Interview: Marc Guggenheim Previews Arrow’s “Blast Radius” & Beyond Interview: Marc Guggenheim Previews Arrow’s “Blast Radius” & Beyond
GreenArrowTV Interview with Arrow Executive Producer Marc Guggenheim Interview: Marc Guggenheim Previews Arrow’s “Blast Radius” & Beyond

The wait is over: Arrow returns tonight at 8PM on The CW, with an explosive episode that goes by the name of “Blast Radius.”

To promote the show’s return, GreenArrowTV was able to interview one of the show’s Executive Producers, Marc Guggenheim, about tonight’s show and the events that will follow in the coming weeks on the show… enjoy! Our questions to Mr. Guggenheim are posted in bold; his answers are not.

Blast RadiusGREENARROWTV’S CRAIG BYRNE: Where do things pick up when the show returns?

ARROW EXECUTIVE PRODUCER MARC GUGGENHEIM: It’s been several weeks since the events of the mid-season finale. The Arrow is hellbent on finding the, as he puts it, “the man in the skull mask” who he saw at the end of Episode 9, and he’s tearing apart Starling City looking for this man, knowing that the frustration of Cyrus Gold and the destruction of the Mirakuru serum were not the end of Starling City’s problems; that as long as this man in the skull mask is out there, he knows that there’s still a danger.

Obviously, what he doesn’t know is that in addition to Sebastian Blood, there is also Slade Wilson who has come to town. So, one of the bombs underneath the table is ‘where is Slade Wilson and when is Oliver going to find out that Slade Wilson is alive and well and in Starling City?

Can you tell us more about the Mark Scheffer character that Sean Maher is playing in “Blast Radius?”

Sean Maher is wonderful. We came back from the midseason finale wanting to do a little bit of an evergreen episode, to get us back into the feeling of Arrow. And when I say evergreen, I mean we didn’t want to make it too mythology-heavy; we just wanted a really great villain. In kicking around ideas around the room, we thought a really great villain, particularly at this moment in Oliver’s journey to becoming a hero, would be somebody who would actually threaten Starling City; the city itself, and place the city in some kind of huge jeopardy. As we talked about it, we talked about the idea of “what if there was a serial bomber in the city?” That would place everyone in jeopardy, including Oliver’s nearest and dearest. As we talked about it, the character of someone who is a little bit like a Timothy McVeigh started to come into focus, and the idea of someone who is such a patriot that they would basically become a terrorist, was very intriguing to us.

And, of course, it plays in an interesting counterpoint to the Arrow, who is, himself, embracing a certain form of anarchy by engaging in vigilantism. That makes for a really cool backdrop, and a good thing to throw into Oliver’s path, as he continues to look for the man in the skull mask.

Blast RadiusEpisode 10 [also] brings the Arrow together with Sebastian Blood, because if the city is going to be in jeopardy, who is going to come to the fore but Sebastian Blood? It basically makes for some very, very complex situations, because the Arrow knows that there’s a man out there in the skull mask, but he doesn’t know that Sebastian Blood is the man who wears the skull mask.

I give a lot of props to Kevin Alejandro. Whenever he’s in character as Sebastian Blood, and being the good alderman, he always makes me forget that he’s a bad guy. Every single time I see him on screen, I literally forget that “oh! He’s evil.” Because Kevin invests the public face of Sebastian with so much kindness, and so much goodwill, that it’s almost inconceivable that he would be in league with people looking to do bad.

Kevin has a wonderful scene coming up in Episode 11 where we get a chance to see Kevin Alejandro be evil without wearing that mask, and that’s a great deal of fun. It was fun to write for him, and it’s very fun to see him perform it.

The ScientistHave Oliver’s feelings for Felicity changed since Barry entered the picture?

That is a great question, and that is very much the subject of Episode 10. I wouldn’t know if we sort of pose that as ‘has his feelings for Felicity changed.’ I guess the reason I say that is, is that saying that Oliver’s feelings for Felicity have changed kind of presumes that Oliver even knows what his feelings are. And as I think we’ve probably routinely established on an almost episodic basis, is Oliver’s not someone who is very in touch with his feelings, or at least very comfortable in talking about them. So as a result, he handles things that are of any kind of emotional or romantic territory, not always in the best way, and I think Felicity discovers that the hard way in Episode 10.

Blind SpotWas it always the plan to do a big reveal of Slade in the present day? When did that come up?

I think when we decided to make Manu a series regular at the end of last year, we knew that we were going to tell the story of Slade Wilson being alive in the present, and being an antagonist to Oliver. I think pretty early on, it had just felt natural to us, that that reveal happened in the middle of the season. That felt right. Things are always up for discussion, and pieces do get moved around the board quite a bit, but that’s something we decided upon pretty early and have stuck to. It just felt right. And then, now we have the suspense of “when is Oliver going to learn that Slade is back in town, and of course, how does he find out?”

