Team Arrow is getting a makeover this week.
On Wednesday's Arrow, Oliver (Stephen Amell) will start to rebuild the team by bringing together his new recruits: Curtis Holt (Echo Kellum), Evelyn Sharp (Madison McLaughlin) and Rene Ramirez (Rick Gonzalez).
Fans have already gotten to know Curtis and Evelyn, who was the rogue Black Canary following Laurel's (Katie Cassidy) death. But this will be viewers' first real experience of Rene, not counting his blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance in the fifth season premiere. So who is this new hero?
Rene, also known as Wild Dog, is a hockey mask-wearing vigilante who is unlike any hero we've seen before. Rough around the edges and overwhelmingly headstrong, Wild Dog's stubborn attitude will prove to be a challenge for the team and Oliver, who already has a somewhat strained relationship with Wild Dog after shooting him with an arrow last week.
For more on Wild Dog — including why he decides to team up with the man who shot him — TVGuide.com spoke with Rick Gonzalez about everything fans can expect of the new vigilante.
How would you describe Wild Dog?
Rick Gonzalez: Wild Dog is kind of rebellious and not the easiest person to get along with. He's someone who may seem pessimistic or someone who wants to create discord. But at the end of the day, he wants to do the right thing and to help people. At the core of him is someone who genuinely cares and wants to do something good for Star City. His methods are not refined ... so this is all about his journey in terms of finding a way to do the right thing.
What was Wild Dog's life like before becoming a vigilante, and what inspired him to go down that path in the first place?
Gonzalez: Wild Dog is ex-military and we'll soon find out why he's no longer military and some of the issues he's had to deal with personally. ... Being ex-military, we see he is someone who knows how to handle himself, but has caused a lot of problems in his life, so he's made things a little bit more difficult in terms of trying to help people and do the right thing. We'll also find out about his family life and what kind of caused him to have this energy, this darkness, that doesn't create the best teammate.
The Green Arrow did shoot Wild Dog in the leg, so how does Rene react when he's then approached to work with him?
Gonzalez: Here's the thing: In the first episode, Green Arrow tells Wild Dog, "I thought I told you to stay off the streets." So this is a conversation that's been had before and gives you a glimpse into Wild Dog. He does what he wants. He has his own instincts about what he thinks is right and how he should go about things. ... And an arrow in the leg for someone who is ex-military and is as stubborn as Wild Dog is only going to put him out for a small amount of time. Meaning, he's definitely going to step to the plate again and go about things the way he wants to.
Obviously, there's no surprise that in Episode 2 we'll see how that unfolds and him actually getting to be trained by the Green Arrow and how that comes about. We'll also touch upon how Wild Dog does have a respect for Green Arrow. There is a reason Wild Dog would even consider being trained by Green Arrow. This is the guy who saved Star City so many times over.
Wild Dog is used to working alone. What is it like for him when he has to work as a team?
Gonzalez: That's going to be the craziest part about Wild Dog. He'd rather do things on his own. He feels like he can make the best decisions, but I think deep down he knows that he doesn't make the best decisions. So him working with a team and with the Green Arrow, it's tough for him. ... Being a part of a team, that can cause him to bump heads and make him feel as though being a part of this squad is not really worth it. But I think the one thing that I love about this character is that the core of him is somebody who does want to do the right thing and does want to grow. It just isn't so easy for him to do that. And I think this season is about us seeing how he can peel those layers back and grow into somebody who can be a team member and somebody who is easier to get along with.
The new recruits are quite the motley crew. What does Wild Dog think of Curtis and Evelyn Sharp?
Gonzalez: He thinks they're silly weaklings and just people who probably shouldn't even be on the team. Wild Dog definitely doesn't have much respect for their skill sets, who they are and them coming into the fold. In his mind, he feels as though it should probably just be him and Green Arrow taking care of things. But you know, that's also kind of cool that we get to see during the season the respect build for the team and how these guys come together.
Who will we see him grow closest to over the course of this season?
Gonzalez: I think Wendy Mericle mentioned not too long ago that Diggle (John Ramsey) was going to have a connection o Wild Dog. I thought it was really great and interesting that she brought it up, because I think if there would be anyone that Wild Dog would maybe even want to let his guard down or try to connect with, it would be John Diggle. Because throughout the entire show, he's been the person who has the most reason and always spoke from his heart and who's always been able to get his point across to every single character on the show. That type of energy, I think Wild Dog would respond well to.
Wild Dog has a very unique costume. What's the story behind it?
Gonzalez: I don't know much except that it mirrors exactly what we see in the comics, which I thought was really cool. We do know in the comic book that Jack Wheeler is Wild Dog and he's ex-military and also an ex-football player. But I don't know if [Rene Ramirez's] jersey has anything to do with him being an ex-football player or anything of that nature. But I think it's really cool that Marc [Guggenheim] and everyone else decided to stay close to what he looks like in the comic book and bring that to the screen. I think the fans are going to get a kick out of that.
Arrow airs on Wednesdays at 8/7c on the CW.
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS, one of the CW's parent companies.)