For one, the hero is suffering from degenerative nerve damage inflicted during the explosion on Lian Yu at the end of the fifth season of the CW superhero drama. He’s been hiding this affliction from the rest of Team Arrow – aside from Dinah (Juliana Harkavy) who thinks he’s too compromised to be in the field. Compounding his concerns about whether or not he’s fit to be in field, Oliver (Stephen Amell) decided to step down from his role as Green Arrow and offer the hood to Diggle.
“I knew it would be a multi-episode arc, but within that framework you could easily just have a few action scenes and really concentrate on the Oliver A-story arc,” Ramsey tells Variety about Diggle’s time as Green Arrow. “It became more than that – it became about John’s morality – and seeing a John Diggle you haven’t seen before, not just in the Arrow suit, not just as a leader, but as a man whose values are compromised.”
Those compromises include Diggle taking a drug to stop the tremors in his hand so he can continue his fight as the Green Arrow. Here, Ramsey speaks with Variety about Diggle keeping secrets from the team, his wavering confidence and if Dinah can be his confidante in Season 6.
What did you think when you first heard about Diggle’s arc as Green Arrow this season?
I thought it was going to be a one-off at first, kind of the classic decoy. Then when I found out it wasn’t I was surprised – and then there was another level where I found out they were giving him a crossbow and I thought, ‘Wow, now they’re really committing.’ So at each level I was more and more impressed with their level of commitment to it.
With Dinah being the only person who knows what’s really going on with Diggle, does helping him keep that secret put a strain on their relationship?
It does. Dinah has some things as well, and she’s struggling with some things. They find a certain kindred spirit in each other as teammates. There will be less of a strain, and there are going to be some other things that cause a strain in their relationship. There are going to be some other problems within the team that go above and beyond Diggle’s drug use and his eventual revelation to the team that this is what he’s been doing, but that is about another story point that we haven’t quite hit on yet.
Diggle really has stronger relationships with each individual member on the team than Oliver ever did. How much longer can he keep his secret from them?
He won’t be able to keep it for too long. You would think that Diggle would struggling with the moral question of what he’s doing – hiding it – but there is much less of that than there is ‘I must keep this a secret, I must have the drug.’ The drug become the thing for Diggle. He has to have it to continue the mission. It doesn’t become a story on substance abuse; it becomes a story about seeing a different Diggle – whose morality is in such peril – that he places this drug above his better judgment.
The drugs he’s taking help with his tremors, but we’ve seen he’s clearly also shaken mentally by what happened at the end of last season. His confidence is shaken. Does that continue to be an issue?
By the end of the last episode he did learn to trust his instinct, he did learn that Oliver never knew the right way – he was just trusting his instinct and hoping he won more than he lost – and that was the lesson. Diggle got that, but the larger lesson of trusting your team – and trusting your team to a point of bearing your soul and being honest – that was lost on him. He doesn’t trust his team. He doesn’t trust them enough to tell them what’s going on. It will get to the point where it becomes a life and death thing.
“Arrow” airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on the CW.