With the Undertaking drawing near, Oliver is in the worst place he could be to save The Glades: Malcolm Merlyn's captivity.
In Arrow's penultimate episode, Oliver (Stephen Amell) set his sights on Malcolm (John Barrowman), unaware that his former best friend's father is actually the Dark Archer who once defeated him. Now, make that twice. Will Oliver be able to free himself from Merlyn and stop the Dark Archer's evil plans of leveling The Glades? TVGuide.com turned to executive producers Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg for an in-depth interview on the finale, including Oliver and Laurel's (Katie Cassidy) future, a new side of Detective Lance (Paul Blackthorne) and a Thea (Willa Holland) moment that may make fanboys happy:
What's in store for the finale, scarily titled "Sacrifice"?
Marc Guggenheim: It's a culmination of a lot of different things. It's a culmination of our season-long mythology, what we call the Undertaking, as well as the character dynamics that really were set up in the pilot, both in terms of Moira's (Susanna Thompson) duplicity, as well as the love triangle between Oliver, Laurel and Tommy. That really reaches a boiling point in the finale.
What's the scope of the finale like?
Guggenheim: It is going to be epic. We took over one of the old Watchmen sets and populated it with 200 extras. We're going to be on a rooftop. It is the fight to end all fights, but I don't want to give the impression that the episode is just one big, long fight sequence. What we have planned is pretty big and cool. It also has a lot of emotional climaxes as well.
Oliver is now in the custody of Malcolm. What will happen to him?
Guggenheim: [Wednesday's episode] ended with Malcolm Merlyn exposing himself to Oliver. Oliver has learned that Malcolm is not just the architect of the Undertaking, but also the Dark Archer who defeated him in Episode 9. Oliver has been defeated by Malcolm yet again and become Malcolm's captive. The finale resolves that cliff-hanger, but this all happens in the wake of Oliver and Laurel sleeping together.
What is Oliver's mindset like going into the finale?
Guggenheim: Because by the time the finale begins, he's faced Malcolm twice and has been defeated very soundly by him two times, Oliver's mindset is that he doesn't expect to survive. Basically the theme of sacrifice, which is why the episode is called "Sacrifice," is very present because Oliver knows that he can't face Malcolm and win. So any mission he undertakes against Malcolm is essentially a suicide mission, but he's willing to do whatever he needs to do in order to stop the Undertaking even if that means his own death.
How much is Tommy (Colin Donnell) actually aware of what his father is doing?
Guggenheim: Great question. I don't want to spoil too much, but I will say that with Episode 19, which culminated in Tommy leaving Oliver's club and going to work for his dad, that trajectory really finds its zenith in the finale. Their relationship is going to be changed forever. I think what's wonderful about the finale is there's no more secrets left and everyone's cards are out on the table.
Andrew Kresiberg: No one is holding anything back anymore and everyone is saying everything that they've always wanted to say, and everybody's finding out everything they've always wanted to find out. It's going to be our best episode yet.
Oliver and Laurel hooked up! What will we see for them in the finale?
Guggenheim: You definitely see the repercussions of that and actually that act echoes throughout the finale for both of them. We tried to handle it in the way that was most true to both characters and their evolution. They have a wonderful scene in the finale that really speaks not just to them sleeping together, but to their entire relationship — and not just over the course of the season, but over the course of their entire lives. Episode 21 gave us a real glimpse into what their relationship was like before Oliver went on the boating trip. So the finale takes all that information and ties a nice bow around it and perhaps gives you some new insight into what the nature of their relationship is and what actually keeps them together.
Might we get a hint towards Laurel's future as Black Canary in the finale?
Guggenheim: I don't really think so. We had a lot of ground to cover. The assembled cut was very long and there were all sorts of choices we had to make in order to tell the story that we're telling, so unfortunately no. We know fans love those moments and we would've loved to include one in the finale, but there's so much other stuff going on that it had to wait for next year.
What can you tell us about Detective Lance picking up Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) for questioning?
