It may not have seemed possible, but Arrow raised the stakes even higher this week, introducing Nyssa al Ghul - daughter of the iconic and nigh unkillable comics villain Ra’s al Ghul - into the fold.
Not only did we learn that Nyssa and Sara Lance had a romantic relationship during Sara’s time with the League of Assassins, Arrow Season 2 Episode 13 also saw Laurel and Dinah find out that Sara was still alive – and Laurel didn’t take the news so well.
Things weren’t much better for the Queen family after Oliver discovered that Thea is actually Malcolm Merlyn’s daughter and that his mother has been doing everything in her power to hide the truth so as not to jeopardize her chances of running for Mayor of Starling City.
So what’s ahead for Team Arrow when the show returns on February 26?
TV Fanatic was among a group of reporters who sat down with Arrow executive producers Andrew Kreisberg and Marc Guggenheim, along with Katrina Law (who plays the ass-kicking Nyssa) to find out what else they have in store.
You haven’t seen the last of Nyssa: Although Nyssa freed Sara from her duties to the League of Assassins, Kreisberg promised that “this was not Katrina’s only appearance of the season,” and it’s probably safe to assume that Nyssa’s father, the head of the League, won’t be too thrilled when he realizes that his daughter has released one of their most accomplished killers.
The producers wouldn’t comment on when the infamous Ra’s might make an appearance, but Kreisberg did point out that the show has a tendency to introduce plot points that they pay off later, and they’re already well into the process of making plans for Season 3…
The Birds of Prey are coming home to roost: Now that Sara is back in Starling City, the show will dig deeper into the relationship between the Lances, especially siblings Sara and Laurel. The March 26 episode, titled Birds of Prey, will feature the return of Helena Bertinelli, AKA the Huntress.
“Helena’s gone, all that’s left is the Huntress," teased Kreisberg. "She’s been consumed by this vengeance she has for her father, and when we see her, she’s in a very haggard and worn-out state. It’s kind of the big, final confrontation between her and her father and Laurel gets caught in the crossfire, and the Canary has to go to the rescue.
"It’s a fun episode in that you get a lot of Laurel with the Canary, not realizing that it’s Sara, so you get a great sister episode in that sense… The Canary is all too eager to kill the Huntress if it means protecting Laurel. It’s really an episode about Sarah realizing where she’s at in her evolution as a hero.”
But for comic fans hoping that the episode title hints at a team-up between the three core members of the Birds of Prey team - Black Canary, Huntress and Oracle - the producers asked for patience.
Said Guggenheim: “We gave ourselves room to grow and evolve that. The whole show is about evolutions – it’s about the evolution of the Arrow to the Green Arrow, we’ve talked about it in terms of Black Canary, we’ve talked about it in terms of Deathstroke … so Birds of Prey is very much the same thing. You’re not gonna end up with the holy trinity of Oracle, Black Canary and Huntress right out of the gate. The hope is that we’re doing a multi-year, multi-season epic – we’ll get there.”
They don’t believe in labels: The choice to have Sara and Nyssa involved romantically was a character-based decision, not an attempt to be salacious, according to the producers.
“It just felt like something new and different … it’s a pretty chaste relationship, from what you see on-screen,” Kreisberg said. “It touched on a couple of interesting things; the idea that Sara found herself in this terrible world and found this one person who treated her with love and kindness, and even the way it bounced back for Lance, for this hardened, tough cop who’s probably not the most progressive guy, even he was like ‘I’m just glad you had somebody who loved you and cared for you during those nightmare years.’”
Guggenheim agreed: “We were very anxious [that] in the same episode we reveal that Sara had had this lesbian relationship, she’s also sleeping with Oliver again, and we really wanted to approach it and not be salacious, and be sensitive and be realistic.
"We actually specifically avoided using the term ‘bisexual,’ we didn’t want to label her at all. Let her be her own person - if the audience wants to label, fine, but we wanted to make it not that specific, because it is a specific relationship to Sara and Nyssa. And maybe Sara’s had other female relationships in her past, but we’ll get to that in due course, when it’s right, if it’s right.”
