In what has become typical Arrow fashion, the action is big and the personal drama is even bigger. When the show returns to The CW on October 8th, crime in Starling City is at an all-time low, thanks to the Arrow (Stephen Amell) and his team, and Oliver thinks he can finally balance being both the Arrow and Oliver Queen. But of course, that doesn’t last long, and Team Arrow will face new villains and still be feeling the ramifications of the events of last season.
During this recent interview to talk about what’s to come for Season 3, executive producer Marc Guggenheim talked about how this season’s premiere is a good jumping on point for new viewers, that they already have the whole season planned out, Oliver and Felicity’s (Emily Bett Rickards) first date and first kiss, what Ray Palmer is planning, whether he might ever shrink himself and wear a costume, what Brandon Routh brings to the show, the exploration of the theme of identity, Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) as part of Team Arrow, what Thea (Willa Holland) has been up to, when the H.I.V.E. storyline might reappear, and the cross-over with Arrow and The Flash. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
MARC GUGGENHEIM: I feel like this episode is a really good jumping on point for new viewers. We closed a chapter at the end of Season 2, and this is a brand new opening. I don’t really think there’s anything you need to know, coming into it. It’s pretty new viewer friendly. And that wasn’t necessarily by design. It just happened to work out that way with the story that we’re telling.
How much of this season do you already have planned out?
GUGGENHEIM: Every season, we spend what really should be our hiatus, and what really should be me relaxing on a beach, planning out the whole season. It’s what we did in Season 1, and it’s what we did in Season 2, so we did the same process in Season 3. We just started off talking about what the season is about. I’ve spoken at length, at this point, that it’s about identity, and we talked about what Oliver’s journey for the year is going to be, and we talked about what all of the other character’s journeys would be.
What would you say to tease the Oliver-Felicity relationship in the premiere episode?
GUGGENHEIM: I like to say that it’s an explosive first date. It’s so hard to tease it without spoiling it, but I’m very happy with the circumstances under which they have their first kiss. I hope it’s unexpected. I hope it plays as unexpected. I hope it plays as emotional. I guess you’ll have to tell me.
In the grounded world of Arrow, will we ever see Ray Palmer shrink himself and wear a costume?
GUGGENHEIM: I think anything is possible. My instinct is that, if Ray Palmer is going to shrink, he’ll probably shrink on another show. With The Flash in existence, there’s no real compelling reason for us to do superpowers on Arrow. We can bring characters to The Flash, to have superpowers. We have plans for Ray that don’t involve shrinking, but our plans for Ray are actually really cool.
GUGGENHEIM: There are several things we wanted to do. We started off with this notion that a lot of third season dramas bring in a new character to shake things up. Greg [Berlanti] did it with Scott Wolf’s character on Everwood. It happens on dramas, with great success. So, we were thinking about who is a kind of character that we haven’t seen on the show, and one thing that we haven’t seen is someone who can play at Felicity’s level, in terms of the banter. We write Felicity as if she came in from a different show, but the problem is that she doesn’t have anyone else to talk to like that. We can’t write banter with Felicity and anyone because banter requires two people. So, lo-and-behold, here’s Ray Palmer. I always joke that we basically came up with Felicity because we need one character on the show that we’re able to write.
Greg, Andrew [Kreisberg] and I all have voices for banter and fun quips, but Oliver is super taciturn and Diggle is a man of few words. No one was talking on the show. Felicity was supposed to be a one-off, but Andrew and I both, independently, had the same instinct to write a character that’s easy for us to write because we were exhausted. I will say that Ray is a joy to write for because his banter with Felicity is a lot of fun. It’s a quality of the show that we’ve never seen before. Also, he’s going to end up as the new head of Queen Consolidated, and we know from past seasons that people in charge of Queen Consolidated aren’t always the best people. So, Ray is either an interesting departure or an interesting twist.
What Ray is planning and up to with his whole Star City campaign, and what he plans to do with the company, will be one of those mysteries. One of the things we wanted to do was reintroduce the concept of mystery to the show. We had that in Season 1, with the glyph and the Undertaking, and the list and the notebook. The nature of Season 2 moved us away from that because we had Slade Wilson and it was a much more upfront story of vengeance. With Season 3, we wanted to reintroduce some of those elements of mystery that make you go, “What’s going on there? What’s up?” Hopefully, Ray is one of those characters that will do that for us.
