How does a superhero bounce back from getting an emotional and physical beat-down?
That's the question Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) will be faced with when Arrow returns this Wednesday (8/7c on The CW). "We actually constructed the whole episode to explore this question," executive producer Marc Guggenheim tells TVGuide.com.
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When last we saw Oliver, he came face-to-face with the Dark Archer, aka Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman), who was dead-set on doing what Oliver never could: actually cleaning up the streets of Starling City with extreme and lethal action. When Oliver got in the way of that, Merlyn showed him he was the better archer by beating Oliver senseless and nearly exposing his identity.
"Oliver has never gone up against anyone who has beaten him before, particularly beaten him so badly," Guggenheim says. "Wednesday's episode is about the nature of fear and we see it play out both in terms of present day, but also in terms of the flashback."
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For now, Oliver will lean on Diggle (John Ramsey), while Macolm's motives for being the Dark Archer are slowly revealed. "We definitely start laying the foundation for Malcolm's motivation in [next week's episode]," he says. "We even explore it further in Episode 16."
But don't expect Oliver to learn the Dark Archer's identity — and vice versa — anytime soon. "That's the bomb underneath the table for the remainder of the season," Guggenheim says. "You have these two men who are at each other's throats and it's a question of who's going to learn what first."
Arrow returns Wednesday at 8/7c on The CW.