The CW’s ‘Arrow‘ will return for its third season this week, joined by its new spinoff super-series 'The Flash,' and cementing DC's reign over superhero TV for the foreseeable future. The vigilante archer drama closed out its second season on an exceptional high, but what does season 3 hold in its quiver? Get ready for 'Arrow''s season 3 return with our comprehensive guide to everything we know about the new episodes, including new characters, crossovers, conflicts and more!

"The Calm" Before the Storm

Arrow Season 3 Preview Guide Starling City
The CW

A new day has dawned in Starling City, and things look significantly brighter than when season 2 kicked off in the wake of Malcolm Merlyn’s major earthquake. This time around, since Oliver actually managed to stop the bad guy, Starling City finally looks up to the hooded avenger as a bonafide hero. That’s right, even the police have stopped chasing after the guy, what with Detective Lance ascending through the ranks to be repositioned as Captain, in spite of his seemingly poor health.

So with the no-kill rule firmly in place, what personal crises has Oliver to overcome this year? Glad you asked! This year’s theme will be that of “identity,” as Oliver grapples with the question, “Can I be both Oliver Queen, and the Green Arrow?” That conflict will get surprisingly literal in the premiere, as we’ve seen.

Team Arrow, Version 3.0

Arrow Season 3 Preview Guide Arsenal
The CW

Of course, even with crime running scared and Oliver’s vigilante persona given a green-light by the city, Team Arrow will have plenty to do this season, and an increasingly cramped home base with which to do it. Not only has Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) joined the team full-time as “Arsenal,” complete with a snazzy red costume and everything, but Felicity will be pulling double-duty as Oliver’s technological oracle and retail tech employee, what with Oliver’s ownership in Queen Consolidated going kaput last year.

Diggle will be getting pretty busy as well with a baby on the way, something that puts him at odds with Oliver, as the vigilante looks to minimize any danger posed to the father-to-be. And where’s Laurel in all of this, you ask (no one asked, but just go with it)? The elder Lance sibling won’t be donning fishnets to compliment her new leather jacket as of yet, but Laurel will help in her own way by prosecuting the criminals Oliver manages to catch.

Oh, and did we mention that Felicity and Oliver will be adding (or shedding) a few layers to their relationship with a long-awaited date? Spoilers beware, but we're guessing that one doesn't go so well.

Old Friends

Arrow Season 3 Preview Guide Returning Characters
The CW

Of course, Team Arrow’s won’t be the only familiar face we see hanging around Starling through the early part of season 3, now that Caity Lotz has been confirmed to reprise her role as Sara Lance/Canary in the premiere, and likely an episode or two beyond. Should we read into the fact that episode 2 bears the title “Sara,” sees Oliver looking mighty upset, and painfully unaware of sudden death TV tropes? You tell us!

Beyond that, we know Colin Donnell’s Tommy Merlyn will make a surprising return to the series, an especially impressive feat for a dead man. Don’t start throwing shade at ‘Arrow’ for Marvel-izing its character deaths just yet however, as Tommy will pop up in Oliver’s Hong Kong flashbacks to show how the two nearly crossed paths during Oliver’s time off-island.

That said, the Merlyns will be causing plenty of headaches in the present as well, now that John Barrowman’s Malcolm has been upped to series regular, despite being curiously absent from any of the promotional material. And what of Thea, who learned her brother’s secret, and seemingly embraced her (biological) father’s offer to train her to do some ass-kicking of her very own?

 New Heroes

Arrow Season 3 Preview Guide New Heroes
The CW

‘Arrow’ wouldn’t be ‘Arrow’ without a few new DC characters popping up, and season 3 is no exception. ‘Superman’ himself ‘Returns’ to TV as Brandon Routh pops up in the role of billionaire tech magnate Ted Kord Ray Palmer, best known to comic fans as “The Atom.” Don’t expect the character to don (another) red and blue suit or shrink down to size just yet however, as executive producer Marc Guggenheim recently revealed that such super-heroic feats are probably best-left to another series with a bit Flash-ier science-fiction flavor. Instead, Ray Palmer will arrive in the premiere as the new owner of Queen Consolidated, ruffling Oliver’s feathers even further with an eye for Felicity, and a new vision for Starling City.

