Producer Marc Guggenheim Talks ARROW Season 3, That Big Character Death, and Plans For The Rest of the Season in Spoiler Filled Interview

     October 8, 2014

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In what has become typical Arrow fashion, the action for Season 3 is big and the personal drama is even bigger.  Team Arrow is facing new villains and new heartache, all while still feeling the ramifications of the events of last season.

In the second part of an interview with executive producer Marc Guggenheim, that was held after a screening of the season premiere at The CW offices, he talked about the decision behind the big character death and how it fits into the plan for this year, the fall-out in Episode 302, what the future holds for Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards), where things stand with Oliver and Laurel (Katie Cassidy), what’s next for Diggle (David Ramsey), how Nyssa (Katrina Law) fits in, and where Lance’s (Paul Blackthorne) journey is headed.  Hit the jump for out Arrow Season 3 interview, and be aware that there are major spoilers.

arrow-season-3-premiere-caity-lotzQuestion:  So, when did you decide that you were going to kill off Sara? 

MARC GUGGENHEIM:  In the course of our story conversations, we had this notion of starting the year off in a way that we typically end the year.  It was just part and parcel of our plan for the year, ever since we started.  It was one of the first ideas that we kicked around.  Every time we kill off a character on the show, it’s always incredibly hard.  We’re not Game of Thrones.  We’re not Sons of Anarchy.  It’s really, really, really difficult.  We’re very lucky, and I really mean this, that our cast and our guest cast are always wonderful people.  We have this great group that’s a wonderfully welcoming cast, and Caity Lotz completely fit into that family.

So, it’s always really hard to kill off someone who you just really enjoy working with, writing for, and seeing on the screen.  But as with Tommy’s death and as with Moira’s death, the story implications for this development are so far-reaching for the show and affect all of the characters.  It kicks off a mystery that will drive us for at least the first half of the year.  It will set Laurel on a trajectory that she’s never had before, on the show.  It will create all of these other complications and dynamics that I can’t talk about because it will spoil stuff, but it buys us a lot of story and it speaks to all of the things that we wanted to do this year, in terms of Laurel’s character, Oliver’s character and Felicity’s character.  It’s always a hard thing to do, but it’s really the engine that’s driving the whole third season.

Prior to this, it was said that Caity Lotz was coming back for a minimum of three episodes. 

GUGGENHEIM:  I wasn’t lying!  It’s totally true!  You’re going to see her in the next episode, and you’re going to see her in at least a third episode.  We have stories that involve Caity Lotz.  One of the beautiful parts of the show is that we do flashbacks and we still want to tell the story of what happened when Sara washed up on the shores of Lian Yu, after the events of Episode 223, and how she met Nyssa and joined the League of Assassins.  There’s a still a lot of story left to be told with Sara.  We did make a contract with Caity for three episodes, so I wasn’t lying.  You certainly haven’t seen the last of her.

arrow-season-3-caity-lotzWhat can you say about Episode 302, “Sara,” and the fall-out from her death?

GUGGENHEIM:  Episode 302 is probably one of our most emotionally gut-wrenching episodes, as it needs to be and as it should be.  This character’s death affects all of the characters on the show.  It’s brutal.  I don’t want to spoil it too much.  We chose the title “Sara” because it actually has a double meaning.  I really don’t want to say more than that.  There’s the question of what should be done with Sara’s body.  There’s the question of, who do they tell?  Do they tell Lance that his daughter died a second time?  There’s the emotional repercussions for everybody, but it definitely has repercussions for Oliver and Felicity, and for Felicity and Ray Palmer, and obviously for Laurel.  Laurel is very much at the center of that episode.  We’re also going to turn to a suspect in the killing.  With us, you never know how soon things will get resolved, or in what we they’ll get resolved.

I have to say that 302 is one of our best episodes.  I’m really, really happy with it.  Everything is laid bare and it’s all out there.  Everyone is raw and naked.  It was a really hard episode for the cast to shoot, particularly Emily [Bett Rickards], Stephen [Amell] and Katie Cassidy, and Caity Lotz, who basically has to lie on a slab and not breathe.  She actually does a very, very compelling job of being dead.  It’s really, really powerful stuff.  It’s a hard episode to watch.  If you’re prone to tears or capable of crying while watching a TV show, you’ll probably be crying in this one.  It has all of the elements that you typically expect from an episode of Arrow.

When we killed off Tommy in Episode 123, we went to a season finale end and a hiatus, so we never really dealt with the repercussions of his death.  With Episode 221, after Moira’s death, we dealt with the repercussions of that by taking Oliver out of the show for an act.  This episode is the first time we’ve actually really taken our time and really spent time with these characters, in the wake of a major character’s death.  As a result, it’s definitely an episode with a different spin to it.

arrow-season-3-brandon-routh-atomWhen will you be revisiting Vertigo, and who will the next face of it be? 

