I have added episode stills from 3×16 – The Offer. Arrow will be back on March 18.
– Episode Stills 3×16 – The Offer
After the shocking twist at the end of “Arrow’s” Feb. 25 episode, we have a lot of questions — and with the show in repeats until March 18, onscreen answers won’t be forthcoming any time soon. Luckily, Variety was among a number of outlets to talk with executive producers Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg following a screening of “Nanda Parbat,” and the duo — along with stars Katrina Law (Nyssa al Ghul) and John Barrowman (Malcolm Merlyn) — had plenty to tease about what’s coming up for Oliver and company when the show returns in three weeks.
Below, we ponder the implications of “Nanda Parbat” and offer the producers’ insights on what’s ahead for Team Arrow.
How will Oliver react to Ra’s al Ghul’s offer?
Needless to say, neither viewers nor Oliver were expecting Ra’s al Ghul to offer our hero the opportunity to take his place as head of the League of Assassins, and Oliver will still be reeling from that choice when episode 16, aptly titled “The Offer,” picks up. “Oliver is completely taken aback, because he’s not expecting that to be the case,” Kreisberg told reporters. “It was something that Greg [Berlanti] and Marc and I talked about — that it was important to have a different villain this year; somebody who was going to be doing something completely different. In season one we had the incomparable John Barrowman, who had his mission. Obviously, last year Slade’s mission was one of vengeance. For this year to have Ra’s, who’s presented as this giant malevolent force, but then to come up and basically offer the keys to the kingdom to our hero, it just felt like such a different way to go and a different relationship for Oliver to have with the villain. What Oliver’s reaction to it is, what Nyssa’s reaction to it is, what everyone’s reaction to it is, makes up the bulk of the next run of episodes — and what his answer is, and what that prompts all the other characters to do… It’s a different kind of threat because they’re asking him to join up. As Malcolm tells him in a subsequent episode [Ra’s] is not really asking. That leads to all sorts of interesting combinations and new paradigms.”
What does Oliver’s choice mean for Ra’s daughter, Nyssa, who has always assumed that she will inherit her father’s mantle?
Regardless of Oliver’s decision, the fact that Ra’s would bequeath his legacy to an enemy instead of his own child has major ramifications for Nyssa, according to Kreisberg: “Nyssa is the Heir to the Demon, so you can imagine how she feels when she finds out that what she would consider to be her birthright is being handed to Oliver.”
Oliver has received the offer of a lifetime.
Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable) asked Oliver (Stephen Amell) to take over his title and lead the League of Assassins on Tuesday’s Arrow, after capturing him and Diggle (David Ramsey).
Read more ‘Agent Carter’ Showrunners Grilled By ‘Arrow’ Producer in Honest, Wide-Ranging Interview
The move gives a strong nod to Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, in which Ra’s was initially played by Ken Watanabe. He was replaced by Liam Neeson by the end of the movie, demonstrating the idea that the title of Ra’s is passed from one person to the other, and this how he achieves his immortality. In the comics, Ra’s cheats death thanks to regular baths in the restorative waters of the Lazarus Pits.
Oliver now has a choice. If he joins The League of Assassins as its leader, it would certainly be hard for him to stick to his “no killing” vow, though perhaps he could reform the group as its head.
If he did take the title, he is in a better position to leave Starling City than he might know. Fledling superhero Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) provides the possibility that Oliver could potentially exit and feel like he wasn’t failing his city. As the Atom, Palmer took a flight for the first time, and he could potentially be a protector to fill Oliver’s shoes.
Read more Broadcast TV’s Returning Shows 2015-16
But things are also more complicated since Oliver left Starling City to hunt Ra’s for a second time. Oliver’s sister Thea (Willa Holland) confessed her role in Sara’s (Caity Lotz) death to Nyssa (Katrina Law), Sara’s former lover and Ra’s’ daughter. Thea freed Nyssa, and now Ra’s’ daughter will also have a choice. She can either take out her anger over Sara’s death on Thea, or save her rage for the man truly responsible, Thea’s father Merlyn (John Barrowman), who drugged her and forced her to kill Sara.
