Three seasons, three painful deaths. ARROW might have decreed that killing villains was morally wrong, but it certainly has not put a moratorium on killing off its heroes. Season 1 ended with the death of Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell), which sent Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) fleeing back to the very island he sought 5 years to escape. Season 2 brought the death of Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson), and it nearly destroyed Oliver. So what is the death of Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) going to do to him? Oliver’s on-and-off again girlfriend, Sara’s death may just be the undoing of Oliver — especially since his last living relative, Thea, has deserted him for parts unknown. But it also maybe the one thing that sends him back into the welcome arms of Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards), who he is trying to keep at arms length out of fear for her safety.
Oliver definitely has reason to be worried: the people closest to him do seem to die horrible, premature deaths — deaths which he may be partially or even wholly responsible for. Though it is too soon to tell if Sara’s death had anything to do with Oliver or his work as the. Sara certainly had her own enemies and a dark shadow of doom seemed to be constantly hovering over her as well. So her death may be wholly unrelated to Oliver.
In a recent press conference, executive producer Marc Guggenheim provided insight into why it was necessary to kill off such a fan-favorite character and what it means for all the remaining characters as Season 3 unfolds.
MARC: It’s always hard killing off someone you really enjoy working with and you really love and love seeing on the screen. But as with Tommy’s death, as with Moira’s death, the story implications for this development were so far reaching for the show and effects all of the characters. We call it the “terrible story math.” It kicks off, obviously, a mystery that will drive the first half of the year. It will set Laurel (Katie Cassidy) in a trajectory that she never had before on the show. It will create all these other complications and dynamics. It buys us a lot of story and it speaks to all the things we wanted to do this year in terms of Laurel’s character and Oliver’s character, in terms of Felicity’s character. It’s always a hard thing to do. It is really the engine that is driving the whole third season.
MARC: You will see her in the next episode and at least a third episode. The truth is we have stories that involve Caity Lotz. One of the beautiful parts of the show is we do flashbacks and we still want to tell the story of what happened when Sara washed up on the shores of Lian Yu, after the events of episode 223 — the sinking of the Amazo, how she met Nyssa (Katrina Law) and the League of Assassins. There’s a lot of story left to be told with Sara. You certainly haven’t seen the last of her.
Fallout From Sara’s Death
MARC: Episode 302 is probably one of our most emotionally gut-wrenching episodes — as it needs to be, as it should be because this character’s death affects all the characters on the show. It’s kind of brutal. I will say that we chose the title “Sara” because it actually has a double meaning. There is the question of what should be done with Sara’s body. There is the question of who do they tell. Do they tell Lance (Paul Blackthorne) that his daughter died a second time? There’s the emotional repercussions for everybody. It definitely has repercussions for Oliver and Felicity, and it has repercussions for Felicity and Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh); and obviously for Laurel. Laurel is very much at the center of that episode. We are also going to turn to a suspect in the killing. With us, you never know how soon things will get resolved or in what way they get resolved.
MARC: I don’t know yet in terms of timing, but certainly the idea of titles being different from people is part of the theme of identity this year. So I think you will see that play out, not necessarily with Vertigo, though I don’t think we have completely written out his character yet. But that notion is going to repeat.
Roy Joining Team
MARC: One of the fun things about Season 3 is we get to play with that. You really feel like Roy is a part of Team and it’s more than just wearing a costume, that he is really present and a member of this group — that the trio becomes a quartet. That’s definitely true in episode 306. Episode 306 is a very Roy-centric episode. It sort of speaks in some ways to episode 212. . . Roy being a part of the team is an important part of Roy’s development.
MARC: As we were breaking this episode out we sort of discovered that it could be more interesting if Thea, who had left town at the end of Season 2, wasn’t around and is part of the mystery. Where is she? She’s not in Starling City. That question will get answered episode 302. You’ll find out where Thea went at the end of Season 2, and you’ll also find out what exactly was said in that limousine after Season 2 ended. We are actually going to pick up in episode 303 with Malcolm and Thea in that limo and we hear that conversation.
