ARROW: EP Marc Guggenheim talks “The Fallen” and Beyond (2015)


So that happened.  Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) agreed to be the heir to the Demon Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable) and to join the League of Assassins — and he and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) got to finally have a night in bed together, and a cozy “morning after” — albeit to the point Felicity drugged him and tried kidnapping him from the League.  Can’t blame a girl for trying!  So it was a bittersweet episode as the long-awaited events of Felicity and Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) breaking up and Felicity finally declaring her love for Oliver against the backdrop of Thea’s (Willa Holland) resurrection from the Lazarus Pit and Oliver surrounding to the League to become a Dark Archer.  It was painful knowing that Felicity, Diggle (David Ramsey), Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) and Thea were all safely leaving Nanda Parbat, while Oliver remained behind.  But Oliver got what he wanted:  he save Thea and he got one blissful night with Felicity.  It may just be enough to sustain him as he becomes a Dark Archer, owing his life and soul to the League of Assassins and now destined to be the next Ra’s al Ghul.

In order to get some answers about what’s next, at a recent press screening, executive producer Marc Guggenheim talked about how Team Arrow will go on without Oliver Queen, the after-effects on Thea, if there is hope of Oliver ever getting out of the League, and how will Nyssa (Katrina Law) react to this devastating blow on her legacy.


MARC:  That’s something we have been talking about a lot.  You can expect that there will be more consequences.  We have established very clearly that the Lazarus Pit returns you, but not always in the condition that you left.  There’s a lot of stories still to be told with Thea and her recovery.


MARC:  The character journey of Episode 321 is how the hell Team Arrow moves forward without Oliver. It’s a different circumstance in Episode 321 than it was in Episode 310, where they thought he was dead and in some ways that was a whole lot easier.  But now knowing he’s out there and alive but a member of the League of Assassins, that is a whole lot harder.  Episode 321 is one of our most emotional episodes — it is a villain of the week episode and it just so happens that the villain is Oliver. . . The tricky thing about Episode 321 is making it different from Episodes 310, 311, and 312 when Oliver was missing and presumed dead, and one of the things we talked about is: how is Team Arrow functioning post-Oliver?  We didn’t want to get too much into crime-on-the-rise, we felt we did that with Brick.  But certainly you will see in Episodes 321 and 322 what Team Arrow is up to and how they are working to continue to protect the city while Oliver is away. . . What happens in the wake of Episode 320 is there is a real trinity formed between Laurel, Diggle and Felicity, and they are all sort of leaning on each other. They are all processing things in different ways. Laurel is throwing herself into her work saving the city.  Felicity is struggling with heart-break and grief.  She really goes through the Seven Stages of Grief with Oliver.  Diggle, something happens in Episode 321 that really up-ends Diggle’s world, certainly vis-a-vis Oliver and that is something that will actually have repercussions for the remainder of the season.


MARC:  You will see Lila one more time this season.  You’ll see her again in the next episode. She’s happy being a wife and mother.  She is chillin’ out.  Her biggest responsibility right now is being supportive of Diggle, who will be going through some really difficult times.  She’s just being there for him.


MARC:  One thing the was really important was there was a strong desire to have Oliver and Felicity sleep together before the events of the season finale — which isn’t to say that we were going to have them sleep together in the season finale — we wanted to sort of take that off the table prior to the season finale. . . We knew that Episode 320 was the episode to do it in — and we ended up choosing that they end up sleeping together in Nanda Parbat — we all sort of liked the romance of that.  And I’m personally fond of the fact that it is Ra’s who gives her the final push. . .  Certainly, the final three episodes spend a lot of time addressing the question of: is there hope for Oliver? And certainly, is there hope for Oliver and Felicity?  Episode 321 and 322 have some very specific things to say about that and Felicity’s coming to grips with the conclusion of Episode 320.


MARC:  Felicity is not pregnant.


MARC:  Felicity has been developing quite a bit of backbone this year.  We have certainly developed her as someone who is not afraid to stand up to Oliver and show some backbone. That’s her character journey, in many ways.  It’s her developing herself outside of her romantic relationships.  It was easy to write that scene with her and Ra’s because you really buy that she has that fortitude.  And by the way, we did include her scar from Episode 214.


MARC:  Episode 321 answers that question pretty definitively.


MARC:  Maseo’s soul is very much in play and that dynamic plays out in the final 3 episodes of the season.  In the past and the present, there is a little bit of a war for Maseo’s soul.  We just know from the fact that he joined the League of Assassins, we know how that ended in the past.  But how things end in the present, and whether or not he can be redeemed is definitely one of the questions that we’re building up towards.


MARC:  Episode 321 gives you a lot of Nyssa and we will be seeing Tatsu again in the present day. . . That’s a big, big topic of Episode 321.  If you’re a Nyssa fan, Episode 321 is your episode because we will learn a lot of things about Nyssa.  Not in terms of backstory, but we’ll learn how she reacts to things and how she is dealing with life post-Episode 316 and how Oliver joining the League affects her, both emotionally and as a practical matter.  There is a lot of Nyssa still to come and she looms very large in these final three episodes.


MARC:  They are pretty well and truly kaboshed.  I will say they have a very meaningful exchange in Episode 322.  But we’re not going to do a on-again, off-again thing with them.  Romantically, this is sort of where we leave them. . . It’s funny, I was in the editing room working on Episode 322 and I am watching that scene and I am having to remind myself that they broke up because there is actually —  regardless of who you ship and people’s feelings about Ray and Felicity — there is a lot of chemistry between Brandon and Emily, and even when [Ray and Felicity] are broken up, I watch them in that scene in Episode 322 and I feel all the chemistry and I have remind myself that they broke up in Episode 320.  It’s just the way those actors are in a scene together.


