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Arrow's Katherine McNamara Breaks Down Mia's Emotional Trauma and That JJ Cliffhanger

Is a love triangle in store for us?

Lindsay MacDonald

Keeping your timelines straight has always been a big deal on The Flash, but now it's a major part of Arrowtoo. The backdoor pilot for Arrow's fiercely female spin-off, Green Arrow and the Canaries, took us to an idyllic version of Star City, created by Oliver Queen's (Stephen Amell) final sacrifice in Crisis on Infinite Earths, meaning we got a good look at Mia Smoak Queen's (Katherine McNamara) new life.

Thanks to Earth Prime's brand new timeline, Mia was living her best socialite life. Queen mansion? Check. Hot fiance? Check. Complete lack of direction and purpose? Double-check. Having forgotten everything about her reclusive upbringing and trip to the past, Mia had no idea about her destiny as the new Green Arrow. Thankfully, Laurel (Katie Cassidy) and Dinah (Juliana Harkavy), both in possession of their original memories, showed up to restore hers and recruit her on their mission to save Star City from crumbling into crime again. While Mia was in for a shock with the new information, it was nothing compared to what JJ faced at the end of the episode when he was forced to remember his time as the murderous Deathstroke in the previous timeline.

TV Guide talked to McNamara about all the twists and turns of this potential new series, including what that huge JJ (Charlie Barnett) cliffhanger means!

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​Katherine McNamara, Arrow

Katherine McNamara, Arrow

Colin Bentley, Colin Bentley/The CW

How sick are you of having your memory wiped? Because it also happened to your character on Shadowhunters.
Katherine McNamara:
You know, I'm really starting to get a complex about this. I'm not really sure. It's very funny going from the crossover to this because there were shadow demons and then we went to Purgatory, and in Shadowhunters we went to hell, and then the memory wiping thing -- it's all muddy. But, you know, it's a lot of fun to get to see the differences between the two as well and sort of to play out the aftermath, which I didn't really get to do in Shadowhunters.

How is Mia dealing with having these two timelines in her head, and how did that inform your choices having to play two very different sides of what's ultimately the same girl?
Well, for Mia, it's definitely a challenge, but for Katherine, for me, it's a lot of fun. Because you have these two characters and these two timelines essentially that she is emotionally attached to both because she lived through them both. As the scenes play out, and as Mia interacts with the world with both realities in her head, it's so interesting to see which of her instincts will win out because there are certain moments where we see old Mia snap into existence and we see her instincts and her skills snap in. But then there's other instances in which we get to see a whole new side of Mia and get to see maybe her vulnerability or her emotional side, or we get to see her solve a problem that she originally would have made a bigger problem, but be able to get around it in a very adept way because she has a whole new set of skills at her disposal.

Juliana Harkavy, Katie Cassidy, and Katherine McNamara, Arrow

Juliana Harkavy, Katie Cassidy, and Katherine McNamara, Arrow

Katie Yu, Katie Yu/The CW

She does go through quite a journey in this episode, especially concerning Oliver's death and his legacy. Can you talk a little bit about that emotional arc?
In the new reality of Mia, she has dealt with her father's death just because it's been a part of her entire life. She's never known a world in which she knew her father or in which her father even existed. She has handled that very well and probably been helped her whole life to do so. Whereas now, when she's smacked in the face with all of this trauma and having had time with her father to be attached and not only that, but you know, him giving her her own Green Arrow suit and then fighting alongside each other in those suits. The first and last time Mia was able to do that, her father died and she watched him breathe his last breath, and that holds a lot of trauma and a lot of weight for her -- and so putting the suit back on again is a huge hurdle she has to overcome.

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I, personally, was so stoked to find out about JJ and Mia's relationship, but what was your reaction to finding out they were together in this timeline?
McNamara: Oh, I was so excited because I love Charlie so much. He's such a wonderful actor and such a great human, and we have a lot of fun together, especially in crafting these characters and relationships. But what I think is really interesting about this is that, you know, the Diggles and the Queens have always been very close, and a lot of people loved the bromance between Oliver and John. Now we sort of get to see a different side of that with Mia and JJ. What's interesting about it is you have these two people who are similar in a lot of ways, but also are entirely opposite in others, and as Mia changes throughout the pilot, it really affects their relationship in a lot of ways. I do have to give credit to one of one of the Arrow writers, Maya [Houston], who's a dear, dear friend of mine; she coined the ship name for the two of them as Deathstar via you know Deathstroke and Blackstar, given their origins, and I am obsessed with it, and I absolutely love it.

Should this go to series, do you think it would be a love triangle with those two and Connor (Joseph David Jones), considering the past relationship between Mia and Connor?McNamara: I think there definitely could be because that was one of the memories that flashed to Mia as she was remembering everything. Also it seems as though, you know, we don't get to see much of it, but it seems as though new Mia and new Connor have a very specific relationship. It'd be very interesting to see what that history is as well.

Juliana Harkavy, Katie Cassidy, and Katherine McNamara, Arrow

Juliana Harkavy, Katie Cassidy, and Katherine McNamara, Arrow

Jack Rowand, Jack Rowand/The CW

I also loved seeing you get to explore a new dynamic between William (Ben Lewis) and Mia because they did grow up together this time around. How do you think that changed their dynamic?
McNamara: I love Ben Lewis with all of my heart, and crafting that Mia and William relationship has been really special to both of us. You know, in Season 8 we got to see the characters really grow together as they had to face their father and deal with losing him and all of the baggage that, that harbored with it. But now you see their relationship in a very different way given that they grew up together with their mom, and got to have this wonderful happy life. You see their closeness and you see their bond, so strong from the start. But then when Mia gets all of her memories back, I think that makes her almost more protective of her brother and really understand and feel responsible for him even more, given that she knows the other history that they have together.

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I have to ask about that cliffhanger because oh my God! What do you think JJ getting his memories back will do to their relationship since he and Mia both now have two timelines to deal with?
I think it brings a lot of questions into things. I mean, Mia was already questioning his motives in this pilot and given that now he remembers, we really don't know where his loyalties are going to lie. So moving forward, it'll be very interesting to see both of them struggle with these two halves of themselves as they move forward in the world and in Star City.

Arrow airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.

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Colin Bentley, Colin Bentley/The CW