Who is Team Arrow without The Arrow? That’s the question that lingers as we head into the second half of Arrow’s third season. After Oliver Queen supposedly met a tragic “end” in the midseason finale at the hands of Ra’s al Ghul, Team Arrow is left without their leader currently unbeknown to them.
With Oliver gone for a few episodes – at least in present-day Starling City – it’ll be up to Team Arrow to step up and protect Starling City. So how might Oliver’s absence affect how Team Arrow’s operations run?
In the upcoming arc of episodes featuring Oliver’s absence I’m really hoping the writers chose to showcase senior Team Arrow members Felicity and Diggle as they make sure things runs smoothly. They were the ones that joined Oliver’s crusade when it was simply a vendetta and were intergral parts of Oliver’s journey from vigilante to hero. So if they’re not a central focus in carrying on the mission that Oliver inspired in his absence then it’ll be a shame.
For Felicity I’d envision her stepping up on the Malcolm Merlyn front. No doubt she’ll be heartbroken over Oliver’s “death,” but she’ll also want revenge. And what better place to start than Malcolm Merlyn? As seen in a promo and also in the synopsis for 3×10, Malcolm is the one that delivers her the soul-crushing news of Oliver’s death. Perhaps Felicity will have some sneaking suspicions of Malcolm’s involvement with the whole Thea-murdering-Sara thing. Even though Felicity isn’t the physically strongest character on Team Arrow she’s the one to be the most feared.
Diggle has always been the one that drew the line between right and wrong and served as the moral compass for Oliver. He’ll carry on that same role for Team Arrow while also returning to the badass fighter we all know Diggle is. Diggle’s connection to A.R.G.U.S. might also serve to prove useful should Team Arrow go after Malcolm or the League of Assassins. He’ll provide emotional stability for Felicity and co. as they struggle with Oliver’s loss all the while struggling himself as he loses another brother.
With Starling City’s No.1 archer currently on hiatus it’ll be up to his protégé to step up to handle the bow and arrow side of things. It’s been teased that we’ll see Roy really take a step forward in Oliver’s absence. We’ve seen Roy have his struggles this season – from memories of his Mirakuru rage affecting his training and focus – but hopefully Oliver’s “death” will be motivation for Roy to really reevaluate his importance to the team both physically and emotionally.
Bringing other heroes into the mix will also be a factor. We already have Arsenal, but episode 3×10 will see Laurel’s debut as Black Canary (though not a full-fledged superhero). Laurel will be donning the Black Canary costume similar to that of her fallen sister Sara Lance, who held the Canary mantle previously, but that in no way makes her a superhero yet. A mask and a costume a superhero do no make, as said by executive producer Marc Guggenheim.
We will see Laurel go through trials, tribulations, failures and more as she tries to survive in the cruel world that stole her sister. She’ll have plenty to work through up through the end of the season and beyond before she’s ready to truly deserve the name Black Canary.
Another costumed hero that might surface in Oliver’s absence is Ray Palmer’s Atom. We’ve already seen the suit – in image prototype form – and from the sound of the synopsis for 3×10, he tests the suit out for the first time.
Originally Guggenheim said The Atom would get his powers on a show like The Flash that employs super powers unlike Arrow, which remains grounded. But Stephen did say that there will be three costumed heroes by the end of season three – not including The Arrow. That leaves Arsenal, Black Canary and another unknown. Could Atom be that other costumed hero? He could always leave for Central City at season’s end.
We don’t know how long Oliver will be absent for. It sounds like he could make his return in 3×13 – which would give Team Arrow three episodes without him – but just because Oliver is making his return doesn’t mean he’ll return to the team. Perhaps he chooses to remain in hiding until he feels it’s safe. Or maybe there’s a larger plan at hand.
Or maybe he’s not the same as when he left. Death or near death – depending on your theory at this time – not only can but will change a person. But how it changes Oliver, well, that’s the big money question. And even though Arrow returns for the second half of season three in less than two weeks, don’t expect answers for many weeks to come. It’s all in the fun and torture that makes us love Arrow.