‘Arrow’ Without Oliver? Producers Preview the Rise of Black Canary, Atom and Brick

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What is “Arrow” without its titular hero? Viewers will find out on Jan. 21, as the vigilante’s friends and loved ones must come to terms with the fallout from Oliver Queen’s (Stephen Amell) seemingly fatal showdown with Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable) in December’s midseason finale.

Oh the subject of his character’s fate, Amell remained coy when Variety sat down with him last week: “He’s fallen — he fell. I certainly hope he’s not dead. I enjoy playing him,” he offered wryly. “Although there are the regularly scheduled flashbacks in 310 and 311. 312 is someone else’s flashbacks.”

According to “Arrow” producers Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg, the first three episodes of 2015 function as one extended story arc, featuring Vinnie Jones as DC Comics villain Danny “Brick” Brickwell, as Variety first reported. “Because it’s such a huge thing that happens in nine, we really needed three episodes to give it its due because those three episodes — 10, 11 and 12 — really are a trilogy dealing with the very real question of, ‘if there is no Arrow in Starling City, who is going to save the city?'” Guggenheim previewed.

In Oliver’s absence, many heroes will rise up to fill his shoes, from protege Roy (aka Arsenal, played by Colton Haynes) and partner Diggle (David Ramsey) to former flame Laurel (Katie Cassidy), who has been training to avenge her sister, Sara (Caity Lotz), after she was murdered in the season premiere.

The producers teased that the three episode run is very much a showcase for Laurel as she makes her debut on the mean streets of Starling as Black Canary. But determination and a few boxing lessons don’t make a hero: “She clearly doesn’t have Sara’s skill. Sara was essentially Oliver’s equal in a lot of ways. She literally went through the same exact experiences with him and then trained under Ra’s al Ghul,” Kreisberg pointed out. “Half of being a vigilante is, as Nyssa [Katrina Law] would say, being fearless. As Laurel says, it’s being crazy. Right now she has the crazy in spades. The thing about Laurel is — for people who are concerned that she’s going from zero to Black Canary — just because you put on a costume and a mask and run around doesn’t make you anyone else’s equal. She gets stabbed, she gets her ass handed to her, but the thing that’s amazing about Laurel is she just keeps coming and it doesn’t matter how many times she gets knocked down to the mat. And believe me, she gets knocked down to the mat, but she keeps coming back and she won’t be stopped.”

He added, “What’s interesting for her character is all of this started because she wanted to avenge Sara. Her arc of the season is really going from avenging Sara to honoring her… A lot of the back half of the season is Laurel and Nyssa finding common ground. When we met [Oliver] in the pilot he had already trained. We’re going to get to see that evolution with Laurel.”

Outside Team Arrow and Laurel, Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) has been harboring aspirations of heroism for some time, as evidenced by the ATOM suit he revealed to Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) before the midseason break. According to Routh, The Arrow’s disappearance “lights more of a fire [under him] — I don’t know if it’s possible to that; he’s already pretty jazzed and working towards it — but his solution is to get more involved in city politics and lend a hand to the police in some way. That’s the biggest part apart from being a shoulder to lean on for Felicity, even though she’s not divulging what’s going on.”

“Ray’s the first technology-based hero that we’ve done. Our heroes, on ‘Arrow’ at least, tend to be very sort of fisticuff-oriented,” Guggenheim noted. “Ray is trying something brand new, also brand new for us too. He’s creating what we call the Super Suit, the ATOM suit that is really at the cutting edge of technology, both in the real world and on the show. He’s also going to have to discover that a super suit does not a hero make. Part of the thing that we’re always trying to be true to is putting on a costume is the easy part. It’s being the hero that’s the really difficult part and one does not mean you’ve accomplished the other.”

Added Kreisberg, “The other thing that’s really important about Ray is his relationship with Felicity. In a lot of ways, he’s the more evolved version of Oliver. He’s got the square jaw, all-American, superhero good looks but he’s actually a lot more emotionally accessible.”

Felicity will have her own journey in the latter half of this season, Guggenheim promised: “Felicity is a hero in her own right. There’s different forms of heroism on both shows. The beauty of Felicity is that she’s the moral center of ‘Arrow’ and that’s actually the role that she starts to ascend to post-episode 309 where she’s the conscience. In many ways, she starts off trying to be Oliver’s voice in his absence and then starts to develop her own way of thinking about things. She’s always been very confident but she really comes into her own after Oliver’s apparent death.”

