Geoff Johns Talks ‘ARROW’ and “Dead to Rights” Episode Revelations

Arrow, Season 1, Episode 16 - "Dead to Rights"

Arrow, Season 1, Episode 16 – “Dead to Rights”

I hope you’ve all now gotten a chance to watch the episode and think a moment on it, let your mind wrap around the whole of the 1 hour drama and how much it went through in the time frame.  Now we get to hear what Geoff Johns, the writer for the episode, explain further the scope of the episode and what it means for the characters in future episodes.

I can’t believe that Oliver actually revealed himself to Tommy. What are the repercussions going to be in terms of their friendship?

Stephen Amell as The Arrow

Stephen Amell as The Arrow

Yeah, the thing I like about the revelation … obviously he’s revealed himself to a few people now that he works with, but this one, he didn’t plan on this. He didn’t feel like he wanted to do it, but he had to do it in that moment to save someone’s life and to help his best friend’s father, who ironically almost killed him weeks prior.

I think the fallout from this one’s going to be much more severe and much different than Diggle [David Ramsey] or Felicity [Emily Bett Rickards]. This wasn’t something he had to do; it’s something he chose to do. He chose to do it for the right reason, but I think the moment when Tommy says, “Were you ever going to tell me”? and then Oliver says, “No,” I think that sums up what Tommy’s feeling right there. You can see it on his face — his trust is shattered. He really needs somebody like that right now in his life, somebody that’s stable and you see that when they’re having dinner. You can see how important Oliver is to him and now it’s gone. It’s tragic.

The other big moment in the episode was Laurel’s mother arriving and dropping a huge bombshell: Her sister might still be alive. How much will that impact Laurel and her storyline in the coming weeks?

It’s going to impact it dramatically both here now and in the subsequent episodes. I mean, hopefully, next season … I don’t want to spoil too much of it, but it was a pleasure to write that scene, because it is such a [big moment]. You see the mother and then what she says about Sarah is something I don’t think people have even considered.

And there was also the mention of Sarah’s old pet canary, who happened to be black … Can we take that as foreshadowing?

It’s not hard to say it’s foreshadowing. I think there’s easter eggs in this episode, but all those things are actually pieces of a bigger story and what’s going to come up and yeah … Black Canary obviously is an ultra important character in the DC Universe, right alongside Green Arrow. So you can expect that she’s going to factor into this in some way or another down the line.

John Barrowman as Malcolm Merlyn

John Barrowman as Malcolm Merlyn

Malcolm came very close to revealing the truth about his own identity as the Dark Archer to Tommy this week, before everything went to hell. Will he attempt that again any time soon?

You’ll have to see what happens between father and son in the subsequent episodes, but it’s very cool.

Now that Diggle knows that Deadshot (Michael Rowe) is alive, I assume he’s going to be at the top of Digg’s agenda?

Yeah; it will be above Oliver’s agenda, that’s for sure.

Malcolm also namedropped Nanda Parbat, where he says he met a man who helped him make sense of things after his wife died. Obviously, Batman fans know how important that place is in terms of the comics and its links to Ra’s Al Ghul …

Yeah, Nanda Parbat — it’s funny, Andrew [Kreisberg] and I thought about that for a while. “Is anyone even going to understand this?” “Well, let’s do it anyway.”

I know it’s hard to get the rights to Batman characters especially, but is there a chance we could see Ra’s in Starling City at some point?

You know what? I always say, “Never say never.”

What was your favorite part of writing this episode?

That scene between Oliver and Tommy, when Oliver said “no.” I just love the simplicity of it because it’s not a long scene, it’s not overly descriptive, it’s simple. It’s probably the most honest Oliver is in the entire episode. It’s the most honest I’ve seen Oliver. And you can see Stephen dig into that, into himself for that answer, on his face. Tommy’s not even looking at him and you can see just the pain on Stephen’s face as he makes the decision, “I’m going to be honest finally.” And he is, and it’s just that maybe it wasn’t the best thing to be honest about at the moment.

The show is on hiatus right now, you’ll have to wait until March 20th for what happens next.  

via HuffPostTV.

In another interview, Geoff expands even further:

When you write such a jam-packed episode, do you feel like a kid in a candy store, or do you get nervous about fan reaction?

You know, I have to be honest, as soon as I knew Glen was going to direct this, I had no fears on anything.  For me, I usually work on comics where it’s all about collaborating with the artist who takes the visuals off the script to the next level, and Glen is the same way.  As soon as I knew Glen was directing it, I had no fears.  It was still a challenge to write this script and balance everything out because there are so many reveals.  I was very happy with how it turned out ‘cause it feels like a very action-driven episode, but it’s got a lot of emotion in it.

When you sat down at the black page or screen to write this episode, did you know all of the big moments and reveals that would be happening, or did some of them come out of where the story took you?

I knew every single moment because we broke the whole story in the writer’s room before I went off to script it.  I knew every big flagpost was going to happen, and it was massive.

Arrow - "Dead to Rights"

Manu Bennett as Slade Wilson

I love finding balance.  My favorite thing to do is action-driven, emotionally-charged scenes.  If it’s not just two people talking in a room, but it’s on the move and things are happening and it’s chaotic, and emotion comes from the characters and from the action, and the fall-out ultimately changes the character relationships, that exactly the kind of stuff I like writing.  I love to tackle that stuff.  It’s a challenge, but it’s much more fun than doing one or the other.  I think empty action leaves you very apathetic.  Talky scenes with people who are just stuck in one spot can be visually unstimulating.  I give all the credit to Glen Winter, but combining them both is the sweet spot for me.

How much fun is it to concurrently develop two separate stories on the show, with what happened on the island and what’s happening in the present, and how exciting has it been to see viewers responding to both of those stories equally?

Oh, it’s great!  I think everybody is very happy with the reaction to the island story and the present-day story, and the fact that the island story helps inform and contrast the journey is going through right now, just makes the show feel all the richer.  There’s an extra layer to the show and to the character.  Seeing Oliver on that island, he’s so different.  It’s fun to see him, day by day, grow into the character he is now, and then seeing the character he is now actually grow into another character.  Oliver is at a point in his life where he’s trying to have a life and have some relationships outside of his life as Green Arrow.

Did you have any idea how much of a bromance the relationship between Oliver and Slade (Manu Bennett) would turn into?

No, but I love it!  They’re great!  And the fact that we know who Slade is and who he becomes, and that ultimately Green Arrow and Deathstroke are two very important and very different characters, in the greater world at large, at the end of it all, is a lot of fun to watch.

Kelly Hu as China White

Kelly Hu as China White

This episode also saw the return of China White (Kelly Hu) and Deadshot (Michael Rowe).  How much fun are the villains to write for, and is it always a balance to make sure they don’t ever overshadow your hero?

There is because villains are very fun to write, Deadshot in particular.  I find him a fascinating character.  I’ve written him in the comics quite a bit, and to write him in this version is great fun as well.  But, the villains always have to have a point of view and they have to be as human as the heroes.  Sometimes the line between villain and hero is very blurred.  Look at Slade and Oliver, and even look at Malcolm.  Malcolm thinks he’s doing the right thing, and maybe he is, on some level, but the consequences of what he wants to do, which hasn’t been quite revealed yet, are pretty massive.  But, I think his end goal is altruistic and also informed by the death of his wife, so you can understand it and certainly understand him.  The characters that have greys are the more interesting characters.  The hero who sometimes crosses the line and the villain who sometimes doesn’t are just much more interesting.

You can read the whole article at Collider.

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