Arrow had quite a few balls in the air tonight. In addition to Oliver, Roy, and Diggle’s trip to Corto Maltese to bring Thea back and track down a missing a A.R.G.U.S. agent, there was also movement forward with Laurel’s storyline and Felicity and Ray’s new working relationship. With so much going on in tonight’s episode, it’s should come as no surprise that some things didn’t work as well as others. But that’s okay because while the A.R.G.U.S. plotline felt rushed and rather underwhelming, the episode took its time developing Laurel’s subplot, which was both compelling and poignant.
FLASHBACK — Thea and Malcolm
Last season was tough on Thea. Not only did her mother die, but she found out that her brother, Oliver, and her boyfriend, Roy, were constantly lying to her and keeping secrets from her. This is where her mind’s at in the opening scene, a flashback to her getting into Malcolm Merlyn’s limo the day after Slade’s siege on Starling City. Thea tells Merlyn that she wants to go away with him because she believes he’s the one who can teach her how to never feel this kind of pain again—the pain that comes with betrayal and loss.
Later, we are shown Thea’s first day of training under Malcolm’s tutelage. Her first lesson: learning that while pain may be inevitable, suffering from it is optional. Malcolm demonstrates this truth by pouring boiling water on his hand without flinching. To Thea’s horror, he then takes her hand and proceeds to pour hot water on it.
What’s left of the Queen family will be reunited this week as Oliver (Stephen Amell) travels to Corto Maltese—also the name of Wednesday’s Arrow episode—to track down his missing sister, Thea (Willa Holland). The youngest Queen heir left Starling City at the close of season 2 with her real father, Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman), otherwise known as the Dark Archer, Ollie’s sworn enemy whom he believes to be dead.
Joined by Diggle (David Ramsey) and Roy (Colton Haynes), Oliver sets his sights on being open with his sister in hopes of bringing her home. “They didn’t end off on a very good note, but if you remember they had that scene in the mansion in the aftermath of Moira’s [Susanna Thompson] death,” Amell tells EW from the Vancouver set. “Oliver was pretty open and honest and loving towards his sister. She took that with her. There isn’t a huge amount of residual bitterness, which is surprising because of how cataclysmic the events were the last time that they saw one another. Their dynamic is always going to be big brother-little sister, but Oliver is very much dealing with Thea on an equal playing field and trying to be as honest with her as possible. How honest he’s going to be is really the crux of the episode.”
Unfortunately, Thea won’t afford him that same level of honesty. Amell teases that Oliver is still unaware of Malcolm’s involvement in Thea’s life—let alone that evil daddy dearest has been training his little sis into a formidable fighter. “He doesn’t know where she’s been,” Amell says. “He doesn’t know who she’s been with. He comes out of this episode not really knowing or understanding what she’s been up to, despite the fact that he’s found her. He just wants her to come home, that’s it.”
There is a slight sense that something is amiss, but Team Arrow’s focus will be elsewhere as Diggle is enlisted to help A.R.G.U.S. track down Mark Shaw (David Cubitt) in Corto Maltese. “Diggle’s there at the behest of Lyla [Audrey Marie Anderson],” Ramsey says. “She asks him to go there to find an A.R.G.U.S. agent, who could have gone rogue, but has certainly gone of the grid. There are some dealings that he has that threatens A.R.G.U.S. and his family, so he has a vested interest in getting to the bottom of it.”
Meanwhile, back in Starling City, Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) will be taking up her new position under Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh)—but fear not, she’s still on Team Arrow. “She’s very exhausted with her dual jobs, almost dual personality, too,” Rickards says. “She’s been promoted to an executive assistant position there. She gets to work with Mr. Hunk. It’s been pretty flirty. Their IQs are accentuated by each other. He’s very brilliant and sort of awkward, but he’s running a business, so he’s a go-getter. She’s definitely an asset to him. They balance each other out, but also bring each other up with their IQs.
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.
This past Friday, I was among a group of journalists who had the opportunity to visit the Vancouver sets of both Arrow and The Flash. With Arrow going strong in Season 3 and The Flash bringing in impressive ratings in its first two weeks, excitement is growing for the big crossover storyline the shows have coming up, in the eighth episode of each show this season.
During our visits to the sets, we spoke to both Stephen Amell (“Oliver Queen” / “Arrow”) and Grant Gustin (“Barry Allen” / “The Flash”) about what to expect when the heroes of Starling City and Central City come together.
