If you thought the "Arrow" Season 2 premiere was good, wait until you see Episode 2, titled "Identity" (airing Wed., Oct. 16 at 8 p.m. ET on The CW).
When asked to preview the action-packed hour, "Arrow" star Stephen Amell said, "As big in scope as the season premiere was, in a lot of ways it was a reset; here is where the characters are now; here’s where Laurel is, and Lance, and Moira, and Thea. Now that we’ve set everyone up in their positions, we really start to explore where those characters are now. So you get to see version 2.0 of the 'Arrow' team, which is an interesting thing, and we get our first sense of where our story’s going to take us on the island this year ... we hit the ground running in Episode 2."
Not only does the episode feature the return of China White (Kelly Hu) and the introduction of her fearsome new ally, Bronze Tiger (Michael Jai White), it also gives us a first look at Alderman Sebastian Blood (Kevin Alejandro), a fresh-faced but savvy politician determined to clean up The Glades after the events of last season's finale.
Of Oliver's new rival, executive producer Andrew Kreisberg teased, "One of the things that I think was so successful last season was that, Malcolm Merlyn, played by John Barrowman, everything he was saying was actually right. It was just his methods that were wrong ... And Sebastian Blood is very similar in that sense that he has goals; he feels that there is injustice in the city; he feels like the poor people in the city were abandoned long before the earthquake, and that they’ve never gotten a fair shake, and that the wealthy and the elite of the city have stood on the of necks the lower class of the city and they’re not letting up. And that’s kind of what Oliver is seeing too."
He added, "We tend to shy away from mustache twirling, crazy villains that want to blow things up just to satisfy some sickness inside of them. The heroes and villains sort of have the same goal, they just go about it different ways. We find that that’s where the most drama comes from and makes the most exciting characters. I think that’s why we’re really excited about Kevin Alejandro joining the show this year because he brings such … this might sound odd, but heroism to being the villain."
For more on Blood, Oliver's tribulations on the island and the introduction of Black Canary, read on for our conversation with Amell.
Oliver meets Sebastian Blood in this week's episode. Blood and Oliver ostensibly have the same goal, but he can't seem to speak publicly without undermining Oliver. Does Oliver see him as an ally, or is he recognizing him as a potential threat?
Well, for the first time in his life, he is concerned about what the public’s perception of him as Oliver Queen, just a regular guy, is -- because it used to be Robert as the face of the family, and then it was Moira, and now, by default, it’s him, and he’s found the family name tarnished. So he’s interested in working with Sebastian simply from the standpoint of, they do have the same goals; they do seem interested in cleaning up the city, and there’s no threat there. If he can be helpful, let’s let him be helpful.
Roy (Colton Haynes) met the Black Canary (Caity Lotz) -- or someone who looked suspiciously like her -- at the end of the premiere, but what can you preview about the Arrow's first meeting with her, whenever that takes place?
Arrow and Black Canary are going to meet sooner rather than later, and it’s a good partnership when it happens.
There are obviously a lot of villains coming into the city, and this season it seems that there are also a lot of new heroes trying to make Starling City their base. What's Oliver's take on the competition on both sides?
I think that Oliver doesn’t actually want any heroes or villains. Ideally, he would like Starling City to be a place that doesn’t need heroes, because it’s a safe place, but clearly that’s not the state that it’s in at the moment. He’s more than willing to deal with the villains, but he is just as leery of heroes, because everybody wants something, and even if your cause is virtuous, you’re going to be someone that he has to deal with.
Will we hear about other cities experiencing this increase in heroic activity, or is it very centered on Starling City right now?
We’re centered on Starling City at the moment. We have referenced Central City in the pilot, we hit on Bludhaven last year, but everything is pretty localized in Starling City right now, and it has to be because the city is in such bad shape.
Since Shado (Celina Jade) joined Oliver and Slade (Manu Bennett) on the island, we've seen the tension growing between them as the dynamic shifts. Are we going to kind of see more of a strain developing between the three of them in the flashbacks?
