'Arrow' EP on Slade's Destructive Plan, 'Olicity' Obstacles and Laurel's Dark Spiral (Q&A)

Arrow Blast Radius Still Stephen Amell - H 2014
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Arrow returns with several looming questions following the events of the winter finale.

With Oliver Queen's former mentor Slade Wilson back in action and ready to turn Oliver's world upside down, the CW's comic-book drama kicks off the remaining episodes of the season with a flurry of action. Not only will Oliver likely face off against his island friend, but in Wednesday's return, he will have his hands full with the latest DC Comics villain Shrapnel (guest star Sean Maher), Roy's uncontrollable super strength and an unraveling Laurel.

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Executive producer Marc Guggenheim talks to The Hollywood Reporter about what to expect from the second half of the sophomore season.

[Warning: Minor spoilers ahead.]

In the winter finale, Slade declared that his sole mission was to turn Oliver’s world upside down. Has Slade turned pure evil, or is there some redemption for him?

What a great question. I will say that I don't think anyone on our show is pure evil. We always try really hard to write according to the axiom that everyone is the hero in their own story. In other words, in real life, even the most evil people think they're doing the right thing -- at least, through their own lens through which they view their world. Slade is taking actions that he feels are very justified and thus in his mind, he's not pure evil, he's not even evil. He's just a man with a very serious vendetta. For us, the advantage of doing it that way are even our antagonists are grounded and realistic, and I think they're made more compelling when their motivations are made more human than the comic-book trademark "pure evil." That's just as true for Slade as for any of the villains on our show.

Hypothetically, if Oliver were to find out about Slade, how do you think he’d take the news?

I can tell you that hypothetically, were he to find out that Slade is alive and kicking in Starling City, Oliver would not take that well. (Laughs.) And I guess I can spoil and say that it is just a matter of matter of time before Oliver discovers that Slade is in Starling City. We actually have a whole episode and a whole storyline devoted to Oliver's reaction to that news. I won't tell you what episode that is.

So that's coming soon?

I think the one thing you always safely say about the show is everything is always coming soon because we really accelerate story so fast as a general rule. We try to make things happen faster than people expect.

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Slade has Sebastian Blood in his corner. Is he just a pawn or somebody he's using as a tool, or is there more there?

The answer to that question will really come in the form of episode 11 which is a very Sebastian Blood-centric episode. I think it will shed a lot of light on the Slade/Blood relationship.

Sebastian has shown interest in Laurel? How real is that romance?

That's definitely the subject of episodes 10 and 11. Episodes 10 and 11 are not a two-parter in the traditional sense but they're definitely two episodes that speak to each other. They're definitely telling two sides of the same coin in terms of story. Obviously there's this burgeoning relationship between Laurel and Sebastian, right at the same time we're learning Sebastian is in bed with Slade. Laurel, in her storyline, really begins to collide with the meta story of the season and the mythology of the season. That's something that's a lot of fun for us and something we didn't get to do with Laurel last year. Katie Cassidy, we've put a lot on her shoulders in these episodes coming back and she's really knocked the ball out of the park. She's been outstanding.

We've seen the beginnings of Laurel not handling her situation well. How deep does she go in her downward spiral?

She has not hit bottom yet. Things are going to be getting much much worse for her before they get better. What will make this difficult for Oliver and Lance to watch is the fact that they know, on some level, that if Laurel knew her sister was still alive, that may be the thing that pulls her out of this downward spiral. The only question is will she get pulled out of that before she hits rock bottom, or worse? That's a big bit of the tension of the first four episodes of the season 2B.

Will Sara come back into the fray in the modern day? Will she come face to face with Laurel?

It's probably not spoiling anything to say that it's only a matter of time before Sara returns to modern-day Starling City. We've already made the decision as to when and how and why exactly all that [Sara coming face to face with Laurel] will happen. When, over the course of the next 13 episodes that happens, I'm not saying.

It’s apparent that there has been a lot more Felicity/Oliver action this season. What is the state of their working relationship at the moment? Will they face significant obstacles down the line?

The second question first: They definitely will face obstacles down the line. The burgeoning relationship between Felicity and Barry Allen from episodes eight and nine, that gets addressed from the Oliver side of things very directly in episode 10. For sure anyone who wants Oliver and Felicity to romantically hook up, Barry is a serious impediment to that. Then we'll be throwing another impediment in their path in a reasonably short order. Part of the fun of seeing Oliver and Felicity together is their relationship is so messy. They're both friends, they're very different people, they're co-workers in the oddest set of circumstances but at the same time, they're drawn to each other with an obvious chemistry. Their relationship, lowercase "R," is really fraught and that's what creates the fun and the drama for us, of watching these two very different people dance around each other.

Isabel is still in Oliver's orbit but she hasn't yet made a significant splash. Is her time coming?

Yeah, her time is definitely coming on the show. I wish we had been able to have her time come a little sooner. We have a lot of characters and we're telling a lot of story, but we have not seen the last of Isabel Rochev. In episode eight, Moira and Isabel had their encounter at Moira's party where we learned that there's a lot more history vis-a-vis Isabel and the Queen family than we previously thought. It's just a matter of time before all those chickens come to roost.

How does Roy’s dynamic with the Arrow change following his injection?

Things are going to get very, very interesting. Episodes eight and nine fundamentally changed the Arrow/Roy relationship because in addition to being injected with the Mirakuru, the Arrow also shot Roy in the leg with an arrow. (Laughs.) There's quite a bit of repair work with that relationship and the Mirakuru is going to be a serious impediments to that repair work. I don't want to spoil whether that repair work is even successful but I will say that the consequences of eight and nine are two things that are really covered in very direct fashion in the first four episodes of the second half.

How much danger does he find himself in with his new super strength?

In episode nine, two people got injected with the Mirakuru: Slade in the past and Roy in the present. Both men in both timeframes are going to learn that their increased strength and improved healing abilities, there is a cost. The ramifications of that cost for both men, quite frankly, really take both men through the end of the season. Nothing is as simple as you're injected and everything is wine and roses for you from that point forward. If anything, it's definitely a mixed bag whether or not being exposed to the Mirakuru was a good thing.

How worried should Moira be about Thea stumbling upon the truth about her dad, Malcolm?

Moira should be and is extremely worried that Thea will learn the truth about her parentage, but maybe it's not Thea she has to worry about.

Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.

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