GUGGENHEIM: I think family has always been a key component of the genetics of the show. This has always been a family melodrama, with the Lances, with the Queens, with the adopted family of Team Arrow. So, I wouldn’t say it’s any more or any less than any other season, but it’s definitely a huge component of the show itself, as a whole.
Is Roy Harper okay with taking orders from Oliver, and being a part of Team Arrow?
GUGGENHEIM: I think he’s fine being a part of the team, as he is. We played with that notion of Roy questioning Oliver’s judgement in Episode 218. What you see in Season 3 is a much more mentor/mentee, master/apprentice relationship, which is what we were setting up in 212, but didn’t fully realize. It’s really more fully realized in Season 3. You really see how Oliver is training this kid to be a hero in his own right.
When will we learn about where Thea has been and what she’ll be up to, this season?
GUGGENHEIM: A lesson we learned over Season 2 was that we don’t have to pack everyone into a given episode. As we were breaking this episode out, we discovered that it could be more interesting if Thea, who left town at the end of Season 2, wasn’t around, and it’s part of the mystery. Where is she? She’s not in Starling City. That questions will get answered in Episode 2. You’ll find out where Thea went, at the end of Season 2, and you’ll also find out what exactly was said in that limousine, after that scene ended. The beginning of Episode 3 picks up with Malcolm and Thea in that limo, and you’ll hear the conversation that you didn’t get to hear at the end of Season 2.
GUGGENHEIM: There are no plans, at the moment. I know the fans have been waiting for it, ever since we teased it at the end of 206. It keeps coming up in the writers’ room. Like everything else, it will have its day and its time. At the moment, I can’t say that we’ve got the episode where we pick that thread back up, but it’s definitely on our list of things that we want to get to.
What can you say about the cross-over with Arrow and The Flash?
GUGGENHEIM: It’s so freakin’ awesome! It really is. I’ve never had so much fun writing a script before, maybe in my life. It was such a blast to work on. We’re filming the Arrow episode right now, and it’s just so much fun. I keep telling everyone that we should try for Avengers. It’s these two heroes together with a big production value. We’re blowing out the doors on this. There’s the opportunity for inside jokes, and seeing all of the characters together. What happens when Cisco gets his eyes on Thea? There are moments like that, that you just can’t do in a normal episode. It’s just so much fun. It’s really going to be a blast. Jesse Warren is directing it, and he is just crushing it. Those dailies are really, really insane. Nick Tarabay plays Boomerang/Digger Harkness, and he’s amazing. And that weapon is a whole new visual language in the show, and a whole new visual language for our stunt guys to work with. And watching Grant [Gustin] and Stephen [Amell] together is just magic.
GUGGENHEIM: I don’t know! I really don’t know! We’re always budget-strapped on this show, and I always joke that we could save money by firing our casting director and just casting out of Spartacus, but I’m not going to do that. It’s really a coincidence. They just had great actors on the show, and they work really well in our world. Nick Tarabay was someone who came in for a couple of different roles this season. He made a really, really strong impression on me. I’m just glad we finally found the right role for him on the show. He’s really terrific, as I knew he would be. He’d come in on other things and I’d seen so much of his acting that we just offered him this role, sight unseen. He didn’t have to audition for it. We knew he’d be perfect, and he’s great.
Now that Oliver Queen doesn’t have a fortune or really much of a family, what is his non-Arrow persona, at this point?
GUGGENHEIM: That’s honestly a big question of the season. It speaks to this issue of identity. That’s the challenge and the struggle that he’ll be dealing with, over the entire season. In Episode 3, we’ll demonstrate how important Thea is to him. Basically, Thea is the one last tie he has to his persona as Oliver. That’s his season-long journey. Is there an Oliver Queen anymore? Can there be? And if there can be, what does that look like? It’s a real conundrum for him.
Arrow airs on Wednesday nights on The CW.