Arrow Scoop: John Barrowman on Training Thea, Stuff Hitting the Fan & More

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Ready for more tough love?

Malcolm Merlyn sure it. After seeing his extremely rough way of training daughter Thea (pouring burning water on her hand, beating her, etc.) in Arrow Season 3 Episode 3, fans are wondering: What is the master manipulator really up to?!?

Does he want Thea as a puppet? Or an ally? And when is Malcolm finally going to be face to face once again with his foe, Oliver Queen? 

In an exclusive Q&A, John Barrowman offered up some teases as only he can. Safe to say, viewers will soon be in for many treats. Consider yourselves SPOILER WARNED and read on for some scoop regarding Arrow Season 3 Episode 4 and beyond.

Going After Malcolm - Arrow Season 3 Episode 4

TV Fanatic: How has it been playing Malcolm this time around? It definitely feels different to me.

John Barrowman: What’s nice is in a way it’s different for all of us. You say that as the viewer, for me playing him, it’s different. I enjoy it because I know there’s a little bit of a different direction that we’re going to take him and he’s still going to be the bad guy, obviously, but, as I’ve said before, he’s got to learn how to manipulate people in different ways. He’s figuring out how to do that. I think he knows how to do it but he’s figuring out how to do it without causing himself a lot of problems. That’s interesting as an actor because I have to play him…you’ll see something that you’ve never seen from Malcolm before in a confrontation.

TVF: We saw his training of Thea in the last episode. Is he looking to make her a puppet or an ally or a little bit of both?

JB: That’s a question that I, as the actor, don’t know the answer to yet because I don’t want to know. I’m speaking as Malcolm Merlyn here, what I am doing is training her as my daughter, who I love and want to protect, but I may need her as a puppet down the line but I don’t want to use her as a puppet at this point in time. And I think that’s why the audience is a little gripped by this and I hope they see me do it as heartfelt rather than manipulative.

TVF: Did Malcolm beating Thea in the last episode hurt him more than it hurt her or did he just see it as necessary?

JB: Necessary. I went back and watched it again because I thought ‘is this going to be too abusive?’ When I say to her ‘I’ve realized that you’re not going to be able to do this the way I wanted to do it. I’m going to have to teach you like a student.” So, he has disconnected a little bit and taken away all emotional involvement for those moments and teaching her as his student.

TVF: Thea did go home at the end of last week. Is she truly ready or is Malcolm still going to have to do some training with her?

JB: [laughs] All I’m going to say is she’s ready for what he needs. She’s ready for what Malcolm needs at this moment in time. I can’t tell you anymore.

TVF: At this point, Malcolm hasn’t been face to face with Oliver for a while. Are we going to eventually see them together?

JB: Yes, you will. And you will be seeing them together in a situation that might be normal to our Oliver/Malcolm situation but also one that is also not typical of them.

TVF: What is Malcolm’s Achilles heel at this point? Is it Thea? Or is it something we don’t know about yet? Do you know what that is?

JB: Yes and you don’t know yet. Let’s put it this way, if I were going to reference Doctor Who, it’s like Bad Wolf. There is a greater thing happening.

TVF: Who will we see Malcolm interacting with? Thea is going home with Oliver so…

JB: Malcolm is not gone. Malcolm could be on the next plane behind [Thea]. He might show up without them knowing. He might interact with Oliver right away. He might interact with someone who showed up in the preview of the last episode.

TVF: How much of what Malcolm is doing with Thea have to do with Moira and the fact that Moira is gone?

JB: Malcolm is always a hard ass but I always think there is a core emotional side to him deep down and everything he’s doing with Thea…I think that Malcolm did love Moira and he loved how she would spar with him and now that she’s gone he feels an obligation to protect.

He had that little meeting with Moira when he was in the car park and I like to think that on the side Malcolm continued to stay in touch with her and knew what was going on, saw what happened [and] I like to think that he was present in all that so, yes, he’s also doing this for Moira to make Thea stronger. But a teaser from me is the proverbial s**t is going to hit the fan.

Arrow Season 3 airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW. 

Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of Follow him on Twitter.

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Arrow Season 3 Episode 4 Quotes

You guys are professional killers. That's a pretty low bar.


Laurel: You were the one that showed her the darkness inside. You -- and your father.
Nyssa: I know you grieve, but so do I. I didn't show Sara the darkness, Laurel. It was already inside of her when we met. When I found her alone, starving and terrified, I protected her. I took Sara into my heart and I loved her with all of my soul. And that jacket. I gave it to Sara as a gift. You are not fit to wear it.