I was a wee bit worried three months off would diminish the phenomenal momentum Arrow had built up over the course of its first year, but last week's season premiere not only picked up right where things left off, it raised the stakes another dozen notches and re-established Arrow as TV's most exciting and inventive action series.
Tonight's episode, Identity, brings back a fan-favorite villain (China White), introduces a new one (Bronze Tiger) and ends with the most shocking moment in series history! But before we get to that jaw-dropping reveal, there's a lot to savor and I caught up with Arrow EP Marc Guggenheim to talk about Oliver's refocused mission, the expansion of Team Arrow and how Laurel 2.0 is a major game changer!
ETonline: The premiere saw Oliver decide to become more hero and less vigilante. What does that trajectory look like this season?
Marc Guggenheim: One of the things we went into season two with was the idea that Arrow is called Arrow instead of "Green Arrow" because we've treated him as the nascent version of the comic book character, who is fully established as a hero with a fully-fleshed out secret identity. This show has always been like a series-long Batman Begins and part of that is evolving his mission, first as The Hood and now, in season two, as Arrow. We realized that last year was all about revenge; about going down the list of names in his father's notebook. This year is about being a hero and saving the city. One of the ideas we explore in episode two is: What does it mean to save a city? How do you dramatize that, and how does it make the people Oliver is fighting different than last year? One of the things we hit upon for this week's episode was, in the wake of the earthquake, there would be a lot of problems to deal with and FEMA would be proving supplies so we thought, "What if someone was actually hijacking those FEMA supply trucks and preventing the supplies from getting to the hospitals in The Glades?" We realized that would be a nice job for Arrow.
ETonline: Last week's ep ended with Oliver staring longingly at an arrow while saying he needs a new name. When will we actually start to hear people call him "The Arrow?"
Guggenheim: That answer will be coming in episode three.
ETonline: Laurel is clearly re-dedicated to bringing down The Vigilante, unbeknownst to her that it's also Oliver. What excites you about that storyline?
Guggenheim: For one, it was the conflict inherent in the fact that, on the one hand, she's got this romance with Oliver, but on the other hand, she's going after his alter ego. One of the other things we cottoned to was the idea that at the end of season one, Detective Lance was working with The Arrow and we liked that it was flipping the dynamics of The Lance family, where the hunter became the ally and the ally became the hunter. Part of the fun of watching Laurel go after The Arrow is that at the same time, her father is getting closer to The Arrow. One of our main goals coming into season two was giving Laurel more to do. Her relationship with Tommy had her siloed off in season one in this separate storyline, which was all well and good, but the end result was it felt like she was in a different show, so we really wanted to give Laurel a makeover. She has a different mission-statement this year, it's not just that she's going after The Arrow, it's also her new job at The DA's office. That will allow her to be a lot more integrated into the episodes and all the stories we're telling. It's all in service of Laurel 2.0.
ETonline: Some fans have felt that, maybe as a result of her Tommy storyline, there's not a ton of chemistry between Laurel and Oliver. Does this new path fuel their dynamic more or allow you to move away from that a bit?
Guggenheim: I think it's adding additional layers. I think we've always been very honest that it's great some fans 'ship Oliver and Felicity while others 'ship Oliver and Laurel, but in neither instance will we be seeing the resolution of those relationships any time soon. This is just another bend in the road for Oliver and Laurel. Although I do think there's an element of destiny for those two characters.
ETonline: When The Flash comes in, I know there are some sparks with him and Felicity. How does that complicate Olicity?
Guggenheim: We've all experienced situations where it's oblivious that someone has a crush on you and they start flirting with someone else which makes you jealous. Oliver will definitely have a reaction to Felicity's flirtation with Barry, and that's something that will reverberate past the episodes that Barry is in.
ETonline: Roy is also incredibly determined to join The Vigilante's quest. In the writers room, do you feel there's only a certain number of people who can be on Team Arrow at a given time?
Guggenheim: Yeah, it's tricky. We have to balance it; we can't have a football team worth of partners. Oliver and Roy are on a collision course with one another and Roy will ultimately discover Oliver's secret, but that will progress at a different pace than I think people expect. By the end of episode 2, you'll see that there's another way for Roy to join "Team Arrow" without being brought down to the lair.