MARC: One of the things we haven’t seen is someone who can play at Felicity’s level in terms of the banter. Felicity, as we always say, we write her as if she came in from a different show. But the problem is that she doesn’t have anyone else to talk to. Like you can’t write WEST WING-y banter with Felicity and anyone, because banter requires two people. So low and behold, here’s Ray Palmer. I always joke that we basically came up with Felicity because we needed one character on the show that we were able to write. Greg, Andrew and I are all banter, quippy-quippy. Then we have Oliver, super taciturn; Dig, man of few words. No one was talking on the show. Felicity was supposed to be a one-off, but Andrew and I basically had the same instinct which was: “Let’s just write a character that is easy to write.” So I will say that Ray is a joy to write for because his banter with Felicity is a lot of fun. It’s a quality of the show that we have never seen before. Also, because he is going to end up as the new head of Queen Consolidated, we know from past seasons that people in charge of Queen Consolidated are not always the best people. So Ray represents either an interesting departure or an interesting twist. What Ray is planning and up to with his whole Star City campaign, and what he is planning to do with the company will be one of those mysteries.
Ray Palmer’s Superpowers
MARC: I think anything is possible, but my instinct is if Ray Palmer is going to shrink, he’ll probably shrink on another show. With THE FLASH in existence, there is no real compelling reason for us to do superpowers on ARROW. We can bring characters to THE FLASH to have superpowers. We have plans for Ray that don’t involve shrinking. But our plans for Ray are actually really cool.
Future of Oliver & Felicity
MARC: As we have always said, their relationship is going to take ups and downs, twists and turns. Oliver and Felicity have a very emotional scene together in episode 302. This is not the last time we hear the words, “I love you,” in connection with Oliver and Felicity. I never want to turn to the back of the book and read to everyone the last page because I think part of the fun or the agony of watching these two people is the fact that they are together, then they’re apart. So we will see what the future holds for them. . . It’s something we will be dealing with over the course of the season. That hospital scene didn’t just take Oliver and Felicity and put them back in a box. The repercussions of that scene that is going to follow them over the course of the story. That’s not over. We did not just “pause” or “reset” on their relationship. This is just a development in an ongoing relationship for them.
Diggle Quitting Team
MARC: It did mean that he’s off the team, but in episode 302 — let’s just say the circumstances of Sara’s death change up a lot of things for all our characters.
Laurel and Oliver’s Friendship
MARC: There’s a scene between the two of them in episode 306 where it is like the sweetest scene. Every now and then, we have these scenes between the two of them where you really feel the history between them and that they were best friends, then lovers, and in love with each other, and now they are sort of post-relationship. There’s a history there that is always going to follow them and it’s always going to be a bond between the two of them. So there’s a scene in episode 306 that is a good example of that. Sara’s death probably pulls them closer together, than further apart. That is not to say that there isn’t some significant moments of conflict between them also. That’s one of the reasons we killed Sara off — the amount of story and richness that we get out of it.
MARC: Katrina Law is coming back to the show. She is in episode 304. Obviously, the whole reason to bring Nyssa back — her finding out that Sara’s dead is going to be a big deal. And we love Katrina and we love the character of Nyssa. With Sara’s death, Nyssa becomes so much more important. One thing Sara did was provide us with a cool, ass-kicking female on the show and Nyssa definitely fits that bill quite well. It’s Katrina Law’s finest episode. She is absolutely spectacular.
MARC: One of the things I’m excited about this season is the theme of identity, and it affects everybody. And one of the things Lance is struggling with is: “If I’m not out in the field, am I still a cop?” So he will be struggling with his new responsibilities. But, obviously, Sara’s death will give him a whole mess of other things to struggle with. But one of the things his job is going to do is place him in the center of citywide crises in a way that has never happened before. Like in episode 305, he has a couple of scenes with the brand new mayor of Starling City. He would have never had those scenes before; it was always a scene with someone ahead of him in the police department. So he’s moving up the chain and it requires him to rely on some different judgmental skills and maybe some different political skills as well.
Oliver’s Identity Outside of The Arrow
MARC: That’s a big question of the season because it speaks to this issue of identity. In this episode 301, Oliver decides that he cannot be Oliver Queen. This is the challenge and struggle that he will be dealing with over the entire season. Certainly episode 303 will demonstrate how important Thea is to him and how Thea is the one last tie he has to his persona as Oliver. But that is his season long journey — is there an Oliver Queen anymore? And if there can be, what does that look like? It’s a real conundrum for him.
As heartbreaking as it was seeing Sara’s sudden death, the show intends to see that her memory is honored and her story will be continue to be told. So be sure to tune in for episode 302 next week on Wednesday, October 15th at 8:00 p.m. on the CW.