MARC:  Yes, in an organic way.  What I means is one thing we avoided doing this year was: Ray is a superhero, therefore Ray is a member of Team Arrow.  Every time he interacts with Team Arrow or aligns himself with Team Arrow, there’s a story reason behind it, as opposed to just the assumption that he is part of the team.  Ray plays a very large role in all of the events, certainly in Episode 322 and 323.  Episode 321, Ray is not in because it is a very Team Arrow-centric episode and Ray, for all of his charms and for all the help he can provide, is not a member of Team Arrow and we wanted to keep the focus on that team.


MARC:  It’s kaboshed. . . They are going to end up hanging out a great deal at Palmer Technologies.  In fact, we basically had to reconstruct and expand Ray’s workshop to allow for scenes where we now suddenly have a large group of people, rather than just Ray and Felicity.  So we did a little bit of set redesign, redecoration. That basically is there for the remainder of the season.  In fact, there is a scene in Episode 322 — and you’ll never recognize it as the lair — but there is a scene in Episode 322 and it is basically in the same footprint on the stages where the lair was.  That said, you haven’t seen the last of the lair yet. It makes one final appearance in Episode 321.


MARC:  By the end of the season, there is a nice bit of closure between Malcolm and Thea.  That you feel like their story has had a beginning, middle and end.  The feelings that Thea has vis-a-vis Malcolm are pretty clearly explicated by the end.


MARC:  Malcolm is an interesting guy.  He is not without a conscience.  At the same time, I don’t think his conscience troubles him that much.  He’s not a sociopath.  He knows that he has done bad stuff, and he knows that bad stuff has had bad consequences.  But it doesn’t seem to keep him up at night.  With Oliver, and certainly his whole gambit that started in Episode 309 of Oliver to engage with Ra’s, it’s never worked out the way he planned.  Malcolm’s perfect world was: “I’m going to have Thea kills Sara, that will bring Ra’s and Oliver into conflict, Oliver will take out Ra’s, everything is going to be great.”  Obviously, it didn’t work out that way.  The fun thing about Malcol — in addition to his not quite so sociopathic-nature, but he is certainly very forgiving of himself — he’s playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers.  So he is thinking twenty moves ahead all the time, and a lot of times those twenty moves ahead are self-serving or at the very least, they are in service of his world view. That is a world view that he believes a great deal in. He always thinks he has done the right thing.  I think he views the Undertaking more as a failed “good idea” than a just god-awful idea — that is despite the fact that it killed his son. He’s like, “If only it had worked out.  It almost worked out.  Then everything would have been great.”


MARC:  Not that we never do cliffhangers in our season finale, but even if there is a cliffhanger like . . . Episode 323 ends on a cliffhanger depending on your definition of cliffhanger.  But not the kind of cliffhanger like:  is he going to live or is not going to live? That type of traditional definition of cliffhanger.  We like to provide a little bit more closure in our finales.


MARC:  Right now, there are no plans for it to play beyond Episode 323. It requires a fair amount of green-screen work to make work and the scene that we shot on it features Ra’s, Nyssa and Oliver.


MARC:  We have Slade Wilson ideas.  Manu [Bennett] is shooting another TV show in New Zealand. So there are some practical things, but he’s not off the table.


MARC:  This is a little different from our ordinary departures, not just in the fact that Colton’s [character] is not dead, but when Colton came on board the show as sort of a recurring in Season 1, it was basically like he had just come off TEEN WOLF and he wasn’t sure he wanted to do another series.  It was like, “Come on over to ARROW and play with us for a little bit and if it’s working out for you, then we’ll talk about making you a regular.”  And we’ve taken this approach with other actors in the past before, like they are not sure they want to commit to a series or not.  Colton did come on board and did have a good time and we made a 2-year deal with him.  So this wasn’t a situation like where we had someone in the middle of their contract.  It wasn’t like Susanna [Thompson] last year or Colin [Donnell] the year before.  This was:  we always knew we would have Colton for Years 2 and 3.  So we started the year off basically with this endgame in mind.  I probably creatively had the conversation with Colton back during January for TCA, where I said, “Okay, this is how we are going to write you out, basically” and sort of pitched him the whole thing.  We knew in large portion at the beginning of the year how we were going to pull it off. . . I don’t want to say, “We tried to convince him and he turned us down.”  It was very much like:  he’s got a big movie coming out, he’s got a huge career ahead of him.  For us, it was more of a conversation of:  how do we continue to go forward?  Like the reason we didn’t kill off Roy is we want Roy Harper and Arsenal to remain in this little universe we are creating.  Colton was completely game for that. I cannot make an announcement and promise episode 4, 5 and 6 of Season 4 that he will be on ARROW.  The relationship is still there and his desire to continue to play the character is still there, and those are two things you need. . . The thing we felt we owed the audience, more than anything, was some closure with Thea.  Because, obviously, the circumstances Thea is in for that episode, she was too busy getting killed by Ra’s to say goodbye to Roy. . . and there was three season long love-story between these two characters.


MARC:  Since wrapping Episode 319, Colton has actually come back to the show twice because there was a scene from Episode 318 that we ended up carrying because we ran out of time on the shooting day.  So we had to bring him back to pick up the scene from Episode 318, that you saw last week in Episode 319, as well as for his storyline in Episode 322.


MARC:  It’s not in this episode and, honestly, it’s not in any episode.  [Per CW:  It is in the promo, but it is not in any episodes.]

To find out exactly how dark Oliver Queen in the upcoming episodes and how his former team will react to that, look for the final three episodes of ARROW Season 3 airing Wednesday nights at 8:00 p.m. on the CW, with the Season 3 finale on May 13th.

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