Finding Felicity: This episode finally gave us a long-awaited hint about Felicity’s backstory, and thankfully, her cryptic comments to Oliver before Moira’s mayoral debut will be explored in an upcoming episode. “There are two massive things that are gonna happen towards the end of the season that you heard in that speech that we’ll pay off,” Kreisberg teased.
Likewise, Guggenheim said episode 14 will explore “what is Felicity’s reaction to Sara, the new member of Team Arrow, now that Sara’s back in town? What does it mean for Team Arrow; what does it mean for Felicity; what does it mean for Oliver and Felicity? All these interesting things. It’s a very Felicity-centric episode.”
Can you Digg it? Diggle has been relegated to something of a supporting role in recent episodes, but he’ll also find himself front and center in an upcoming installment.
“Episode 16 is called Suicide Squad. And it’s about the Suicide Squad,” Kreisberg laughed, referencing the antihero team of comics villains who perform off-book missions for the government in exchange for commuted sentences. “Digg was our way into Amanda Waller and this episode, Amanda comes to Digg and Lyla and basically recruits Digg for a mission and tells him he’s going to need a team, and she saddles him with the Suicide Squad, including Floyd Lawton [AKA Deadshot, the man who killed Diggle’s brother].”
The episode will also feature flashbacks from Diggle’s POV during his time in Afghanistan, when he was tasked with protecting a drug and child-trafficking warlord. Ben Browder will return as Diggle’s commanding officer, Ted Gaynor, who took a villainous turn in last season’s Trust But Verify.
“Ben is bringing this nice, subtle difference to the flashback, especially in his relationship with Diggle,” Guggenheim teased. “It’s commanding officer and subordinate, but they’re still friends and you see that closeness that was just talked about in episode 11 last year."
Roy’s Rage: We didn’t see Roy in this episode -- although the producers revealed that the newest member of Team Arrow shared an awesome fight scene with Nyssa and her crony in the hospital that had to be cut for time – “but the next five episodes really chart Oliver’s attempts to keep Roy on the straight and narrow…” Kreisberg said, adding:
“There’s a lot of fun stuff. The cave’s getting full and we don’t shy away from that fact … we hopefully use it to our advantage because it used to be a place where Oliver said ‘jump’ and everyone else said ‘how high’? And what you’re gonna start to see is that other people have differing opinions. It’s one of the interesting things about Roy; you’re never quite sure what’s going on in his head – is it himself, is it the mirakuru talking? And then with Sara who in a way is Oliver, she went through everything Oliver did … she’s the female him and sometimes the two of them have conflict because it’s like he’s talking to himself.”
“I think 14, 17 and 18 deal a lot with all the different ramifications of not just Roy but Team Arrow, from different vantage points,” Guggenheim agreed.
Villains united: Episodes 14 through 18 are also the chapter that Kreisberg has affectionately termed “Villains a-go-go,” meaning a run of “great big villains one after the other. You’re gonna see a couple of returning favorites and a couple of brand new ones.” Incidentally, Summer Glau’s Isabel Rochev will also reappear in episode 18.
Mama Drama: While Oliver will undoubtedly be dealing with external threats during the upcoming onslaught of villainy, he certainly has to deal with a foe much closer to home – his mother, Moira.
Now that Oliver has discovered the truth about Thea’s paternity, Kreisberg described Moira’s arc this season as a journey towards redemption:
“She should’ve gone to jail but Malcolm rigged things and she still hasn’t really paid for what she did. In this episode, she’s paying off doctors and she’s threatening Felicity – she still really hasn’t had her ‘come to Jesus’ moment despite what you’d think would be rock bottom, and that’s coming … This is a fracture to her relationship with Oliver that’s not going to be mended in an episode, he’s really mad. This lie, because of how it came out in episodes 7 and 8, is going to have far-reaching implications for the characters of the show.”
Arrow Season 2 airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.