‘Arrow’ EP Marc Guggenheim on Season 5’s Biggest Twists & the CW Crossover Event

     October 19, 2016

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The CW series Arrow has not only made it to its fifth season, but it’s also celebrating its 100th episode with a big four show, three-part cross-over, including The Flash, Supergirl and the Legends. Before that can happen, Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) has put together a new team of vigilantes, who he’s training to better handle themselves on the streets, all while Prometheus is waiting in the shadows to take on the Green Arrow.

Following a screening of Episode 503, entitled “A Matter of Trust,” at the offices of The CW, executive producer Marc Guggenheim did a Q&A where he talked about how impressed he was with guest star and former WWE superstar Cody Rhodes (aka Stardust), Curtis’ (Echo Kellum) journey to Mr. Terrific, Diggle (David Ramsey) and Lyla’s (Audrey Marie Anderson) reaction to the effects of Flashpoint, Felicity’s (Emily Bett Rickards) secret boyfriend, when Prometheus will become more of a threat for the Green Arrow, and the biggest challenge in balancing the 100th episode with a four show cross-over. Be aware that there are some spoilers discussed.

Question: This episode had a lot of in-jokes about Cody Rhodes’ wrestling persona. Were those intentional nods?

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Image via CW

MARC GUGGENHEIM: In the case of Stardust, the drug had to be called Stardust. With the hockey mask, I just said to the writers, “If we don’t do a hockey mask joke, then it’s a missed opportunity and we should all be fired.” I think it was Emilio Aldrich who came up with doing it in the elevator, the way that you see it. And Stephen totally embraced all of it. I emailed him and said, “We have to do a hockey mask joke.” And he was like, “Oh, absolutely!” That stuff is fun. I love doing meta-humor, as long as it doesn’t become too distracting and it’s subtle. If you know who Cody is and you know that his wrestling identity is Stardust, then you get a little charge out of that. And if you don’t, the episode plays totally fine. It’s like when we had Steve Aoki on Arrow in Season 1. I had no idea who Steve Aoki is, but I could watch the episode perfectly fine. But if you know who Steve Aoki is, it was fun to watch him in Verdant.

What did Cody think about all of that?

GUGGENHEIM: We talked to him about it because we wanted to make sure he was comfortable with everything. Cody was amazing! He’s a joy to work with. I think people who go into this episode expecting to see a professional wrestler in an acting role are going to be really blown away by the quality of his acting. I think he really holds the screen incredibly well. He’s charismatic and an enormous amount of fun. I was very, very pleased that he was willing to come and play. Having that throw down between his character and Stephen’s character is art repeating life, or life-ish.

With this episode, is Curtis officially Mr. Terrific now, or does he still have further to go on his journey?

GUGGENHEIM: I think he’s still got a ways to go on his journey. For one thing, that’s not the final costume. We decided to give some of the recruits what we call proto costumes. They have to earn the final one. In terms of all of these characters becoming or being vigilantes, Curtis has the furthest to go. The evolution of Curtis, from comic relief and sidekick to butt-kicking superhero, is a big throw, in my opinion. The only way to do it properly is to watch him try, and then watch him fail, and watch him fail, and watch him fail. So, it’s going to be a real struggle for him, as we go through the fifth season.

It seems like Paul is not aware of what his husband is doing in his free time. Will we see that unfold?

GUGGENHEIM: Yes, absolutely! We’re definitely going to be telling that story. I’m not going to tell you when.

With Oliver incorporating Rory, or Ragman, onto Team Arrow, how will he react to finding out that Felicity is responsible for what happened in Havenrock?

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Image via The CW

GUGGENHEIM: I feel like he’s got a very human reaction. He reacts to it the way I think you might expect him to, but not in an overblown way. I think it’s very grounded and very human. We talked a lot about that storyline, and Rory’s point of view and Felicity’s point of view. I will say that a lot of times, you write something and you do a storyline and it has a very different reaction than the one you expected. I think we were all taken aback, not in a bad way but just surprised, that there was so much outrage over Felicity’s actions in Episode 421. People were upset at Felicity, somehow, for saving Monument Point, at the expense of Havenrock. It was fun to actually get a chance to articulate the anti-Felicity point of view, and the pro-Felicity point of view. It made for a very interesting moral dilemma, and we had a chance to play with that.

Will we see Diggle and Lyla’s reaction to The Flash’s actions having turned their daughter into a son?

GUGGENHEIM: I always say that, on Arrow, there is no secret that doesn’t eventually get discovered.

Do you feel like you’re at the point where the audience needs to watch all four shows, or do you think they still stand separately?