Blast RadiusThe next few episodes are said to be pretty heavy for Laurel. Is that correct?

Laurel’s downward spiral has really been her story of the season. She lost Tommy at the end of last season, and has been struggling to hold on to her hope ever since. We’ve seen over the course of the first nine episodes that she has developed an unhealthy habit with pills and with drinking, and that downward spiral is going to get worse before it gets better. But at the same time, it’s also going to actually overlap with what’s happening with the Arrow and the Mirakuru and Sebastian Blood and Slade Wilson, the meta-arc of the season. Put in broad strokes, Laurel’s personal storyline very muc crosses into the mythology of Season 2.

We have her mother coming back soon… can you talk about that family reunion?

Alex Kingston is returning [as Dinah Lance], which is really exciting for us, because we love Alex. She returns probably at Laurel’s lowest point.

Laurel is facing a lot of challenges. In addition to her addiction problems, she is also going to be drawn into the Arrow’s storyline, and that can never be good for Laurel.

Three GhostsOn the subject of the Mirakuru, what’s going on with Roy in the second half of the season?

Episode 9 ended with Slade in the past, being injected with the Mirakuru, and Roy in the present being injected with the Mirakuru. Episode 10 sort of picks up and we see the other side of the coin for them. If Episode 9, you learned that the Mirakuru heals you and also makes you strong, Episode 10 shows that nothing comes without a cost, and the downsides become pretty apparent, actually, to both men, very quickly, and Roy is going to face some dark times, and he’s going to face some real difficult struggles. We said at the beginning of the season that Roy was going to go through a crucible this year, and that crucible, for him, is the Mirakuru.

Are we ever going to be able to see how exactly Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) survived?

There’s no plans at the moment. I don’t want to spoil too much, but there really are no plans at the moment. I sort of feel like we’ve moved past that point, and it would be regressing. There’s a lot more story to tell with Malcolm, but I think all that story is best told looking forward rather than looking back.

Looking forward, then, is there any chance we might have a scene with Malcolm and Dinah Lance this time?

You know, total transparency: Not this go-round. We keep trying. We actually really would love to do it, even if it was like a joke and they pass each other in the hallway and do a double-take, but we weren’t able to line up John’s schedule and Alex’s schedule to make it happen this time. We did have a story idea, but actor availability made it impossible to make that work. So, hopefully this show will have a nice, long life, and we love having both Alex and John on the show. I wouldn’t say it’s a matter of “if” but just simply a matter of “when,” because definitely, the desire is there. We’d be crazy not to do it, but there are certain realities that we are limited by. The actors being in the right time and place, for one thing.

What can you reveal about Nyssa al Ghul, and what brings her to Starling City?

I don’t want to spoil what brings her to Starling City, but I will say that it’s one of our best episodes this season. Episode 13, which introduces Nyssa. Katrina Law, by the way, is absolutely phenomenal. She really is a perfect bit of casting. Katrina is wonderful in the role, and gave us everything we needed to tell that story, in a really, really wonderful way. You haven’t seen the last of the League of Assassins, and we’re hoping that you’ll enjoy your first look at Nyssa.

Is there any chance we’ll see Barry Allen on Arrow again before the season is over?

I don’t know, is the honest answer. Everything always gets talked about, and there are all different sorts of possibilities, but I really don’t know. We haven’t hit upon anything just yet. I know that Greg, Geoff, and Andrew are really focused on making the Flash pilot as amazing as it can be, and that’s really where the focus should be. If it’s in the cards, it’ll happen; but if it’s not in the cards, then it won’t.

Have you found yourself surprised by any concepts that DC has allowed you to play withBlast Radius on the show?

I don’t know if “surprised” is the right word. Honestly, DC has been amazing. They’ve been so encouraging, and very cooperative. Even name-dropping Ra’s al Ghul in Episode 5; even that was the product of several months’ worth of casual conversations. So, by the time we get official permission, it doesn’t feel like a surprise. We’re always very open with us about our plans, and they’re always very open with us with their plans and their needs in terms of other DC-related shows and whatnot.

We actually have some very cool DC things coming up. Nothing I can announce just yet, because they really are their own sort of stories, but the level of DC integration, I think it’s fair to say we’ve found a way to kick it up a notch.

Do you have any final words that you’d like to say to the show’s fan base?

Thank you for the support of the show. You guys have been amazing as always, and all of us involved with the show, we really appreciate how supportive you are. We hope we don’t let you down!

“Blast Radius” airs at 8PM (ET) tonight on The CW! Take a look at some preview images and come by our forum to join the countdown!

Craig Byrne

Craig Byrne has been writing about TV on the internet since 1995. He is also the author of several published books, including Smallville: The Visual Guide and the show's Official Companions for Seasons 4-7.