After a long summer hiatus, Arrow returns tonight with the start of what promises to be its most interesting—and exciting—season yet. That’s no small feat, considering the strength of Season 2, which began with the introduction of Sara Lance’s Canary and ended with a thrilling battle between the forces of Deathstroke and the League of Assassins that set a new high water mark for small screen action. If you watched, you know that the season ended with more than a few questions and you can expect some of them to be answered in tonight’s season premiere, “The Calm.” However, if you haven’t been watching, now might be the perfect time to start.
“I feel like this episode’s a really good jumping on point for new viewers,” says Executive Producer Marc Guggenheim, who co-wrote the episode. “We closed a chapter at the end of Season 2. This is a brand new opening, and I don’t really think there’s anything you need to know coming into it. It’s pretty new viewer friendly.”
The Arrow creative team has said that each season has something of a theme. This time around, that theme is one of identity. It’s a notion that promises to permeate throughout the entire cast, starting, of course, with Oliver. Tonight’s episode finds him wrestling with whether his mission allows for a separate life as Oliver Queen.
“It’s his season-long journey,” Guggenheim elaborates. “Is there an Oliver Queen anymore? And if there can be, what does that look like? It’s a real conundrum for him.”
Fans can look forward to some new identities for a few friends as well, including one that will resonate with Green Arrow comic book readers. Season 3 begins with Roy Harper in full-fledged super hero mode as Arsenal, and believe us when we say it was worth the wait. The costume looks great, and it’s fun seeing him in action side-by-side with Oliver’s Arrow. According to Guggenheim, creating that sort of impact was very important to him and the rest of the team.
“ pretty happy with Season 2, but one thing I feel we sort of dropped the ball on was that we made a big deal about Roy joining the team, and then didn’t get a chance to do that much with it,” he explains. “One of the fun things about Season 3 is that we really get to play with that, and you really feel like Roy is a part of Team Arrow. It’s more than just wearing a costume. He’s really present and a member of this group. The trio becomes a quartet.”
Part of that includes losing the antagonism that often marked Roy in Season 2. “We certainly played with that notion of Roy questioning Oliver’s judgment ,” says Guggenheim. “What you see in Season 3 is a much more mentor/mentee , master/apprentice kind of relationship. You really see how Oliver’s kind of training this kid to be a hero in his own right.”
Along with an evolution of identity, expect a few identities that are just plain new to the show, including tech genius Ray Palmer, who’s one of the premiere’s high points. Played by Brandon Routh with a charisma that blends early Christopher Reeve and Tom Cruise, he’s interested in acquiring Queen Consolidated and will create problems for Oliver both professionally and romantically, but you still can’t help liking the guy.
“One thing we haven’t seen is someone who can play at Felicity’s level in terms of the banter,” explains Guggenheim. “We always say that we write Felicity as if she came in from a different show. The problem is that she doesn’t have anyone else to talk to like that. Banter requires two people. Well, lo and behold, here’s Ray Palmer.”
We’re treated to plenty of that banter in the episode, along with a glimpse Roy’s plan for Queen Consolidated and Starling City (look for an inspired nod to Starling’s more traditional comic book name in the premiere). Of course, whether we can trust what we see at this stage is a different point entirely.
“He’s going to end up the new head of Queen Consolidated,” says Guggenheim. “We sort of know from past seasons that people in charge of Queen Consolidated aren’t always the best people, so I think Ray represents either an interesting departure or an interesting twist. One of the things we wanted to do was reintroduce the concept of mystery to the show. We sort of had that in Season 1 with the glyph and the Undertaking. What was the list about and the notebook? What Ray is up to with his whole campaign and what he plans to do with the company will be one of those mysteries. “
If the premiere’s any indication, this season of Arrow promises to continue to thrill its fans. Yes, even the ones who watch largely for Oliver’s relationship with Felicity. As the trailers have indicated, Oliver does go on a date with Felicity, but like all good series-long relationships, it doesn’t quite go as planned.
“I like to say it’s an explosive first date,” says Guggenheim.
Trust us, he’s not kidding.
Arrow’s Season 3 premiere, “The Calm,” airs tonight on The CW at 8 p.m. (9 p.m. CST). For all the latest Arrow news, videos and articles, visit our official Arrow show page.