The CW's 'Arrow' promises to change the game with biggest episode yet
(CBR) In a preview video posted last week by The CW, "Arrow" executive producer Marc Guggenheim stated the following about this week's installment, "The Promise": "This is the biggest episode we've ever done on the show to date."
Those are very bold words from the veteran TV and comic book writer, and CBR News spoke with him to find out exactly what he's so enthused about in the flashback-heavy episode written by Jake Coburn and Ben Sokolowski. Following the ending of last week's "Time of Death," which saw Oliver (Stephen Amell) discover that Slade (played by Manu Bennett and better known to DC Comics fans as Deathstroke) was not only alive but in Starling City and meeting with Moira (Susanna Thompson), "The Promise" is set to detail exactly how things went so terribly wrong between Oliver and Slade on Lian Yu.
"Slade's presence just changes everything," Guggenheim told CBR. The full interview -- including talk of the "Suicide Squad" episode set to debut on March 19 -- follows.
CBR News: Marc, there's a video of you online talking about this week's "Arrow," and you very confidently say that it's the biggest episode the show has ever done. Obviously, that's quite a claim.
Marc Guggenheim: Yes, it is! [Laughs] I had to ask myself if I had oversold it, and then I watched the episode [Monday] with all the visual effects cut in, and music and sound effects and everything -- it is just a truly, truly epic episode. I'm actually hard-pressed to think of an episode on network television that is as big. I think we've really set a new standard in terms of what an audience can expect from a network TV show in terms of production value. It's really exciting.
It's purely to the testament to the incredibly talented crew of "Arrow." When I originally pitched the episode to the production team, they said that it was unproduceable. To their credit, they figured out a way to do exactly the story as pitched. We did not cut any corners. We didn't make any creative compromises. The episode as pitched is literally the episode that you will see on Wednesday night. It looks like a million dollars. We have an incredibly talented, hard-working group of people who are just not satisfied with doing the cheap version of something. They don't like the idea of doing something halfway. They always find a way to take what we have and make it even bigger. There are a lot of times when I don't even think that's possible, and yet they are always astonishing me.
Without spoiling anything, let's hear a little bit more about what has you so existed about this episode -- it's primarily on the island, correct?
Yeah, it's basically a sequel of sorts to the all-flashback episode from last year, "The Odyssey." That was one of favorite episodes last year, and I think it was one of our most successful episodes. One of our to-do list items going into Season 2 was to do an "all-island episode" -- I'm making little finger quotes here in my office. We wanted to see if we could duplicate, if not top, that episode. This episode very clearly tops it.
It's fun to spend an episode with the paradigm flipped. We do have a story being told in the present day, but the proportions are the reverse of what we typically do. If the show is 80 percent present day and 20 percent flashback, this episode is 80 percent flashback and 20 percent present day. As a result, it gives you a different feel. Obviously the flashbacks are telling a very different kind of story; Oliver is a very different kind of character. I think it's what made "The Odyssey" so special last year and what makes "The Promise" so special this year -- you still feel like you're watching an episode of "Arrow," but you feel like you're watching a different variation.
Based on what's been revealed about this week's episode, it seems that the story is getting to a point there the story on the island is coming to a head -- obviously, by its nature, that story is finite, since it's in the past, and it's been revealed this week's episode will depict the moment Slade put on the Deathstroke mask for the first time, and Oliver putting on the hood for the first time. Are we getting to a point where the island story is reaching a climax, or will flashbacks continue to be a part of the show for the foreseeable future?
Flashbacks will definitely continue to be a part of the show. I will say that the flashback story in Season 2, like the flashback story in Season 1, has a beginning, middle and end to it. This episode is a very pivotal moment in the course of that storyline. This is not the end of the flashbacks, but it is a game-changer in terms of what's happening on the island, and what's happening between Oliver and Slade.
One of the things we said at the beginning of this year was, "If last year the flashbacks were what happened to Oliver on Lian Yu, the flashbacks in Season 2 are, 'What happened to Oliver and Slade, and their friendship, on Lian Yu?' This episode answers that question pretty squarely.
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