Like Oliver’s “death,” earlier this season, it’s unlikely he will be leaving Starling City for good (the show has been picked up for a fourth season, and The Atom is being eyed for its own spinoff). But whatever happens, these questions won’t be tackled until the next episode, the aptly titled “The Offer.”
Arrow returns March 18 at 8 p.m. on The CW.
Caution: This story contains major spoilers from Wednesday’s episode of Arrow. Read at your own risk.
Though it seemed like Oliver (Stephen Amell) was facing certain death when he traveled to Nanda Parbat to rescue Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) during Wednesday’s episode of Arrow, Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable) instead gave the emerald archer an intriguing offer: Become the new Ra’s al Ghul.
Suffice it to say, Oliver will be taken aback by the offer, though he may not have a choice. “[It’s] what Oliver is willing to do to end the threat of the League,” executive producer Andrew Kreisberg says. “Now it’s a different kind of threat because they’re asking him to join up, and as Malcolm tells him in a subsequent episode, he’s not really asking. That leads to all sorts of interesting conversations and new paradigms.”
“To have Ra’s presented as this giant malevolent force, but then to come up and basically offer the keys to the kingdom felt like such a different way to go and a different relationship to have with the villain,” Kreisberg continues. “What Oliver’s reaction to Ra’s’ offer, what Nyssa’s [Katrina Law] reaction to it is makes up the bulk of the next run of episodes.”
Cliffhangers on cliffhangers (?) on cliffhang-ehs. Tonight’s Arrow, the last new one for about a month, had a lot going on and left several plot threads up in the air. Several of our favorite characters spent most of tonight’s episode going through some kind of internal (and for one, external) torture, and it seems as though the writers are intent on giving a tiny taste of torture by making us wait a month for all of this to be resolved. The most important cliffhanger of the evening definitely revealed how much the show is inspired by the Batman comics.
“Nanda Parbat” is one of those Arrow episodes that it will take several viewings for me to process because there is so much to unpack. So, you can expect me to chime in the comments section during the hiatus. That being said, there were definitely many enjoyable parts of this episode. First, the show continued its trend of calling Oliver out on some of his condescension and general asshattiness, while also making him more sympathetic than he’s been for most of this season. Furthermore, we saw Ra’s al Ghul and Malcolm Merlyn share a bloody scene together—and it was such a treat. If there’s one thing this episode accomplished, it’s that it definitely made some of the iffier parts of this season make sense. Also, there was some Felicity and Ray stuff that happened and we’ll definitely talk about it.
FLASHBACK: HONG KONG
Oliver is taken back to China where Waller and the General’s men debrief him on the Omega sitch—a sitch I’m still not sure what to make of. Now that the virus has been recovered, the army has taken control of the operation and Waller is no longer involved, which pleases both General Shrive and Oliver. After thanking him for his service, General Shrive tells Oliver he can go anywhere in the world; back to Starling and/or rejoin Maseo and Tatsu in Hong Kong.
Oliver chooses the latter. But, as he and the Yamashiro family are about to board a boat, they are attacked by some of Waller’s men. Unfortunately, Maseo and Tatsu get pinned down and order Oliver to get their the son the heck out of there. We don’t know what happens next because cliffhangers.
Nyssa walks in on her father, who’s enjoying a nice relaxing bath, to inform him that Oliver Queen is still alive. No surprise here, Ra’s already knew this and doesn’t care because he knows Oliver didn’t kill Sara. Nyssa brings up the question on everyone’s mind: Does he not believe Oliver’s confession because he doubts the Arrow’s motives, or, and more likely, he doesn’t approve of his daughter’s grief? According to Ra’s, he didn’t approve of their love because he knew Sara would leave both the League and her, and that it would end in heartbreak.
