It looks like Oliver and Felicity won't be the only new couple getting a shot in season three of Arrow, as Austin Butler has been announced as joining the show as a love interest for Thea Queen.
Butler will be playing an as-yet-unnamed DJ who catches Thea's eye, and "their professional relationship will quickly blossom into romance". He's definitely got the right look for a charismatic club DJ (although I find him a little too smarmy-looking, that probably suits the character) but how will this impact the rest of the show?
At the end of season two, Thea was seen leaving the city with her biological father, Malcolm Merlyn, and this has been the source of endless speculation as to what will happen when she returns.
With this news we now know a couple of the elements of her return, and this actually leads me to more possibilities, rather than less!
Does Thea Return To Verdant?
The club has passed through a few different hands so far - from Oliver and Tommy to Oliver alone, and then to Thea who ran the hot spot in season two. (Of course, Oliver also lived there, but that's neither here nor there.) If Thea will be romantically entangled with a club DJ, does this mean that she will be returning to the business? If so, how is this going to affect her relationship with Oliver? One of the reasons that she left was that she felt betrayed by him, and to an extent, she probably blames him for what happened between her and Roy. So how will that pan out with her coming back to Verdant which is still kind of his? (I'm not sure where the legality lies on this one; he owned it, but then gave it up to her - we didn't see that happen legally, so does he still own the building, but not the business? How was that affected by his bankruptcy?) Will she be re-starting the club, or could it be possible that with her "new" father's money, she uses her experience to start a completely new club of her own?
Could this be a love triangle?
Obviously, Thea's return to Starling City will have a huge impact on Roy. As far as he was aware at the end of season two, the couple were going to run away together, but he came home to an empty house after Thea discovered his arrows. Has he been looking for her for the past seven months, or has Oliver persuaded him to let her go? When she returns, there is bound to be some confrontation between them, and Roy has never been particularly good at controlling his temper. If Oliver hasn't trained him restraint, I could easily see him coming to blows with a new love interest of hers.
Let's also not forget that however hurt Thea may have felt when she left (the ultimate in dramatic storm outs), ten minutes earlier she was ready to run away with him - there are bound to be some unresolved feelings there that we may see come up in this season. The two have had a very rocky relationship, but an extremely passionate one, and I'm sure that she will have at least one "slip up" when she is around him again.
Will this season see her torn between Roy, who she loves but doesn't trust, and this new character, who she may trust but not love?
Does this mean Thea will not become a superhero herself?
There has been a lot of speculation over whether or not Thea will become a comic book character herself in the upcoming season. The big contenders seem to be a full realization of her "Speedy" nickname (unlikely, seeing how she feels about Oliver at the moment) or possibly Artemis or Cheshire. Having left with Merlyn, she could quite possibly have been training for seven months and now be connected to the League of Assassins, or simply a warrior in her own right.
However, if she makes public return to Starling City and starts working in the club industry again, does this mean that the fans are wrong, and she will be back as plain old Thea Queen again?
She could, of course, return to take advantage of her name, and have a secret identity. Works pretty well for her brother, after all. However, if she has left and been training in secret, why announce her return? Her "father" has more than enough money to support her in secrecy (and more than enough reason, as well), and it would make more sense to me if she appeared in a similar way to Sara Lance as Black Canary.
If she returns to fulfill some sort of vendetta against Ollie or Roy (or both), why would she announce her presence? It may be that she just comes home, and the relationships that we see played out are those of her learning to trust her brother again, or fighting against him as a normal girl, rather than a fellow super.
Is Merlyn Returning With Her?
We know that Merlyn will be in season three, but just because the two left together doesn't mean that they will be returning together. This wasn't a well-thought-out decision on her part, rather an absolutely emotional one. Earlier in the finale, she was running away from Malcolm, so this abrupt turn around could have been a decision that she later regretted. Now that we know she is returning openly, and still working in the club industry, she could well have ditched her father and been simply working for the past seven months. (Although that would be just a little dull for the show).
If she has the money to open or a run a new club, the assumption is that Merlyn would be supporting it, which would have to mean that they are returning together (or that he just handed over a chunk of money). Could the two of them be working an angle together? Perhaps Thea has been training, but her public re-appearance is an attempt to get close to Oliver again so that she and Merlyn can work together to bring him down?
However the details play out, it seems that we are now guaranteed at least a little Roy-flavored jealousy, some conflict with Ollie, and some interesting scenes with the return of the Dark Archer.
Arrow season three begins October 8th on the CW.