'Arrow' EP Andrew Kreisberg on John Barrowman's Reveal, Adding 'Super-Villain Team-Ups'
The executive producer talks with THR about how the Huntress will shuffle the status quo and teases the new faces coming into Oliver -- and Arrow's -- world.
John Barrowman's Well-Dressed Man, Jessica De Gouw's The Huntress, Janina Gavankar's McKenna Hall, Seth Gabel's Vertigo and the Mystery Archer: To say Arrow's Oliver Queen is going to have his hands full would be an understatement. On the CW's freshman drama, Stephen Amell's hooded vigilante is not only juggling multiple personalities but also the women, family drama and scores of Starling City baddies trying to fight against his efforts to clean up the home he loves. And if that's not enough: Oliver -- and his hooded alter-ego's -- love lives are about to get very interesting.
So who's Barrowman's mysterious Well-Dressed Man? How will the Huntress complicate Oliver's relationship with his new right-hand guy Diggle (David Ramsey)? And who's picking off the targets on Ollie's hit list? The Hollywood Reporter turned to executive producer Andrew Kreisberg to answer the burning questions that are ahead as the rookie DC Comics adaptation marches into its midseason finale.
The Hollywood Reporter: The producers have been teasing about the Mystery Archer. Is he going to be friend or foe? What are the chances he's tied to Barrowman's Well-Dressed Man?
Andrew Kreisberg: He's definitely a foe. We're excited because Wednesday's episode reveals the identity of Barrowman's character. That's going to be a real treat for the fans.
THR: How will that reveal help Oliver in uncovering the truth about his mother?
Kreisberg: It's more going to put into sharp focus who everyone is to each other. The irony of Oliver's situation is that island honed him into a finely tuned killer and a man with the ability to see deep into people's souls and yet he's completely incapable of seeing that the biggest danger to himself is sleeping in the room next to him. It'll be interesting seeing how that plays out over the rest of the season about just how many blind spots Oliver has for his mother.
THR: We've heard someone will come in and start picking off people on Oliver's hit list. Is someone helping him or might they be toying with him? Is this someone we've seen before?
Kreisberg: That's the question of episode nine: is the person who's targeting names on the list somebody who's helping him or someone who's trying to frame him?
THR: How will Laurel continue to grow into Black Canary? Is that something we can expect to see before the New Year?
Kreisberg: Laurel, if she does become the Black Canary, it's something for further down the road. You'll continue to see her evolution as a character and her ongoing struggle with her father and their differing views of justice and the love triangle between Oliver, Tommy and Laurel. Then also, the growing relationship between The Arrow and Laurel; as the year goes on she'll reach out to The Arrow in the future and he to her. In some ways, that's an entirely different relationship from the Laurel and Oliver one. How that impacts the love triangle and her relationship with her father is a lot of the meat of the back-half of the season.
THR: How will the arrival of the Huntress change Oliver and could that get in the way of Oliver and Laurel or even Arrow and Laurel?
Kreisberg: The Huntress is really interesting. Everyone for the most part has had the same reaction to him having been away -- that they feel sorry for him and he's come back different and what's come back has been somewhat of a disappointment. Then when he meets Helena, she doesn't have any of those preconceptions about him because she has a tragic back story -- that her father murdered her fiancé -- she has a unique viewpoint on Oliver's plight. She asks him, "Do you actually ever miss the island?" which is something that no one has ever asked him before. For her, she has been through a crucible and so much of her anger is tied up in her family, the thought of being trapped on an island by herself holds some appeal. Her unique take on Oliver's life experiences gets him to look at her in a different way, as somebody he could possibly be with because she's the only person who actually gets him. As the episodes progress, he'll discover she's a lot darker and more savage than he realized and it's the old adage of you can't change somebody and he'll discover that in a pretty dark and deadly way.
THR: How bad will the tension between Oliver and Diggle over his trust in the Huntress get?
Kreisberg: That's part of the great argument to the episode. We always knew Oliver and Dig were always going to become partners and confidants and friends and we couldn't wait to get to these episodes because like we aw in episode six, Dig doesn't always share Oliver's viewpoint on what it is that they're doing. These arguments that they have about who they should trust and who they shouldn't and what Oliver's doing, if he's doing the right thing, those are all conversations they're getting to have now about the nature of vigilantism and the righteousness of their crusade. Obviously bringing Helena into the equation is going to cause problems between Oliver and Diggle because Diggle is able to clearly see her for what she is, which is this damaged and dangerous woman. But Oliver's a little blinded by both her beauty and his desire to not be lonely.
THR: How might Janina Gavankar's McKenna Hall play a role in complicating Laurel and Ollie's relationship? Will she bring them closer together or farther apart?
Kreisberg: She's a woman from Oliver's past and every woman who comes into his life is going to cause problems for him and Laurel (laughs) but as much as she's causing complications for him and Laurel, she's really going to complicate things for the Arrow because his new girlfriend is a police officer whose mission is going to be to take down the masked vigilante. That's going to be both a source of humor but also a lot of dramatic tension.
THR: Deadshot has to be coming back -- we never saw his corpse -- and in superhero speak, that's always telling.
Kreisberg: You didn't see a body bag, so we'll just have to wait and see if he does make a return appearance.
THR: How long will Seth Gabel's Vertigo stick around and how will he challenge Oliver?
Kreisberg: Vertigo is sort of the first super-villain that The Arrow creates. Oliver, with his mission, he always intended a positive influence in the city. This is going to be t he first time as the Arrow that he stops a crime but he might have created a much more dangerous element in the city and it's really about escalation and repercussions. It's great for Oliver to have to look at is he the solution to the problem or is he only causing more problems. The creation of vertigo is really going to challenge him.
THR: Can we expect any other familiar faces to pop in?
Kreisberg: We have some returning favorites and new villains coming up in the back half of the season. We're excited at the possibility of doing some super-villain team-ups. It's always a fun thing in the comics when villains team up together to take on the hero and we're exploring the possibility of doing that. He's a little bit fun in a way that a lot of our villains have been very serious. It's a nice counterpoint for The Arrow's stoicness.
What are you looking forward to seeing on? Do you think Barrowman's Well-Dressed Man is connected to the Dark Archer? Hit the comments with your thoughts. Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on the CW.