Said Gustin, “I was talking about this yesterday with a friend; about how Oliver and Barry are so different and me and Stephen are just really different. We really get along outside of work and it’s been fun to show Barry and Oliver kind of butting heads. We’re seeing them learn how to work together, but it’s really funny because they’re so different and the conversations they have are hilarious.”
It’s been said that a really big moment will occur for Oliver Queen / Arrow during the crossover storyline, but specifically on The Flash episode of the storyline. Asked about this, Amell nodded and revealed, “It’s my idea. I can’t tell you anything about it other than it relates to Central City. When I saw it in the Flash script, it ended up being really actually quite gratifying. First of all, when I say it was my idea, everyone has ideas all the time. It all goes into a melting pot. I just thought it would be a cool idea. I thought it would be a cool idea for The Flash. It ended up being a cool idea that we were able to utilize me for because we were doing a crossover with The Flash. So it was very professionally gratifying.”
Death is a natural part of any superhero story. It’s something every hero must deal with, and no one knows that better than Oliver, who has watched his best friend and mother die in the past two years. In the wake of those deaths, Oliver lost confidence in his mission and sought isolation from the world to grieve alone. Thankfully, tonight’s episode does not retread old plot points, and, instead, we start to see how Sara’s death will force our characters to make decisions about what they want their lives to be. While, “Sara” might not be as poignant as last season’s “City of Blood,” it still does a decent job of handling Sara’s death.
The episode opens with Oliver, Felicity, and Roy are arguing about something as they enter the Arrow Cave, but their conversation is interrupted when they find Laurel standing over Sara’s dead body on the table. Because of Sara’s vigilante alter-ego, Laurel didn’t know where else to go and couldn’t stand to leave Sara’s body lying in the street, so she brought it to Verdant. Everyone reacts as you’d expect: Felicity starts rambling, while Oliver and Roy remain silent.
As EW’s Natalie Abrams reminded us in her handy-dandy round-up of the 33 spoilers for Arrow’s new season, this season’s theme is identity—and everyone is in on it. Arrow has never been one for subtly when it comes to its thematic material—and there’s nothing wrong with that—so, we shouldn’t be surprised that the theme of identity is all over Arrow’s cleverly titled third season opener “The Calm.” From Oliver trying to figure out if there’s room for him to be Oliver Queen to Detective Quentin Lance dealing with circumstances that challenge how he defines himself, all of our characters are using the calm after last season’s epic finale to decide who they want to be. (Even Starling City itself gets in on the thematic action.) Something happens at the end of the hour that has repercussions for everyone and will definitely redefine how one person conceives of his place in the world.
STARLING CITY — PRESENT DAY
Villain of the week: The New Count Vertigo
After HBO’s Game of Thrones, the CW’s Arrow is the master of action sequences, and the fast-paced one that opens tonight’s episode is a great reminder. It’s clear from the ease with which Team Arrow carries out its operation in the fast-paced cold open that, since last season ended, they’ve become a well-oiled machine; everyone has their tasks and executes them perfectly: Felicity is monitoring communications back at HQ, Diggle is in charge of securing a shipment of black market weapons, and Oliver and Roy—who flips onto the scene debuting his new Arsenal costume—handle the bad guys. An underlying sense of calm that wasn’t in the Team before could be detected in the opening mission, signaling that they’ve finally got this crime-fighting business down.
On the Vancouver set of Arrow, during an uncharacteristically sweltering August day in the usually cool city, Stephen Amell was bewigged. The star of Arrow was shooting a scene set in Hong Kong, where Oliver landed in the Season 2 finale, finally sprung from the island where he had been captive in flashbacks during the show’s first two seasons. As a present-day billionaire superhero, Oliver veers between his (green) Arrow costume and designer suits, with a cropped haircut that matches his grown-up rich-kid station (despite some current financial problems). In flashbacks, however, Ollie is often dirty, bedraggled, and shaggy. Amell apologized for his appearance, and told a story about going home in the middle of a workday — while still in flashback costume — to say hello to his wife and baby daughter, and how he ended up terrifying his child. In a flattened tone, Amell said, “I hate it.”
Too bad. Because the nature of Arrow is that Amell, 33, plays multitudes. He is the Oliver Queen who is a Starling City socialite returned from the dead two years before; he is the Arrow, who was fueled by rage upon his return to the world, but now seeks justice and aspires to heroism; he is the Oliver of the flashbacks, who has had to transform from a hapless prisoner to a shrewd, hardened ass-kicker; and in wayback flashbacks, he’s Ollie the playboy douche. And within all of those personas, Oliver is keeping secrets, calculating his future moves, and trying to remain a human being.
