Spoilers ahead for the Season 7 premiere of Arrow.
Arrow kicked off its seventh season with the Emerald Archer behind bars and without the means to purge Star City of its criminals. In fact, he's stuck in prison with a bunch of the criminals he faced once he was out of his "killing everybody" phase. Another Green Arrow is operating despite the anti-vigilante law in Star City, and Dinah is handling the SCPD as best she can. Now, new showrunner Beth Schwartz talked how Oliver can continue to operate as the Green Arrow despite his status in the clink:
He's different than we have ever seen him. He was not the hero. He was just laying low and thinking that was the best way for him to be in prison. And then, obviously, when his family gets attacked, he can't not be the Green Arrow, even if he's in prison. So, he's gonna continue to struggle with what does that look like, being the Green Arrow while you're behind bars. It's not easy.
Oliver's behavior in the first chunk of the premiere had to be shocking to fans who are used to Oliver at least trying to help those who can't help themselves, even if he hasn't always gone about it in the best ways. Behind bars, Oliver's #1 goal was to behave himself, lessen his prison sentence, and get out early to reunite with Felicity and William. So, he let a fellow inmate by the name of Stanley get severely beaten rather than get violent himself and risk earning the guards' wrath.
After being brutally attacked in the showers and told by an inmate that Ricardo Diaz (who is probably going to be around a lot more) had tracked down Felicity and killed her, Oliver was destroyed... until a shaken but not broken Felicity paid him a visit to tell him that she's sending William to boarding school and returning to Star City to fight back.
By the end of the episode, Oliver was feeling more like his old self, and he went ahead and beat the stuffing out of the two guys who attacked Stanley. On the one hand, it was reassuring to learn we won't be watching episode after episode of Oliver letting people who can't defend themselves be brutally attacked. He does have easy access to a whole bunch of baddies who he'll undoubtedly deem cruising for a bruising, so he can fight an alternate version of the good fight.
Who needs a bow and arrows when you have a hardback book and a weight to whack people with? Oh, prison life in the Arrow-verse. On the other hand, Oliver really went quite hard when he finally started battling the baddies. It was intriguing enough when he started beating one of the inmates with his book, but seeing him lift a huge weight, smack a guy across the face with it, and then knock him down and slam him in the torso with it was shocking.
That guy was not going to be sitting comfortably in the prison cafeteria any time soon. Beth Schwartz's comments at a post-premiere screening Q&A (via Collider) indicate that the ride will only get wilder as the season continues. There will be a Green Arrow actually in green and wielding a bow active in Star City, and he may not be the guy who we expected.
Tune in to new episodes on Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW to find out. For more superhero options (as well as plenty of other fare), swing by our fall TV premiere guide. A brand new group of villains is on the way to support Ricardo Diaz, so there should be a lot going on in Star City moving forward.