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The Biggest Surprise of Arrow's Gun Debate Episode Was Mayor Oliver Queen

In four and a half seasons of Arrow, we’ve gotten very used to seeing Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) solve all of his problems as the Green Arrow. 

When he became the mayor last year, it was almost funny, and it got funnier whenever we were reminded that oh yeah, Oliver Queen is also the mayor in his spare time. Tonight, we got to see Oliver actually be the mayor, and were surprised to find that he might actually be pretty good at it. 

After a gunman attacked City Hall and killed several staffers, Oliver suddenly found himself in a position he hadn’t really been in before. He could, of course, go after the gunman as the Green Arrow, but he also had a responsibility to address the city as the mayor and deal with the city’s gun laws in an official capacity. 

Not only did he do that by working to create new policies for the city, but he also personally talked down the gunman from causing more harm, all without putting his mask on. 

That, according to executive producers Marc Guggenheim and Wendy Mericle, was part of the plan for tonight’s very special gun control episode. The writers wanted to deal with a topical issue, but they also wanted a reason to further explore Oliver’s position as mayor.

From a story perspective, it was really the challenge of figuring out what would an episode look like where we had to solve the issue of the day or the problem of the week with Oliver Queen as mayor as opposed to him gearing up as the Green Arrow,” Mericle told reporters after a screening of “Spectre of the Gun.” 

Given how well Mayor Queen’s time in the spotlight went, we will probably be seeing quite a bit more of it. 

“I think so, firstly, because it’s different and the show has to evolve,” Mericle said when asked if we’ll be seeing Oliver unmask to deal with problems again. “Given that he has this other place where can do this other role as mayor where he can take that stand and have an impact, I don’t see why we wouldn’t go in that direction.” 

In fact, Oliver’s day job will play a big part in his continued efforts to make the city a better place. 

“One of the things we went into season five with the mindset of is Oliver’s mayor, so without it turning into The West Wing, how are we going to find ways to have Oliver be active as mayor, and to everyone’s surprise, end up being a good mayor,” Guggenheim said. “We definitely went into the season with the goal of showing that Oliver is actually much better at this job than you might expect.” 

In the midst of the gun debate, tonight’s episode also gave us the heartbreaking backstory of Rene (Rick Gonzalez), who lost his wife and custody of his daughter due to gun violence and a debt his wife owed due to her drug use. 

As a result of believing his wife died because he didn’t have immediate access to his gun, Rene is firmly pro-gun ownership, and that leads to many debates with Curtis (Echo Kellum), and eventually helping Oliver with a gun control policy. 

According to Mericle, part of the thesis of the episode is that regardless of the outcome, it’s important for debates like those in this episode are important to have. 

Simply, it’s sort of what Curtis says in the episode, is it’s important to at least talk about this,” she said. “At some point we did get away from that, I think, as a country, and we would like the idea of hearing both sides and hearing both sides as fairly as possible.” 

In the end, Oliver did come up with a policy that apparently fairly served both sides of the debate, but we won’t be finding out the details of that policy. 

“We left that intentionally vague,” Guggenheim said. “My first gig in the business was on a show called The Practice which was a David Kelly show. David always said, ‘I’m not interested in the verdict. I’m just interested in both sides in the case having equal arguments.’ Very intentionally, we didn’t want to provide the answer to the audience to the problem of gun violence. We wanted to leave that open to the audience as almost like a Rorschach test. One of the goals obviously was—I’m sorry this phrase has been corrupted—to be as fair and balanced to the issue as possible. Once you put a fine point on, “Okay, this is what the regulations should be,” then you sort of end up taking a side.”

Next week, the team will be back to focusing on taking down Prometheus. Guggenheim describes the episode as, “this fulcrum where a lot of the little seeds that had been planted in the first half of the season start to come to fruition.” 

“You start to realize that oh, Prometheus has been setting up a chess board, and the episode ends, I think, with sort of the next key move in Prometheus’ grand plan.” 

Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on the CW. 

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