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Can Team Arrow survive the events of Arrow‘s winter finale?

Believing he had Prometheus in his sights, Oliver (Stephen Amell) accidentally killed Felicity’s (Emily Bett Rickards) boyfriend, which will send her down a path of darkness as she seeks revenge against this season’s big bad. Diggle (David Ramsey), meanwhile, was lead into a trap and once again arrested. But it was the guilt-ridden Oliver who faced the biggest obstacle of all: The inexplicable resurrection of Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy). What’s next? EW turned to executive producer Marc Guggenheim to get some answers:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Now that Oliver knows Prometheus’ vendetta is personal, what’s his next move?
MARC GUGGENHEIM: He learned two critical things in the midseason finale that will help him track down and identify Prometheus: He learned that Prometheus and he share a trainer, and he learned that Prometheus obviously was Justin Claybourne’s illegitimate son. That gives him two good clue trails to be following. He’ll be doing that in fits and starts as the season kicks back up.

But now that Oliver knows this information, does that change Prometheus’ M.O. at all?
No, I think Prometheus has a very clear plan. He’s not altering his plan to make accommodations to anything that Oliver has learned.

How does Prometheus force Oliver to reassess his decisions?
This goes to the larger arc of the year, which is Oliver questioning the consequences of his actions in general. What has been the prevailing theme of the season is Oliver is trying to grow and develop as a person, but the actions of his past keep literally haunting him, so it’s going to affect Oliver in a very big way going forward for the rest of the year.

You mention the trainer is somebody they have in common, which seems to be Talia al Ghul (Lexa Doig). Can you talk about her arrival?
Talia provides a lot of key elements to what becomes Oliver’s crusade. We’ll also be dealing very directly with the fairly obvious question, which is: Wait a second, when Oliver met Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable), why didn’t he say, “Hey, wait a minute, I think I met your daughter back in Russia!” We have a very specific answer for that.

How different is Talia to Nyssa al Ghul (Katrina Law)?
She’s definitely her own person; she’s not a Nyssa clone, by any stretch. You can definitely sense a familial resemblance. Having Ra’s al Ghul as your dad, it’s likely to forge a very specific kind of person. They’re close enough and different enough that I would love, at some point, to do a story with Nyssa and Talia. I think that would be a lot of fun.

Can you talk about how the team will react to Laurel’s return?
I would say they react pretty positively. Obviously, this is wonderful news. We have a very good explanation as to how Laurel returned. The team is, by and large, pretty happy. Bear in mind, there are a few members of the team that didn’t know Laurel, so it’s fun to see their reaction, especially when they learn that time travel played a role in it.

What can you tease for Felicity moving forward? She wants revenge on Prometheus over the death of Malone (Tyler Ritter), so how dark will she go and how far will she go to get it?
This is something we went into the season with. At the beginning of every year, we figure out: What do we want to see our characters go through? What are their emotional journeys for the season? We were intrigued by the idea of Felicity flirting with the dark side. The reason I say flirting is Felicity is very much the light of the show; she provides a lot of lightness in what is otherwise a very dark drama. One thing you don’t want to do is you don’t want to tell a story where she suddenly starts becoming this dark element. You don’t want to tell a story where all the reasons why people love the character are gone. It’s this delicate balancing act.

In the wake of Malone’s death, she’s very influenced by her prior four years of watching Oliver and Diggle — and Laurel, Roy (Colton Haynes), and Thea (Willa Holland) for that matter. She’s been watching Team Arrow respond to darkness with what I would describe as moral compromise. What we’ve done is we’ve found a story where Felicity could be tempted by taking moral shortcuts in the name of the greater good, which is very much in keeping with the central dilemma at the heart of the whole show, which is becoming judge, jury, and executioner is the ultimate moral shortcut. She’s not going to become judge, jury, and executioner, she’s not going to become a killer, but we found the Felicity version, or the Felicity equivalent, of making a moral compromise in order to accomplish good.

Having been through situations like this himself, will Oliver be able to help Felicity navigate this? Or is she pushing everyone away?
I don’t think she’s really pushing everyone away, but she’s definitely on her own path. The best answer to the question is it’s neither one or the other fully. Oliver for sure will be trying to — not help her — but give her some guidance. In episode 12, both Diggle and Felicity, for different reasons, are flirting with some darkness in their lives. Oliver basically, in this really great moment, tells both Felicity and Diggle, “Look, I’m basically a dark dude, I do bad things, but the ship has sailed with me. The whole reason I am aligned with you guys is because you guys are fundamentally just better people, you guys are more moral than I am.” Part of the fun of that episode is seeing how that advice to both Diggle and Felicity operates on them. It’s not necessarily going to operate on them the same way.

Diggle seems to be facing the consequences of being set up by his C.O. head-on now. What’s next for him?
Coming into the second half of the season, we felt a very strong impulse to basically bring the whole General Walker storyline from the beginning of the year to a conclusion. There’s a reason why we returned Diggle to prison and it’s all to set up what will be a climactic episode. We’ve dedicated basically a whole episode to resolving the General Walker storyline. What’s nice about that episode, that’s episode 12, is that it ties into Oliver’s Russia storyline, it ties into Felicity’s storyline, and it even echoes back to the Diggle storyline with his brother last season. So a lot of threads get tied together and some threads get tied up in that 12th episode.

What can you tease for the introduction of Tina Boland and what we’ll be seeing for her?
You’ll get a glimpse of her at the end of the midseason premiere. It’s funny, I don’t want to tease too much about her. There’s a lot of stuff that’s out on the internet in terms of casting breakdowns, which I hate talking about because a lot of the casting breakdowns we release are false because we know they leak. But I think we have a really wonderful character here. Juliana [Harkavy], who plays her, is a terrific actress. We’re going to be doing some new and different kinds of things. Because of the internet, I guess I’m very tempted to — as always — I’d prefer to let the story tell itself and play out, and then people can make up their minds.

We know Oliver is going to end up back on that island. We know Susan Williams (Carly Pope) is investigating Oliver’s ties to Russia. How are those two storylines going to intersect as we head toward the finale this season?
There’s going to be a very cool and awesome payoff to Susan’s investigation of Oliver. That payoff is going to come sooner than you think. In other words, it’s going to come sooner than the season finale.

Arrow returns Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.

Episode Recaps

Billionaire Oliver Queen — under the vigilante persona of Arrow — tries to right the wrongs of his family and fight the ills of society.
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