With this ominous opening out of the way, we Barry Allen our way back to Starling City where Oliver, Thea, and Malcolm are training for their fight with Ra’s. And Malcolm is not happy with either of their performance, especially Thea’s. Things balance out though because no one, except maybe Oliver, is happy with having him in the Arrow cave. Eventually, Laurel shows up, which makes things hella awkward for Thea, who is still reeling from finding out Malcolm brainwashed her into killing Sara. Laurel telling Thea that her fighting style reminds her of Sara doesn’t help things.
“The Return” was a weird episode. Enjoyable, but weird. It had all of the elements of a great Arrow episode—Slade Wilson’s (Manu Bennett) return, Oliver and Thea time, emotionally compelling flashbacks—but they never quite clicked into place. Everything just felt rather underwhelming—tonight was a flashback heavy episode, which led to not enough time being given to Oliver and Thea’s struggles against Slade. It also felt as though the show was kind of spinning its wheels tonight, even though it had so much good material to work with. To be fair, Arrow has been firing on all cylinders since it returned from its midseason hiatus and in that time it has burned through so much plot. With nine episodes left in the season, this was probably the best moment to pump on the breaks, move its many pieces around, and set the stage for the final stretch of episodes.
FLASHBACK: STARLING CITY
We’ve seen Starling City before Malcolm joined the League and before the Queen’s Gambit accident, but tonight was the first time that we’ve checked in on our Starling residents during the time period that Oliver was away—and everything is not okay in the city Starling. Out of grief, Quentin has become a slightly belligerent alcoholic and his relationship with Laurel isn’t in the best place because he resents her for taking a job at a law firm in San Francisco. Thea also isn’t doing too well and has turned to drugs. Tommy’s doing his best to keep Thea on the straight and narrow-ish, but there’s only so much he can do.
In last week’s “Arrow,” Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) tasked Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Thea Queen (Willa Holland) with conquering their fears in order to face Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable) and his deadly League of Assassins, sending them to the island of Lian Yu.
The desolate landscape that forged Oliver into the show’s titular hero is now used by ARGUS as a supermax prison for The Arrow’s most dangerous foes — among them, Slade Wilson, aka Deathstroke (Manu Bennett), the man responsible for murdering Oliver and Thea’s mother. In Variety‘s exclusive preview of the Feb. 18 episode, aptly titled “The Return,” the duo come face to face with their old enemy, and it’s safe to say that it’s not a particularly friendly reunion.
Elsewhere in the hour, a flashback takes us back to when Oliver and Maseo (guest star Karl Yune) returned to Starling City to retrieve the Omega bio weapon, and despite being under strict orders from Amanda Waller (guest star Cynthia Addai-Robinson) not to reveal himself to anyone, Oliver looks in on his family, Laurel (Katie Cassidy) and Tommy (guest star Colin Donnell). Dermott Downs directed the episode written by Marc Guggenheim and Erik Oleson.
“Arrow” airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.
Tonight was the first time the entire Arrow family has been together in Starling City since the midseason finale. Quite fittingly, “Canaries” was all about family, both our place within them and responsibility to them. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that “Canaries” was another excellent installment of our favorite superhero show since if there’s one thing Arrow does better than the comic book drama, it’s the family drama. And the best Arrow episodes, which this one is, seamlessly connects the two to make the comic drama more real and believable because the stakes not only affect an individual, but also the rest of the greater Team Arrow (greater meaning that it’s not just those with access to the Arrow Cave, but also Quentin and Thea). More importantly, “Canaries” finally sees the end of several long running and infuriating lies (and one insufferable character).
With Oliver back in Starling City, it’s time to take the show back to basics and revisit our good ‘ol friend “vertigo,” the drug that continues to plague Starling City. The drug vertigo holds a special place in the Arrow lore because it is not only grounds the ever-ridiculous unicorn that is Starling City in some sort of reality—War on Drugs and all—it also is one of the few times the show comes close to the pre-New 52 characterization of Oliver Queen in the comics: a bleeding heart liberal who was concerned with fighting a battle against the social ills of our world.
