The Emerald Archer returns from offseason purgatory this week with the season four premiere of "Arrow," and everyone is pretty much dying with anticipation to see what's coming up next, given the way season three ended. Yep, looking at you, Olicity shippers. Look what you've done!
If you're a little fuzzy on how "Arrow" wrapped up last season, and what we're in store for this year, here's everything you need to know, starting with the most basic item on the agenda:
Oliver Queen is badass, and so are his friends.The CW
That's really the most important thing you need to know, base line, about "Arrow." Oliver was a former playboy bonehead who became an awesome action hero after getting stranded on a remote island five years ago, forced to learn how to survive using nothing but his wits and newfound combat abilities, especially his sudden proficiency as an archer. When he returned to his hometown of Starling City, he came back with a literally lethal attitude toward crime, returning as the masked vigilante eventually known as the Arrow. In his three years of cleaning up Starling, he's been helped by a bunch of friends including but not limited to bodyguard John Diggle, computer expert and eventual girlfriend (!!!) Felicity Smoak, and reformed thief Roy Harper.
Got all that? Good, let's get into the recent and relevant specifics.
The Arrow died.The CW
Oliver didn't die (well, okay, he did, but only for like five minutes), but his alter-ego didn't come out of season three alive. His secret identity was compromised, and he was about to go to jail as a result, but his buddy Roy stepped up and took the fall instead. Roy also took a knife to the belly, and was made to look like he died in prison. For all the world knows, the Arrow died with Roy.
But Roy Harper lives!The CW
He totally Punk'd everyone into thinking he died in prison, but he didn't. Psyche! Instead, Roy faked his death and ran away from Starling City to start his life all over again. The bad news? No more Colton Haynes on "Arrow," although the door is always open to his return. Perhaps we'll see him again at some point in season four.
Oliver Queen became a super villain.The CW
For a limited time only! He was aggressively courted by the League of Assassins, specifically their leader, Ra's al Ghul, who wanted Oliver to become the new leader and fulfill some strange destiny shenanigans. Oliver played ball for a little while, but ultimately it was a ruse to get closer to Ra's and defeat the League from within.
Oliver's sister died.The CW
Or came close to it, at least, and that's the big reason why he joined the League to begin with. Ra's mortally injured Thea Queen, forcing Oliver to bring her to the Lazarus Pits at Nanda Parbat, where she came back to life, albeit with a little bit of a meaner streak.
Thea's a superhero now!The CW
I guess that's what happens when you die on "Arrow," sometimes? Anyway, with Roy gone and Oliver's heroic days behind him (even more on that in a bit), Thea decided to suit up in her best red and become the new Speedy of Starling City. It's a good look!
Oliver and Diggle broke up.The CW
The BFFs of "Arrow" are no longer BFFs. As part of his League of Assassins con, Oliver kidnapped Diggle's wife and left his baby home alone. Diggle was understandably furious, and even though he was able to get over it and work with Oliver toward bringing down the League, he couldn't get past it on a friendship level. Sad day for Doliver fans everywhere.
Diggle is Magneto now!The CW
That's what he looks like in promo pictures for season four, anyway, equipped with some strange helmet that's meant to conceal his identity and make him look like an X-Men super villain. Whatever. At least Diggle's still fighting the good fight, bad costume decisions be damned.
The Black Canary died.The CW
Sara Lance, the original Black Canary, died at the start of season three, assassinated by a brainwashed Thea Queen on orders from Malcolm Merlyn as a means of pitting Oliver Queen against the League of Assassins. This show is very complicated sometimes.
The Black Canary lives!The CW
Sara's older sister Laurel, furious over her sibling's death, channeled her rage into a productive vigilante hobby. She became a boxer under Ted "Wildcat" Grant's tutelage, boasted a super-sonic canary cry thanks to "Flash" wiz kid Cisco Ramon, but she still kinda sucked during her first year on the job. Here's hoping she learned a thing or two in the offseason.
Really, the Lance family is all kinds of messed up.The CW
Laurel and her dad, police chief Quentin Lance, are not getting along these days. He does not see eye to eye with her on vigilantism. He's furious that she withheld the truth about Sara's death for so long. Also, he's drinking again. Maybe all of that is water under the bridge by the time season four starts, but the way we left it, it was tense.
Oliver killed Ra's.The CW
Once upon a time, Oliver was very liberal about killing bad guys. He reformed that policy after the repeated urging of his allies eventually, breaking the rule once or twice along the way. Add Ra's to that list of exceptions. Oliver drove a sword through the man at the end of season three, putting an end to the League leader once and for all.
Ra's al Ghul lives!The CW
In a manner of speaking, anyway. Malcolm Merlyn, one of Oliver's most frequent nemeses and occasionally reluctant ally, took on the mantle of Ra's and became the leader of the League of Assassins in the wake of the man's death. It's a very dangerous position for one of the most dangerous people on the show.
(Also, is "Arrow" still pretending Malcolm didn't dip his late son Tommy in the Lazarus Pit, and that Tommy won't eventually be revealed as an evil zombie bad guy at some point down the line? Someone wake me up when the show decides to go down this route. It's inevitable.)
Ra's al Ghul's worst enemy is still out there, too.The CW
His name is Damien Dahrk, and he's a former member of the League who escaped the order with all his villainy and expert killer training intact. He's going to be the big bad in season four, as played by the amazing Neal McDonough.
Oliver Queen lives.The CW
After stopping Ra's and the League, Oliver decided that he's going to push forward with a new path. His war on crime is over. He has hung up the bow and arrow and hood. He's no longer Arrow. He's Oliver Queen, and he's going to live his life with Felicity and he's going to —
WAIT, BACK UP!The CW
Yes, yes, Olicity is happening. For real! It's really real. You did it, guys. You made it happen. Congrats!
Yes, Olicity is happening, HOWEVER…The CW
…it's happening far away from Starling City. At the end of season three, they were driving up the pacific coast, toward greener pastures. Hooray!
Speaking of greener pastures…The CW
…Oliver and Felicity won't be gone for good, obviously, and when Ollie returns, it'll be with a new moniker: Green Arrow. Remember when he openly mocked the superhero name back in season one? Well, looks like he's coming around!
The future of Oliver's past is wide open.
One last thing to note. When Oliver was away from Starling for five years, he wasn't always stranded on a deserted island. Season three revealed that Oliver spent significant amounts of time in Hong Kong, and even returned to Starling for a minute or two. But the season ended without any clear indication of where he went next. There are two years of "island" stories left, and absolutely no obvious direction for what we'll see in those stories. The flashbacks are often hit-or-miss on "Arrow," and frankly, season three landed more in the miss department — but with season four, the options are wide open. Let's see where it takes us.