David Ramsey on ‘Arrow’ Family Ties, the Green Lantern & Losing Felicity

Spoiler Alert
Dean Buscher/The CW

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 7 Episode 19 of Arrow, “Spartan.”]

While David Ramsey‘s John Diggle may be the sturdiest member of Team Arrow, that is not to say the man is made of stone. In tonight’s Arrow, “Spartan,” we found that Digg — who has been a mainstay of OTA along with Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) — had not just a stepfather, but one in the military named General Stewart (Ernie Hudson).

It wasn’t exactly the cuddliest reunion, as both men harbored old hurts and deep-seated resentments aplenty, although they definitely got a chance to work out their issues in the hour: In fact, they even bonded after being kidnapped and tortured together by the Ninth Circle. With certain Diggle-Stewart secrets out in the open, the men were able to find common ground and maybe even begin a new relationship.

TV Insider spoke with Ramsey about re-teaming with his old friend Hudson, what the future holds for OTA, General Stewart’s Green Lantern ties and the penultimate season’s apparently explosive finale.

OK, so this was such a fun episode… it’s almost like Diggle reverts back to being a 20-something when faced with his stepfather.

Yeah, yeah, it’s fun. It’s fun in that respect and we talked about that a lot. It was just the rationale of the underdeveloped brain of an adolescent or a very young adult, right? That part of his brain’s not quite fully developed. He’s reverting back to that kid that was injured. And so I enjoyed having that come out in someone as physical and as sometimes pragmatic as Diggle. It was fun, man. And Ernie was just great.

When you got this script, did you know who they were looking to get?

I asked for them to look at Ernie Hudson. I worked with Ernie on a small short, many, many, many, many years ago. No one ever saw it. And I met him there on that short and it was fantastic. So I was like, “Ernie, can do this.” He can bring obviously the weight of a Four-Star General, but also the heart of a man that can hide such a secret from someone like Diggle. I just thought he was just so marvelous. The writing was fantastic. It was just a great episode.

Ernie Hudson as General Stewart (Dean Buscher/The CW)

And it’s cool to see we still haven’t learned everything about John yet.

No, we haven’t. I mean, like, “Oh, has … There’s mom. Mom is alive. Oh, wow, look at that!” [Laughs] We have never talked about mom. Who is mom? And also, just what is this relationship now with Stewart…what happens now? What happens to this reformed relationship that’s clearly gotten off to a new start?

And of course, the fandom is out there going, like, “Oh, it’s General Stewart. Is he John Stewart? Is he the Green Lantern?” You guys knew that would be a thing while filming this, correct?

[Laughs] Yeah, yeah. Well, we knew that buzz was coming. I mean, that was obviously one of the ideas of making him General Stewart and it’s fun. I mean, there’s some major Easter eggs dropping. Obviously, last season with our crossover and ’90s Flash made that big comment of “Where’s your ring?” to John. And now we have John’s stepfather being named Stewart. We’ll see what happens with all that, but for now it’s a lot of fun.

You’ve got one season left and those final seasons are when you can go crazy…

I think so, too. And the producers have said that, as well, and publicly, that it’s almost like the gloves come off, right? You have 10 episodes, to go as big as you want and do whatever you want to do. I think that really takes the reins off in terms of storytelling. And so, we’ll see what develops with Diggle in this continuing saga of his stepfather as General Stewart.

What about the ongoing saga of Original Team Arrow losing one of the sides of the triangle?

Yeah, we’re losing the T from our OTA. Obviously, we all feel how we feel about it… Emily Bett’s been fantastic. I remember making a comment years ago, of me and Stephen [Amell, Oliver] brooding in the foundry until Felicity showed up and that’s just part of what Emily brings. But again, what I point to is being able to tell these big, big stories without being limited to anything that we had previously, that includes OTA. As wonderful as that is, you can have 10 episodes here where you can say and do whatever you want…canon and not canon. So I think as sad as we are, and she will be missed, I think it also gives us an opportunity to go some place we’ve never gone before.

Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak and Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen/Green Arrow (Dean Buscher/The CW)

Nice. And now, in this week’s episode, tonight’s episode, we also find out John’s family is a little bit bigger than we realized.

Yeah, yeah, there’s some drama going on with J.J. and my adopted son. There’s a bit of sibling rivalry. So, I think that speaks to the idea that Diggle finds out in this episode that there really was love involved in [Stewart as his stepdad]. He was being protected and sheltered, as much as he didn’t see that, he really was. And I think that leaves him to making some choices about Bronze Tiger’s son in the future — whatever happens to Bronze Tiger — John ultimately adopts his son. So we’ll see how that spills over. But yeah, you get that glimpse tonight, that there’s a huge sibling rivalry within the Diggle family.

What can you tell me about the end of the season as we get closer to the finale?

Well, Oliver’s sister [Emiko], right? I mean, we get to this big moment of finding out exactly what that relationship is all about…but can she be saved, can she not be saved? I think that’s what’s happening in this storyline. And ultimately, what happens with Felicity in the storyline as well. What I could tease is “Stay tuned,” because those are the two big story points of our season, and I don’t think people are gonna be disappointed with either one. That’s as much as I can tease about it without giving too much away.

It sounds like it’s more of an emotional level for the finale than past years where you’re blowing up a city, or at least blowing up part of the city.

Well, buildings do fall. Buildings do fall, literally. [Laughs] But I would say, yes, there is a lot of emotional context to the storytelling this season. It’s always there, but I think you’re right. There’s family involved. Felicity is family, Emiko is family. So there’s some family dynamic that tugs at the heartstrings [this year] unlike any other season finale.

Arrow, Mondays, 9/8c, The CW