The playboy-turned-vigilante will set his sights on tracking down the man in the skull mask, otherwise known as Brother Blood (Kevin Alejandro), who dosed Roy (Colton Haynes) with Mirakuru in a bid to create an army of super soldiers. But his real hunt will eventually lead him to something much worse: Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett), who is on a quest to ruin Oliver's life. TVGuide.com caught up with executive producer Marc Guggenheim to get the scoop on what's in store when the show returns.
What can you tell us about Oliver's hunt to find Brother Blood?
Marc Guggenheim: Last year, we had ended Episode 9 with Oliver learning that there was a Dark Archer (John Barrowman) who had bad plans for the city. Oliver was so off the bread crumb, so in Episode 10 we came back and he basically did absolutely nothing about it. We were really determined to correct that mistake with the man in the skull mask in Season 2. We wanted to come back after our hiatus with Oliver in a full head of steam with a singular purpose of finding this guy. The man in the skull mask plays a very large role in the next couple of episodes. The Arrow has been spending the holidays and the weeks between Episodes 9 and 10 basically turning the city upside down looking for this man.
As far as we know, Slade wants revenge for Shado's death, but is there more to it?
Guggenheim: For Slade, he has spent five years planning his revenge. Suffice it to say that simply killing Oliver would not be worthy of a five-year plan. Between Episodes 10 and 18, which would be the next chunk, you'll really get a full sense of what Slade has basically come to Starling to do. It's nothing as simple or as merciful as killing Oliver.
Can you talk about Laurel's (Katie Cassidy) spiral into drug and alcohol abuse? At what point does her family need to step in, especially Sara (Caity Lotz), who was part of the cause of this in some ways?
Guggenheim: It's really something in the first four to five episodes back. Even though Sara, in flashbacks, has been a part of the show, Sara in the present day has been gone since Episode 5. It's really since that episode that Laurel has gone on this downward journey. It's going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better. And it'll get a whole lot worse before we see what reaction Sara has to it.
Fans have been very vocal about seeing Oliver and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) together. Do you see a romantic potential for them?
Guggenheim: There's always potential. There's clearly a connection between the two of them and a lot of chemistry between Stephen and Emily. Whether that gets consummated in some way, I would say everyone has to keep watching. Part of the fun for us with the show is doing this razor's edge walk with them. The characters are two very different people, yet they're drawn together. They're also drawn to other people at the same time. A big part of Episode 10 is the fallout from the Barry-Felicity flirtation. They have some quintessential Oliver-Felicity moments in the first four to five episodes of the second half of the season.
How much of Felicity's background will you explore?
Guggenheim: We talk a lot about whether Felicity is an only child or not, but the truth of the matter is until we actually write it and put it on screen, anything is possible. That said, we are going to learn a bit about Felicity's parentage. We'll learn it pretty soon.
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How is Roy handling his newfound powers?
Guggenheim: One of the biggest hanging chads off the midseason cliffhanger was Roy has been to exposed to the Mirakuru and lived to tell the tale. We all know from seeing Slade in the flashbacks what that means. A big part of the drive of our first few episodes back is Roy's discovery of his abilities and how he's struggling with it. As we've seen with Slade in just the hint in Episode 9 — and this will be explicated in the flashbacks once we return — Mirakuru giveth and it taketh away. It obviously makes you a very formidable physical force, but there are also some downsides to it that both Roy in the present and Slade in the past will be experiencing.
The other hanging chad is the truth about Malcolm being Thea's father. Can you talk about the implications of Thea (Willa Holland) being the progeny of one of Oliver's greatest foes?
Guggenheim: For us, the fun of that reveal at the end of Episode 7 wasn't so much the reveal, it was the fact that now we have several bombs under several different tables. Oliver and Thea have yet to find out the truth. By the end of the season, they will learn the truth, but how and when will be part of the surprise.
Will we see Iasbel Rochev (Summer Glau) again because there is still the question of why she wanted to acquire Queen Consolidated?
Guggenheim: Summer will be returning to the show. We have not seen the last of Isabel. All of Isabel's motives will be revealed. That said, not everyone on the show has to be planning on blowing up the city. There are some people who are heroes, some people who are bad guys and there are people who have to just be people. That said, in Episode 8, we got a taste that there's a history between Isabel and Moira that we don't fully understand or know about yet. When Isabel returns, we will learn the secrets of that exchange that they had.
Talk about some of the villains coming in during the second half of the season.
Guggenheim: Robert Knepper is coming in Episode 12 [as the Clock King]. He plays a bad guy, but there's an expectation when Robert Knepper plays a bad guy that you'll be seeing a very specific version of Robert. What's wonderful about his turn on Arrow is that he's every bit as scary as we've seen him be before, but in a completely different way. He really took a lot of inspiration from his character being the Clock King in the comics. Then we have Katrina Law coming in Episode 13 as Nyssa al Ghul. She is outstanding. We loved having her on the show. We thought she was the perfect embodiment of the daughter of Ra's al Ghul.
Arrow returns Wednesday at 8/7c on The CW.
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