After much anticipation over the past several months, Arrow finally returned to Wednesday nights this week. While I was super excited to see one of my favorite shows return, I was also quite surprised to see the many, and boy do I mean many, changes that the show decided to make for the new season. The overall message that I got was that the writers/creators definitely wanted to shift the direction of the show from the past two seasons, and my guess is that this was strategically done to create more of an alignment in tone between the spin-off The Flash, which seems to be a bit lighter in tone. Clearly, the writers put some serious thought into this transition and perhaps even knew that this was going to be the direction that they were going to take even while filming last season, but one thing is for certain, with so many changes evident in the season 3 premiere, we are definitely going to see a different Arrow than before. These are some of the changes that I noticed.

Oliver and Felicity Go On a Date

Over the past two years, Oliver and Felicity have grown very fond of each other. Understandably so, she was one of the first people to know about Oliver’s secret (he’s the Arrow) and she has been working intimately with him to help him catch everyone that has failed Starling City ever since. She has had no choice but to stand idly by as the former playboy dated the Lance sisters and even Helena Bertinelli (Huntress) all in the name of never crossing the friendship line. However, in the season 3 premiere all of that changed when Oliver asked her out on a serious date, like a real date. Sure, the date was a complete disaster, but at least she did get to have a goodbye for now kiss after Oliver admitted to not being able to focus on being the Arrow and having a personal/romantic life at the same time. Poor Felicity.

Roy Suits Up

Early into the summer, images were leaked to the media showing off Roy’s new costume, so it came as no surprise to me when I saw him fully suited up and aiding the Arrow in his crusade against crime in Starling City. Although his presence was a bit minimized in the premiere episode probably because Thea was M.I.A. and the writers haven’t yet established his identity outside her character, we were still able to get a glimpse of what the red hooded mini Arrow has to offer. By the looks of things, he may be one of the top three characters to keep an eye on this season.

Diggle and Captain Lance Slowly Begin to Disappear

This may be a bit premature, but from what I saw in the premiere, it looks as though Diggle becoming a dad may be the beginning of a character write-off. A character write-off may also be in the works for Captain Lance, whose health is becoming more questionable as a result of his injury at the end of season 2 and the subsequent health problems that have ensued in the season 3 premiere. While I like these two characters, and honestly feel as though they are necessary as a supporting cast for the Oliver Queen/Green Arrow storyline, it doesn’t appear that we will see compelling story lines for either one in season 3 either. I’ll still cross my fingers and hope for the best.

Arrow Becomes a Superhero

For the past two years, we have watched the Green Arrow during his crusade to clean up the streets of Starling City, only to be made out to be a villain by the Starling City police. However, since the promotion of Detective Lance to Captain, the Arrow is no longer a pariah of the Starling City Police Department, but a welcomed unofficial member in the movement to fight crime in the city. Also in the season 3 premiere episode, we saw Oliver making a pivotal choice to focus solely on being the Arrow; ultimately, abandoning any chance for happiness (particularly romantic) as all superheroes must choose at some point. Being a superhero is a full time job and as Oliver learned over and over again, it leaves little to no time for anything else; with the exception of being a mentor to the Flash, of course.

Out with the Old and in with the New

A few other notable changes in the show that have helped reshape its direction include the introduction of a few new characters that will ultimately link the television storyline with the comics, including Wildcat (the boxer that helped train Batman and Laurel Lance as Black Canary), Ray Palmer/The Atom (which is played by none other than former Superman Brandon Routh) and Ra’s al Ghul (the notorious immortal Batman villain and father of Sara Lance/The First Black Canary’s girlfriend Nyssa al Ghul), whose voice we heard in the last five minutes of the premiere. How exciting? We also saw the first Black Canary meet her early demise, presumably by the hands of Ra’s al Ghul. Now, we can only anticipate that her sister Laurel will now finally assume the role of Black Canary (as indicated in the comics) and take up where her sister left off. Last but not least, Oliver is off of the island, so far, and in Hong Kong as his back story continues to unfold; a change I have personally been waiting for.

With so many changes in the new season thus far, season 3 of Arrow is shaping up to be quite entertaining. I didn’t see many of these changes coming, but I have to admit, I am glad for most of them as the changes bring a welcomed adjustment to the tone of the show and demonstrate a natural progression of character development.