'Arrow' postmortem: What's next for Team Arrow after Oliver's big decision?
Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Wednesday’s episode of Arrow. Read at your own risk!
Oliver Queen is no more.
With Thea (Willa Holland) on death’s door, Oliver (Stephen Amell) was forced to take up Ra’s al Ghul’s (Matt Nable) offer: Join the League of Assassins in exchange for saving his sister’s life by putting her in the Lazarus Pits. Naturally, that had disastrous consequences during Wednesday’s episode of Arrow.
Though Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) tried to trick Oliver by drugging him after they slept together so Team Arrow could help him escape, Oliver took his place as the Heir to the Demon. But is Oliver completely dedicated to the League? “Episode 21 answers that question pretty definitively,” executive producer Marc Guggenheim teases. What else is in store for Starling’s former savior and those he left behind? Here are highlights of what’s ahead:
Team Arrow is struggling: “One of the things we talked about is how is Team Arrow functioning post-Oliver,” Guggenheim says. “We didn’t want to go too much into crime on the rise because we felt like we did that with Brick. But certainly you’ll see in 21 and 22 what Team Arrow is up to and how they’re working to continue to protect the city while Oliver is away.” But Oliver’s absence this time around is very different than when they thought he was dead. “Knowing that he’s out there and alive, but a member of the League of Assassins, that’s a whole lot harder,” he says. “[Episode] 321 is one of our most emotional episodes. 321 is a villain of the week episode—it just so happens that the villain of the week is Oliver.”
However, the new trio that makes up Team Arrow (Laurel, Diggle and Felicity) will be able to lean on each other. “They’re processing things in different ways,” Guggenheim says. “Laurel (Katie Cassidy) is throwing herself into her work saving the city. Felicity is struggling with heartbreak and grief. She really goes through the seven stages of grief with Oliver (David Ramsey). Something happens in 21 that upends Diggle’s world vis-a-vis Oliver. That will have repercussions for the remainder of the season.”
The love Oliver left behind: “One thing that was really important to us in the writers’ room was there was a strong desire to have Oliver and Felicity sleep together before the events of the season finale,” Guggenheim says. “We wanted to take that off the table prior to the season finale.” Fear not, that cryptic quote does not mean that Felicity is pregnant. But there could still be a silver lining for Olicity ‘shippers. “The last three episodes of the season spend a lot of time addressing the question ‘Is there hope for Oliver?'” Guggenheim says. “Is there hope for Oliver in Felicity’s mind? 21 and 22 have some specific things to say about that and Felicity’s coming to grips with the conclusion of episode 20.”
The end of one relationship: Yes, Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) and Felicity are definitely done, but we have not seen the last of Ray. Though the Atom isn’t part of Team Arrow, we will see him interact with the trio “in an organic way,” Guggenheim says. “Every time he interacts with Team Arrow or aligns himself with Team Arrow, there’s a story reason behind it, as opposed to the assumption that he’s part of the team now. Ray plays a large role in all of the events in 22 and 23.” That could be because Ray will offer up his lab at Palmer Technologies as a new home base for Team Arrow. “That said, you haven’t seen the last of the lair yet,” Guggenheim teases. As for Felicity and Ray’s relationship, “They do have a very meaningful exchange in episode 22, but we’re not going to do an off-again-on-again thing with them,” Guggenheim says. “Romantically, this is where we leave them.”
Severe side effects: Thea still has a ways to go before getting back to normal—if she even can—after her dip in the Lazarus Pits. “You can expect that there will be more consequences,” Guggenheim says. “We established very clearly that the Lazarus Pit returns you, but not always in the condition in which you left. There’s a lot of stories to be told with Thea and her recovery.” When it comes to her relationship with Malcolm (John Barrowman), who truly is at fault for most of what has happened this season, Guggenheim says that by the end of the season, there will be some closure between father-daughter.
Roy’s return: Though Roy Harper (and Colton Haynes) left Starling, we will see him back before season’s end to wrap up a certain storyline. “The thing we felt we owed the audience more than anything was some closure with Thea,” Guggenheim says, teasing Roy will return in episode 22. “Obviously the circumstances under which Thea is in episode 320, she was too busy getting ‘killed’ by Ra’s to say goodbye to Roy. We owe the audience some closure for this three season long love story between these two characters.”
Nyssa’s revenge? Fans of the former Heir to the Demon (Katrina Law) should definitely tune into next week’s episode where “we’ll learn a lot of things about Nyssa,” Guggenheim says. “Not in terms of backstory, but how she reacts to things and how she’s dealing with life post-[Ra’s offer to Oliver] and how Oliver joining the League affects her both emotionally and as a practical matter. There’s a lot of Nyssa still to come and she looms very large in these final three episodes.”
Speaking of disgruntled League members: “Maseo’s soul is very much in play,” Guggenheim teases, pointing to Maseo’s run-in with Diggle. “That dynamic plays out in the final three episodes of the season. How things end in the present and whether or not he can be redeemed is definitely one of the questions we’re building up towards.” We’ll also see more of his wife Tatsu in the present.
Other returning faces: Diggle’s lady love Lila will be back, but probably not getting in on the action in the final episodes. “She’s happy being a wife and mother,” Guggenheim says. “Right now, her biggest responsibility is being supportive of Diggle.” Meanwhile, Guggenheim promises both Deathstroke and Amanda Waller aren’t off the table. In fact, when it comes to the latter, “We have a story idea for her in season 4,” he says.
The mysterious new set: Though Guggenheim is staying tight-lipped on the new set he tweeted about, the EP did offer a few cryptic teases: “Right now, there are no plans for it to play beyond episode 323,” he says. “It requires a fair amount of green screen to make work. The scene that we shot features Ra’s, Nyssa, and Oliver.”
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.
– Reporting by Will Robinson