'Arrow': Seth Gabel on The Count's Revenge and 'Explosive' Oliver Queen Face-Off

Will Oliver break his no-killing clause? "It's impossible for a superhero not to kill a villain, so Oliver is bound to eventually face that and confront that," the actor hints to THR.
The CW
Seth Gabel in "Arrow"

The Count is ready to cause more trouble for Oliver Queen.

This week's Arrow welcomes back one of Starling City's most frenetic villains, last seen in season one being shipped off to prison after The Count's failed attempt to infect the entire town with his dangerous wonder drug, Vertigo. After Oliver discovers hundreds of Starling City residents have been infected by the drug -- including his right-hand man, Diggle -- Team Arrow embarks on a quest to topple The Count once and for all.

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In a chat with The Hollywood Reporter, Seth Gabel previews his return to the Arrow universe, including The Count's deep-seeded hatred for Oliver Queen and his character's willingness to "stop at nothing" to "destroy" his nemesis.

What was it like coming back to Arrow with a few episodes under your belt?

I really felt welcomed and part of the family and knew everyone on the crew at that point, so I felt comfortable stepping into this episode and really diving deep and having a great time in the character.

How has The Count evolved since last we saw him in season one?

The Count has evolved in his feelings of vengeance having grown to the point where he becomes so internally powerful that he breaks out of prison and goes on to poison the good people of Starling City with his Vertigo wonder drug and then goes and sets a trip for the Hood that he can't resist walking into. It's just the beginning of it. The episode really has an explosive finish to it.

How would you describe The Count's new turn after his stint in prison. How has that experience made him even tougher for Arrow to go up against?

It's given him a lot of time to think. The Count has been stuck for a period in his own mind and he's also been stuck in a cell. As his mind starts to come back to him and he gets stronger and stronger, he fashions a way to escape from prison and ultimately sets up this plan to hopefully destroy Oliver Queen.

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Is there more to it than The Count trying to overtake Oliver Queen?

His ultimate goal besides killing Arrow? (Laughs.) He wants to run Starling City. He sees himself as a kingpin with the best drug in the world, and he sacrifices much and many to create that drug. He wants to be the most powerful person on the planet because he who can control the minds of Starling City, controls the world. He wants to control the world.

The Count lures Oliver by infiltrating his inner circle. Is that just a part of his master plan to lure Oliver back into the web? (Watch a clip of Diggle getting drugged with Vertigo below.)

On the one level he is luring Oliver into a trap, and on the other level, he does have a plan to get as many people hooked to Vertigo as possible. The Count is ruthless and he will stop at nothing. There is no limit to what he will do to get where he wants.

I imagine there is a lot of intrigue in playing a part like The Count, who is so theatrical and out there. How has it been for you being able to delve into different aspects of human nature?

The role is a definite catharsis for me being a father. I'm happily married, but it's nice to be able to go to work and experience the taboo. It's pretty exciting. You mentioned experiencing different aspects of the psyche and that's one of the things I enjoy about acting. You get to exercise different aspects of your brain and you realize that the aspects of that are not limited to past experiences. You can actually craft and manipulate yourself based on what thoughts you indulge, what thoughts you depress and what actions you take. Having that understanding is pretty incredible.

Stripping away The Count's on-the-surface neuroses, do you think The Count is a particularly dark villain?

See to me I don't see him as dark because he has such a good time doing what he's doing. There's a joy in it for him. I feel like it would be perceived as darkness if he were willing to cause destruction because he was suffering so much. He's really not trying to do anything wrong. He's just enjoying it and having a good time.

How would you characterize his next battle with Oliver?

For The Count, it's plain and simple revenge. To have an opponent who is a worthy adversary is very nice, but The Count is capable of getting the upper hand and fully intends to use it. Unlike Oliver, The Count doesn't have have any loved ones that he could hurt him with, but Oliver has plenty. It's very possible that The Count could go there.

Is there a scene that you're particularly excited to see?

There is one scene where we got to do a lot of special effects with fire and guns. It's a pretty deadly combination.

So not everybody will make out alive?

It's always possible for someone to die. I know Oliver has a no-killing clause right now and that's a pretty important element to the episode.

Since keeping true to the no-killing clause seems to be nearly impossible, how close does Oliver get to breaking it?

It's impossible for a superhero not to kill a villain, so Oliver is bound to eventually face that and confront that. Perhaps it's possible to do good and not destroy. We're dealing with the same thematic elements that I'm doing right now for Salem [for WGN America]. If you're facing evil, how can you stop evil without using evil? Do you have to use destruction to stop destruction? Is there another way? I think that's what Arrow is exploring right now.

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

Email: Philiana.Ng@THR.com
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