Marc Guggenheim (left) and scenes from ‘Arrow’s’ ‘Canaries’ episode (right) (Getty/The CW)
Oliver Queen just can't seem to get anything right with the woman he carries in his heart -- Felicity Smoak -- on "Arrow."
He managed to overcome a seemingly mortal combat wound and return home to Starling City. But, last week, when he told Felicity that he needed to train with Malcolm Merlyn in order to defeat Ra's al Ghul, she was quite frankly, incensed. And, she broke our hearts and Oliver's when she told him she didn't want to be a woman that he loved.
Malcolm is dangerous, and the very man who drugged his own daughter, Thea Queen (Oliver's little sis), and programmed her to kill Team Arrow's good friend (and Oliver's ex) Sara Lance/Canary.
Oliver, though, will not be swayed. To save his sister and the people he cares about, he's about to train under the tutelage of Malcolm as the show resumes this Wednesday night at 8/7c on The CW. So for answers on Oliver's reaction to Felicity's comments, what's next with Malcolm and details on the return of Canary (who appears thanks to Count Vertigo II) and its effect on Laurel, Access Hollywood turned to Executive Producer Marc Guggenheim, who shared some major insight on this week's show. Plus, he previewed the upcoming return of Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett) later this month.
AccessHollywood.com: What reaction was Oliver hoping for when he returned and saw Felicity?
Marc Guggenheim: I do not think he was expecting what he got from Felicity. I think he was certainly expecting a reaction on everyone's part to the idea of training with Malcolm and sort of working with Malcolm, but suffice it to say, I don't think he expected Felicity to take as hard a [stance] as she did.
Access: It seems like Malcolm's kind of redeeming himself a little bit. OK yeah, he had Thea kill Sara, but he made a great leap in the [last episode]. I feel like changes are happening with Malcolm.
Marc: That's good to hear actually. One of the fun things about Season 3 for me is that Malcolm is this very – he's a very interesting sort of character in the sense that, is he a good guy? Is he a bad guy? Is he getting redeemed? And I think a lot of people, or reasonable minds will disagree on whether or not he has done anything of redemption just yet, whether or not he is capable of redemption. Certainly, Malcolm's morality and whether or not his soul can be saved is going to be to something that we're hitting over the remaining 10 episodes of the year. And I think it's very satisfying to me, as a writer working on the show, to watch people's reaction, debating whether or not Malcolm is redeemable because he really sort of started out as our sort of first villain that was of our -- proving our credo that even the villain is the hero of their own story. And to see that his morality continues to be in flux and continues to be the subject of debate is really, really interesting.
Access: Oliver and Malcolm – does Oliver see him as a means to an end or does he maybe have to care about this guy because he is the father of Oliver's sister, Thea?
Marc: I think he struggles with both of those things and I think he struggles with who Malcolm is as a person and what he needs from him as an asset and certainly, the fact that Malcolm is, on the one hand, Thea's father, on the other hand has done something which is unforgiveable to Thea, which is make Thea culpable and responsible for Sara's death -- it's not black and white for Oliver and Oliver's someone who likes to be able to look at things in a black and white way. But as we just discussed, there's really nothing about Malcolm that allows anyone, including Oliver, to look at him in a black and white way.
Access: Are we going to get some great training scenes with [John] Barrowman and Stephen Amell?
Marc: We are definitely doing some training. There's actually a wonderful training sequence in Episode 15, where it's Malcolm taking on Thea and Oliver in a three-way sword fight and a great – it's a great deal of fun and it's fun to see how Malcolm is as a teacher.
Access: Let's transition to Laurel. Oliver didn't want her to enter this world and she really picked things up when he was gone [as Black Canary]. How is he going to deal with Laurel being almost a super fighter now?
Marc: That's really the topic of Episode 13. Oliver has to struggle with his disapproval of Laurel going out and being the Black Canary and that's not something -- that's a conflict that is not going to [just] end with Episode 13. This is going to be a little bit of a process. Getting Oliver to sign off and be fully supportive of what Laurel is doing is -- it's a tall order and it's going to take a little while.
Access: Is there a chance we might see Oliver help Laurel out with her training?
Marc: At best, in the most tough-love way imaginable.
Access: Poor Laurel. But she's doing pretty good. I've been surprised to see how she's developing.
Marc: Oh good. Good. Well, you know, I think Oliver feels that she still has a very long way to go.
Access: Sara is back this week via the vertigo. What is her role in coming back with Laurel? Is Laurel going to learn something through this or is it just going to be tormenting her with her poor baby sister?
Marc: I would say both. She's certainly going to be tormented. I think the promos make that pretty clear, but there's also a lesson to be learned, as with most things on our show, that it's a real struggle that Laurel is going through, throughout the entire year really in terms of trying to be this hero, but also move on from her grief stemming out of Sara's death, combined with the increasing burden and difficulty of keeping Sara's death a secret from Lance. Laurel's dealing with a whole mess of, quite frankly sh** now, and certainly, she starts to unlock some of that thanks to Caity Lotz's involvement in Episode 13.
Access: We know that [in Episode 14], we're going to Lian Yu. What can you hint at about the return of Slade -- Manu Bennett? Awesome.
Marc: He's amazing and so watchable and such a great thing to have him back on the show, because he just – he brings so much to the show and I think because he's been off the stage for so long, his return is that much more exciting, and this story feels like a bit of a coda on Season 2. It creates a lot of opportunities for scenes that we didn't have the screen time to get into at the end of Season 2 when you're rushing towards the end of the season, so there's a lot of interesting, I think, moments and interactions between these two men who have had so much to do with each other and… their lives and their fates are intertwined. I don't want to spoil too much beyond that, but you're in for a treat seeing these two guys back together and, of course, there will be fighting.
Access: Nick Taraby is up in Lian Yu – Boomerang's up there. Any chance we might see him and [Manu and] there will be a mini-'Spartacus' reunion?
Marc: I wish. Unfortunately, no. There were budget and screen time limitations, unfortunately, so I would love to do that one of these days. We love Nick, but... there wasn't enough story space in Episode 14 to do that. There's a lot going on in 14. … In fact, it's like one of our longest episodes and it still is not long enough.
"Arrow" continues Wednesday at 8/7c on The CW.
-- Jolie Lash