Last season of Arrow left us with one big question at the end of the finale: Who survived the island explosion?
After Prometheus killed himself and set off his own kill switch, Oliver and his poor son William had to watch Lian Yu blow completely up, with all of Oliver’s friends and William’s mom all stuck somewhere on it.
Tonight’s premiere will definitely address who made it off of the island alive and who sadly did not, but season six is also all about looking forward instead of back, which is a new one for Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell).
We got on the phone with executive producer Marc Guggenheim to find out exactly what we can expect from this season, and honestly we learned a lot.
1. You Know Who Survived By the End of the Premiere
“I think one of the fun aspects of the season premiere is because we jump forward six months as we always do, we’re slowly revealing,” Guggenheim says. “You’ll see someone and go, oh, that person’s alive! And then you see that someone’s not around, and then you’ll start to wonder, and so we definitely are playing with everyone’s feelings, because that’s what we do on Arrow.”
2. Oliver Is Going Full Dad
“I don’t want to comment whether [William’s] mother survives, but I can say that whether or not Samantha is alive or dead, Oliver is going to be a bigger part of William’s life in season six,” he says, revealing that Oliver’s scenes with William are some of the most gratifying scenes to watch for him. “The performances of William and Oliver are spectactular, and also because it’s something you haven’t seen on the show before, and I think when you get into the sixth season of a show, we as writers are always looking for ways of keeping the show the show you know, but at the same time doing things you’ve never seen before, and certainly seeing Oliver with his son and being a father, instead of being a brother, instead of being a son as we’ve seen him before. It’s different, and I think it’s very resonant.”
3. Oliver’s a Better Dad Than You Might Expect
“I would say he’s better than you expect. He doesn’t exactly have a lot of role models. He doesn’t have a lot to work off of when it comes to being a parent. He’s pretty much on his own here,” Guggenheim explains. “I gotta say, even if we wanted to write Oliver as a terrible father, I don’t think it would play because truth be told, Stephen exudes so much parental warmth in those scenes that even when Oliver’s like, maybe not giving the exact best advice, it’s so hard to really criticize him as a parent because the unconditional love he shows for his son is just so apparent—no pun intended.”
4. No More Reflection
“Um, what’s the opposite of reflective?” Guggenheim asked when we mentioned the reflective nature of season five. “Last year was all about the show and Oliver moving on from the past, so very much by design, Oliver is no longer being reflective. He’s leaving the past in the past in season six. It’s freed us up as storytellers, but it’s really done wonders I think for Oliver as a person. He handles things differently now. He kinda has his s–t together, and that’s very much by design.”
5. It’s a Whole New Oliver
“Oliver’s life is never going to be sunshine and roses because that doesn’t make for good television and certainly not in keeping with this particular show, but you had a friend who just kept making the same mistakes over and over again and never moved on and never evolved and never got their s–t together, you’d probably stop being friends with that person,” he explains. “So the way I like to describe it is like if Oliver did a lot of really good work in therapy. Just because you did a lot of good work in therapy doesn’t mean that life isn’t going to throw you a lot of curveballs. It doesn’t mean that everything’s going to go your way, but it does hopefully mean that when bad things happen, you approach those bad things in a different way than you would have prior to the therapy.”
6. Oliver’s New Zen-ness Means Bigger Stories for Other Characters
“To be very blunt about it, because Oliver has his s–t together and the essence of drama is conflict, the most resonant stories are going to come out of people who are not Oliver, because like I said, Oliver’s going to be dealing with stuff, but he’s dealing with stuff from a much more zen kind of place, a much more evolved kind of place than maybe some of the other characters. So we’re going to get to see Oliver be more of a mentor than we’ve seen in the past.
7. The Flashbacks Aren’t Gone, But They Are Different
“You are definitely still getting flashbacks, they just are not serialized,” Guggenheim says. “And they’re not in every episode. We’ve always used the flashbacks to hopefully illuminate the present day story, or comment on the present day story, so we do that when we feel like we’ve got a present day story that benefits from them. And when we feel like we don’t need it, we don’t do it. But there were a bunch of cast members on that island, and you know, the ones who didn’t make it off the island, it’s nice that they’ve got an avenue for us to still see them.”
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8. Michael Emerson’s Character Will Remain a Mystery
“Michael’s a delight to work with,” was all Guggenheim would really say about the Lost and Person of Interest star’s role. “He’s fit into the cast beautifully as we knew he would. But yeah I think in a world where it’s hard to keep secrets, we’re trying to keep this character in particular a bit of a mystery.”
9. You Can’t Judge the Crossover By Its Cover…But You Also Kind of Can
There are aspects to this season’s big four-show crossover that are going to sound a little shockingly topical at first, but that’s not the intention.
“I’ll say that there are going to be things that people are going to look at and go, oh, that’s ripped from the headlines!” Guggenheim said. “Our intention truly was to recapture some of that magic that we felt as kids reading the annual Justice League/Justice Society crossovers that DC used to do. For example, the cover image that we published, that’s an homage to Justice League of America 207, which was actually the 20th anniversary crossover between the Justice League and the Justice Society. They would do it every year, the same way we do our little Arrow-verse crossover every year. So we were just looking to tell a really big fun cool story, so yeah, it would feel to me describing it as being topical would be a little bit false advertising.”
Arrow premieres tonight at 9 p.m. on the CW.