Zap2it: How does Season 3 begin?
Marc Guggenheim: In many ways the season begins in a completely opposite place from where Season 2 began. In Season 2, Oliver was sort of in self-imposed exile, he was mourning the loss of Tommy, things were awkward with Laurel. He wasn’t even in Starling City. Season 2 sort of started out with a “Blah, everything sucks” note.
Season 3 is the exact opposite. We come in and everything’s coming up Arrow! The team is clicking like you wouldn’t believe. Things are great. He’s got a relationship cooking with Laurel where it’s like “You catch ’em, I cook ’em.” Because she’s a DA, he’s setting them up and she’s knocking them down. It’s a great deal of fun to see them have this completely new relationship. And in the city, crime is down. The city is finally not falling apart.
Can everything be so good after the attacks of the Season 2 finale?
At the same time, we really do acknowledge the logical and natural consequences of our last two season finales. There have been two terrorist attacks in two years! So we’re dealing in a very grounded and realistic way the natural consequences of the last two years of our show. At the same time, the Arrow’s popularity couldn’t be higher and everything’s absolutely fantastic. But it’s “Arrow,” so of course it’s not going to stay that way.
Are the good times going to last for “Arrow”?
I think that’s part of the fun for me as a writer, to go, “Oh, it’s all going to fall apart!” And I think you’ll see quickly how that happens.
How will the season progress after it all falls apart?
There’s gonna be a central mystery that will drive us through at least the first half of the season. One of the things that we enjoyed doing in Season 1 — but we didn’t do in Season 2 because of the nature of Season 2 — was in Season 1 we had a mystery: the Undertaking and the notebook. This year we want to bring back the sense of mystery. So this season we have a big humdinger of a mystery, and that’s going to be a through-line throughout the year.
What is going on with Oliver’s personal life, considering where you left things at the end of Season 2?
We honor that. Oliver, we even say, “Last year, you told Felicity you loved her.” We’re dealing with the repercussions of the season finale in a very honest way — leading up to Oliver asking her on an actual date. To which Felicity responds, “You mean a date? A date-date? Like an actual date?” As she must, because if I were Felicity, I would want some clarity. And this is an actual date, with actual dating going on. It’s an actual person and there’s no cameras and there’s no Slade Wilson and there’s no super-villain — and no one is trying to kill anyone.
In the other big finale twist, Thea went off with Malcolm. When does she return?
Thea is still gone, but when she comes back to the show is a mystery — not a mystery, but that’s something we would like to let the audience speculate on. So it’s a big deal.
Another big return is Caity Lotz’s character of Sara Lance. What can you say about that?
I don’t know why we kept a lid on that as long as we did, but I’m glad we finally got it out. I was like, “When are we going to talk about this?” Caity Lotz is coming back in a recurring role. She’s awesome. We love her to death, and her first line in Season 3 I think is really awesome. She has a really great entrance line.
Who is Oliver Queen this year?
His arc this year is: Season 1 it was the vigilante, Season 2 it was hero, in Season 3 it’s “Who is Oliver Queen?” Just like if you look at the second season premiere, it was a bit of a microcosm of his arc for the entire year. That was when he decided, “I’m going to be a hero, and I’m not going to kill.” And that sort of kicked off the whole season arc for Oliver. We took the same approach in the Season 3 premiere: It’s also a microcosm of Oliver’s over-arching season-long arc.
What can you say about new villains in Season 3?
There will be a Big Bad like there was in Seasons 1 and 2 … I’m not going to say who it is. I will say that our goal was we always try to create a villain that has an agenda that the villain believes in. The villain is the hero in his own story. Slade and Malcolm, they both really thought they were doing right, that they were in the right. We definitely have taken the same approach with this Big Bad. At the same time, we wanted a Big Bad who was very different from both Slade and Malcolm. And I think we’ve done that.
Speaking of Malcolm, how will Merlyn come to play in the new season?
First of all, John Barrowman is so great to write for and so great to have on the show, and we’ve got just a really great arc planned out for him this year. Our goal with Malcolm is to be unexpected. Everyone thinks they know Malcolm Merlyn is, and we’re going to learn — it’s like “He’s the bad guy! He’s nefarious! He’s this! He’s that!” We’ve got more time with him this year, so we can pull back more layers of the onion. The John Barrowman/Malcolm Merlyn onion.
“Arrow” Season 3 premieres Wednesday, Oct. 8 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.