Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) returned from his time on the island the first time, hell-bent on carrying out a mission in the name of his father on The CW's Arrow. He was stoic and serious about crossing names off of his list and shooting arrows through the hearts of Starling City's enemies, and he didn't think twice about the finality of it all. But the second time he returns from the island, he sets out to do things a little bit differently and decides that he merely has to stop-- not necessarily kill-- these people. Oliver was haunted by ghosts from the island, namely his father, on the first season of Arrow, and on season two, he is driven by honoring Tommy (Colin Donnell) in the same way. But this new approach is going to lead to new complications for the vigilante.
"It makes a lot of our fights a lot meaner than they used to be. I mean, you know, getting an arrow in the throat is...you're dead, so that's the down side-- but one of the first times in the [premiere], one of the first times that I take a guy on, I just come around the corner and I punch him with my new horrible bow. I love the bow; it's like a weapon! I punch the guy in the head three times. But it has made it complicated because I didn't have to worry so much about witnesses, and now I do. Now I do," Amell said when LA TV Insider Examiner sat down with him on set in Vancouver.
What's fascinating about Arrow and Oliver's emotional and psychological journey specifically is that he was broken and damaged when he arrived on that island the first time, but as we have already started to see in the second season, his time on that island brought out his most sinister survival instincts rather than allowed him to work through his issues therapeutically. He lost himself when he was there. Since the flashbacks are doled out a little at a time in each episode, we are only now starting to piece together just how dark a place Oliver got to internally while there and constantly threatened in a physical, external sense.
"Just as we start to see things go well in the present, they really go to shit really fast [on the island]. You have to think about what type of person Oliver was when he got back from the island. If we were piece together that entire storyline from being shipwrecked to coming back to Starling City, he's got to go down to a pretty awful place to become the person that he was when he came back-- to be able to lie so easily and be so clandestine," Amell said.
The Oliver who got to spend the first season in Starling City with his family and his friends and his new team, cleaning up the streets as best as he could was healing, though, and for him to return to the island by choice seemed to be a bit of a setback. He ran to something he felt comfortable with which wasn't necessarily the best thing for him-- in many ways not unlike how criminals who get released from jail after years of being inside can't cope with the real world and commit a new crime just to be sent back. He had his team to pull him out of it physically, but he may need them to snap him out of it mentally, too; he may not have had enough time alone on that island for five months to find himself there.
"They're all going to be trying to re-balance what it means to be back in Starling City, and what it means to have something as big as the quake and be back to it five months later and have it still not be-- it's still not working," Emily Bett Rickards said.
In addition to the damage still needing to be repaired, there are a number of new and returning foes for Team Arrow to face down, including China White (guest star Kelly Hu), The Bronze Tiger (guest star Michael Jai White), Sebastian Blood (Kevin Alejandro), and the Black Canary (Caity Lotz).
"We have the Black Canary coming in setting up trouble for Oliver, therefore trouble for Felicity...We do get a sense [that] she likes-- she doesn't really get to know the Black Canary, but she starts to like the Black Canary," Rickards said of the new dynamic.
"I think what it is is a powerful woman trying to do the right thing as well as knowing for Oliver, too, you know, it's not your fault; you're not an isolated island; there are other people that [are] fighting and killing and hopefully not for a bad reason. In seeing her strength and seeing her try to come back or be in Starling City is interesting dynamic."
Though the Black Canary isn't on Team Arrow's radar yet, even though she made quite a big impression at the end of the second season premiere, it certainly seems like Oliver himself knows her-- or at least knows of her.
"Oliver deals with it better than you might expect because he may have seen some superhero-y things that we don't know about yet," Amell said.
Arrow airs on The CW on Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. "Identity" airs on October 16 2013.
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