Arrow SDCC 2016 Interview: Executive Producer Wendy Mericle

When it comes to Arrow, the show has been at its best when it has focused on the dark, grounded reality of this superhero world. But given its success and the several spinoffs it’s generated, it had to become something else in order to help usher in these other heroes and shows. And that wasn’t always a good thing.

Over the past couple of seasons, Arrow has lost a bit of what made it so compelling in the first place. This is a superhero world that never required superpowers or metahumans to be compelling. It was all about the gritty criminal element and the skilled heroes that put their lives on the line to save their city.

So of course a focus heading into the new season has been whether Arrow will find itself again. And Arrow executive producer Wendy Mericle reaffirmed that Arrow will return to its grounded roots in season five.


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“This season will be much more gritty, much more returned to our roots,” she told us during a roundtable interview at SDCC. “That’s definitely our goal is to come back and make it more of a crime show the way it was in season one with villains of the week, more close-ended stories. Magic will still be there because we’ve introduced it now. But it’s not going to drive story the way it did last year.”

As Arrow heads into its final year of Oliver’s five-year, island-flashback journey, the scene shifts to Russia and Oliver’s past with the Bratva. Mericle said that’s something that they’ve waited five years to explore. Not to mention the flashbacks and the present day story will share a common theme.

“We really want to delve into the world of Bratva, really see how [Oliver] became a captain and what his experiences were there,” Mericle said, “and to make it kind of gritty and visually different a dynamic as possible. We’re also going to tie them in more with the present day stories thematically. They’ll be a little more synergy between the front and the back stories than we’ve had in past years.”

Definitely one of the hot topics heading into this season focuses on the future of Oliver and Felicity in terms of their romantic relationship. While Mericle did say that they’d begin season five in an ambiguous place, the first five episodes of this season will provide some clarity.

“We’ve left them in a very ambiguous place at the end of season four, and I think we’ll get some clarity in the first five episodes, particularly in episode five of season five,” Mericle said. “But really by the same token why the relationship happened is because we were writing to those characters and writing to Stephen [Amell] and Emily [Bett Rickards], and we’re going to do the same thing in season five. We’re going to let the characters tell us where they want to go, and we’ll see where we end up.”

Watch our interview with Mericle below where she discusses exploring the criminal underworld, dealing with Flashpoint, the theme of legacy, and more.

Arrow season 5 premieres Wednesday, Oct. 5 at 8/7c on The CW.

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