By the time the mid-way point of ‘Arrow’ Season 3 rolled around last year, it was apparent to all fans that the show had gotten very dark since its early days, when Oliver Queen first returned to Starling City to take up his crusade. Slade Wilson and Malcolm Merlyn had launched 2 consecutive attacks on the city that Team Arrow had barely been able to stop, Oliver had watched Tommy, his father, his mother, and Sara Lance die, and as of the mid-season finale of last year, Oliver himself had “died” attempting to take out Ras Al Ghul.

Thankfully, it seems the show is going to return to a lighter tone this season, harkening back to the early days of Season One, at least according to Executive Producer Marc Guggenheim:

“Ever since Slade Wilson [Manu Bennett] came to town around [season 2, episode 15], the show has been on this very, very dark path, leading to Sara’s [Caity Lotz] death and the culmination of season 3…Our goal was to return the show more in the tone of the first season-and-a-half…It still feels like ‘Arrow, but at the same time, Oliver’s got a new outlook on life…We’re driving conflict to the show in ways that we never would have in the first three years. So it still feels like ‘Arrow’, but it’s a different take on the show.”

Except of course, (or maybe because of) the big bad of ‘Arrow’ Season 4, Damien Darhk, who Guggenheim describes as:

“Unlike previous big bads, who were doing the wrong thng for the right reasons, there’s nothing nearly as redeeming or redemptive in Damien Darhk…He’s really pure evil, and he will stop at nothing to achieve his ends…We’re gonna learn that this villain has been operating in town for the past three months…Team Arrow has basically been trying to keep [him] at bay, but then something happens in the season premiere that’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back and it prompts Laurel [Katie Cassidy] and Thea [Willa Holland] to go find Oliver and get him to return.”

Which of course means the team’s mission to stop Darhk will be much more cut and dry, clearly good versus evil this season, which could help explain the lighter tone, as the characters will not be battling their own demons, but rather coming together to face a true villain. Plus, Oliver will be a much more whole person, meaning he will have transcended the post PTSD man we first met in Season 1, and really figured out who he is/ wants to be. In Guggenheim’s words:

“We played him as a guy who was returning home from war with PTSD for the first three years…Now he’s put those demons to rest, or so he thinks, and there’s a lightness to him as a result of all the things he learned last year.”

Showrunner Wendy Mericle also added that: “[Oliver] has more faith in humanity than he did in the past…It’s less about erasing his father’s legacy and more about establishing his.”

Of course, not everyone will be excited about Oliver’s return to Star City, as he left last season on poor terms with his first partner in his crusade, John Diggle (who is especially motivated to get Darhk who supposedly was responsible for the death of Diggle’s brother). According to Guggenheim:

“[Diggle] was the one who was most angered over Oliver’s choices at the end of Season 3…And he’s certainly the one who’s most against Oliver returning and him being forced to work with Oliver.”

All in all, it sounds like we have a lot to look forward to this season, and I cannot wait to see how it all fits together.

Look for ‘Arrow’ to return to the CW for its 4th Season on October 7th!

Source: EW