It’s about the same. We did two episodes early on last year without the island and we felt like those were mistakes. We tried it because we just didn’t know. It was before the audience even saw it and we didn’t know if people were going to be confused. We got so much information back and we realized it was kind of working for us. It works for the show. Obviously there are episodes where we do it better than other episodes, but our hope is to keep doing that. We have some fun stuff.
Amell commented on the intense physical requirements of his scenes on the island and what’s coming up for that timeline:
It’s tough stuff to shoot. The island stuff in episode one [of season two] might be my favorite stuff in the entire series so far, because we find Oliver five months later on the island doing stuff that he usually doesn’t do – mainly smiling. Fyers’s men are dead. They’re still on the island, but resigned to it perhaps, and we find him almost in happy place, which is strange. But the island stuff is grueling to shoot. We shot Island stuff on Thursday and it was 78 degrees and sunny – atypical. Its almost 41 degrees and raining. Which is the worst weather on the planet, by the way. I would rather it be 7 degrees and snowing and dry, then 40 degrees and damp.
He also talked about the differences between playing Oliver on the island and Oliver in the present day:
The good thing about playing Oliver on the island is that we know he’s such a different person that when I play Oliver in the present day – standing up straight, popping my chest, making sure that the register of my voice is where it should be. When I go to the island I get to let all that stuff go. I get to play the character with no ego whatsoever. It’s like a different show. It’s really neat.
So what’s in store for Oliver and Laurel’s romance as they try to cope with their losses? Will Tommy’s death drive a wedge between them? Cassidy thinks that Laurel may not be in the right frame of mind for a healthy relationship:
I think that Laurel and Oliver, at the moment, have this kind of dance. It’s that will they/won’t they kind of thing. She loves Oliver, but she really did love Tommy too. It’s a tough situation. I think when you’re dealing with death relationships definitely get affected by mourning and grieving and going through all that. I don’t know if her head is in that space right now. I don’t know if she has the emotional capacity to be the best that she can be in the relationship with somebody else at this moment. Whether that moment will fade and whether she’ll be able to get back into a relationship, I don’t know.
It won’t be strained so much between them. There will be some strains between her and The Arrow, or The Hood as it were, but Oliver and Laurel starting off the year at least will be close. Though they did have sex right before her former boyfriend, his best friend, died and that can be complicated.
Cassidy also commented on what else is in store for Laurel outside her relationship with Oliver:
I think they did a really good job at building her own world aside from Oliver. Obviously when he was gone for five years she had to have her own world…going forward after CNRI crumbled she does have to find another job and given what she’s done, assuming it will be in the same realm.
And can we hope to see her kicking a little more ass?
Definitely. You’ll see Laurel get involved more in the action side of things, the criminal side of things.
According to Ramsey we can also look forward to learning more about Oliver’s right hand man, John Diggle, and in the process we’ll end up learning more about A.R.G.U.S.:
You’re going to see a lot of Diggle’s past, his relationship with A.R.G.U.S. A.R.G.U.S. is kind of like S.H.I.E.L.D. in Marvel, but for DC. They know everything, eyes everywhere. Diggle’s past in the military, you’re going to see some of that. So yeah, you’re going to find out a lot more about Diggle this season.
Ramsey also confirmed that with more Diggle we can definitely count on more Deadshot:
For Diggle, the close trajectory – there’s a long term trajectory, but the short term trajectory of Diggle is Deadshot and how his life relates to that vendetta. And through Deadshot we’re going to find out a lot more about Diggle’s past, because they’re connected more than just what we know. Obviously Deadshot is connected to a whole ring of villains that you’re going to find out through the season. But, Diggle and Deadshot have a lot more business.
And what of Felicity Smoak, the surprise fan favorite from season one? Emily Bett Rickards is hoping we learn a little more about where Felicity comes from:
We don’t know anything about her family and I think we have to know more about Felicity’s family. We have to know where she came from. When you look at your friends you like to know what their parents were like, where they came from.
Rickards also promised that we can expect to see more of Felicity in the field:
Absolutely, directly into the first episode of the second season. Right in 2.01, she’s right in there.
As for the troubled Roy Harper, prime candidate to fill the shoes of Speedy, Colton Haynes expects things will get worse before they get any better:
I don’t think he has a very great future ahead of him. He’s getting into a lot more trouble this season, taking on people that are double his size, he’s getting knocked down a bunch of pegs. Roy, this season, he’s really trying to impress the father that he never had. He’s looking for something higher, something bigger to sort of latch onto as a mentor. I think that he’s looking in all the wrong direction. His struggle this season, he’s going to have to get really deep and down to the bottom before he maybe starts to be a hero.
They’ll both take steps in that direction.
But according to Kreisberg we’ll get an answer before too long:
They’re going to get a lot of those answers this season…Sometimes that slow burn, if it’s a little too slow you lose a person’s interest…The Speedy debate will get settled this season
Unfortunately it seems we might have to wait a little longer to see who takes up the mantle as Black Canary. Kreisberg also said:
We’re doing the beginning of the Black Canary story and I think that’s going to twist and turn in ways that people both expect and don’t expect.
Guggenheim added that the writing team has great fun playing with audience expectations:
That’s part of the fun of the show for us, playing against those expectations and playing with those expectations. We seem to have had a certain amount of success doing it, the fans seems to like it, and we certainly like doing it so we’ll continue to.
With all these new heroes you know we’re going to see new villains. Berlanti mentioned the addition of Brother Blood:
We have Sebastian Blood coming on, for those that know, he’s Brother Blood, and he’ll be played by Kevin Alejandro.
And Kreisberg promised a couple more:
Kreisberg also mentioned that while it’s fun to cull the DC universe for new characters, the introduction of new characters always comes from the needs of the story:
The truth of the matter is the way we always approach these things is “What’s the best story we can tell?” Blackhawk’s a great example. We wanted to do a story that put Oliver and Diggle at odds so we decided have someone connected to Diggle’s military past. Then once we got there it became, “Oh, okay, what if we made it Blackhawk?” I think our best episodes have always started with what’s the best idea for an episode?” Then we Arrow-fy it, which is a verb that we use actually, afterwards. I think when we do that that’s when the show feels grounded and real and realistic as opposed to starting with some hyper-comic book villain and trying to wrestle them into our world.
What DC character is Amell most hoping to run into?
The Flash…I think The Flash could be done in a cool way.
Get ready to head back to Starling City when Arrow returns October 9th.