Like all fantastical DC Comics characters who have made their way to The CW series, The Count will be more grounded than in the comics. In particular, his powers will be manifested through a drug called Vertigo — which is some strong stuff considering Thea (Willa Holland) crashed her car while on it.
"He don't have any super powers per se, but I think he still qualifies as a super villain because he is psychotic," Gabel tells TVGuide.com of his version of The Count, which was inspired by Batman's nemesis The Joker. "[Executive producers] Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg had initially pitched the character as a Joker type, which I was intimidated by because I didn't want to live up to anything that Heath Ledger had done. But at the same time, I was really excited to come up with my own version of that intensity and intimacy with violence.
"I really want to make The Count worthy as being Arrow's adversary," Gabel continues, noting he spent a lot of time figuring out how his psychotic character would hold a gun. "Ultimately, I found that being super casual with it and super relaxed about it — like I might drop the gun at any moment or blow someone's head off at any moment — was the coolest way to do it. The Count has a physical presence that can rival anyone."
After Thea was arrested for crashing her car while under the influence last week, Oliver (Stephen Amell) will go on a manhunt to find out who is responsible. "For Oliver, in this instance, it's personal because it involves Thea," Amell says. "Uncovering this guy and sending the police towards The Count is a way that Oliver can get Thea off the hook. We see a lot more personal responsibility, angst and determination from Oliver than maybe we see when he's just pursuing someone on the list."
The Count, however, will take pride in the pain he's caused Oliver. "Anything that gets to someone and takes their power down a notch and increases his power is a good thing," Gabel says. "He sadistically feeds off of the suffering of others and the acquiring of wealth and power in his own right."
Because of that, Oliver may go too far in his quest for vengeance, which may lead to a return visit from The Count in the future. "There's something that the Arrow does that will possibly make things much worse in the long run," Gabel says. Adds Amell: "He is formidable, and I don't think, regardless of what we see Wednesday, that we've seen the last of The Count."
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.
(Additional reporting by Robyn Ross)