Executive Producer Marc Guggenheim sat down with Comicbook Resources to talk about the first season finale and what’s in store for us;
CBR News: Marc, when the season finale came around for “Arrow,” I’ve got to admit — I thought Malcolm was going to be the one to bite it instead of Tommy. No matter what people expected going in, you likely swerved in a direction that surprised many. How has the reaction been to the story from your end?
Marc Guggenheim: I’ve got to say, this has really exceeded my wildest expectations on so many levels. First of all, people seemed genuinely surprised. In this day and age of spoilers and the internet, you feel like it’s impossible to keep a secret. We actually kept this one, and that’s very gratifying. What’s also gratifying is I feel everything we were trying to do with the finale, the fans got. They appreciated the emotion we brought to it and the scope. The internet is a dangerous barometer, but I have to say I really scoured the internet after it aired for everyone’s opinions, and everything seemed to say we exceeded our wildest expectations in terms of the response. And my expectations were pretty wild. I felt really good about the episode as it was coming together.
It’s super exciting, and of course I wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t already worrying about how we’re going to top it next year. [Laughs] But that’s definitely a quality problem. There are two different kinds of challenges after Season 1 of a show. You’re either trying to top the previous season or you’re trying to rehabilitate the show from a lackluster season. Both endeavors have their challenges, but in the case of “Arrow” we’re trying to live up to a very high bar we set for ourselves across Season 1. The goal is to exceed that bar and take the show to the next level. It’s best when you continually raise the stakes — performances, characters, plot, production. This show kept finding new gears, and we want to keep doing that in Season 2.
The death of Tommy throws a lot of things up in the air for Season 2. Did you move towards that moment as a way of shaking up what the show could be moving forward?
It really wasn’t so much about surprising people. When you get to the end of a season and you know there’s another following, you want to strike a delicate balance between making the audience feel like you’ve wrapped up their story and closed a particular chapter, but at the same time you want them leaning in and wanting to come back for Season 2. There’s a whole bunch of different ways to do that. For us, our big question is always, “What’s going to give us the best story and the most story?” and when we did the “creative map” on killing off Tommy, it made us realize all these different stories that can now be told, along with different character dynamics that can now be played. It really was a stone thrown in the pond of “Arrow” and the ripples continue to extend. They’ll echo throughout Season 2. We didn’t kill off Tommy just to end the season with a bang. We did it for all the long term effects it will have on Oliver and the rest of the cast.
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