For those of you who don’t happen to be comic book fans, or those of you who are comic book fans but tend to snicker at The CW’s frequently ab-tastic, female-centric programming, hear us out: Give Arrow a chance. All billboards and buses of Oliver Queen’s (Stephen Amell) abs aside, the show — from what we’ve seen so far — is a slow-burning and complex genre mystery, coupled with some serious family drama, dynamic action sequences, and, of course, a healthy dose of steamy love triangle action.
Hollywood.com was able to visit the set of Arrow with Warner Brothers a couple weeks back, and while we can’t say much about the seemingly awesome episode that was shooting (other than that it’s No. 7, and that it partially takes place at the mysterious Bertinelli family mansion), we can give you a sneak peek at tonight’s premiere, as well as scoop straight from Amell and co. on what’s to come.
In tonight’s premiere, former playboy Oliver Queen returns home to Starling City after spending five years on a mysterious island, following a shipyacht wreck that claimed the lives of his father and his lover. Luckily, unlike some other castaways that we know, Queen didn’t let his years go to waste: He became “The Arrow,” a sharp-shooter hellbent on exacting bloody vengeance on the (many) names on a list given to him by his father, right before the influential businessman died. (He’s sort of like Revenge‘s Emily Thorne, but he actually kills people.) He comes home to a now totally corrupt Starling City as a new man — only no one else can know it. To his family and friends, he must wear the mask of the careless playboy, and to the crooks, he has to wear the green hood of The Arrow. It’s a taxing role — but Amell thinks Queen can handle it. “He bends towards justice,” he explained, when asked about the people he kills on the show. “He understands that there can be collateral damage. He’s going after people that are not being responsible with power. I don’t need everyone to agree with Oliver’s tactics, but as long as you respect his overall goal… I mean, he has to get his hands dirty a little bit.”
After the pilot, we still don’t really know how Oliver got from A to such a brutal B on the island. But the series will include frequent flashbacks to Oliver’s time on the island that will shed some light on what it is that Queen knows about the men (and women) who betrayed his father, as well as how his entire personality changed. “The hope I had coming into the series was that his experience on the island would be really brutal, and that it would strip him down to basically nothing,” Amell said. “So that he could be reformed, with no traces whatsoever of the person that he was before he went there. That has happened. The island stuff is awful.”
Oliver’s drastic personality changes and total silence regarding his five missing years alienates his family and friends, including his very best friend, Tommy (Colin Donnell). “I think Tommy is hurt that he’s not being let in all the way by his friend,” Donnell said. “That’s something in the coming episodes that they address again and again — this feeling of, ‘Why wont you just let me in?’ [It’s] the same with [his sister] Thea (Willa Holland) and his mom (Susanna Thompson). Everybody is struggling and trying to find a way past this shell that he’s put up around him.”
Of course, Oliver has more than just hurt feelings, bad guys, and a plethora of crappy memories to deal with — when he returns to Sterling City, he learns that his mother has remarried a morally questionable family friend, and his once innocent younger sister is running with a fast crew — including the hilariously douchey Tommy. And to add insult to injury, his former flame Laurel (Katie Cassidy, whose character in the comic books becomes the Black Canary) is now a lawyer going after some of the same people as The Arrow, and to say her response to his return is mixed would be a massive understatement. Still, Cassidy thinks fans will be rooting for a Laurel/Oliver relationship sooner rather than later — but Tommy won’t make that easy. “After Oliver was assumed dead, Laurel and Tommy leaned on each other,” Cassidy explained. “They got very romantically involved a few times, which to Laurel was just a lapse. But for Tommy, he really cares for Laurel, and he’s willing to go to extremes to show her how he feels. But I do think that Oliver is the love of her life. There’s a lot more passion and fire and a lot of emotions.”
However, in addition to Oliver and Tommy, Laurel will also experience some passion with another character — Arrow. (Lucky girl, no?) “It’s a fun, really interesting dynamic between Laurel and the Arrow,” Cassidy explained. “She’s curious, you know? Everything she believes in, the Arrow contradicts. But at the same time, he’s trying to do the same thing she is… just in a different way.”
In a different way… meaning Laurel tries to throw the bad guys in jail, while Arrow tries to shoot arrows through their throats. But despite the many forces working against the unfortunate Mr. Queen, there’s still one more potential threat that even Oliver can’t see coming — his mother. We learn at the end of the pilot that she’s up to something, but according to Amell, halfway through the season Oliver still has no clue. But Thompson says her character does everything for a reason, so we shouldn’t count her out just yet. “There’s a lot that goes on when one experiences death,” she explained. “And in Moira’s case, if there is a possibility of someone having damaged two of her family members, there’s more possibilities of that happening. In whatever way we uncover Moira’s participation in any of this [corruption] — she needed to protect people.”
Arrow premieres Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.
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[PHOTO CREDIT: Jack Rowand/The CW]