'Arrow' Bosses Talk Diggle and Lance's Secrets, Flashback Twist and More

Executive producers Marc Guggenheim and Wendy Mericle talk with THR about the season four premiere developments, including that shocking flash-forward.
Courtesy of CW

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the Arrow season four premiere.]

Death is coming to Arrow, and this time, the Lazarus Pit won't make a last-minute save.

At the end of Arrow's season four premiere, The CW's DC Comics drama flashed forward six months into the future, showing a grieving Oliver (Stephen Amell) visiting a fresh grave. In a surprise crossover with The Flash, Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) showed up to mourn the deceased and Oliver revealed that the person died because of season four's new villain Damien Dahrk (Neil McDonough), and he vowed to kill him once and for all, before any more people died. 

Arrow executive producers Marc Guggenheim and Wendy Mericle spoke with a small group of reporters after an advance screening of the episode, "Green Arrow," and revealed that while they don't know which character they're putting in that grave yet, it will be a permanent death. 

Here, the showrunners break down the twists and turns, including Captain Lance's (Paul Blackthorne) surprise connection to Damien Dahrk, Diggle's (David Ramsey) decision to keep his connection with Dahrk's HIVE a secret from the rest of Team Arrow, and Thea's (Willa Holland) dormant side effects from the Lazarus Pit starting to come to the surface. Plus why Oliver decided to put his proposal to Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) on hold, the big twist that Oliver isn't in Coast City in the flashback storyline but actually back on Lian Yu and more.

Is there actually someone in that grave? It's not a fake-out?

Guggenheim: Yes, someone is dead. That's not how we roll.

Will this person stay dead?

Mericle: They will stay dead. We want to bring stakes back to the show. We don’t necessarily know who it is right now. We're still planning out the whole season, but we want it, obviously, to have resonance, and if it doesn't mean anything to the characters, it won't to the audience either.

How long will Oliver and Diggle be in a bad place?

Mericle: It is something that we wanted to explore, seeing them at odds, and really honoring what Oliver did at the end of season three which was pretty egregious. It's going to take some time but they will get back on the same track.

Guggenheim: The team was pretty cohesive operating before Oliver gets back into town and you'll see that cohesion continue into future episodes. Obviously, Diggle and Oliver have to resolve their issue, and that's probably the biggest fracture point on the team.

What does that mean for leadership on Team Arrow?

Mericle: It's going to be more democratic. Oliver can't walk away and expect that Dig and Laurel [Katie Cassidy] and Thea have not found a new dynamic and a new way of working. They're all very capable, so it's a very different way of doing the show and it puts Oliver in a different position vis-à-vis the team, which we found interesting.

How long is it going to take Oliver to actually ask Felicity "the question?"

Guggenheim: We were breaking the premiere with Greg [Berlanti], and that came out of something Greg had said about, "I wish there some way we could dramatize where their relationship is." Wendy and I threw it out without either one of us thinking that Greg would go for it, and he was like, "Awesome, totally do that." What it does is dramatize in a very clear way not only where they are but when Oliver hides the ring, we're also dramatizing how he's with Felicity, they're still together, but things are not the same as they were back in Ivy Town. Their relationship has changed now that they're back in Star City.

What is Oliver going to find now that he's back on Lian Yu in the flashbacks?

Mericle: He's going to encounter a love interest, a woman that he's going to fall in love with, and he's also going to encounter a lot of magic and mysticism and that is going to inform what he's dealing with in Star City in the present day with Damien Dahrk.

What is Thea going through right now?

Guggenheim: We are going to acknowledge that she went into the Lazarus Pit and it's been six months, so why is it only showing up now? And we'll be explaining why it's rearing its head now.

Lance is now working for Damien Dahrk. How did this happen?

Mericle: Lance is working with Damien Dahrk and you'll see later in the season that he did not know what he was signing up for. We're going to play it really as a crisis for Lance in terms of why he chose to do it and what it means for him. He's always been the moral center of the show and someone who has lorded his morality over Oliver's and when it all comes to a head, it will be interesting to see how these characters work it out. There are going to be ramifications for [Laurel] and him as well. And we will have some cool things coming up where Dig and Lance find themselves on the other side of Oliver, going on independent missions. It's a lot of fun.

Oliver has officially come out to Star City as the Green Arrow. How is the city going to react to him?

Mericle: We're hoping that this will be a change and they will embrace him but it will not be easy. We can't make it easy for him. It's speaking to him trying to be more of an inspiration and less of the judge/jury/executioner that we've seen in the past.

When will we see Malcolm (John Barrowman) back as the new Ra's al Ghul?

Mericle: You'll see him early. His arc for the season really revolves around Thea and trying to be a good father while also being a very evil, badass Ra's al Ghul. I don't know how you work that out but if anyone can do it, it's Malcolm. That said, we do want to restore him to season one Malcolm who was going around messing up all of Oliver's plans and anybody else he can cross paths with.

Will we see Nyssa al Ghul (Katrina Law) again?

Mericle: Yes, we will definitely see Nyssa. She's definitely not going to be on board with Malcolm as Ra's and we're hoping to take that in a very cool, fighty-fight direction.

Why is Diggle keeping his knowledge of and connection to Damien's HIVE of agents a secret from the rest of the team?

Mericle: That's really tied to his inability to make any headway. It's his brother's murder that he's been trying to solve and the fact that he himself has been unable to get anywhere has made him feel slightly ashamed. And also, he's run into so many dead ends. He will eventually talk about it but up until this point, there hasn't been a lot of reason to do so.

Are we going to see any private moments between Oliver and Felicity now that they're living together in Thea's loft, and Thea is staying with Laurel?

Guggenheim: Spoiler alert, you've actually never seen it before on the show until season four, but we built the bedroom. [Laughs.]

Felicity became a lot sadder last season. Is the old Felicity back this year?

Guggenheim: With a vengeance. I mean, so funny. Emily is on the top of her game. She is just hysterical. We're definitely writing jokes for her but she's also finding humor in lines that weren't intentionally humorous.

Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW. Leave your thoughts on the premiere in the comments, below.