Spoilers ahead for the Season 7 premiere of Arrow on The CW, called "Inmate 4587."
Arrow is officially back for its seventh season on The CW, and the premiere proved that this is going to be unlike any season we've seen before. We've known for a while that a new Emerald Archer would be protecting Star City after Oliver was locked up. It's probably safe to say that most fans figured that Roy would be revealed as the new Green Arrow after Colton Haynes was announced as returning. The Season 7 premiere may have revealed that Roy isn't the new Green Arrow as many expected.
No, I'm not just saying this because the new Emerald Archer wasn't doing nearly enough unnecessary flips to be Roy. If Roy was the new Green Arrow as so many assumed, surely the premiere would have unmasked him! After all, a huge reveal down the line of a twist we all figured out way back when the first trailer hit the web would be a letdown. A reveal in a few episodes' time that the Green Arrow is somebody few of us could have guessed would be much more effective.
At this point, Arrow has opened the door for the reveal that Green Arrow 2.0 is none other than Oliver's son William. Now, the new guy in green firing arrows at the baddies of Star City isn't a kid in his early teens. If the new Green Arrow is William, it has to be a William from the future.
Now, this is Arrow, not The Flash, so we shouldn't assume that anybody who happens to be mysterious comes from the future. Still, the Season 7 Green Arrow was seen crossing a name off of a list in his final moments of the episode while brooding in a shadowy room, and that screams "Oliver Queen's son." William is currently young enough that it's perfectly believable that he could gain the skills to pass as the Green Arrow by the time he's an adult.
That does still leave the question of how exactly an adult William could be taking on the criminal element of Star City while his younger self was busy hating his new life under witness protection. Once upon a time, the idea of an Arrow character from the future would have been absurd. Since The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow joined the Arrow-verse, however, timeline shenanigans seem capable of impacting even the most grounded series in The CW's superhero lineup.
The new Green Arrow could certainly be William from the future. It's unclear if the new Green Arrow of Season 7 has anything to do with the Green Arrow who was defending Star City as the Emerald Archer in a particularly depressing future visited by the Legends of Tomorrow crew a few years ago. This Green Arrow can't be an adult John Diggle Jr. unless he's the Team Arrow offspring who traveled back in time. Oliver's beard is well on the way to becoming that depressing future goatee, though.
All things considered, we absolutely can't rule out Roy as the new Green Arrow in Season 7. Roy taking Oliver's place is certainly the most straightforward way for Arrow to keep an archer in the mix, as Roy did return in Season 6 and has a history of stepping into Oliver's shoes if the situation called for it. No time travel would be necessary. Still, now that we're in a new season under the guidance of a new showrunner, we shouldn't rule anything out. William as the new Green Arrow would make for a twist far more epic than Roy under the green hood.
That said, the final scene of the episode revealed that Roy will have a part to play in Season 7 without necessarily acting as Oliver's replacement in Star City. Scenes that seemed like flashbacks for most of the episode were ultimately revealed as flash-forwards that followed an adult William on a journey to Lian Yu. Given that he lost his mother the first time he was on Lian Yu, something big must have happened to drive him back to that island.
On the island, he discovered the remnants of Robert Queen's grave, and the whole place generally looked pretty awful. He also discovered something much more exciting: a much older Roy, who very nearly attacked William until he got a good look at him. Roy recognized William, which indicates that the two spent a fair amount of time together after William started getting older. That, or Roy has an uncanny ability to predict what kids will look like in a couple of decades.
What's not clear at this point is why William went to Lian Yu, but he did seem to be seeking Roy. Is William following in his father's footsteps and planning on learning the tricks of the vigilante trade from a mentor on Lian Yu? Roy is no Slade Wilson, and William probably won't somehow end up in a love triangle despite awful hair like Oliver did with Slade and Shado. Still, the son could be following the footsteps of the father in the hope of saving Star City.
Unfortunately, we can only speculate at this point. My money is definitely on either William or Roy as the new Green Arrow, although it's not out of the realm of possibility that Arrow will go with someone even wilder than Oliver's son from the future or his former sidekick trading the red leather in for green. We'll have to wait and see. This was a solid hook for Season 7 in my book, and it could keep people watching while the actual star of the series is rotting in prison, quite possibly up until the big 2018 crossover.
Tune in to The CW on Mondays at 8 p.m. ET for new episodes of Arrow with Green Arrow 2.0. Season 7 marks the first time that Arrow airs on Monday nights and a return to the 8 p.m. timeslot, so this could be a whole new era for The CW's longest-running superhero series. Both The Flash and Supergirl have already debuted their new seasons, but you can find the premiere date for Legends of Tomorrow (and many other shows) on our fall TV guide.