Yeah, trouble is coming to the island. If you think back to the first season, you think about Oliver’s first moments of arriving on the island, and being so helpless, and being shot by an arrow from Yao Fei, that sort of set in motion his journey for the first season on the island. Meanwhile, to start this season, we see him essentially lose his mind, black out, and murder a guy with a rock. So it’s not the most promising start for Oliver, but it’s indicative of where things are going to go on the island this year. They are getting dark and nasty.
You've completed filming on the episode that introduces Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) -- who will someday become The Flash -- what can you preview about that character and how he enters Oliver's world?
It’s a very tough spot for Grant because he comes in in Episode 8, and it is, for all intents and purposes, his episode, and he has the most dialogue, and it’s very tricky dialogue, at that, and the best way to put it is he took ownership of it. He’s done a really fantastic job, absolutely owns the character, and he’s taken ownership of it without being demonstrative. It’s like he’s always been on set with us, and he’s part of the family now, and I’m very excited to ...I don’t know a lot -- and this is purposefully on my part -- I don’t know a lot about The Flash, in terms of other iterations of that character, on television or in the comic books, so I’m interested to see how long-time fans of The Flash react, but fans of our show are going to really enjoy Grant’s work.
Personality-wise, how does his temperament or philosophy differ from Oliver's?
Well, he’s younger. He’s more innocent, and he’s Barry Allen, but concurrently, he is haunted by events with his parents, and he is on a mission because of those events. So he’s going about it a very different way, but there are a lot of similarities to the Oliver that we saw from Season 1, and the Barry Allen that we’re going to see in Episodes 8 and 9.
Episode 5 is called "League of Assassins," which is very meaningful for comic book fans, what can you tease about that?
That we should win the Emmy for stunts and fight choreography in that episode. It is the most action-packed episode that we’ve had on the show. The fighting is unbelievable, and the people that we have playing the members of the League of Assassins just knock it out of the park. But that episode, it might be my favorite episode of the series so far, because so much stuff is going on, and we are starting to see something that we have yet to see in the series, which is elements of the island and elements of the present day beginning to intersect with one another. It’s good. The DC Universe is exploding on the screen. It’s fantastic.
We’re meeting Dr. Ivo (Dylan Neal) in the episode, so how is he going to compare to the comic version of the character?
Dylan’s a great guy. I had no idea that Dylan was on "Dawson’s Creek," actually, until my Twitter exploded with fans of that show. I don’t know a lot about the Ivo character from the comics, and I’ve sheltered myself from that until we get one of those characters. I like to have the impression of that character based on the version that we see on our show, but Dylan definitely fills the room up. He’s an outsize character, and he’s a very, very convincing villain.
Episode 6 will introduce Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) and I believe also the beginnings of the Suicide Squad -- what can you preview about that story?
One of the things that I like about our show is we introduce Amanda Waller, and we speak about A.R.G.U.S. but it’s a very brief mention, and I get the sense that we are saving the A.R.G.U.S. interactions for the latter part of the season. But there is one really quite startling admission that Amanda Waller makes in her first scene, in Episode 6, that when you look at our second season in totality, and then subsequent seasons of the show, this one admission that she makes is going to be a big-time game changer.
In the comics, Deadshot (Michael Rowe) is a member of the Suicide Squad, and Diggle (David Ramsey) still has a vendetta against him for the murder of his brother. Will we see a resolution with their story in upcoming episodes?
He’s always going to hate Deadshot, but we are going to see him have a choice to make with respect to that, and he finally does choose.
The verbal sparring between Oliver and Isabel Rochev that we saw in the premiere was fantastic; what's coming up between them now that they've been forced into this business partnership?
Well, forced is the operative word. Isabel has been a very interesting character, because I think they would be wrong to assume that she’s a villain at the moment. I know that it’s been written several times that Summer Glau playing new villain on Arrow, and I don’t think that’s totally accurate. She’s an interesting character to do scenes with because this is a version of Oliver that we haven’t really seen. He’s not masquerading as a CEO, he’s literally, legitimately trying to save a failing company. Queen Consolidated means a lot to him. He grew up in that office. So Isabel is trying to help him, but she has no faith in him at the moment. So he has to win her over, and he’s not good at it.
"Arrow" airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.
What did you think of the "Arrow" season premiere? Which DC Comics character are you most looking forward to seeing on the show? Weigh in below!