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‘Arrow’ Boss Previews Parental Oliver, Deathstroke’s Return and Unmasking Vigilante in Season 6

Arrow’s” fifth season ended on one of the biggest cliffhangers in the show’s history run. Oliver (Stephen Amell) followed Adrian Chase (Josh Segarra) back to Lian Yu to save his team as well as his estranged son, William (Jack Moore). The episode ends with Oliver and William on a boat watching the island go up in flames with his team still on it.

Obviously, the show isn’t going to kill off the majority of it’s main characters, and as executive producer Marc Guggenheim tells Variety, the theme for the sixth season is “family,” which can be interpreted as “biological family but also extended family and found families.”

“We spent Season 5 building up this idea of Team Green Arrow, and we sort of built an engine and a car. Now we’re going to put that car through the paces in Season 6. We’re really going to focus on the ensemble this year,” Guggenheim says.

Ahead of the sixth season premiere, Guggenheim talks with Variety about the return of Deathstroke (Manu Bennett), Oliver as a father, and finally unmasking Vigilante.

Season 5 felt like the show had come full circle in a lot of ways. The flashbacks of Oliver’s time on the island came back around to meet up with the first scene in the pilot, and he finally seemed to be coming to terms with being a part of a team. Did Season 6 feel like the beginning of a new era for the show?

Yes and no. We definitely felt that we were starting a new era in the sense that we’re no longer telling serialized flashbacks – Oliver’s arc came to a clear and definitive end – but at the same time I kind of feel we pick up where we left off with Season 5. In some ways episode 6.01 feels like episode 5.24. It’s certainly a fresh start for Oliver, but for the rest of the show it feels like a continuation of Season 5.

Oliver never really defeated Prometheus in Season 5. He was 10 steps behind him right up until Prometheus offed himself and set off the explosions on the island. Where is Ollie’s head at, having been beaten throughout the entirety of Season 5?

That’s an interesting way of looking at it. I don’t know if we had been seeing it so much as a defeat. Obviously, Prometheus was 10 steps ahead of him at every turn, but it’s weird because we handed the hero a defeat while also handing Oliver this really important personal victory. If you go back and watch the last few episodes of Season 5, hopefully you’ll see a real turn that Oliver takes as a person. He chooses not to kill Prometheus it really is a culmination of “I’m going to move on from my past. I’m going to leave all these things that had been haunting me in the past where they belong, and I’m going to move forward as my own man.”

Yes, it was a defeat for Oliver as a hero because the hero should always get the villain, but it was a victory for Oliver as a person because he finally became the person that I think he always wanted to be.

Do we see a more parental side of Oliver this season?

I don’t want to spoil whether or not William’s mother is alive. I will say that Oliver will be taking a greater role in William’s life than he had up to this point. It’s a real different kind of show this year. We’ve got scenes with Oliver and William that we’ve never done before. We’re always talking about how we avoid repeating ourselves and change things up – William is definitely a big part of that answer.

What can you talk about Manu Bennett coming back as Deathstroke for an arc this season?

We love Manu, and working with him. There is a reason he’s a favorite of so many fans. It was something that we had always wanted to do – and I just watched episode 6.06 which is the second part of the Slade Wilson story – and it is a deep dive. You’re going to get a lot of Slade Wilson and hopefully some insight into his character that will be revealing some layers to him that you didn’t know were there.

As far as I can remember the show has never really carried a mystery from one season to another – yet you chose to keep Vigilante’s identity a secret throughout Season 5. Why was his identity chosen to be kept under wraps, and will we finally learn it this season?

In part because we’ve never done it before. As we were working on the back half of Season 5 we kept thinking “when are we going to turn this card over?” As we were building the season we realized there was no good place where we would reveal who Vigilante is without it feeling forced. We don’t have a perfect record on this, but we try very hard not to force things on the show. Carrying a mystery across seasons is a luxury a lot of network shows don’t have. So we decided to wait and do it in Season 6.

“Arrow” Season 6 premieres Oct. 12 at 9 p.m. on the CW

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