GUGGENHEIM:  I don’t know yet, in terms of timing.  Certainly, the idea of titles being different from people is part of the theme of identity for this year.  So, you’ll probably see that play out, not necessarily with respect to Vertigo.  I personally would love to see Peter Stormare back on the show.  He was great fun to work with, and great fun on the show.  I don’t think we’ve completely written out his character yet.  But, that notion is going to repeat.

Is it a coincidence that a season that has Ra’s al Ghul has a drug that brings out your worst fear, which was something that we saw with him in the Dark Knight trilogy? 

GUGGENHEIM:  It’s a great question, but a total coincidence.  Its presence in 301 was really designed to get at the theme that Oliver is struggling with identity.  We certainly talked about whether people would think we were doing the same thing as Batman Begins in the writers’ room, but for us, character and theme trump everything else, and we’re doing our own thing.  If we were connecting it to Ra’s then it would be very Batman Begins, but they’re totally separate.

What does the future hold for Oliver and Felicity, with them seemingly ending things? 

GUGGENHEIM:  I think you’ll see that their relationship is going to have ups and downs, and twists and turns.  It’s hard to answer the question without spoiling too much.  Oliver and Felicity have a very emotional scene together in Episode 2.  This is not the last time we’ll hear the words, “I love you,” in connection with Oliver and Felicity.  But I never want to turn to the back of the book and read the last page to everyone.  Part of the fun, or the agony, of watching these two people is seeing them together and apart, and then together and apart.  We’ll see what the future holds for them.  What makes their relationship so tortured is that they’re both so conflicted about it.  Our goal in writing that scene was to make it even-handed, in terms of who’s ending it.  There’s a scene in Episode 2 that’s a follow up or a sequel to it.  If people are interested in what that scene meant, there’s a scene in Episode 2 that clarifies it a good deal more.  It’s also something that we’re going to be dealing with, over the course of the season.  That hospital scene didn’t just take Oliver and Felicity and put them back in a box.  The repercussions from that scene in Episode 1 are going to follow them over the course of Season 3.  It’s not over.  We didn’t hit pause or reset on their relationship.  It’s a development in an ongoing relationship for them.

arrow-season-3-premiere-paul-blackthorneDiggle is not done, is he? 

GUGGENHEIM:  He is off the team, but the circumstances of Sara’s death change up a lot of things for all of our characters.

How will Sara’s death impact Oliver and Laurel? 

GUGGENHEIM:  There’s a scene between the two of them in Episode 6 that’s the sweetest scene, and it’s Oliver and Laurel.  Every now and again, we do have these scenes between the two of them where you really feel the history between the two of them.  They were best friends, they were lovers, they were in love with each other, and now they’re post-relationship, but there’s this history there that’s always going to follow them and is always going to be a bond between the two of them.  And there’s a scene that ends Episode 6 that’s a really good example of that.  Sara’s death probably pulls them closer together than further apart.  That’s not to say that there aren’t some significant moments of conflict between them, also.  One of the reasons we killed Sara off is the amount of story and richness that we get out of it.  There’s a scene in Episode 2 where they’re going at it and can’t stand each other.  There’s also a scene in Episode 2 where they’re the closest they’ve ever been.  That’s all in the same episode, and it doesn’t feel schizophrenic or inconsistent.  Each moment feel earned because of the emotional roller coaster that these people are on.

What will Nyssa’s reaction be to Sara’s death?

GUGGENHEIM:  Katrina Law is coming back to the show, but I don’t want to say when it’s going to happen, but she is in Episode 4.  Obviously, the whole reason to be Nyssa back is that her finding out that Sara is dead is going to be a big deal.  We love Katrina, and we love the character of Nyssa.  With Sara’s death, Nyssa becomes so much more important.  What Sara did was provide us a cool ass-kicking female character on the show, and Nyssa definitely fits that bill quite well.  I think it’s Katrina Law’s final episode.  She’s absolutely spectacular.

What will we see with Lance’s journey, going forward? 

GUGGENHEIM:  One of the things I’m excited about this season with the theme of identity is that it affects everybody.  One of the things that Lance is struggling with is, “If I’m not out in the field, am I still a cop?  And if I’m not a cop, who am I?”  So, he will be struggling with his new responsibilities, but obviously, Sara’s death will give him a whole mess of other things to struggle with.  One of the things his job is gonna do is place him in the center of city wide crises in a way that’s never happened before.  He’s got a couple of scene is Episode 305 with the brand new mayor of Starling City, and he never would have had those scenes before.  It always would have been a scene with someone who was ahead of him in the police department.  So, he’s moving up the chain and it’s requiring him to rely on some different judgmental skills and maybe some different political skills, as well.

Arrow airs on Wednesday nights on The CW.

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