On Arrow, vertigo usually turns up when it’s time to interrogate our hero and make him face who he is, what he stands for, and what he’s willing to do. We saw this in season 1’s “Unfinished Business” when Oliver wondered if vertigo’s reappearance on the streets meant he was wrong to show the original Count Vertigo mercy by overdosing him on his own drug instead of killing him. In the second season’s “State vs. Queen,” vertigo was used to explore whether or not Oliver was an unremorseful killer and what would push Oliver to break his no-kill rule; it turned out it was Felicity’s life being in danger and him needing to make split-second decision to save her. And, finally, this season’s premiere used Count Vertigo’s return to raise an existential, and romantic-ish, question: Can Oliver Queen the vigilante/budding hero co-exist with out-of-costume Oliver Queen who just wanted to restore his family’s legacy and take the nice IT girl he recruited into his mission on a date.
In last week’s “Arrow,” Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) returned to Starling City and walked into an all-out war between his team and a gang of thugs led by Danny Brickwell (Vinnie Jones). Now that the dust from Brick’s coup has settled and the residents of the Glades are safe, Oliver must acclimate to the new team dynamic that has formed in his absence.
“It’s rocky immediately,” Amell recently told Variety. “It’s like ‘okay, I’m back, let’s get back to it,’ and everyone’s like ‘no.’ Because all of them, [while] I’m gone, have to decide if they’re doing this because it was for me or if they’re doing this for them. They all independently make the decision that they are there because they want to be there. So me coming back and just being dictatorial and ‘my way or the highway’ is just not going to work. I can stomp my feet and yell and pout and cry and they’re just going to be like, ‘Listen, man, this is not just your thing anymore.’ So I’ll either have to accept it or I’ll have to just start working on my own.”
Executive producer Marc Guggenheim agreed that the transition will be rough for the Emerald Archer in this week’s episode. “The team really had to readjust to Oliver’s apparent death and step up to the plate, and now that they’ve stepped up to the plate, they’ve got a lot more ownership in Team Arrow, and Oliver comes back expecting things to work the way they always worked, which is Oliver says ‘jump,’ and everyone else says ‘how high,’ and that’s no longer the case. So Oliver has got some decisions to make in terms of how he wants to handle this new team dynamic that he’s been thrust into, and it’s going to be interesting. I think some of our best scenes come out of moments of conflict in the lair, and you’ll certainly see a chunk of that.”
A major source of conflict for Oliver will be Laurel’s (Katie Cassidy) new role as Black Canary following her sister Sara’s (Caity Lotz) death, and given that the title of the Feb. 11 episode is “Canaries,” viewers can expect plenty of fireworks.
“Oliver doesn’t want Laurel to be the Black Canary at all. He doesn’t want her out there,” Amell reiterated. “As far as he’s concerned, she’s more useful and has been in the district attorney’s office. ‘You catch them, I cook them.’ We said that in the season premiere. I’ve been very thankful that the producers have allowed Oliver to not treat the Laurel character with kid gloves, and to very much be… almost rough with her, in the sense of, ‘get out. You’re not wanted here.’ The first time that Oliver as Arrow encounters Laurel as Canary, I grab her and shake her; I did that on purpose and I really hope that it stays in the episode because I feel like if I treat her with kid gloves, it’s not giving respect to that character.”
Guggenheim previewed, “Oliver is definitely the least supportive of everyone in terms of Laurel trying to fill her sister’s boots, and he is not shy about expressing that opinion. There’s a big arc for him in Wednesday’s episode, in terms of coming to accept — or not — Laurel’s efforts to become a hero, but things are not resolved between them by the end of episode 13 … he’s not being sensitive or pulling any punches about how he feels about Laurel, and that’s something that it going to continue throughout the season.”
Oliver will also be forced to redefine his relationship with Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards), after the tech whiz admitted that she doesn’t “want to be a woman that you love” at the end of last week’s episode, following Oliver’s admission that he plans to work with Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) to defeat Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable).