“One day on the set I said to her, ‘The Flash, The Atom and Green Arrow are all in love with you,'” Kreisberg recalls. “She had the greatest answer; she goes, ‘I think the reason it works is because I don’t look like the girl that you’d think that about.’ Emily is really the superhero of both shows.”

Rickards and Routh will also bring their own brand of heroism to “The Flash” in episode 18 of “Arrow’s” sister show, which is fittingly titled “All-Star Team-Up,” teased Kreisberg: “In episode four of ‘Flash’ when Felicity came by, it wasn’t just a gag to have Felicity come by. It really was integrated into the story. When you reach what’s going on in ‘The Flash’ at that point in the season, Barry is really at a crossroads. Having Felicity come by exactly when he needs her really plays into the whole storyline. It’s fine because as Marc said, Ray Palmer is all about technology and STAR Labs is all about technology. We get to see Ray so happy to be in STAR Labs… With Cisco [Carlos Valdes] and Ray, they’re new best friends. The STAR Labs team is going to help Ray further his ATOM project.”

Routh was admittedly excited about the prospect of crossing over, telling Variety, “I’ve thought about that, because I’m a ‘Flash’ fan for sure — it’s a fun show and the energy of that show jives more with Ray’s energy, so I think he’ll definitely be a kid in a candy store over there, checking out all of their cool equipment and everything they have going on.”

“Arrow” airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. and “The Flash” airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.

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  1. Maria says:

    Felicity wasn’t dressed up in season 1. Most of the time she was wearing grey blouse and a skirt. Yeah there was two episodes of her being dressed up. They still had her saying things like “gorgeous Laurel” so they obviously we’re trying to make her the geeky girl saying things like that to the pretty girl. Anyway this article is old but I knew this would never work out and thank God for it. The show is Oliver. With original Team Arrow and Oliver + Felicity and Oliver’s relationship with Diggle and Thea. Laurel hasn’t been important to the overall storyline in a long time.

  2. Charles Harvard says:

    I believe that Felicity Smoak is the backbone of Arrow! I enjoyed previous episodes of her and Oliver’s adventures together. I don’t think I would enjoy Arrow without her!

  3. Dawn says:

    If they do get rid of Arrow I certainly will stop watching.

  4. cdhaskell says:

    I can’t wait to see how the writer will be able to developed the other cast’s individual storyline before Oliver return from the death.

  5. Liane says:

    Best reply ever? That a pretty white blonde is “not the girl you think about”?? What is Betts smoking and how much of it did she give to Kreisberg?

  6. Kate says:

    Can they please let go of this Felicity thing and stop shoving her character down our throats and into every scene and storyline. It’s getting ridiculous and tedious. I also feel like none of the characters are fleshed out or fully dimensional and the show has been on for three seasons. The show lacks depth and heart and watching The Flash has only made this more apparent. Every episode is the same thing… Flashback…Arrow Cave…Bad Guys…Arguing…Angst…More Arguing…More Angst…Flashback…over and over.

  7. This is so awesome. The more crossover the better so long as it makes sense. Don’t get greedy, CW. You have a good chemistry going between both shows it makes sense that Ray Palmer would be excited about S.T.A.R. labs.

  8. Laine says:

    Kreisberg is a moron. He needs to quit with the overkill and just keep Felicity on her own show. There are female characters on The Flash that don’t even have recognizable storylines but they are spending their time writing for characters on other shows and shoving them down our throats.

    And is The Flash in love with Felicity in a different timeline or was episode 4 a dream.

  9. RedLily says:

    Oh please Emily Bett Rickard, Felicity has been sexed up since S1, of course all of these men are after her.

  10. cdhaskell says:

    It will be interested to see how the writer will developed the other cast member since I don’t know when Oliver return and in what shape that he will be.

  11. Dmac says:

    Sooo, we have three men in love with Felicity, that isn’t annoying at all… We are also going to be subjected to a crossover with Felicity/Ray to Flash and the rise of the Lauren. I’m sorry I was never a hater of either of these characters, but after this interview I am starting to be annoyed by both of them.

    I don’t watch this show to see the furthur adventures of Felicity’s love life or Laurel and Ray. What about Diggle, Thea and Roy or God forbid Oliver, you know the Arrow. What is going on with this show?

  12. beth says:

    I love Felicity’s character -she is the heart and soul of Arrow. Before her, the show was bland and lacking something.. it was lacking her. She brought a much needed lightness to the show. Felicity is smart, funny, brave, and absolutely amazing. She’s a character that hasn’t really existed in a long time – a wonderful mixture of beauty and brains.

