When Arrow returns (Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET on The CW), Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) will be facing a very tough decision after Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable) extended the Emerald Archer an offer to become the new Ra’s al Ghul and leader of the League of Assassins.
Ahead of Saturday’s PaleyFest panel honoring the series, a new—and very spoilery—trailer revealed that there’s a prophecy stating that the man who doesn’t perish at the blade of Ra’s al Ghul will become the new Ra’s al Ghul. However, Oliver may not actually have a choice in the matter. “It’s very interesting to have a big bad this year who is now very invested in Oliver staying alive,” Amell says. “If you know Ra’s al Ghul and you know his tactics…you realize that it’s an offer in name only. It’s not really an offer. It’s a demand. If Oliver says no, there are going to be incredibly dire consequences.”
As Ra’s al Ghul makes his pitch for why Oliver could help save not just Starling City, but the world, “It really actually does force him to really look within himself,” Amell says. “We see a very different Oliver, a more introspective, a more vulnerable and, in a lot of ways, defeated version of the character as we move towards the last portion of our episodes.” But it could push Oliver to open up to those around him. “You can only push people away for so long,” Amell teases.
What could affect his decision to become Ra’s al Ghul is the increasing pressure Oliver is facing from outside forces. In the trailer, Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) reveals that he knows the truth about Oliver’s alter ego and sets out to take down the Arrow. But he’s not the only one looking to out Ollie’s secret. The trailer also shockingly depicted Captain Lance (Paul Blackthorne) and a handful of police in the Foundry as Laurel’s (Katie Cassidy) dad says he’s finally caught the Arrow.
But the expansion of people who know the truth about Oliver is actually a good thing, says executive producer Andrew Kreisberg. “Now that somebody knows and more people will find out, for us it’s actually a relief because we don’t have to keep structuring these ridiculous [excuses for suddenly exiting],” he says. “Now that everybody knows, it creates a whole different kind of dynamic. Now there are no secrets, so it creates different kinds of secrets.”
If Oliver does take on the role of Ra’s al Ghul, that could be good news for Malcolm (John Barrowman). “In that scenario, would it wipe everything out for Malcolm?” Barrowman teases. “Does he become somebody who is free of everything? Could he start again? Where does that put him? [Will] he grab or or turn on it?”
But it wouldn’t be good news for Team Arrow, who face the real possibility of losing their leader. Could Thea (Willa Holland) help fill that void? Unfortunately, executive producer Marc Guggenheim pleaded the fifth on whether Thea will join the team. “In this trajectory she’s on, she has been kicking ass and she’s definitely gotten to the point where she could kill somebody,” Holland says, noting that actually killing Sara (Caity Lotz) was a major turning point for her. Through this vulnerable time, Thea will once again lean on Roy (Colton Haynes), as the trailer reveals the two kissing. “She still has trust issues,” Haynes says. “There’s a little more spark coming. They will always be in each other’s lives.”
And with Oliver possibly leaving Starling City, it could make him reevaluate his own relationships, especially with Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards). “If there’s going to be a moment where Oliver finally decides to let go, so to speak, and get into the land of the living, then the object of his affection would most likely be Felicity, but she’s spoken for,” Amell says, referencing Felicity’s current romance with Ray Palmer. Rickards adds: “She needs the time to go and explore other options. She needs that nourishment and support and love. Oliver does want that for her.”
Whatever Oliver decides, “After the end of season 3, the show will never be the same again,” Kreisberg says ominously.
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.