'Arrow' EP Teases Oliver's Family Drama, the Ghost Initiative & Blackstar's Backstory

Damian Holbrook
Q&A

Arrow is back for the second half of its seventh season and, as usual, life in Star City is far from rosy for our green-favoring Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell).

Just as he is settling into his new post-prison life and legitimate gig working with the city's police force, the playboy-turned-vigilante-turned-mayor-turned-convict is set to have things shaken up by the reveal that this new Green Arrow shooting up the town is none other than Emiko Queen (Sea Shimooka), his surprise half-sister.

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Not only that, his former sidekick is secretly putting together a band of miscreants for mysterious purposes and the doppleganger of his dead ex from another timeline is having identity issues. Bet he misses running around Elseworlds in Barry Allen's tights, right?

But it's not all bad news for Ollie and his slowly developing goatee. We talked to showrunner Beth Schwartz about what's in the pipeline and it sounds like our boy is also going to have some personal nice wins once and awhile. It's about damn time!

So Oliver is free, working for the SCPD and now we know who the new Green Arrow in town is. What are you coming back with?

Beth Schwartz: Well, we're in for a lot of more character development for Emiko, starting with episode 710. We'll be finding out more about her and what her mission's about, as well as all trying to figure out how the rest of our team fits in with Oliver back.

Are you positioning Emiko and Oliver as opponents?

They definitely will have different views on things  as siblings do. [Laughs]. We'll get deeper into knowing about who her mother is, what happened with Robert Queen and why her family was kept a secret.

Sea Shimooka as Emiko Queen and Alex Parra as Marco (Dean Buscher/The CW)

She knows that Oliver is her brother and she knows that he's been doing this whole thing. What is their relationship like?

He's not her favorite person. And we'll see in this last half that Oliver is going to try to redeem himself to her, redeem his family, because he really feels like she was wronged. By their father.

Man, Robert really screwed this whole family up.

I know! He really did and Oliver's just trying to do the best job to pick up the pieces.

And he will be suiting back up, correct?

Oh, yeah. Yeah. You'll see him as Green Arrow, the majority of the back half of this season. And there's definitely a few villains that are lurking in the shadows. But they will make themselves more clear as the episodes go on.

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Rose is set to slip back into the cowl for what could become her own series.

And what about Diaz (Kirk Acevedo)?

He's still there, he's still there being Diaz. We're going to see him in the Ghost Initiative and he will be working with Dig (David Ramsey) and Lyla (Audrey Marie Anderson) in A.R.G.U.S. and with our other Ghost Initiative characters, which is really fun.

I feel like he's the first villain that we've really gotten that's not super redeemable.

No, he's really not. He's pretty broken. [Laughs]

Kirk Acevedo as Ricardo Diaz (Dean Buscher/The CW)

What else can you tell us about the Ghost Initiative?

Well they're basically [showcased] in David Ramsey's episode, his directorial debut, which is next week. And it is such a great episode, the fans are going to love it. He did such an amazing job. Yeah. It's a really cool episode. We actually get in some deeper backstory with Laurel, with Black Siren and what happened to her on Earth 2.  We get a little insight there and then we get to see the Ghost Initiative kicking butt with China White (Kelly Hu), Slade Wilson's son Kane Wolfson (Liam Hall), our favorite...

And you have Cupid (Amy Gumenick) in there, too. Fans love seeing these past characters coming back. I mean, China White, she was like first season.

Yeah, that's the fun part of being on a Season Seven show. In the writers room, we all have kind of our nostalgic/favorite characters that we love bringing back and we keep pitching. We always want to bring people back, because there is such richness to the characters, we love them just as much.

The formulation of this new team, this new Suicide Squad, what is that going to do to Dig and Oliver?

Oliver's going to find out pretty soon about it. But Oliver and Dig are not going to have much friction, but they're definitely going to catch up in the terms of them being kind of separate this season, this far. We're going to see them come back together as a unit and be there for each other.

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The hunky actor also teased that big crossover in the works for next season.

Oh good. I was worried that it was going to post more of a tension thing.

No, it won't. Oliver has evolved and Dig is going through his journey this season, and they come to an understanding and they have each others back. There'll be a resolution between Dig and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards), as well, for everything that went on in the beginning of the season.

Speaking of Felicity, you've got the flash-forward mystery going on. How are we billing that out? Because let me tell you, Kat McNamara is fantastic.

She's amazing.

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She's so good, she's so different, she's so different from her work on Shadowhunters. It's a totally different kind of performance. It's really cool.

Oh, great. Awesome. Yeah, she's amazing. And I'm very excited to tell you and everyone that we're having an all flash-forward episode coming up. So we're going to get all the answers, all the backstory of what really has been happening these past 20 years. We go more in-depth on Blackstar, her backstory and how she got involved with everyone. And so it's a really, really fun episode.

Do we find out that Blackstar might be related to maybe some people already on the Arrow canvas?

I don't know. [Laughs] We will definitely find out who...how she became part of this group and what her connection is. We're aslso going to find out sort of what happened to Roy (Colton Haynes), why he was banished on Lian-Yu and what his baggage is as well.

Arrow, Mondays, 9/8c, The CW