Guggenheim: That's an incredibly fun scene. It'll come as no surprise to anyone that Emily is brilliant in it. Felicity tells Lance something that really has profound effect on Lance and alters his world view. As a result of that encounter, he takes actions that directly impact him and the city in the finale. It's very much a load-bearing thing. It's not just schmuck-bait for the audience. Much of the finale pivots on that encounter.
What can you tell us about the flashback in the finale?
Guggenheim: Well, Oliver suffers a major loss at the end of [Wednesday's episode] in terms of the flashbacks with the death of Yao Fei (Byron Mann). So Oliver is dealing with the emotional repercussions of that as well as the huge threat of Fyers' (Sebastian Dunn) plan to shoot down an airliner. It forces Oliver to find another level of potential that he didn't think he was capable of. So the question really for Oliver is: Will he rise to the challenge and be able to defeat Fyers and his plan once and for all especially without the support system of Yao Fei?
Kresiberg: I think what's exciting in the finale is that Oliver on the island really takes a major step towards becoming the Oliver that we see in the present day.
Everyone expects Slade (Manu Bennett) to become Deathstroke. Will we see a hint of that soon?
Guggenheim: I think you [saw] the first step in that direction actually in [Wednesday's episode], and then it's a limp in that direction.
Kresiberg: I'm not sure you're going to know it though. We obviously love Manu and we're so excited that he's going to be a regular next season, but I would caution anybody who thinks that they know which way the story is going to go. What's always interesting about the island is you know that Oliver survives the flashbacks, so there's no suspense in that, but it's who lives and who dies, and what they do and how they do it amongst everyone else that he meets on the island. That's the stuff that is constantly the surprise and the thing that you don't see coming. So we always want to use the comic book trajectories as not just a guideline for where the show is going to go, but rather yet another means to surprise you.
Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) is trying to track the Hood down. How will that culminate in the finale?
Guggenheim: He has a real heroic moment. He has probably his first genuine moment of heroism on the show.
Kresiberg: Since we introduced him, he really was a ne'er-do-well on the wrong side of the law, and after the Arrow saves his life, it's really turned him around. He's been searching for the Arrow, but what he's really been searching for is the hero in himself in a way. When this crisis occurs in the finale, he really gets the chance to fulfill what he sees as his destiny, which is transforming from criminal into hero, and that act and the consequences of that act are going to help define him through the second season.
How does Thea play a role in that?
Kresiberg: For the fanboy, Thea is going to do something which will allude to a possible future for her which is going to make fanboys very excited. What's been interesting about this season is that, on the whole, Oliver's return really has changed everyone's lives. Not a single one of our characters at the end of the season is where they were at the beginning. One of the biggest transformations of all has been Thea, who, when we first met her, was essentially just Oliver's bratty sister and this party girl, tabloid, debutant. By the end of this season, she's also willing to risk her life for what she believes in. That's why we titled the finale "Sacrifice," because everybody is willing to die for love, for justice, for honor, for what they believe in, for Oliver. And Thea is also presented with that same choice to make.
Can the same be said for his unofficial Scooby gang in Diggle (John Diggle) and Felicity?
Kreisberg: Felicity was just an IT girl and John Diggle was a little bit lost. He was a soldier and he came back into the world, and he was probably looking for a more honorable way to live and Oliver found that. I mean there's a great line in the finale that I think I can ruin, "A soldier doesn't let a brother go into battle solo," which Dig says to Oliver, and it shows how far they've come as partners, as friends, as brothers, as fellow soldiers, as men of honor, and it really brings the season full circle.
Will we see any special guest stars or returning faces in the finale?
Guggenheim: You'll definitely see some retuning faces. We brought the whole gang back together for the finale, which is really, really great and once we did that there really wasn't room for any new faces, but you'll get to see our entire cast plus Hilton (Roger Cross) and Joanna (Annie Ilonzeh) from the earlier half of the year, which is really fun for us because it kind of feels like we brought everyone back together.
Are you excited for the Arrow finale? Hit the comments!
Arrow's season finale airs Wednesday at 8/7c on The CW.
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by a joint venture between Lionsgate and CBS, the latter of which also owns The CW in a joint venture with Warner Bros. Entertainment.)
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- Marc Guggenheim