Andrew Kreisberg, who developed Arrow with Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim, said to BuzzFeed News: “We always say, every week we’re trying to make a movie. And that wouldn’t work if we didn’t have a movie star in the lead.”
Question: The wait for Arrow‘s return feels almost cruel. Can you give us an Olicity morsel to help dull the pain until Wednesday’s premiere?! —Sophia
Ausiello:Due to the events of the season premiere — some of which are expected, and some of which are not — Oliver and Felicity’s “relationship is going to take ups and downs and twists and turns,” executive producer Marc Guggenheim teases. “I think part of the fun — or agony — of watching these two people is they’re together, they’re apart, they’re together, they’re apart. We’ll see what the future holds for them.”
Everything’s changing on Arrow this year. Team Arrow has gained a few more members and allies, but Oliver (Stephen Amell) has also lost all his family (and his fortune). But with nothing left to lose, Oliver will finally make a play for Felicity’s (Emily Bett Rickards) heart. However, the mysterious new head of Queen Consolidated Ray Palmer (which just so happens to be the real-world alias of the superhero The Atom) isn’t going to make things easy for him.
Check out everything executive producer Marc Guggenheim revealed about Oliver and Felicity’s relationship, what Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) really wants and whether we’ll see Laurel (Katie Cassidy) become the Black Canary anytime soon.
Team Arrow hasn’t failed Starling City, but things are about to change.
When the action picks up again on Arrow, Oliver’s crew has become a well-oiled machine. There’s Felicity, supplementing her nonexistent Team Arrow income with a gig at a Buy More-esque electronics store. (Watch THR’s exclusive scene from the premiere.) There’s Diggle, preparing for the arrival of his new baby with Lyla. And then there’s Roy, debuting his Arsenal suit as the Arrow’s rightful partner. With crime in Starling City steadily decreasing thanks to Team Arrow’s heroics (the Anti-Vigilante Task Force is even disbanded) and Slade Wilson’s lock-up, are they finally catching a break? And will Oliver and Felicity’s much-teased about date and kiss go over well?
“This episode is a really good jumping-on point for new viewers. We closed a chapter at the end of season two and this is a brand-new opening,” said executive producer Marc Guggenheim of the Oct. 8 premiere, telling THR in July that season three’s main theme is identity. “It’s pretty new viewer-friendly. That wasn’t necessarily by design, it just happened to work out because of the story we were telling.”
That story begins with the return of a familiar villain, Count Vertigo (last played by Seth Gabel and this time portrayed by Peter Stormare), who injects his victims with the powerful Vertigo drug that brings out their greatest fears. Oliver will be forced to face his own crutch in a tense showdown with the Count: himself. Can he be both the Arrow and Oliver Queen? From the looks of it, not likely.
The CW’s Arrow pierces its enemies when it returns for Season 3 Wednesday at 8/7c. TVLine just screened the pivotal hour, and we’re sharing some observations, as well as scoop from executive producer Marc Guggenheim about Oliver and Felicity’s big [SPOILER], Ray Palmer’s unexpected entrance, the surprise Laurel has for someone and more.
* It is quite possible that we have never seen Oliver smile so much during an episode.
* Roy is a part of Team Arrow in a big way, and the group will continue to evolve in the premiere. Also: Fancy new arrows!
* Brandon Routh makes his entrance not at Queen Consolidated, but at a location that may make you think of his previous gig, Chuck. Also, his interaction with Felicity? It doesn’t go as expected.
* Some things to know about Oliver and Felicity’s “explosive” first date: Ollie pulls a reverse Superman with his outfit; both parties are more than a little nervous; Oliver recounts the day he met Felicity (including an incredibly small detail about that encounter).
* If you were worried that “Olicity’s” hospital lip-lock would get interrupted by any number of emergencies, fret not. “I’m very happy with the circumstances under which they have their first kiss,” Guggenheim teases. “I hope it plays as unexpected. I hope it plays as emotional.”
* Laurel has a nice surprise for Oliver that brings yet another smile to his face. (Seriously, so much smiling in this episode!)
* Diggle’s impending fatherhood has him “terrified.”
* Sara makes a memorable re-entrance into Starling City, meeting up with both Oliver and her sister Laurel.
* The hour features several cool fight/action sequences, but the best one showcases Stephen Amell and… Stephen Amell.
* Now’s a good time to jump on board the CW drama, if you for some reason have yet to do so. “We closed a chapter at the end of Season 2, and this is a brand-new opening,” Guggenheim says. “It’s pretty new viewer-friendly.”