"The Promise" has also been described as a "turning point" -- how much do you see it as a turning point for this season, and how much does it affect what viewers are going to be seeing over the next couple of months?

Pretty huge. It is a pivotal game-changer both in the present and in the past. In the past, we're going to get a major seismic shift in Oliver and Slade's relationship; and in the present, Oliver is going to learn that Slade is alive and well, and here in Starling City. There's really no way for the rest of the season to be the same as the first 15 episodes once we get past ["The Promise"], because Slade's presence just changes everything. Of course, it's going to activate Oliver in a very different way. Last year, Oliver knew that there was a dark archer out there, but because he didn't know who the dark archer was until episode 22 of 23, there was really nothing for him to do. Here, he literally has met his enemy. That will loom incredibly large for the remainder of the season.


Viewers saw Slade talking to Moira at the very end of last week's episode, which is an intriguing development in Oliver's already-strained relationship with his mother -- what can you say about the relationship between those two characters?

Watching Manu and Susanna together in scenes is just so much fun. They're both such talented actors. It's fun to see a character combination that we haven't seen before. Slade is going to play a very pivotal role in Moira's life, and episode 15 really is just the beginning of that. How Oliver deals with it will be a big challenge for the rest of the year.

Looking a couple of weeks into the future, people are already excited about seeing the Suicide Squad on "Arrow." That's such a uniquely "comic book" concept that the show is getting to introduce in live-action for the first time -- as a person with a comic book background yourself, how exciting was that to see it take shape on the show?

Really, really exciting. In part because it kind of has an "Avengers"-like feel to it -- we've introduced all of these characters in their own separate episodes, and it's fun to see to take all of these "villains of the week" and see them interact with each other. Part of the fun of the episode is, "How does Bronze Tiger relate to Deadshot?" "How does Deadshot relate to Shrapnel?"

This is one of those comic books that I grew up with. I remember the Luke McDonnell/John Ostrander run after the "Legends" miniseries incredibly vividly. It's such a great, compelling concept -- "The Dirty Dozen" with supervillains. What's not to love? It's fun to be able to do it within the world of "Arrow," and it never doesn't feel like an episode of "Arrow." It just feels like a different iteration on this world that we've created.

And it appears to be a Diggle-centric episode, which we haven't seen in a while.

This is our most Diggle-centirc episode since episode #6 ["Keep Your Enemies Closer"]. It's not quite a direct sequel to episode #6 of this year, but it certainly speaks to it. Because it is Diggle-centric, we get to see the flashbacks from Diggle's (David Ramsey) perspective -- so we're going to be flashing back to Diggle's time in Afghanistan, which is a fun little bonus for the episode, and you get to see how everything ties together.

It feels like that from the first season to now, "Arrow" has grown in a lot of ways -- there's been some series-high ratings in key demographics, and the buzz around it seems to have increased, which is certainly not always easy to do in a second season. Comic book fans have likely been energized from seeing more comic book characters on the show, but at least anecdotally, I think even non-fans of the source material have come around more to the show than I saw in the first season. What do you attribute that to, as someone so close to it?

I think I might be too close to it, really, to answer. In all honesty, the only thing I know is, we came into this year and I had this massive amount of anxiety. I really felt like we ended last year so strong, it was hard for me to imagine how we would even match ourselves, much less top ourselves.

The thing about television, particularly network television when you're doing 23 episodes a year, you don't get a chance to self-reflect too much. You just go. You've got an episode to produce, and then you have another episode to produce, another episode -- you hope that your plan holds up, and you hope that the totality of the episodes all hang together. \

It's also hard, quite frankly, to answer the question without having finished the race. We're breaking episode 22 right now. We still have a couple of miles to go before we sleep. Hopefully while I'm on a beach somewhere, I'll be able to reflect back on Season 2, and figure out how we managed to grow the show. [Laughs]

The cast and the crew have raised their game enormously in Season 2. While it's hard for me to speak with any objectivity about what we're doing as writers, I can say that from a performance perspective and a production perspective, the show has only grown by leaps and bounds since season 1. I was already pretty proud of Season 1, but we just have a really talented group of people up in Vancouver who do not know how to rest on their laurels -- no pun intended. "Arrow" episode 2x15, "The Promise," airs Wednesday March 5 at 9pm.

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