“It’s going to be a very different dynamic,” Guggenheim teased. “I think Felicity and Oliver are going to struggle with [the question of] how do we remain coworkers and even friends if this romantic genie — which had been taken out of the bottle at the beginning of the season — is now off the table, to mix metaphors. Certainly Ray [Brandon Routh] is out there as a potential love interest for Felicity. So that’s complicating things and making things a bit messy. We certainly created a love triangle this year intentionally by introducing Ray. The challenge for us is not creating a love triangle, but how do you do that in a way that’s not cliché, and predictable, and something we’ve seen before?”
While many TV shows rely on sexual tension and a will they/won’t they dynamic between characters to drive story, showrunners often run the risk of alienating viewers by stretching out romantic conflicts too long. Guggenheim admitted he was cognizant of that difficulty, but that the writers and producers go to great lengths to listen to their audience.
“I try very hard to avoid evaluating our own show. I’m much more comfortable with letting the audience do that and sort of speak to us. We’re on the Internet. We’re on Twitter. I haven’t gotten a sense that people are feeling jerked around or tired of it,” he said of the Oliver and Felicity dynamic. “I think in part because Oliver and Felicity, they’re not comic book canon, as it were. They weren’t put together with the intention of becoming love interests. So perhaps, because of those reasons, there’s a little bit more patience on people’s part, or maybe we’re just striking the right balance. I don’t know. I’ll say before an episode airs whether or not I’m excited about an episode, but once an episode has aired, I really like to let the episode speak for itself.”
Some familiar faces will soon return to “Arrow” — last week’s episode featured a young Tommy Merlyn in flashbacks to Malcolm’s past, but not his adult iteration, played by Colin Donnell. That will change in episode 14, when Guggenheim promised that fans will see “the age-appropriate Colin Donnell” through a flashback, as well as Manu Bennett’s Slade Wilson, who will be revisited when Malcolm puts Oliver and Thea (Willa Holland) in a dangerous situation that lands them on Lian Yu with Oliver’s former enemy.
And in episode 17, the Suicide Squad returns in what Guggenheim describes as a “monster episode”: “It’s actually crazy in terms of the amount of stuff that’s in it, because there’s two storylines in it, both of which are big enough to carry an episode on their own, and for reasons passing understanding, we actually combine the two,” he laughed. “So one half is the Suicide Squad, and the other half is a very cool Arrow/Atom story, and both halves are really sure to please. I actually was up on the set for some of it last week, and the director, Jesse Warn, is just doing an amazing job, and when I think about the episode and I talk about the episode, I just have to remind myself that it’s more than just Arrow and Atom, it’s the Suicide Squad, and it’s more than just the Suicide Squad, it’s Arrow and Atom. It’s pretty cool. I’m very, very excited about that one.”
“Arrow” airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.
Now that Oliver has returned from the dead, Arrow’s emerald archer will come to a starling realization: He’s actually no longer the boss of Team Arrow.
As the group comes into their own, Oliver (Stephen Amell) will face new challenges with the way things are run—though he will decidedly make a few decisions of his own, like letting someone new in on his secret. While Marc Guggenheim is shy to confirm exactly who will join the inner circle—there’s video proof below—the executive producer did provide scoop on Oliver’s Black Canary conundrum, returning villains, and the future of Oliver and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards).
Now that Oliver is back, how does that change Team Arrow? The logline for the episode says he’s no longer calling the shots, so how does he feel about that?
MARC GUGGENHEIM: Not well. This is very much the subject of “Canaries.” Over the course of episodes 10, 11, and 12, the team had to basically change the crusade to operate without Oliver. Oliver is going to discover that the machinery that he’s built went on without him; it doesn’t turn back, it doesn’t have a reverse gear. Oliver is going to have to figure out much of what the team had to figure out, which is how to proceed in a brave new world. That’s very tricky and interesting because it puts people like Felicity, Roy (Colton Haynes), and Diggle (David Ramsey) in a position where they’re acting less like employees and more like partners.
Oliver is not a fan of Laurel (Katie Cassidy) being Black Canary, so what is he dealing with there?
