[SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for recent episodes of "Arrow."]
This week's episode of "Arrow" sees Slade (Manu Bennett) poised to unleash his army of crazed, superpowered and Mirakuru-infused criminals on Starling City as part of his multifaceted revenge-fueled plot. So what could a police officer like Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne), even one on close terms with the Arrow (Stephen Amell), have to offer?
Looks like quite a bit, according to Blackthorne. The actor told CBR News that the final three episodes of "Arrow" second season contain major tests for the Starling City Police Department -- and talks about his character's journey over the past year, Quentin's desire to not know the Arrow's secret identity and what he'd like to see for Lance in Season 3 and beyond.
CBR News: Paul, based on last week's episode, it doesn't look like "Arrow" is a safe place for parental units -- are you nervous about what might be next for your character?
Paul Blackthorne: I don't think it's a safe place for anybody, is it? [Laughs] If you're a parent or a non-parent, I think it's pretty perilous whichever corner you turn.
That was terribly unfortunate, to see Moira go. Lance had an up and down relationship with her over the years, but it was pretty devastating to see a woman like her go out like that -- especially as their relationship was warming somewhat, and there she was running for mayor, and she seemed authentic. Terribly sad to see her go.
Losing Susanna Thompson as part of the cast had to be a blow.
That's absolutely the case. One has to maintain the stakes in good television -- if there's death-defying stuff and nobody ever dies, it kind of loses its ring a bit. Unfortunately, it does mean that these things occur, and it was very sad to lose Susanna, absolutely -- she's a fantastic actor. And how amazing was she in the episode?
We're almost as the end of Season 2, and it's been a tumultuous one for Quentin Lance -- demoted right at the start, then certainly lots of family turmoil, and he was even in jail for a while. How have you enjoyed your character's arc this season?
I think for Lance, as tumultuous as it seems, he's actually been in a place of relative peace in his own mind. Although within the system he's been demoted, within his own mind, he knows he's done the right thing. His relationship with the Arrow is one that's better for Starling City -- that's what he cares about most, other than his daughters. As skewed as the relationship is, given that he's doing it from within the system, he knows that this guy makes Starling City a better place, or certainly tries to make it a better place. As tumultuous as it's been, he's actually been in a much better place than he was last season.
Speaking of that relationship with the Arrow -- two weeks ago, there was a pretty meaningful scene between Quentin and Laurel when she was about to tell him who the Arrow is, and he said he didn't want to know. How significant do you see that scene in representing what Quentin Lance is?
Lance doesn't want to know who this guy is for a couple of different reasons. He wants to maintain, as he talks about in that scene, the emotional distance between them, because Lance can't help but care about people. He is a compassionate guy. He is there to protect and serve, as it says. He knows that if he starts caring about this guy, he might not be able to interact with him in the same way that ultimately helps the city the most. So he's got to keep that emotional distance from him.
Also, he doesn't want to put himself in a position whereby if he does know his identity, he's going to have to reveal that to the police force, because obviously, that's ultimately going to be detrimental to Starling City. So the less he knows the better, and the more he can operate in this skewed, neurotic way that he does. As crazy as that is for him to do it in that way, he knows that ultimately it serves the city. "I don't want to be in a position where I'm going to have to give up this guy's identity. I may have my suspicions as to who it is, but to be honest, I don't want to know, and if you know, don't tell me." It's all ultimately for the good of Starling City, because that's what he knows this guy serves best. That's the reason.
The show has found success with an obvious mix of the more grounded, human drama with the big comic book-y action, and you've been a part of both. What's that been like, and how rare of an opportunity is that for an actor to do both at the same time?
That's what's kind of great about "Arrow," isn't it, because although it is set in that comic book context, the writing enables great characters and great character development. Within these fast-moving stories, there is still an importance on [character]. People care about human beings. Things could be exploding -- arrows and bow staffs, goodness knows what could be going on -- and that's all fabulous, but ultimately, people care about the characters in whatever world they're operating in, whether it's sci-fi, comic book or kitchen sink drama. And that's one thing the writers have obviously given great care and attention to -- making the audience care about these characters.
We're in a very fortunate position, because we do get some nice, human stuff there, seeing people just trying to get by in life, whether it's within themselves, or within their families, or within their city. Just watching people in the struggles that we have try and do the right thing by themselves, by their family, by their city -- that's very intriguing to watch. They write this stuff brilliantly.
In this season, the show in general has gotten a lot bigger -- the world has expanded, there's more characters, the action has escalated -- and it looks like it's about to get even bigger by the end of the season. You've been a part of the show from the beginning -- what's it been like to watch the evolution of a show?
It's just that, isn't it? It's evolution, and you can't just sit on what you've got. Watching the mythology of this world get bigger and bigger is fascinating to watch. It's great writing, and it's important that the show does that, and it does it successfully.
This week's episode, "City of Blood," looks to have Slade basically deploying an army of what's essentially supervillains on Starling. How big of a role does your character play in the final episodes of this season?
With these supervillains, as you put it, Slade's army trouncing all over Starling City, this is not just a situation for the leather-clad superheroes. This is clearly affecting all of Starling City, so the police department's very much involved with it.
There's a little twist, as well, in the relationship between not just Lance and the Arrow, but the Starling City Police Department and the Arrow. Because, let's face it -- we're all in this together, with this army coming upon us. It's all hands on deck.
Not to look too far into the future, but we know "Arrow" has already been renewed for a third season. Presuming Lance makes it out of these last few episodes intact, do you have any idea of what you might like to see next for the character?
I don't really think about what I would like to see so much, because to be honest, what these guys come up with episode after episode, now beginning to be season after season, it's fantastic -- seeing where they take the story, the characters, the development, all around. I just look forward to seeing those pages each week when the new script comes out. It's always pretty interesting.
Having said that, I think Lance could do with a woman in his life, don't you?
Yeah! It was sad to see him with Dinah, where he thought things were going one way and they clearly were not.
I know, There he was -- he was all amped up, he thought he was all back on board with Dinah, and then she goes and brings "Jeffrey" up. Who the hell is Jeffrey?
But the one thing that it did do, of course, with Lance, was bring closure to the Dinah situation. Which, again, sort of put him in a much better place than he'd been before. So you never know -- maybe Lance has already put some love in his life. That'd be nice.
That's an interesting perspective to hear, that Lance is in a better place in life, even though just a couple of weeks ago he was getting beaten in jail.
He was enjoying the break up until then!
"City of Blood," the latest episode of "Arrow," airs Wednesday at 8PM on The CW.