After only three episodes, so very much has happened on The CW’s Arrow, not the least of which is the death of a major character. That event from the premiere will have a continued impact throughout the first half of the season. As we’ve already seen in last week’s episode, Laurel is dealing with her grief by getting involved in crime fighting, but needs training. Since Oliver won’t train her, she turns to professional fighter Ted “Wildcat” Grant. While at a set visit in Vancouver, Nerdist and several other outlets spoke to stars Stephen Amell (Oliver) and Katie Cassidy (Laurel) about their characters’ friction, Laurel’s training with Grant, and the arrival of Nyssa (Katrina Law) in tonight’s episode, “The Magician.”
Vengeance seems to be the word on everyone’s lips concerning Sara, for Oliver, Laurel, and Nyssa. Amell said of the year as a whole, “The theme of the season is identity, and I know everyone has talked about that. What we haven’t been able to say is he’s thrown into this conundrum because of Sara’s death. So I think right now Oliver can’t see past the idea of being the Arrow. That’s it. One of the cool things we’re doing this year is we’re setting up a world by the end of the season where ultimately he will have that choice and one way or another he will make it. But vengeance and revenge is certainly on his mind at the moment.”
He also told us that tensions will run high between Oliver and Laurel as the next few episodes unfold. “The dynamic has been very adversarial, actually,” Amell said. “What she wants and what he’s prepared to reciprocate are at odds with one another and that carries through certainly the fall run of the show.”
Cassidy shed further light on their strained relationship. “She’s obviously angry and lashing out, and she wants to find out who did this to her sister, and I don’t necessarily think that Oliver is too supportive of that.” The actress also says her character is not as weak as Oliver might perceive her to be. “Laurel is very strong,” Cassidy said, “and I think that she stands for what she believes in, and she’s a warrior. She’s a survivor. And I think hopefully, she will be able to prove it to him, and I think hopefully, he will be on her side, and support her. But who knows?”
One aspect of Laurel’s character from the get-go was that people assumed she’d be the Black Canary, but Caity Lotz’ beloved interpretation of Sara Lance/Canary made a lot of fans second guess. Now, though, it does seem like Laurel becoming Black Canary is an inevitability. Cassidy told us about picking up the mantle, and also that her take on the famous hero will ultimately be different from her onscreen sister’s. “I think [Sara] very much possibly inspires Laurel to take over the role of the Black Canary,” she explained. “Physically, I think from Season 2 to Season 3, you can see physically a change in her. Laurel is very – I mean, yes, she is emotional, and cries a lot, but I do feel like she’s a very strong person, and I do feel like she has the drive, and the strength, and I think that she would be that strength that Caity was, but more internally.”
Malcolm Merlyn will make his return to Starling City tonight, and Amell had some interesting things to tell us about Oliver’s meeting with him again. “It is a costume-less, weapon-less, fisticuff-less exchange,” he said after a smile. “Concurrently, it’s probably the most charged exchange that we’ve had in the show. We shot it in our 50th episode, fourth episode this year, and for me personally, I love these things on TV when something is set up and you let it lay for a while.” And let it lay they did – a whole season in fact. “In our case,” he continues, “we’re talking about letting it lie for 27 episodes — between the season 1 finale and episode 4 of season 3.”
Amell also marveled at his costar John Barrowman’s acting chops and how it’s a sparring match between them as well. “Just playing scenes with John is a growing exercise for me as an actor because there’s so many things that he does and chances that he will take that I feel are expanding my character and I’m feeling the repercussions personally on a professional/technical level in the aftermath of episode 4 and I’m bringing them into scenes as we move through the season.”
“The Magician” reintroduces Nyssa into the fold and Amell explained that she brings yet another interpretation of grief and vengeance to Team Arrow. “She’s a ticking time bomb,” the actor told us. “She leaves [the episode] as a ticking time bomb and Oliver leaves with a whole host of new enemies. He feels very much as though it’s his responsibility to bring whoever did this to justice.” Amell also teased that the plot thread involving the mystery is particularly twisty. “And I will say that of all of the convoluted, devious plans that we’ve ever had on the show, the “Who killed Canary?” device is right at the top.”
But it’s not all butting heads, and the actor under the hood thinks that Nyssa’s gotten a lot of growth in the coming episodes. “There’s an opportunity for them to work in concert in Episode 4,” he told us, “but Oliver’s methods and Nyssa’s methods don’t match up. She’s the ‘Shoot them all, figure it out afterwards’ and Oliver’s like, ‘I used to be that way! I’m not anymore.’ So that creates the conflict for them. But Katrina [Law] has been excellent this year. We’ve seen her a few times now and it’s always a treat, I think, that she has fleshed out the Nyssa character.”
He also dropped some subtle, and of course not particularly spoilery, hints about Nyssa’s old man who will show up this year: Mr. Ra’s al Ghul. “I think it’s been probably helpful for Matt [Nable], who’s been playing her father and having such a strong, fleshed out character as his daughter has probably given him a really nice signpost for how to play Ra’s.” Amell raved about Nable’s performance and tells fans to expect great things when he finally saunters onto the screen. “I had my first opportunity to work with him recently and he’s wonderful. He’s really good. The character has a very worldly feel without being… I wouldn’t call it ‘exotic’ at all…he grounds it and he puts it into our world.” Amell concluded by saying that Ra’s al Ghul’s first moments on screen will “create a lot of chatter.” Intriguing.
Arrow continues to be one of the best genre shows on TV and with a cast as devoted as this one, it’s easy to get excited. “The Magician” premieres tonight at 8/7c on The CW and be sure to check out my recap Thursday morning.