Warning: Spoilers ahead!
Fans of Arrow who tuned in to watch the climactic and surprising finale to season 1 are no doubt curious to see where the show will go once the dust has cleared. Arrow was renewed for a second season by The CW after the early episodes drew in a respectable number of viewers, and with the universe already established the show could go in just about any direction from here.
One thing that Arrow definitely hasn't been shy about so far is dropping in cameos or extended appearances by characters from the comic book series, including The Huntress, Count Vertigo, Deadshot and Deathstroke. Roy Harper (Colton Haynes), who was Oliver's sidekick Speedy in the comics and eventually became known under the names Red Arrow and Arsenal, is set to become a series regular after his introduction in the second half of season 1, and there has been talk of introducing major DC characters like Batman and Green Lantern into the mix.
While we wait for season 2, and speculate about which direction the writers might take it in next, lead actor Stephen Amell has been dropping hints about the set-up for the next season in an interview with IGN, and says that when Arrow returns, nothing will be the same:
"We’re just going to find everybody in a different place. I think we’re actually going to find Oliver literally in a different place at the beginning of next year. It’s our second season, but it’s kind of like a new series."
Perhaps the most devastating blow, to the regular cast list at least, was the death of Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell), who rushed into the collapsing CNRI building to save Laurel and ended up getting speared through the chest with a metal rod for his trouble. The Laurel-Oliver-Tommy love triangle that provided much of the season 1 romantic drama may have died with him, but that that probably won't mean smooth sailing for the two people who are left. It's possible that the tragedy will push Laurel into her own brand of vigilantism as Black Canary, especially if Oliver has left the city and "the Hood" has gone with him.
That seems to be exactly what has happened. In addition to the hint about Oliver finding himself in a new place (Blüdhaven, perhaps, or any one of the other DC cities that could be used to introduce another new character from the comic book universe), Amell also suggests that Oliver has lost his taste for vigilante justice. When asked how he reacts to Tommy's death, Amell replied:
"Not well. The reason that he was the vigilante, the Hood, all that stuff is gone now. Merlyn’s been stopped, the list is essentially somewhat obsolete, the Glades are destroyed. If he’s going to become the vigilante again or something different, he’s gonna need a new reason."
It's something of a relief to hear that Oliver's future vigilante activities won't all be based around the list of names left to him by his father. While this worked quite well as a set-up for the season 1 episodes, the show was starting to feel a little bit too much like My Name is Earl, and having a list of bad guys to work from felt like far too convenient a plot device.
Based on this, and the hints that Oliver may have left Starling City in the wake of the Glades' destruction, it sounds like the superhero may have hung up his hood in despair after being unable to save the city that he was sworn to protect. The show wouldn't be called Arrow without some bow-and-arrow justice, however, and we've already been promised two new villains who will be making trouble this season, so Oliver probably won't stay in retirement for long.
Finally, Amell was asked whether Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett) and Shado (Celina Jade) will only be appearing in island flashbacks for the next season, or whether Oliver will run into them in the present-day timeline. It's not yet known what Slade and Shado's eventual fates were - though Oliver appeared to be alone on the island when he was rescued in the pilot episode - but Amell says that he doubts the characters will stay in the past:
"The island isn’t on Mars, it’s on planet Earth, and we haven’t seen anyone from the island in the present day. But I would assume eventually that’s going to happen."
Oliver is out of Starling City, the Glades are gone, Tommy is dead and the Hood has temporarily closed down business. What could this mean for season 2 of Arrow, and how will the series begin anew with the old motivations and villains gone? Which DC characters are next in line to make a cameo appearance, and who might take up the Hood's mantle in Starling City while he's away? If you've got theories, then don't keep quiet about them - head to the comments to discuss these latest hints.
Arrow returns to The CW in fall 2013.