In the final moments of tonight's Arrow season 7 premiere, Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) appeared, giving us an intriguing look ahead to what his role will be in the upcoming season.
The role, at least if it is what it appears to be, is both a little puzzling and kind of perfect for the show, which is dealing with some major changes to its setting and formula and could use a familiar face like Roy around.
Spoilers ahead for the Arrow season 7 premiere, which aired tonight.
During the episode, a character on board a boat -- apparently an older version of Oliver's son William, seen in a flash-forward, comes ashore on Lian Yu. He is greeted -- or is it ambushed? -- by an older version of Harper.
The implication here seems to be that William is looking for Roy, and knew he would be on the island -- but it does not explain how or why Roy is there. Whether William is asking him to come out of retirement, to help him train, or something else, is also a mystery at this point.
But the fact that this all takes place (at least apparently) in flash forwards tells us something important: that after stepping away from it in season six, the idea of alternating timelines is working its way back into Arrow's DNA.
Given that Oliver had been stranded on Lian Yu for five years, the first five seasons of the show simultaneously told a present day story and flashed back to events before Oliver returned to his life in Starling City.
Haynes returned to Arrow for a two-episode arc during season six, in which he seemingly got his happily-ever-after with Thea, his on-again/off-again love interest from the first three seasons. Haynes had left during the show's fourth season, after donning the Green Arrow costume in order to throw suspicion away from Oliver Queen. He later faked his death in prison and went on the lam to start a new life.
Roy Harper's return also comes to Arrow at a particularly interesting time, as Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) will be locked away in a SuperMax prison, leaving Team Arrow in a unique predicament. And it sounds like Roy's role in those overall proceedings will surprise some viewers.
"I got a call from Greg Berlanti, and he said 'Hey'," Haynes told ComicBook.com during San Diego Comic-Con. "I was shooting [American] Horror Story at the time. And he said 'If you want to come back, you're welcome to come back. We have a great idea.' And it's the craziest idea. Roy Harper's coming back in a way that no one is going to understand. It's amazing, and I was like 'I can't wait to be around my friends and my family!' And so I, of course, jumped at that opportunity."
Haynes joined the series in the first season, and he became one of the first members of Team Arrow, suiting up as Arsenal while dating Thea in his personal life. The character left the show in the season 4 episode "Unchained," but Haynes has remained open to returning since, making a brief cameo in "Invasion!" even before his brief season 6 return.5comments
Haynes's return to Arrow comes just as Roy Harper has been killed off in the comics, meaning that fans of the character will likely tune in to see what the plan is for him now that he has returned to the small screen.
Arrow airs on Monday nights at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.