Season three of Arrow is creeping ever closer (but is nowhere near close enough for me!) and more and more details are coming to light as filming continues. The latest news comes from writer Marc Guggenheim in the twitterverse, with a little hint about the 50th episode. (SE03, EP04)
OK, this truly is a very little hint, but I'm so excited for the new season that I'll take it! The title of the fourth episode will be "The Magician" and this could mean the introduction of a new character.
In the past, Arrow has not been particularly subtle when it comes to their episode titles - no hidden messages here! Usually, when introducing a new character, or even going further into an existing character's backstory, the title all but spells it out for us. Deadshot was introduced in "The Lone Gunman", Dodger in the incredibly cryptically titled "Dodger", Shrapnel in "Blast Radius" and Barry Allen in "The Scientist".
So who will Oliver Queen be up against in this episode? Despite the immediate online speculation that it could be fan-favorite Zatanna, Guggenheim dashed those hopes with a later tweet. At the same time, he definitely pointed toward the answer...
Hint, hint, indeed!
Well, if you missed it the first time, that second tweet should have done the trick. This episode will most likely be focusing around Malcom Merlyn. Not only is he portrayed by John Barrowman (@Team_Barrowman), but I did a little digging and found some interesting elements of his history with our favorite archer.
Warning: Spoilers ahead if you have not finished season two!
Merlyn, at one point, was called "Merlyn the Magician" (the name Malcolm is created entirely for the TV show). Given that this is the 50th episode of the show, it's bound to be an episode with some real impact, and with this news, I am assuming that we will see the return of Malcolm Merlyn, along with Thea Queen (who ran off with him at the end of the last season).
Its possible that we will get some more of Merlyn's backstory, but I believe that there will be a little twisting of the comic book canon (as the writers are pretty good at that). In the original tale, Merlyn and Green Arrow are involved in a public archery contest, after which Merlyn disappeared for several years and re-emerged as a member of the League of Assassins.
The Malcolm Merlyn that we see in the show is a member of the League before Oliver is even shipwrecked (courtesy of the backstory concerning Tommy and his mother), and as the so-called "Black Arrow" Merlyn and Arrow have done battle more than once. So will we see a return and a new battle, or even a public display of strength? I would imagine that the popularity of the Green Arrow in Starling City may have made archery a pretty popular past-time, so there could even be a show down at an archery contest.
I think that we may get a combination, with the backstory of how Merlyn joined the League as well as his return to the city.
With the return of Merlyn, I think that we can expect the return of Thea, for obvious reasons, not least of which is that Merlyn has no reason to return to Starling, whereas Thea does. We can also expect some time to have passed since the end of the last season - there were five months between the first two seasons, and I would assume that they would do something similar again. This leaves plenty of time for Thea to do some training and take on a new identity.
A lot has been made of the possibility that Thea would be taking on the role of "Speedy" Mia Dearden more fully, and this may be the time. Thus far, the only similarities have been in their name/nickname, but now that Mia is feeling disillusioned and betrayed, we may be about to see her trained and becoming her own powerful character.
I would honestly really like to see CW really explore her running away from everyone and living on the streets, and the way that that would impact her relationship with Ollie. However, I feel that this may be a little too dark for the network, especially considering her history with prostitution and HIV.
A second option for Thea is to become Cheshire. The relationship with Roy Harper and her training by her father fit perfectly, and this opens up all kinds of options when it comes to developing Oliver's character. It also links in beautifully with Roy Harper becoming Arsenal. Thus far, Harper's relationship with Oliver has been difficult as he tries to cope with the restrictions that Ollie places on him.
If Thea comes home, but is now firmly on the other side, it would divide Harper's loyalties right down the center. He loves Thea, but she ran away from him, and their relationship has never been easy. According to Amell, Roy and Oliver are starting this season in a good place, so he may have as much loyalty to the Arrow as to his ex-girlfriend, and making a decision between them could be the thing that tears the two apart.
This is definitely a character that I would like to see come into play this season!
The other fan favorite for Thea's return is as Artemis Crock. The version of Artemis in Young Justice works best for the show, as she has the closest relationship with Green Arrow, and poses as his relative to avoid revealing her villainous family.
It would be relatively simple to connect this to the idea of Thea committing some serious wrongs in her time training with her father, and running back to the protection of Oliver. Merlyn may return in an attempt to take Thea back again, and this could be the showdown between them that the title suggests.
I would honestly prefer to see Thea go full-on bad for a while, whichever character she ends up returning as, so I hope that she doesn't simply come running back to her brother right off the bat.
Whatever they decide to do with this 50th episode, I think it is clear that we will be seeing the return of these two pivotal characters, and I just cannot wait to see how they do it! I believe that Barrowman sums up my excitement the best...