Tonight’s episode of Arrow titled “Spectre of the Gun” deals not with bee-wielding bad guys or aliens from outer space — it instead tackles a very serious and very real threat of gun violence. As there are even members of Team Arrow who routinely use guns to do their vigilante justice, there will certainly be debates between the characters.
The Green Arrow as a character has long been associated with social issues — Mike Grell’s Green Arrow comic book run certainly did, and Green Lantern/Green Arrow by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams certainly tackled a lot. But tonight’s Arrow runs toward a topical issue head-on in a way that hour-long broadcast TV dramas haven’t in a while.
“I grew up in a time where it was commonplace — like literally every week — for a one-hour drama to tackle the issues of the day. Somewhere along the line we got away from that, the whole industry got away from that. And now you have Black-ish and Carmichael Show, but as far as network dramas are concerned, [they’re] really not tackling current events, current issues,” Executive Producer Marc Guggenheim explained to a room full of press earlier this week. “We went into Season 5 with the desire to, like, OK, it’s the fifth season. We’ve hopefully earned the freedom to. In 23 episodes of television, you can have 22 pieces of candy and one episode of vegetables. We sort of felt that gun violence felt like the right topic, a) because of its topicality but also because of the level of gun violence that is on Arrow. We could have done an episode on abortion, but that’s not really where the show lives, so gun violence really felt like the right thing to tackle.”
Fellow EP Wendy Mericle also saw tonight’s episode as an opportunity to have Oliver save the day ourside of the Green Arrow costume. “From a story perspective, it was really the challenge of figuring out what would an episode look like where we had to solve the issue of the day or the problem of the week with Oliver Queen as mayor as opposed to him gearing up as the Green Arrow. The other thing when Marc and I talked about doing it, when we talk about doing potentially more episodes like this going forward — you know, still one serving of vegetables a season, but still — is the idea that you want to start a conversation. AsCurtis says in the episode, is it’s important to at least talk about this. At some point we did get away from that, I think, as a country, and we would like the idea of hearing both sides and hearing both sides as fairly as possible,” she explained.
“Spectre of the Gun” also offers the chance to explore the backstory of Rene Ramirez, a.k.a. Wild Dog, as played by Rick Gonzalez. “I think there was a real appetite for us and the writing staff to do flashbacks from the perspective of one of our recruits so that we were just getting to learn more about them. We know a lot about Curtis, obviously. Rory left the team in 12. Evelyn had betrayed the team. And we also sort of already knew her backstory from Season 4. Rene felt like the right recruit at the right time for all the reasons Wendy was saying. He is a character whose whole superheroics revolve around guns,” Marc said. Rick does indeed play a large role in the episode, giving one of this installment’s best performances.
You can see “Spectre of the Gun” for yourself tonight at 8PM ET/PT on The CW!