While many new shows hit the bulls-eye in their pilot episode only to miss the mark with subsequent installments, The CW's Arrow fired off one stellar episode after another throughout 2012, resulting in a fairly flaw-free first season thus far.
This week, the show returns from a one month hiatus with Burned, an episode that reveals fans haven't been the only ones without The Arrow's services. Sterling City has been missing their new savior as well while Oliver Queen licked his wounds after losing a bout with the Dark Archer. ETonline caught up with Arrow executive producer Andrew Kreisberg to find out what awaits in 2013 -- from hints of Black Canary to the arrival of Arrow sidekick, Speedy!
ETonline: What can you tease about this week's episode?
Andrew Kreisberg: We wanted to advance things a little bit, take advantage of the time lapse. As we saw at the end of 2012, Oliver was defeated emotionally and physically by the Dark Archer, and when we come back, his physical wounds have healed, but surprisingly for Oliver, who has been so stoic for so long, the pain is lingering within him. We're going to see an Oliver that's different from the guy we've come to know. He's a little more damaged than even he would like to admit. The episode has all the action and adventure and fun and excitement that it always has, but we're doing something a little bit different by giving him a strong emotional journey that I think the audience will appreciate.
ETonline: How important was it to remind the audience and Oliver that he is, in fact, human and capable of being injured?
Kreisberg: That's always important to us. Every story we tell should remind everyone that Oliver is not a superhero, he is just a person. We said from very early on that his superpower is that he's not afraid to die. The island really robbed him of a lot of the things you and I would face in our daily lives. Every day was about living from sunrise to sunset. He did that for 5 years and it made him hard. Since he's been back, he's been moving pretty swiftly and cleanly through the criminal underworld. He really took it on the chin in episode 9 and that's something he hasn't experienced in a long time, which was exciting for us to explore. Not just to remind the audience that he's human and fallible, but to remind him. If your hero is invincible it gets old fast. Oliver can lose and the forces that are lined up against him are strong and deep so he'll have to overcome a lot, not just physically, but emotionally.
ETonline: Is that why Oliver and Laurel can't be together right now; if he's given something to lose, he might trade his vigilante life for his Oliver life?
Kreisberg: Yeah, that's sort of the central tenet of this week's episode, and comes out in an argument between Diggle and Oliver. He realizes for the first time that he has something to lose now. The overall story arc of this season, and the series, is about how Oliver integrates being The Arrow and being Oliver Queen on a given day. This episode was an opportunity to explore what happens when the invincible persona of The Arrow is taken down a peg. How does that affect both The Arrow and Oliver Queen? The first half of the season was about getting the pieces on the chessboard and starting this week we can now play with the internal conflicts, personal dilemmas and traumas he has to overcome.
ETonline: As we've seen countless times with superheroes, it's not just romantic relationships they're incapable of having, but also true friendships. When I look at Oliver Queen and Tommy Merlyn, I think of Peter Parker and Harry Osborne. Is that a storyline you're looking forward to playing out, whenever it comes to pass?
Kreisberg: For us, that's the interesting stuff. A lot of the general audiences might not be familiar with the Merlyn story trajectory, so they're experiencing it as it happens, but for the people who do know what's coming, they're going to look at Oliver and Tommy with a sense of sadness. You see how close they are, especially in the pilot. For all of Tommy's selfishness, he loves Oliver like a brother. There's a scene in an upcoming episode where it's Tommy's birthday and he's saying that this is the best year of my life because he got his best friend back. I got a little misty writing that scene because you know that these friends are destined for tragedy. But at the same time, that's where the drama comes from and it's exciting. When you loved someone once and then hate them now, all that gets mixed in together. Despite the show being an action-adventure show, it's really a family drama between the Merlyns and the Queens.
ETonline: When you were auditioning actors for Tommy, who could potentially become a big villain, or Laurel, who could potentially become The Black Canary, did you test them to see if they're capable of also puling off, what is ostensibly, a second character?
Kreisberg: Yeah. I mean, we knew neither of those characters were going to be [going that route] right away and since it wasn't front and center, we wanted to find the best people to play those characters right now. But in both of those cases, we saw that Colin [Donnell, who plays Tommy] is a good looking guy and has a little bit of that darkness in him that one day, should we go in that direction, let us know he could play that villain. And with Katie [Cassidy, who plays Laurel], we'd seen the work she'd done on Supernatural and Harper's Island, so we knew that she was a great actress but should we need her to kick ass, she can do so. Also, when you see episode 13, Betrayal, you'll see a little bit of the pre-Canary in action. Which fans should love.
ETonline: We've just seen Colton Haynes deliver great work on Teen Wolf for the last two years, and now he's joining Arrow as Roy Harper, who eventually became Green Arrow's sidekick, Speedy, in the comic books. What can you say about your incarnation of Roy?
Kreisberg: There's a little bit of every version of Roy in our Roy. He has a very clear story trajectory but he's very nascent. This is Roy at the beginning. When we meet him, he's not the most upstanding citizen. In the same way we hope that all our characters go on tremendous journeys of professional growth, we'll get to see Roy go on that same journey. Whether he picks up a bow or not, he'll be forever changed by his interactions with The Arrow and we're very excited about that.