In Episode 21 of The CW series Arrow, entitled “City of Blood,” Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett) threatens to take everything Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) loves away, while Oliver decides the fastest way to stop further bloodshed is to surrender to his enemy. Meanwhile, Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) resumes her crusade against Sebastian Blood (Kevin Alejandro), which is sure to put her family and StarlingCity in jeopardy.
During this recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, actor Paul Blackthorne (who plays Starling City police officer Quentin Lance) talked about how the recent major character death would affect things from here on out, how much jeopardy Laurel’s crusade against Sebastian Blood will put her family in, why Quentin Lance believes Starling City is better off with the Arrow, why he actively chooses not to know the Arrow’s identity, what his character would like for his daughters, at this point, and just how extraordinary the season finale will be. Check out what he had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.
Collider: Since you signed onto this show, you’ve known that the writers aren’t interested in holding anything back or putting anything off, as far as the story goes, but were you expected things to play out the way they did with the death of Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson)? Did you have any idea that was coming?
PAUL BLACKTHORNE: Only when we got the script at the point that we did. You read the script and you go, “Oh, dear! There’s trouble. There’s an issue here.” That’s the thing with good television, isn’t it? You’ve gotta keep the stakes high. If you’re in these death defying situations, week in and week out, but no one gets killed, then the audience is never really going to get that worried about people dying. Unfortunately, the way television is, occasionally someone has to go. A show that I was involved with years ago, 24, was the catalyst on that front. People were dying left, right and center. It’s very, very sad when it happens, especially when it’s one of your colleagues that you enjoy working with, hugely. Everyone looks around and goes, “Well, I guess this is a part of good writing.” It’s really unfortunate when it happens, but wow, what a storyline there. It was amazing.
How will that death affect things, from here on out, both for the story itself and specifically for the Lance family?
BLACKTHORNE: Moira and Lance have had their ups and downs, as you can imagine. But in recent months, they’ve been a lot warmer with each other. The acrimony has shifted. If Lance could have ever warmed to her, in any degree, he was starting to do so. In Starling City, between the Lances and the Queens, everybody is pretty tight knit, whether they like it or not, and a death like that is pretty impactful. Lance is at that funeral. He’s a bit upset about that. It’s not a good day in Starling, to see something like that happen, especially when it affects your daughters, and particularly Laurel, so obviously. It’s devastating for Laurel, so to see that, for Lance, is pretty devastating.
With Laurel (Katie Cassidy) resuming her crusade against Sebastian Blood (Kevin Alejandro), will that put her and the Lance family in even more jeopardy?
BLACKTHORNE: Probably! For Lance to hear that Laurel is now looking at getting back on that crusade is a little frustrating. Laurel is in a clearer state of mind these days, after what she’s been through with her addictions. They both are. Lance and Laurel are in quite good head spaces. They’re both clean and seeing it straight. So, when Laurel comes to Lance with what she does, in the next episode, regarding Sebastian Blood, he can’t help but listen to her. We’ll see how that plays out.
At this point, would you say that Quentin Lance believes that Starling City is better off with the Arrow than without him?
BLACKTHORNE: Well, Lance is working with the Arrow, so without a doubt. He sees the bigger picture, these days, with regard to the Arrow. Season 1 was about it being by the letter of the law. But after the earthquake in the Season 1 finale, Lance sees the bigger picture. There’s nothing that Lance cares more about, other than his family, than the city. If he steps back and sees the bigger picture, he sees the benefit of letting this guy work and helping him when he can. Lance feels he’s actually doing something for his city, in doing that, and he’s all right with it. As you saw in that episode, “The Man Under the Hood,” the Arrow matters to the city and the city matters to Lance. So, he’s all right with it.
There was that great moment recently, between Laurel and her father, with her wanting to tell him who the Arrow is and him saying that he doesn’t want to know who it really is. With his mind working like a detective, much like Moira Queen, do you think he knows, or at least suspects, that it’s Oliver who’s the Arrow?
BLACKTHORNE: Well, Lance has suspicions in his mind, as to who it might be. It could be a number of people. But as talked about in that scene in the hospital bed, he doesn’t want to know who it is. The only way he can reconcile working with this guy is by keeping a distance from him, emotionally, so that he can ultimately do what’s best for the city, i.e. working with him. Even if someone said, “Open this envelope,” or like Laurel said to him, “I can tell you the name of the Arrow,” and even if he has his suspicions as to who it might be, he doesn’t want to know because it will mess up the way in which he reconciles working with the Arrow, in order to help the city. It’s strange. He knows he’s got his head in the sand about the identity, but he’s happy to do that, for the bigger picture.
BLACKTHORNE: I can understand, from a writing point of view, why the choice is made to keep some characters in the dark. It creates conflict between the characters. But in order to accommodate that, it’s great that something like that little scene in the hospital is there. Now, the audience can understand why this guy is comfortable being in the dark about it. There’s a reason for it. He’s not sitting there going, “I need to know who it is! I’ve got to know who it is and I just can’t figure it out!” And everybody is going, “Look at your daughter’s boyfriend, or the guy that Felicity works with and you might find out.” But he doesn’t want to know who it is, so it’s okay that he’s in the dark about it. I can understand, from a writing point of view, why you want some characters in the dark, so I’m comfortable with that.
As a father, what do you think he would want for both of his daughters, at this point. He has to see that they’re both affected by Oliver Queen, so do you think he’d prefer that neither one end up with him, or does he think that one of them is better suited for him?
BLACKTHORNE: If it came down to happiness and contentment, I think he’d like them to leave Starling City and find a little sunny down by a beach somewhere that’s far, far away. But that’s not going to happen because we’re all enmeshed in this city. I know that they care about the city as much as Lance does, and it’s interesting seeing how that plays out for each of them, one in a very official capacity, working within the system of law and order, like Laurel does, and the other one running around in a black leather outfit, throwing people out of window. Ultimately, when Lance thinks about that, he realizes that Sara was always the rebel one and Laurel was always the one with her head in the books, but they’re both doing the same thing, serving the city in the ways that they do. He has a strange peace with that, even though he does ask Sara to come things down a bit.
BLACKTHORNE: Reading these scripts is always hilarious because the first time you read them, it’s ridiculous. It’s always mind-boggling, what they come up with next and the ways in which they develop the stories. As soon as you think it’s built as much as it’s ever going to build, you sit there and realize, “Oh, my gosh, they’re building it more and more and more.” The last two episodes, in my mind, appear to be the whole season finale. It goes to an incredible place of tension and conflict. It was a bit like working on a gazillion dollar Hollywood movie, for the last two episodes. Everything that was being put into it was pretty extraordinary. It’s quite something to look forward to, I can assure you that.
Arrow airs on Wednesday nights on The CW.