  13. Dawn says:

    I’m starting to resent Felicity, there’s too much focus on her and not the other characters.

  14. shel says:

    No way can they survive without Oliver especially with a character that is soo disliked. But i am interested to see what Laurel does in these next episodes.

  15. Paige says:

    Arrow without Oliver? I’d gladly take it if it meant characters like Laurel are finally being given the chance to grow and shine. I’ve been wanting to see Laurel rise and become the hero she was meant to be.

  16. brandy says:

    Things that aren’t need on The Flash: more Felicity.

  17. justtobesane says:

    So we have to suffer through Ray Palmer on The Flash too? Not great.

  18. Rawles Marie says:

    I have nothing against Felicity, Emily Bett Rickards, or Kreisberg, but in what alternate universe is a pretty blonde white woman being the object of every man’s affections somehow NOT the expected. It seems an especially tone deaf and inexplicable thing to say since it included a reference to The Flash where they’ve actually been unconventional as far as representation and have a black female romantic lead.

    • Paige says:

      I agree so much. I assume it’s so shocking~ to see, because Felicity was portrayed as the brainy, awkward girl and isn’t the “conventional” romantic option. It’s a trope that people tend to latch onto no matter who the character is and it’s being played into more than anything that it feels like the new standard for romance on shows like this. I don’t know why Felicity having two guys love her is so surprising, especially since they’ve hooked Felicity up with Oliver, Ray, AND Barry in one season. A pretty blonde white woman being the object of every man’s affection and attention is nothing new. The Flash casting a wonderful WOC as a female lead was an unconventional, but brilliant choice. Iris is a great example of a female lead. Also The Flash is miles ahead in terms of giving all their female characters/actresses the writing and focus they deserve without having to sideline one over the other, which is something Arrow has always struggled with.

  19. PETER JAY says:

    Emily the actress, Felicity needs to talk slower so the TV viewer can understand what she is saying. As all the actors on ARROW should do. Usually Routh and Amell are more trained, recite their lines more clearly. And the producers and writers won’t keep Steve Amell off ARROW for long. Everything about Amell is too much of the show and too much of the show’s success. The producers and writers won’t risk keeping the awesome Amell off for long. Finally, Oliver’s fight scene in the snow on top of the mountain was ridiculous. All this time Arrow successfully fights off gangs of the bad guys, but then he fumbles around in the snow, gets beaten, murdered, and tossed off the mountain. Hahahaha! Ridiculous! And Brandon Routh needs to get back to L.A. Fitness, if he’s gonna go shirtless in some scenes, and lose some of that baby fat!

  20. I hope they leave him in CC (The Atom/Ray)

  21. Sarah says:

    I hope Felicity’s journey leads her into a plot that doesn’t involve romance. I find it very sad that her entire character revolves around who she’s in a relationship with. Really excited for Nyssa and Laurel to be sharing the screen again. Really hoping that Nyssa takes over Laurel’s training. Basically, I’m here for Laurel and Nyssa getting screen time and Felicity getting to be more than a love interest.

    • Roxanne says:

      I agree with you! At first I liked Felicity’s character because she was sort of a breath of fresh air to the rather dark tone of the Arrow series. She made things lighter and more funny, and I hope that the writers can read these comments and refocus on her character development, and less on who she is dating/ romantically involved with. There were rumors swirling that she might become the future Oracle of the Batman series in an alternative timeline much much later on, when Barbara retires from the position.

  22. Betty says:

    I’m very happy to hear that the show is starting to make it clear that there are more heroes on Arrow than “just” the suited one. I look forward to Felicity having Felicity her own “journey” later this season. With all the other characters having established destinies, it’s important that she (and Diggle) get that too. Hopefully the comments from the show executives actually extends beyond words and starts showing up in actual content for Felicity and Diggle, who don’t wear masks. I also hopes this signals a much needed change in the public appearances and promotional events the network does moving forward, like Paleyfest, after the debacle that was the TCAs and it’s very misguided, misplaced, and ill-received heroes/villains theme.

    Going to miss Oliver, though. Oliver and Felicity are fabulous together, so I’ll miss that interaction. Oh, and hey, can’t Quentin Lance get a story? Where’d he go?

  23. cdhaskell says:

    We both know that Oliver will return from the dead after I don’t know how many episode. I hope that the return will return before the May sweep. IT will be interested to see what will happened until the Arrow will return from the dead and how he was able to .

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