'Arrow': Seth Gabel's Vertigo strikes close to Oliver's heart when Thea takes a hit

arrow-oliver-thea-vertigo.jpgThere are a million reasons to love The CW's new hit drama "Arrow" -- fifteen of which can be found here. And nothing keeps us coming back for more quite like the potential we see in the lead character's little sister, Thea ( Willa Holland). She's a troubled teenager with a good heart and a bad attitude, with some hints at a bright future as a speedy sidekick. Her complicated relationship with our hero, Oliver ( Stephen Amell) is in equal parts heartbreaking and hilarious, and she's quickly become a fan favorite character.

When Zap2it spoke with "Arrow" executive producer Andrew Kreisberg, we were thrilled to learn that Thea's role in the show is only going to grow. "She's going to have a lot more storylines coming up," Kreisberg promises. "We're going to see Thea get a surprising new job, which is also going to lead to an unexpected new romance for her."

Thea will also be the catalyst for a major turning point in the series: The arrival of our Season 1 "big bad," The Count... known to comic book fans as Vertigo. Badly missed "Fringe" star Seth Gabel has snagged the pivotal role of The Count, a local drug dealer whose latest stash is called Vertigo. Given Thea's try-anything-twice, devil-may-care attitude, we had an inkling that she might find herself mixed up with this particular unsavory character.

arrow-christmas-thea.jpg"She's going to use the Vertigo drug, in an upcoming episode, which is ultimately what's going to lead Oliver to his first confrontation with The Count," Kreisberg confirms. "Oliver has had a very specific desire and clean up the city. In this instance, Oliver's going to have a very personal reason for wanting to take him down."

But Oliver will quickly find that the Count is a whole new breed of bad. "Oliver tends to view his actions as positive. That confrontation with someone who is a relatively minor local drug dealer is going to elevate into something a lot more dangerous in the future. It's the first time that Oliver will have to look at the negative impact that his being the Arrow has had on the city."

For the record, Kreisberg says Gabel is more than living up to the extremely high standard set by the show. "Oh, we could not love Seth Gabel more," he gushes. "We love him from 'Fringe,' 'Dirty Sexy Money,' everything -- he's just so great and so dynamic. When we get the dailies back from his scenes, we honestly just feel so blessed. Our hero is only as good as his villain, and we feel like we keep finding new and better villains. A lot of the ones that have been successful, we're going to bring back, and we're just really excited about the way this season is going to unfold."

Part of that will be Thea's development as she and Oliver reacquaint themselves. Part of what makes Thea so compelling is the fact that she's broken the teenage-bad-girl stereotype and given us reason to become genuinely invested in her well-being.

"There were some people who thought she could be bratty or thought that she just was a pain-in-the-ass teen, but for us, she's a really sad figure," Kriesberg says. "You have to remember what it must have been like for her. She loved her father and absolutely adored her brother, and they were both wiped out in the same moment. She was left in a very large, empty house, with a very cold mother who was carrying around her own demons."

Her increasingly bad behavior reveals more than just a rebellious streak. "A lot of what she does, she does to just feel something," he continues. "She does things just to get a rise out of people, just so that anyone will pay attention to her. In the same way that you're seeing Oliver come back to life in this series, you'll be seeing Thea grow up, and hopefully become more whole again. At least that's the way we see her, and we hope that we can get the audience to really feel that for her, so you'll be less wanting to smack her, more wanting to give her a hug."

Mission accomplished.

Photo/Video credit: The CW, Getty Images