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Wednesday 8:00 PM on The CW (Returning October 7, 2015)

Can Arrow's consummate hero have it all?

The CW series will dare to answer that question in Season 3, when Oliver Queen attempts to have his cake and eat it too. In this case, that means being a superhero that the residents of Starling City actually respect while also trying to have a personal life. It's harder than it sounds—something that Ollie will learn fairly quickly into the season.

But Oliver's love life won't be the only thing that gets complicated, especially since two of his ladies will actually be getting love interests of their own! I tracked down executive producer Andrew Kreisberg to get the scoop on the new season, including a surprising return from the dead, the future of Team Arrow, and what new villains are in store for Season 3.

Will there be a time jump when the show returns?

We're going to jump the same amount of time that we did last year. It'll be real time. It'll be seven or eight months later. For Oliver, things are good. As we like to say, everything is coming up Arrow. Crime is down. At the end of last year, there was victory. A lot of this season is about what happens when you win and how winning isn't always as easy as it looks.

What does it mean for Oliver now that the city actually accepts him?

In the premiere, Lance actually disbands the anti-vigilante task force in his new role as Captain. The Arrow is free to do his thing and it's different for Oliver. He spent the first two years being hunted and distrusted. Now, he's starting to feel like he has this under control. And then, of course, as Joss Whedon taught us all, you let your characters have a moment of happiness and then you take it all away from them.

You seemed to be setting the stage for Ra's al Ghul to be the villain in Season 3. Is he actually the villain? Can you say anything about the new villain?

It's big. I can say that he's big and he's bad. We're still figuring that stuff out. As far as the Big Bad, there will be Big Bad. Even last year, everybody was a subset of Slade's. Slade was the Big Bad. We will meet other villains along the way, as always. We'll have recurring villains and new villains we're starting with this year and people who are coming back from the previous two seasons.

Felicity and Oliver are going on a date in the season premiere. How do you avoid the TV trope that a hero can't be with the woman he loves just because of his sense of duty?

When you see the premiere and you see how things shake out, you'll come to a very sympathetic understanding of both of their positions. The premiere last year was a microcosm of what was happening for the whole year. In the same way that the premiere of last season was really about Oliver struggling with whether or not he should be the Arrow, in this season premiere it's, "Can I have everything I want?" That quest is going to take up his entire year, and hers.

How much of a foil will Ray Palmer, Felicity's new rumored love interest and head of Queen Consolidated, be to Oliver?

A big foil. It's Season 3, and Season 3 is typically when you add that game-changing character like Buffy did in adding Faith or Everwood did with adding Scott Wolf. First of all, getting Brandon—he couldn't be nicer, he couldn't be sweeter. It's just such a different energy that he's bringing to the show. A lot of what's funny about Felicity and Oliver is that he's so straight and she's the funny one. With Brandon, you get somebody who's as tall, square-jawed, and handsome as he is [and] he's a really funny comedian. He and Felicity can have that verbal repartee that we haven't typically had on the show. As much as the show is getting darker, it's gotten a lot funnier. It's just such a different energy. He and Felicity are really cute together.

Talk about Roy's role on Team Arrow and how he'll feel when he discovers he actually killed someone last season. 

In the beginning, Roy is feeling pretty good about himself too. He's part of Team Arrow. He thinks he's put behind him what happened last season. Like with all of our characters, the past has a terrible way of catching up with them. It's a new and interesting thing for Oliver to really have a mentee, somebody he is training beside. There's really lovely stuff in the premiere like, "You did a good job tonight." When we met Roy, he was living practically on the streets and stealing. To see him have this big brother, I don't think he's really had anybody believe in him. Obviously Thea did, but like a male character. You're happy for Roy in the beginning that he's really found his place. Of course, then we're going to shake his world up.

Sara passed on her Canary jacket to Laurel. Is that a mantle she'll take up fairly quickly? What will her relationship with Oliver look like this season?

As always with all of these things, you can't just put on a mask and go running around. You'll get killed. Laurel is still just an attorney. She's an attorney with a jacket. I think Katie Cassidy fans are going to be very, very excited about her trajectory this year. Laurel is going to have a new love interest this season.

Interesting! Are you bringing back Colin Donnell from the dead?

Kreisberg: [Pauses] No...

Wait, I was kidding. What are you talking about?

Colin Donnell is coming back in Episode 302. Tommy will be in the flashback story. We'll be telling the story about how Tommy and Oliver just missed each other in Hong Kong. It's a really amazing story and we're so excited to have Colin Donnell back. It's one of the advantages of the storytelling that we do that even when you die in the present day, you can still be alive in the flashbacks. It was something that we had talked about last year and then when we committed to doing the Hong Kong story, we knew we could really make it work.

How are the flashbacks different this year?

It's really exciting for us because writing the island was not always easy. One of the things we really learned is that there were a lot of episodes on the island where we couldn't get to part of the story yet, so let's run around in circles. Sometimes we ran around in circles better than other times, but with this season in Hong Kong, we're able to tell better stories in the past because being in civilization and not being trapped, you're able to tell a much richer, fuller world. We've really committed this year to doing a lot more of the personal flashbacks. People, by now, are really able to go, "Okay, well, if these three weeks in a row were in Hong Kong and then this one is a flashback to any one of the other characters, whether it's Sara, Dig, or Felicity or Laurel," then they can go on that journey and come back to the Hong Kong storyline without feeling too lost.

How much will Sara play a role in the new season?

She plays a big role in the new season. We have her booked for three episodes and hopefully for more. We love Caity Lotz. She's so amazing. Watching the dailies of her in the premiere and seeing her back, it's always fun to see her. As much as her stuntwoman does, Caity really does get out there on her own and it's fun to watch.

How does Lyla being pregnant change his mindset when he goes on missions?

A lot. In fact, a lot of the opening episodes are about Diggle's changing circumstances and how that's affecting his decisions and how he approaches being part of Team Arrow. There's a lot of conflict between Oliver and Dig about Dig now being a father. There's also interesting conflict between Dig and Lyla because Lyla is still working at A.R.G.U.S., which we've painted as a less-than-savory organization. That tension between Dig, Lyla, and Amanda Waller—as big a part that Amanda is playing in the past, she's playing just as big a part in the present.

What path is Thea on after leaving town with Malcolm?

We always say that if you're ever going to become who you are in the comics, you have to go to the island. Oliver literally went to the island. We always said last year was Roy's trip to the island. This season is about Thea's trip to her version of the island.

Arrow returns for its third season on Wednesday, October 8 at 8pm on The CW.'s 2014 Fall Preview:
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Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 5/13/2015

Season 3 : Episode 23

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