'Arrow': John Barrowman Discusses Malcolm Merlyn's Role In Season 4

Malcolm Merlyn Arrow John Barrowman

[SPOILERS for Arrow season three ahead.]


Arrow's Season 3 cliffhanger left fans with a lot of promising developments. From Thea Queen (Willa Holland) becoming part of the team to the implication of the heroes having a brighter future ahead of them, it's looking like the minds behind Arrow are making sure the upcoming season will have a very different feel from the journey everyone just witnessed in Season three. One of the most interesting developments wasn't involving a hero, though, as the manipulative Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) has become the latest Ra's al Ghul to lead the deadly League of Assassins.

While San Diego Comic-Con 2015 did produce a lot of exciting news about Arrow Season 4 (Oliver finally becomes Green Arrow; Matt Ryan's Constantine might appear), fans can't help but wonder what Merlyn becoming Ra's al Ghul means for Team Arrow. Will a whole new conflict unfold? Will Merlyn want to work with Starling City's vigilantes?

Barrowman, when we interviewed him at SDCC 2015, indicated that Merlyn will probably like to keep a peaceful relationship with Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and the archer's allies. He's not entirely certain why Merlyn can't bring himself to kill the group of heroes, but he suspects it could be because they were friends of his deceased son, or maybe he even views the group as family:

"This is how it works for me. My Malcolm, I believe I have a soft spot for every one of those people on that team. And I haven’t figured out why. Maybe it’s because of Tommy knowing most of them or it’s because I look at Oliver being like a son. Or my daughter, I knew I was training her to be part of it. I will protect them. But if I have to kill someone, I will. It’s as black and white as that. But don’t mess with them. Don’t get in the way, because I will put my neck out on the line to protect them. That’s what I think. That’s what makes it work for me. If that happens, I don’t know."

Barrowman also commented on Merlyn's manipulative ways. The villain is regularly pulling peoples' strings and appears to be intrepid, so, to many fans, it was surprising to see Merlyn become a total coward when he was forced to face Ra's al Ghul. To some, it showed just how much people should fear Ra's al Ghul. But others - including Barrowman - couldn't tell if Merlyn was faking it in an attempt to buy himself more time. Is there more to what Merlyn is often saying? Barrowman explained he attempts to deliver lines in a way which keeps viewers - and even himself - guessing about the character's true intentions:

"Not much scares Malcolm. Ra’s scared Malcolm when he was in front of him. But I always, again, play it like do we really believe that Malcolm is scared or is he a great manipulator? When you watch him…Which I love when I watch him myself, because I do watch myself, I love watching him going, “I don’t really know if I believe you are telling the truth.”

Arrow Cast Members Tease Season 4

Now that Merlyn is in charge of the League of Assassins, many are wondering what his relationship with Nyssa al Ghul (Katrina Law), Ra's al Ghul's daughter, will be like. Technically, Nyssa must now follow Merlyn's commands, but Merlyn is responsible for the death of the woman Nyssa loves: Sara Lance (Caity Lotz). Barrowman said even he isn't certain how Nyssa will respond to his character, but no matter which direction the relationship goes, he hopes it receives an ample amount of the spotlight:

"I want to see that relationship explored, because her father is dead. The body is gone. We don’t know. Will she look to Malcolm as being a role model? Will she always want to kill him? She has to respect him because he’s part of The League, because one does wear the ring. I had to make me my own demon’s head. And I’ve been wearing it for a week."

Seeing as Legends of Tomorrow has confirmed Sara will be resurrected by a Lazarus Pit, it makes us wonder who will be the one to bring Sara back to life. It's possible Nyssa could bring her former lover back to life without Merlyn's knowledge - now that her father is dead, she may believe nothing stands in the way of her and Sara being together. Or, given his manipulative ways, Merlyn could be the one to resurrect Sara. If he knows Nyssa wants to take his life, he could do this to gain some of her trust and "make up" for the fact it's his plan which killed Sara in the first place. It may not make Nyssa fully forgive Merlyn, but it could stop her from wanting to possibly kill him. After all, if there's one thing Merlyn believes in, it's watching his own back.

Meanwhile, Barroman also shared his thoughts on what becoming Ra's al Ghul could mean for Malcolm Merlyn:

"He’s Ra’s. However, the other Ra’s has disappeared. That’s what I’ll say, because his body is gone. Like myself, it’s a role reversal. He now is rogue. He could always have a team of people around him. He might have wealth that I had. So he could be an arch enemy to my Ra’s. I’m intrigued by that because would I not be as fearful of him because he is no longer the Demon’s Head? He is not the almighty one. I think he would gloat a little. It would be a wonderful scene to have him in front of me on his knees, like when he said to Nyssa, “Kneel before Ra’s al Ghul.” I love that that was the last line they filmed with him before we went on break. And if he could say that to the other, that would be like fan boy all over the place. But I don’t know if it’s going to happen. I don’t know. I think there’s going to have to be another collaboration of teams at some point."

NEXT: Arrow Producer Teases More Flash Crossovers In Season 4

Arrow season four will begin on The CW this October 7th, 2015.

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