If the premise of the episode is how Oliver deals with the new team dynamic post-his return, that issue really gets joined in the form of Laurel. Over the course of episodes 10, 11, and 12, she eventually won over every member of the team. They’re basically supporting Laurel’s journey to becoming the Black Canary in a time when Oliver is incredibly against it. I don’t want to spoil the end of the episode, but Oliver’s reaction to not just Laurel being the Black Canary, but his team’s apparent support of that makes up a bulk of his story arc for episode 13.
We will see Sara (Caity Lotz) back in this episode as Laurel is dosed with Vertigo and imagines fighting her sister. But will we ever get to see Sara back in the flesh, possibly to tell the story of her time on Nanda Parbat?
The hope is yes. That’s a story that we’ve been dying to tell. We really, really want it. I put it under the category of Felicity’s parents. We’ve always had this backstory for Felicity and we’ve always wanted to do it. It’s funny how even when you’re doing 23 episodes a year, things don’t time out necessarily how you’d like to, but that’s definitely on our bucket list of stories to tell. We have a lot of great things planned for Caity that we just didn’t have time to do in episode 13.
Lance (Paul Blackthorne) got his first hint that Sara is not actually the Black Canary. Can you give any hints as to how he’ll feel when he finds out the truth?
Given the show’s dynamic of characters keeping those secrets, those secrets eventually coming to light and the characters who kept them having to deal with the consequences of their actions, I don’t think it’s spoilery to say that, at some point this year, Lance is going to find out the truth and he’ll have an appropriate reaction to the fact that this information was kept secret from him. I never like to say when these things are going to happen, but I’m definitely aware of the growing chorus of voices who are saying, “Wow, Lance better find out soon or there’s really going to be hell to pay.” I can pretty much guarantee that when Lance does find out, there will be very big hell to pay.
Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable) is still coming after Malcolm (John Barrowman) and Thea (Willa Holland). Can Oliver protect them?
Ra’s is a pretty tough guy and he’s got a lot of resources at his disposal. It’s going to be very, very interesting. The season is really going to take a few hard left turns before it’s over. It’s not just things people are not expecting—I think the reason people are not expecting them is really no showrunners in their right mind would do half the things we’re going to be doing. That said, I’m probably more excited about the episodes from 13-23, these last 10 episodes, than of any 10 episodes of the show we’ve ever done. It’s some very, very big, exciting things that really no one is going to see coming.
What does Oliver’s training with Malcolm look like?
That’s a lot of fun. That’s a dynamic that we will get to see really in full in episode 15. It’s something that we set up in episode 12, and it will absolutely get its due. People are going to have to wait a little bit for reasons that will become clear when they watch 13 and 14. It’s a lot of fun to see that dynamic, particularly since it also involves Thea as well.
What can you tease for Oliver going up against Deathstroke (Manu Bennett) on Lian Yu?
It feels like a coda to season two. It’s not just the final battle, but the final interactions between Oliver and Slade that we didn’t have the screen time to do at the end of season 2 because you’re racing to the end of the season. It’s nice to be able to write a little bit of an epilogue for these two characters. It’s not to say it’s the last time we’ll ever see Slade again, but certainly the story of Oliver versus Slade, the revenge for Shado’s death, that’s the kind of stuff this puts a nice capstone on. When we see Slade again, he’ll be in a different headspace. We’ll take his character in a new and different direction.
It looks like Thea finds out about Roy being Arsenal. Will she also learn Oliver’s big secret?
The answer to that really depends on whether or not you watch Canadian television. I’m not going to compound it by confirming that here, but the internet is a big place, so I’ll just leave it at that. [Ed. note: Watch the Canadian promo for this week’s episode of Arrow, which reveals some major spoilers.]
Felicity essentially pushed Oliver out of her life romantically, though they’ll still be working together. How will that work out?
That’s the thing: How do they work together despite these real significant romantic setbacks that they’ve had? How does Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) complicate that? It’s going to be some interesting times for Oliver and Felicity both as friends, former romantic interests and co-workers. It’s an opportunity to move their relationship—lowercase r—into some new territory and get some scenes between Oliver and Felicity that are different than the ones we’ve seen on the show to date.
Stay tuned for more Arrow scoop in this week’s Spoiler Room.
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.