'Arrow' boss on tonight's return, fan love for Felicity, and the arrival of Roy Harper

BURNED

Image Credit: Jack Rowand/The CW

Between Oliver’s hero persona, his personal life, his friends, his enemies (both new and old), and his family, there’s no shortage of subjects to ponder in the world of Arrow.

So when we got a few minutes to chat with executive producer Marc Guggenheim, who was making the media rounds promoting the return of the CW freshman hit, we tried to cover it all. Below, Guggenheim tackles our questions, which touched on everything from the Dark Archer to the highly anticipated debut of an iconic Green Arrow character.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: In the last new episode, the show left off with the big reveal of the Dark Archer’s identity. What awaits us in the second half?
Well the first thing and the elephant in the room is that this is the first time the Arrow and Oliver has gone up against somebody that he lost to — and not just lost to, but got soundly beaten by. So [tonight’s episode] is the episode that deals with Oliver having to reclaim his mojo, basically. He’s really suffered a crisis of confidence as a result of the defeat from the Dark Archer, and we learn that in the six weeks that the show has been off the air, the Arrow has gone to ground and hasn’t been out doing his Arrow thing. So we’ll sort of explain what’s going to call him back into action and how is he going to acquit himself once he’s back in action — especially given the confidence issues he’s facing. The episode itself is really about the nature of fear; Oliver finds himself afraid for the first time in his life and we’ll really dig into why that is and what exactly he’s afraid of and why he’s afraid. I’ll give you a hint: It’s not just his defeat. It’s the way his life has changed since returning from the island.

Also, to hit the fear theme really hard, we wanted to come up with an adversary that the Arrow just couldn’t hit or put an arrow in. We’ve got a character who we call Firefly, who uses fire as a weapon. That’s the other thing about fire; it’s one of those inherently fearful things. Who isn’t afraid of fire? And we’ll also get to see this fear theme play out in the flashback episode as well. One of our big goals with the show is to take people’s expectations and turn them on their head.

One thing that definitely took me by surprise was how much I liked Felicity, the IT girl, who was just a minor character. Can you talk a bit about the fan reaction to her? Did the chemistry she shared with Oliver surprise you at all?
Yes and no. We created the character of Felicity really out of necessity — to solve a very specific problem in one episode. And I think Andrew and I both felt an affinity for that character and the way we wrote her. And then when we were casting the part, it was remarkable. Emily Rickards, who we ultimately cast, went on tape and when I was watching her audition, I was like, ‘That’s Felicity.’ [Andrew and I] both come from the school of thought that the nice thing about series television is that you can react to what’s working on the screen and which performances are resonating with you — the creator — and the audience. So it was an easy decision to start writing more to Felicity because every time she appeared on screen, it was fun for us. Her chemistry — if I can call it that — with Stephen is terrific, and we just found ourselves wanting to write more and more for the character. Every time she shows up on screen, Twitter seems to light up — at least in my very unscientific review. That always makes me feel really good. She gives us a totally different set of musical notes to play with.

When can we expect more of that storyline from her that you’ve been crafting?
Things really come to a head in episode 14, but she’s a pretty consistent fixture throughout the second half of the season. One of the fun things we’re having fun with is all the bulls—t explanations and cover stories that Oliver offers up to her. But the other element that we’ve been playing around with is that she’s in possession of the other notebook. So for sure she’s on a collision course with Oliver as a result of that.

Episode 14 — that’s around when Roy Harper is popping up, correct?
Roy shows up in episode 15. So around then, yes.

Tell me about him, and introducing that character, who will be played by Colton Haynes.
Colton Haynes is awesome. He’s so fantastic, and no one should be that handsome. But Roy is a great deal of fun for us because obviously, the character of Roy Harper has three different Arrow-related identities in the comic book — Speedy, Arsenal and Red Arrow. And we know that when Roy Harper shows up, it’s sort of a big deal for fans. And one of the things we wanted to do in the latter half of the season was give Thea a romantic interest — this is part of an overall plan to broaden her world a bit beyond the Queen mansion. We need to get her out a bit and interacting with other characters. And Roy is from the Glades — the place in Starling City that we’ve explained is the worst of the worst. He’s from a different side of the tracks than Thea. So watching them interact is a great deal of fun for us and lots of fun to write. Thea is such a strident, strong-willed person and Roy is so completely different from her. It’s fun to watch oil and water try to mix.

Related:
CW weighs renewal odds: ‘Supernatural,’ ‘Beauty,’ more
‘Being Human,’ ‘NCIS,’ ‘Elementary,’ ‘Grimm,’ ‘Big Bang': Find out what’s next in the Spoiler Room

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