If you saw the latest episode of the superhero soap opera Arrow on The CW, you'll know that Tommy Merlyn took a fateful step, one there may be no going back from. But what comes next for Tommy? We caught up with actor Colin Donnell at Wondercon and asked him. Spoilers ahead...
In the latest "Arrow" episode, which we saw early at Wondercon, Tommy decides to go work for his father (John Barrowman). And this is the start of "Tommy really coming back into the Merlyn fold." This was "one of the favorite scenes we've done," Donnell adds. "He goes back to his dad and gives his dad a hug."
Now that Tommy knows Oliver's secret, "nothing is the same any more," adds Donnell. "There's a real break there. And it's just irreparable... I don't know if he ever really gets over it."
Malcolm Merlyn almost showed his son his Dark Archer gear a few episodes back, before he got shot. And Donnell says, "If he was willing to show him once, there's no reason to think he may not be willing to show him again... You never know." But he never knows from week to week what crazy stuff the writers are going to come up with on this show.
Also, Donnell says that back in the pilot, when Tommy and Oliver are captured by mercs and Oliver kills them, Tommy saw the whole thing — which he tried to indicate with a little flutter of his eyelids. He saw his friend "murder a guy with the back of a chair. So yeah."
Five years of flashbacks
Also at Wondercon, we asked producer Marc Guggenheim how long the flashbacks to Oliver's time on the island would continue, and he said that the original plan was for the show to last five seasons, with island flashbacks in every episode. At the end of five years, the final island flashback would show Oliver shooting his arrow at the bonfire and signaling the boat, just like at the start of the pilot, so the last minute of the series would be the same as the first.
"That's all assuming a five-year trajectory of the show," says Guggenheim. "If it runs more than five years, we have to reassess our plan, but that would be a quality problem. I don't want to stretch out the amount of flashback time we have" to fill more seasons. But the plan is definitely to keep the flashbacks going for the entire length of the show.
During our roundtable interview with some other outlets, someone asked Guggenheim why Oliver Queen is such a popular character on television, when he's never really been that popular in the comics. Guggenheim responds:
I think Green Arrow in the comics has been handled by a lot of really talented people, and like any character of any duration he's creatively had his ups and his downs... The advantage we have as a television show over the comic book version is that we created a whole cast of characters around Oliver to help him be more relatable. Truth be told, in the comics Green Arrow's basically had Black Canary, and that's been the extent of his supporting cast — he's had Roy, but we went to great lengths to give him a sister, a best friend, a mother, [and bodyguard] Diggle. He doesn't have any of those things in the comics and when you talk about what makes a character relatable, I'd say it's the people around him. If I were to tackle the comic book as a writer the first thing I would try to do is give him a supporting cast. That would help elaborate around his character.
Someone asked about other DC Comics characters we might see on the show, especially the Question — and Guggenheim said the Question is definitely on his own personal list of characters he'd like to see on the show. He loves the Question, and Vic Sage would fit into "the voice of the show" quite well. The trick with these characters is always including them in a way "that feels organic to the show, and not letting the cart drag the horse." In every case, "the story comes first." And then there's always the question of whether DC will let the show have access — like, they'd love to feature Nightwing, but that's up to DC. In general, the folks over at DC Comics would like to see these meetings happen too — it's just a question of how else they want to use those characters.
In season two, Guggenheim would like to see Oliver travel more, and get out of Starling City a bit.
Thea is ready to become a superhero
We also talked to Willa Holland, who plays Thea Queen, and she told us she's ready and waiting to have the arrow placed in her hand. "We're getting closer every day." But the show is wisely taking its time and developing the supporting cast before putting them on the heroic paths. Oliver had to survive five years on an island to become a badass superhero, and it would cheapen that for other people to get into it too easily, says Holland.
At least, luckily, Thea is no longer stuck at the Queen mansion, and she's done with the spoiled rich girl act for now. After her Vertigo accident "she had the sense knocked into her." And "she's almost on a virtuous path, actually."
Holland sees hints that Thea and Laurel are getting a sister sort of relationship, with Thea standing in for Laurel's dead sister Sarah. "It's a very healthy relationship for the both of them," because it gives Laurel someone to look after and guide, and Thea gets to interact with someone who's not her mother. "At first, she's very resentful against the world," says Holland." I think she definitely opens up, seeing all the good she does." And she keeps having to see "all the horrible things that Oliver has done to people."
And Roy and Thea will continue to have an interesting relationship, because "Roy is the bad boy that Thea has always dreamed of," but Thea is "going through a virtuous stage in her life, so instead of following Roy around stealing radios from cars... it's almost like she's trying to put him underneath her newly found steady wings." And she's going to help Roy on his quest to find out who the hooded vigilante is... but of course she's "unwittingly searching after her own brother."