The stakes couldn’t be higher for Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) in the Feb. 24 installment of “Arrow,” after last week’s episode ended with the brutal reveal that Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) had kidnapped the Emerald Archer’s son, William (Jack Moore).
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and in Wednesday’s episode, “Taken,” Oliver turns to an old ally — Mari McCabe, aka Vixen (Megalyn Echikunwoke), a hero who can access the abilities of animals thanks to her mystical Tantu Totem — for help with Darhk. While Oliver and Mari have never shared the screen on “Arrow” before, the duo (along with Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen from “The Flash”) previously met on CW Seed animated series “Vixen,” which serves as an origin story for Echikunwoke’s character.
“She’s a badass superhero from Detroit and she, for our purposes in ‘Arrow,’ is able to do some things to counteract Damien Darhk that we haven’t seen before, and that he hasn’t seen before,” Amell tells Variety. “Oliver’s very much of the mind at the beginning of the episode — when they realize that Darhk has William — he has a line where he says, ‘We just have to fight harder and smarter,’ and the team actually talks him down and says, ‘No, no — whatever we do against this guy, he has an answer, so we need to think outside the box,’ at which point Oliver considers Vixen.”
Some “Arrow” fans have been troubled by the fact that Oliver has been keeping William’s existence a secret from his fiancee Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) this season, but the cat’s about to come out of the bag, judging by the promo for tonight’s episode.
While the consequences of that omission remain to be seen, Amell says he and Rickards strove to ground the situation with emotional honesty, as everyone’s immediate priority is William’s safety.
“This information, it’s unfortunate — obviously it’s a secret that Oliver has kept from Felicity. Whether it was right of him to keep the secret or wrong of him to keep the secret, there are more important factors in play once they find out that a child has been abducted — any child, let alone Oliver’s son,” he points out. “So, we just wanted to deal with it in a very adult manner, and that involves kind of shelving the issues as they pertain to our relationship until we locate and hopefully bring back William.”
Darhk’s decision to use a child as leverage is undeniably evil, but it was Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) who chose to share William’s existence with Darhk in the first place, and when Oliver discovers Malcolm’s betrayal, that act of malice will alter their relationship forever, according to Amell.
“We have seen moments of uneasy alliance and even quiet, humorous moments and some moments of actual appreciation between Oliver to Malcolm [in the past], and I think it’s safe to say that for however long Malcom Merlyn is walking the Earth, that bridge has been burned forever,” Amell says. “So it will be interesting to see what they do with the Oliver-Malcom dynamic, because they’ve never really been sworn enemies. They’ve gone up against each other in battle … but the betrayal of giving up Oliver’s son is something that they can never come back from, ever.”
After “Taken,” “Arrow” will go on a mini-hiatus until March 23, and Amell says that when the show returns, “we are really building towards our endgame after the conclusion of this episode. I feel safe to say that there is a victory of sorts within 415, but going forward — and as we learn sometimes with the show — victories aren’t always what they seem, so we have some good stuff coming up.”
And don’t think the show has forgotten about those ominous flash-forwards set beside a mystery grave. “We also obviously have to tie up the flash forward from the beginning of the season,” Amell notes. “That was always gonna happen in the final third of the season. We’re catching up with that timeline so that’s stuff that we’ve been dealing with recently, and it’s been some challenging times on set, but I think it’s producing good television, for sure.”
Come back tomorrow for part two of our interview with Amell, in which we’ll discuss his cameo on this week’s episode of “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” and his role in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.”
“Arrow” airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.