You may think you know where Arrow is going, but you probably don't, according to executive producer Wendy Mericle.
When the CW show returns tonight, the team has some serious issues to deal with, even aside from the pretty big problem of Diggle being locked away once again, and the apparent return of Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy), despite her death last season (but we'll get to her in a minute).
Oliver's battle with Prometheus took a particularly dark turn when the bad guy convinced Oliver he was finally about to win, only for Ollie to then realized he had actually put an arrow through Detective Malone (Tyler Ritter), also known as Felicity's (Emily Bett Rickards) boyfriend.
The death is a major turning point, both for Oliver's fight against Prometheus, and for Felicity, who is about to embark on her own journey of darkness.
"This is really Felicity's island, what she's going through this year, and we wanted to see how she comes out of it on the other side," Mericle tells us. Basically, Felicity's learning what it's like to be Oliver.
"We really wanted Felicity to go through a journey this season of really understanding, in a way, what Oliver had been through in season one," Mericle says. "I think Felicity now understands in a really profound and tragic way, what Oliver means when he says that you can't have a personal life."
This journey comes just after Felicity seemed to be getting back to her old funny, awkward self, who wasn't so bogged down with the realities of her job. (Can we also just note that for once, it's the boyfriend who's been killed, so that the girlfriend can go on a journey of darkness? YAS kween! But also, so sorry for your loss.)
"We wanted to put her in a normalized place at the beginning of the year, after the breakup and everything that happened in season four, and lighten her up a little bit only to again pull the rug out from under her in the middle of the season and see where we can take her."
Malone "represented a certain innocence," according to Mericle, and that meant he had to go. While Felicity's new understanding will not necessarily put her and Oliver back together romantically, it will make them better partners in crime fighting.
"[Malone's death] is going to deepen her understanding of what he went through, and it's also going to deepen her as a character, which was honestly the primary goal of telling the story," Mericle says. "We always are looking for ways to give her more story and more autonomy, and this is a way to do it. She's trying to have an outside life in some ways in season five, independent of the team, and we're going to end her, I think, in a very interesting place, and detective Malone's death is really the kickoff of that journey for the back half of the season for her."
While Felicity and the rest of the team won't blame Oliver for what happened, he will face some kind of fallout.
"I think we're playing it in ways that no one is going to expect," Mericle tells us. "Everyone understands the circumstances under which this happened, but it's unquestionable that the man who's the Green Arrow, and also the mayor, at some point, these things have consequences."
Both Felicity and Oliver will be even more determined to take down Prometheus after Billy's death, but this guy is not going to be so easy to kill. Mericle calls him "Oliver's true dark mirror." Oliver's initial drive as the Hood was his father's death, and Prometheus is propelled by his own father's death at the hands of the Hood.
"We wanted this season for Oliver to take on a villain that he had never encountered before, and what we like about Prometheus was understanding that he too lost his father," Mericle explains. "He is determined to make the man who took his father's life pay. We wanted someone to be as close in his backstory to Oliver as we could create."
Mericle says that we haven't learned everything there is to know about Prometheus just yet. "There are a couple more surprises in store," she promises.
Before Oliver can take down his "dark mirror," he's going to have to do some serious self -reflection.
"For us, it's a different way of fighting. It's not going to come down to him punching or killing Prometheus necessarily," Mericle tells us. "What it is going to come down to is a very psychological need for Oliver to accept the last five years and everything he's done, good and bad."
Finally, he's also got to deal with the return of Laurel, who showed up in the lair at the end of the midseason finale. A promo seemed to indicate that she might be Black Siren (a villain from another earth), but Mericle says that all is not what it appears to be.
"I feel that we sort of hinted in the promo, not necessarily that it's Black Siren, but we hinted that as usual with what we do on the show as we bring people back and we don't bring them back, it's always a surprise," she says.
While Laurel's return is both a part of the Prometheus story and a distraction from it, what it actually represents is something new to Arrow: hope.
"In terms of where we were at the end of 5x09, Oliver and the team were in an extremely dark place because of the death of Detective Malone, and having that beat at the end where we see Laurel, and knowing that on the show we've established that people have come back from the dead, for us it was a way to end the episode on a hopeful note."
We'll just have to see how much hope there really is when the show returns tonight.
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on the CW.