ARROW: Marc Guggenheim on the Bomb-Dropping, Decision-Filled Penultimate Episode - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

ARROW: Marc Guggenheim on the Bomb-Dropping, Decision-Filled Penultimate Episode

May 8, 2013 by  

ARROW has rarely played it safe, and it seems like the tension and danger that has often permeated the show is about to explode in a massive way.

I spoke with ARROW executive producer Marc Guggenheim about making essentially two finales, Oliver getting unbalanced by his mother’s true intentions, Roy’s quest, Laurel and Thea’s decisions, and more…

There’s been a lot of talk about how massive episode 22 is, and how it is so big it could be a season finale by itself. When you guys were crafting the arc of the first season, was that something you intentionally planned out?
Marc Guggenheim: Oh, good question. I think it just sort of happened that way. I’d love to say we planned for 22 to be this huge, epic thing and it just got away from us. But the truth is we got to the end of the year, we got to the last three episodes, and we sort of had this plan that we’ve had since the beginning of the season. And we knew that 21 would be our flashback episode where we would tell everybody what the mythology of The Undertaking was all about. And then we sort of knew we had a series of moments in 22 and 23, and we just portioned them out in the logical place, and it wasn’t until the episode was finished — or until the script was finished — that we realized, “Wow, we sort of have a finale here and we still have a whole finale to go.” So, for us, it’s an embarrassment of riches.

Definitely not the worst problem in the world to have.
MG: Definitely not the worst problem in the world to have. And I think we’re very much a product of our influences, and we’ve made no secret of the fact that we’re fans of BUFFY [THE VAMPIRE SLAYER] and the way those seasons were constructed. And I think if you look at a lot of shows, the penultimate episode of the season has as many big moments as the finale, if not more. Here, our goal was to end 22 [similarly] — to pack as many great moments into 22 and still have enough gas in the tank for 23. I’ll leave it to you and the audience to decide whether we’ve successfully done that.

I can’t wait to see it. Now that Oliver is having to face the truth about his mother, what does that do to his mindset?
MG: It completely rocks his world. [In episode] 21, he just had one bomb dropped on him: that his mom had been lying to him, essentially, and is working with Malcolm. [Episode] 22 drops all the other bombs that are left, including what the connection his father has to it, what exactly the plan is. It really [disorients] Oliver in terms of his mother. And I think there’s a line in 22 where he says, he just doesn’t know anything anymore.

But the revelations go beyond just his relationship with his mother, though that’s a big component of it: it will also reorient his world view in terms of his mission. In 22, he’s contemplating the end of his mission for the first time. So there are all these huge consequences that come from the revelations of 21 and 22 that continue throughout the remainder of 22 and into 23. And that will carry us into season 2.

The other thing that is lingering on the sidelines is that Roy is pretty desperate to find out the Hood’s real identity. Are Oliver and Roy on a crash course this season or a long-term crash course?
MG: I like your phrase “long-term crash course.” I think it is more of a long-term crash course. That being said, the season does not end without Oliver and Roy meeting. And when they meet, it’s a fun moment. For the comic book fans, it’s kind of an iconic moment, Roy shaking hands with Oliver. But we put our own little ARROW spin on it as we’re wont to do.

Given that Thea is very much unknowingly between these men, what role does she play in that dynamic in the final episodes?
MG: I think Thea is placed in a very difficult position as a result of Roy meeting Oliver. In 22, she makes a big decision with respect to her relationship with Roy as a result of that encounter.

The CW has teased that Laurel also makes a decision about her life post-Tommy dumping her and Oliver revealing he’s still in love with her. Where does she go from there?
MG: Well, in 21, Oliver dumps this bomb on her that he’s still in love with her. And in 22, Laurel picks it up and confronts Oliver about it. In 21, he didn’t really give her the chance to have a conversation about the revelation; he sort of dropped the bomb and left. It was a little bit of a drive-by.

In 22, they have the conversation that Oliver didn’t want to have in 21. And that’s going to have huge repercussions, both for Laurel and Oliver, as well as Oliver and Tommy. In fact, Tommy and Oliver have a big [scene] in 22 that sets up the position of the love triangle in 23.

If — or when — someone dies in the final two episodes, do you expect there to be a massive fan reaction? Or are you thinking it’ll be a satisfying death?
MG: That’s a great question. That’s a really great question. [Pause] It’s hard to tell, honestly. I’m also struggling to answer the question without confirming the premise: sort of like [the classic entrapment question], “When did you stop beating your wife?”

I will say that between 22 and 23, if I was a betting man, whether characters live or die, we’ll have plenty of applause moments and plenty of moments that make passionate fans go, “I can’t believe they just did that.”

Make sure to check back next week for more from my chat with Guggenheim!

ARROW airs Wednesdays at 8 PM on The CW.

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