Way back at the start of December we had confirmation Manu Bennett would reprise his role as Slade Wilson in Episode 14 of Arrow; shortly after, we found out that episode would be called The Return. Then, just after that, we found out that title refers to neither Oliver Queen nor Slade Wilson, and that a certain Tommy Merlyn would be showing up in Episode 14 too.
Now, as Episode 14 shoots, and we have set photos highlighting Colin Donnell's Tommy in what is likely flashbacks, Manu Bennett (Slade, if you hadn't got that) took to Twitter to tease fans.
"Time to make a comeback kids." - Slade.
The use of Slade's now iconic referral to Oliver as kid is enough to get any Arrow fan excited, but what's most exciting is the even more iconic eyepatch strapped around his head. Then, just four hours ago, he posts:
Is he hinting at Santa's tragic decapitation at the hands of Deathstroke the Terminator? Let's hope not (something tells me that may be hugely unlikely anyway). But this picture brings us something even more to be excited about- the grey in his hair, now seeming to have started to spread to the top too, reveals this is most certainly present day Deathstroke who we'll be seeing, and not flashbacks as some speculated.
This means one of two things: we'll be making a visit to Lian Yu to see Slade, and potentially Captain Boomerang- they're cell mates now, remember! - or, perhaps more likely, Slade has escaped from Oliver's nearly inhospitable island prison in the South China Sea and returns to Starling, even if only for one episode. I would call it unlikely, but prisons in comic universes aren't exactly renowned for doing their job properly.
But we also know that Ra's is most definitely the big bad of season three, not Deathstroke. It's possible we might even see Ollie and Slade team up against him, leading to a confrontation which even just the initial concept of would be an immediate fan favourite. Remember, Marc Guggenheim said of Ra's:
"He’s definitely the main antagonist of the season. He’s responsible for a lot of the events that kick off the year, and reverberate throughout the season. He’s our Big Bad, and he’s a very different kind of Big Bad than we’ve had, (Malcolm Merlyn and Slade Wilson.)"
So Slade won't be filling the shoes of a big villain any time soon, but it seems unlikely he'll be downgraded to a 'common villain,' persay, any time soon. It's possible we'll see him join the Suicide Squad or something along those lines, though I'm guessing he'll show up in Episode 14, and then reemerge later in the series, potentially in the finale. Odds are we'll already be seeing one villain unite with Oliver to take down Ra's al Ghul in Malcolm Merlyn; it's far from a reach to speculate Team Arrow may need Deathstroke's help to deal with this threat.