GUGGENHEIM: My personal philosophy is that you don’t need to watch Legends, in order to understand what’s going on in Arrow and The Flash, and you don’t need to watch Arrow to understand what’s going on in The Flash and Legends, etc. The fact that something is referenced, like Flashpoint, I don’t think requires you to watch The Flash. On Arrow, when we deal with Flashpoint, we always presume the audience doesn’t watch The Flash and Legends, and only watches Arrow, so we give you all the information you need. I think it’s very similar to the Marvel movies. You could have totally enjoyed Captain America: Civil War without seeing Avengers 2, even though there’s references to Sokovia. Something bad happened in Sokovia and this guy, Zemo, is pissed off about it. That’s all you need, in my opinion. If one wanted to watch Civil War without having seen Avengers, that would be perfectly fine, and we take the same approach.

Felicity is keeping her secret life from her boyfriend, but she’s keeping her boyfriend a secret form Team Arrow. When will that come out?

GUGGENHEIM: It’s the classic thing of no secrets stay a secret forever on Arrow. Oliver is going to find out about Felicity’s boyfriend in Episode 505. Because I’m spoiling that, I’m not going to spoil when Felicity’s boyfriend finds out that Felicity is working with Arrow.

With Adrian Chase as the new District Attorney, what can you say about his story, going forward, and how likely it is that we’ll see him in costume?

GUGGENHEIM: Episode 507 is where we show our cards the most, in terms of Adrian. What’s fun about the way we’re writing and portraying Adrian is that we’re writing with the knowledge has a certain amount of comic book knowledge. And if you’re not a comic book fan, it will just fly over your head and that’s totally fine. It’s like an adult joke in a Pixar movie. But if you are familiar with the comic, you’ll probably interpret certain scenes in a very specific way, and that’s fun for us. I don’t think we’ve ever really used their comic book trajectory and destiny, in this fashion, before, as part of the storytelling.

When will Prometheus become more of a threat to Oliver and the team?

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Image via The CW

GUGGENHEIM: Episode 506 is when things really start to kick into a higher gear. It’s a 23 episode season. This is true for all the shows, especially when you have a big bad that’s introduced in the first episode, but you have to strike a balance between it becoming the Prometheus show and becoming very repetitive, and teasing it out. Episode 506 felt right to us because 505 felt like the end of a chapter, and then 506 kicks things into another gear.

What were the challenges of tackling the milestone of the 100th episode and having it also be a cross-over?

GUGGENHEIM: That was the challenge. The challenge was that we’ve only got 42 minutes, and it’s the middle part of a three-part story. At the same time, it’s the 100th episode. When the news broke that the 100th episode was also going to be the cross-over episode, people were up and down my Twitter and Greg’s Twitter. In a very positive way, people didn’t want to feel like the cross-over was hijacking what should be a really seminal episode and moment for Arrow, which is wonderful. I don’t want to spoil it, but Greg came up with an idea that really does allow us to have our cake and eat it, too. I haven’t seen the episode all cut together yet, but it has some incredibly iconic moments. It is a love letter to the show. It draws on all previous 99 episodes. Everyone who we could have in the episode, from a scheduling point of view, is in the episode. Even the people who we couldn’t have because of having conflicting schedules are represented. At the same time, you’ve got The Flash and Supergirl, and that’s an enormous amount of fun. The recruits also play a very large and important role in the episode. I’m really excited about it. There’s one moment in it that I think is probably Stephen’s finest performance, to date. This one scene, that really has two moments within the one scene, will just break your heart. It will take your heart, pull it out, and stomp it on the floor. It’s very, very affecting, and it’s all on Stephen’s back. It’s incredible. Willa [Holland] is amazing in the episode. Everyone obviously brought their A-game to it. I’m really, really excited about it. It’s the 100th episode.

Can you clarify how the four show cross-over is split into three parts?

GUGGENHEIM: There’s going to be an episode of Supergirl that ends with Supergirl going over to the cross-over. Some people call it a four-way cross-over because it involves four shows. My ulcer requires me to call it a three-part cross-over. The story that’s being told has a beginning, middle and end. It’s a beginning in The Flash, a middle in Arrow, and an end in Legends, but Supergirl is very much a part of the whole thing. So, we are crossing over four shows, but in three parts.

What can you say about how Supergirl will enter into the Arrow-verse for the upcoming three-part cross-over?

GUGGENHEIM: Last year, Supergirl established that The Flash was able to make his way to what I call Earth-CBS, and it stands to reason that with the proper breach technology, the reverse can happen. Once the heroes realize that they’re up against aliens, they decide that they need an alien on their side and, fortunately, Barry knows a really nice one. I don’t think it’s a big shock that, between Barry and Cisco, and all of their experiences with Earth-2 and the multi-verse, that they can pluck her from Earth-CBS.

Arrow airs on Wednesday nights on The CW.

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