Additionally, Laurel will take to sparring against a DC hero in a much more literal fashion, as the third season introduces J.R. Ramirez as former boxer Ted Grant, better known as comic brawler “Wildcat.” The comics typically portray Grant as a mentor to Black Canary, though we have to wonder if the pair might compliment their fancy footwork with a few lessons off their feet as well.

There’s also that other ‘Flash’-y new superhero on the block, but we’ll get to him.

 Newer Villains

Arrow Season 3 Preview Guide Villains
The CW

If Oliver’s new DC pals were the good news, Team Arrow might want to sit down for this one. Not only will October 8 premiere “The Calm” introduce Peter Stormare as the latest incarnation of DC’s villainous Count Vertigo, but subsequent weeks will also see Matt Ward playing rival archer Komodo, Mark Cubitt hunting men as DC’s Manhunter, Amy Gumenick as the lovestruck Cupid, and ‘Spartacus’ star Nick Tarabay as Captain Boomerang. All that pales in comparison to Oliver’s biggest foe yet however, as ‘Riddick’ star Matt Nable dons some white-tipped facial hair as legendary Batman nemesis Ra’s al Ghul, starting with episode 4, “The Magician.”

It isn’t known exactly what interest Ra’s might have in Oliver or Starling, at least that would bring the pair into conflict after two seasons of Ra's staying in the shadows, but we imagine the League of Assassins might have had some split motivation in coming to Oliver’s aid last season. Whether or not Ra’s al Ghul really proves the “big bad” of the season as the CW would have us believe remains to be seen, but rarely does the character venture out of his Nanda Parbat home for any altruistic purposes.


Arrow Season 3 Preview Guide Flashbacks
The CW

Boy, don’t you think Oliver’s friends must get tired of him parsing out his 5-year odyssey one year at a time? It’s a wonder Diggle doesn’t physically chain Oliver down for a heads up on the backstory coming to influence their lives over the next few years. At least this time around, Oliver’s flashbacks will take place off-island in Hong Kong, as revealed by season 2 finale “Unthinkable.” Not only will we learn what went down between Oliver and Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) to give him such a bad impression of A.R.G.U.S., but we’ll also continue Oliver’s training with Devon Aoki Rila Fukishima’s Tatsu Yamashiro, better known as DC’s Katana. Karl Yune will also appear as Oliver’s Hong Kong handler, and likely a strong swordsman in his own right.

Of course, you didn’t think Oliver would be the only one having flashbacks this year, did you? Not only will be explore a bit more of Diggle’s past at some point, but so too will we finally learn “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak,” complete with ‘Dragon Tattoo’ look and MIT hacker boyfriend. Charlotte Ross will pop up as Felicity’s mother at some point, but will we learn the identity of the character’s father, whose name seems to have been tellingly hidden by producers? Hmm…


Arrow Season 3 Preview Guide The Flash
The CW

Though ‘The Flash’ will arrive just a bit faster than its parents series with an October 7 premiere, the pilot episode makes clear that we’ll be heading to Starling City now and again for a bit of crossover. Fans certainly won’t have to wait long either, as Felicity Smoak will pop up in the spinoff’s fourth episode to tie up some of her lingering chemistry with Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen, while things well get much more heated in the 8th installments of either series. Not only will‘The Flash’ come to blows with his former idol beginning with “Flash Vs. Arrow,” the two-part crossover will continue in ‘Arrow’ season 3’s “The Brave and the Bold” the very next night. Hmm, wonder if a certain timing-obsessed villain will have anything to do with it.

And suffice to say, expect the crossovers to keep coming as either season wears on. Just don’t try to get ‘Gotham’ or ‘Constantine’ involved, at least yet.

All in all, it looks as though ‘Arrow’ may skew a bit lighter in its third season, and likely feature more DC characters and crossover than ever, but will the CW drama manage to outdo its predecessors? Check out the latest trailer again above, and tell us what you want to see from The CW’s ‘Arrow’ season 3, premiering Wednesday at 8:00 P.M.!

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