“Arrow” stars Brandon Routh (Ray Palmer) and Emily Bett Rickards (Felicity Smoak) are pulling double-duty on The CW this week, crossing over with their sister show “The Flash” on Tuesday night before returning to Starling City on Wednesday. In Tuesday’s “Flash,” titled “All Star Team Up,” Felicity and Ray assist Barry (Grant Gustin) and Team Flash when a meta-human named Brie Larvin (Emily Kinney) unleashes hundreds of robotic bees to attack and kill her former co-workers, including Dr. Tina McGee (Amanda Pays).
Then on Wednesday’s “Arrow,” titled “Broken Arrow,” Lance (Paul Blackthorne) continues his mission to take down the Arrow (Stephen Amell) so Felicity orders Oliver to keep a low profile. But when a meta-human named Jake Simmons (Doug Jones) — who kills people with blasts of energy and plasma — starts terrorizing Starling City, Oliver is forced to ask Ray for help.
Variety spoke to Routh about his “Flash” guest spot and what’s ahead for Ray as we approach “Arrow’s” season finale, including his ever-evolving relationship with Felicity.
Ray and Felicity are heading to “The Flash” to get some help from STAR Labs this week; what kind of assistance does Ray think they can offer him?
Following the Atom versus Arrow interaction, Ray’s suit has been compromised by Oliver Queen’s very good aim, so I need a little help trying to figure out what to do with my power source, because I feel a little incapable. [Laughs.]
The episode summary for “All Star Team Up” also describes a disastrous group dinner with Barry, Felicity, Ray, Iris (Candice Patton) and Eddie (Rick Cosnett) — why is it so terrible?
Unbeknownst to Ray — and he gets more information as the episode progresses — there’s trouble in paradise brewing over in “Flash,” and Ray is very talkative as always, trying to drive the conversation, and people keep leaving the table, and these odd looks go around. It definitely plays into the whole episode, but Ray’s none the wiser as it plays out.
I love that Ray is just this energetic ball of positivity. Given all that he’s lost, it’s nice to see that his trauma hasn’t hardened him the way Oliver’s terrible experiences have made him more emotionally unavailable.
It’s a different energy to have around in each show, and I think there are good things and bad things about living that way — being too far above the fray doesn’t allow you to see the reality of what’s happening sometimes. I think Ray gets so caught up in the excitement of technology or just being liked that he’s not grounded sometimes. And that’s something that will be part of his journey, the balance of living in both of those places and how to transition between them.
How does that journey impact his relationship with Felicity? He told her he loved her in the last episode of “Arrow,” and she didn’t say it back…
Ray makes an excuse or jumps to his own conclusions about why Felicity didn’t say “I love you” back, or say anything, or respond at all, because he’s happy. And also, based on the knowledge that he now has that she and Oliver had a relationship — it’s too much to handle, too much to compute, so he’s not really computing it, living in the world that he wants to live in. So as the episode progresses and the next few episodes progress, as Ray becomes more involved with Team Arrow, he’s able to see Felicity and Oliver interact, and I think that brings him back to the reality that he’s not the only suitor, and he understands more of where her feelings are.
“All Star Team Up” sees Felicity taking on a villainous tech whiz called Brie Larvin — how is it for Ray, getting to see her in the midst of the action for once?
Ray has always thought Felicity is fully capable of pretty much anything, I think that’s one of the most wonderful qualities about him — he doesn’t shortchange anybody, he allows them to live up to their full potential. So without question, he follows her. As much as he is the leader of Palmer Tech, he’s very willing and accepting to let her take the lead, and the rest of Team Flash as well, and just does his part where that’s concerned.
When you’re shooting crossover episodes like this week’s “Flash,” does it feel different from a regular episode on “Arrow”?
There’s something special about it; it’s fun to interact with other actors and other characters and have different energies. Ray is different with different people, depending. He doesn’t react the same to anyone, so that’s exciting from a creative standpoint and a work standpoint, for me personally. And from a viewer standpoint, looking at the episodes, I think it makes it more epic and action-packed. The more people you can bring into something that are affected by a Big Bad or some challenging situation, the cooler it is — it raises the stakes. That’s what the first “Arrow”-“Flash” crossover did, and now having a mini “Arrow”-“Flash” crossover with Felicity and Ray coming over just adds that different energy and excitement as we team up. The more the merrier any time you get the team-up stuff in the world of superheroes.
In this week’s “Arrow,” Oliver asks Ray for help taking on DC Comics villain Deathbolt (Jones). How is Ray feeling about him now that Oliver’s secret is out in the open?
I think he definitely feels like a bit of a fool, reacting the way he did, and that feeling is created because of the way Oliver ends the fight — his true nature really comes out, that he is not a crazed vigilante, that he’s an honorable man — and I think that allows Ray to have massive respect for him in that moment. And whatever has come between them, even in the world of Felicity, is forgiven because there’s no point in begrudging this guy, because in that moment Ray can see all that he’s done for the city and for Felicity and for Ray too.
How does Ray’s first official mission as a protector of Starling City go?
It definitely has hiccups… Ray, for as smart as he is, gets very excited and some problems and issues don’t get checked, and so thankfully, again, Oliver is there to help save the day. They really are forced to team up to combat this new threat to Starling City, because we don’t often get meta-humans in Starling and we’re posed with having to take care of this issue. Ray has a really cool suit, but he needs to be more than just a super-suit, and that’s where Oliver can come in, and I think they both get a bit of respect for each other in the next episode, so it’s a bonding episode.
What can you tease about what’s ahead for Ray and Team Arrow in the build-up to the season finale?
Ray continues to be a part of helping Team Arrow and spends a lot more time with everyone and is able to see the dynamics of how the team works, how a team does work, what is his role and even more, the interactions between Oliver and Felicity and how the relationships play out. Definitely all that becomes more evident to Ray and Ray’s journey progresses to wherever it’s going. [Laughs.]
“The Flash” airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. and “Arrow” airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.