Believe it or not, it's rare these days that a compilation article is required to summarize a plethora of incoming news on individual TV shows. In the case of The CW's narratively-interlinked superhero dramas Arrow and The Flash, however, the truth is that so much in the way of new information on their third and first seasons respectively launched in the last day or so that a comprehensive guide of this ilk quickly became inevitable.
Why complain, though, when the details in question hold such exhilarating implications for fans of the small-screen DC universe such as us? Here's a definitive look at what's to come for both series in the Fall US TV season (and bear in mind that there's plenty more to come next week at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con):
PRE- & POST-TCA NEWS
The bulk of the latest announcements surrounding Arrow and The Flash arrived via their respective promotional panels at the Television Critics' Association's 2014 event, but before we summarize said details, let's quickly investigate the plentiful offerings which landed before and after the panels!
- ARROW & THE FLASH CROSSOVER EPISODES ANNOUNCED - Speaking to TVGuide in the aftermath of a TCA panel promoting The Flash, executive producer Andrew Kreisberg today announced that the dense narrative universes of Arrow and its recently-commissioned spin-off will collide in two crossover episodes set to air as part of their latest runs. "Episodes 8 of both shows, Arrow and Flash," he revealed, "[Will] be a two-hour crossover event". Presumably the two productions' consecutive Tuesday and Wednesday weekly airdates will allow this bumper-length tale to play out over the course of a single week rather than a fortnight, but either way, we can't wait to see what turbulent event sparks Olly and Barry's first reunion since The Flash's pilot episode! As if that weren't enough, Kreisberg went on to confirm the following: "In Episode 4, Felicity [Smoake, a central player in Team Arrow] is going to come to The Flash." Smoake and Allen demonstrated a rather charming romantic chemistry in Arrow Season Two, so we're expecting nothing less than sparks to fly in the aforementioned minor crossover instalment!
- ARROW SEASON THREE EPISODE 3 & THE FLASH SEASON THREE EPISODE 4 TITLE ANNOUNCED - Ahead of the aforementioned TCA panels (more on those in a moment) which were held to further the marketing campaigns for both shows, The CW confirmed that the third episode of Arrow Season Three is titled "Corto Maltese" and the fourth episode of The Flash's début season (otherwise known as the instalment in which Felicity makes an appearance) goes by the name "Going Rogue".
TCA 2014 PANELS
Without further ado, we'll move onto divulge all of the major news which found its way into the two TCA panels for both programmes, with more news sure to surface on both fronts when Comic-Con rears its head:
- ANDREW KREISBERG ON SEASON THREE'S CHRONOLOGICAL SHIFT (VIA TV GUIDE) - "We're going to jump the same amount of time that we did last year. [...] It'll be seven or eight months later. For Oliver, things are good. [...] Crime is down. At the end of last year, there was victory. A lot of this season is about what happens when you win and how winning isn't always as easy as it looks."
- ON RA'S AL GHUL'S POTENTIAL PRESENCE - "It's big. I can say that he's big and he's bad. We're still figuring that stuff out. As far as the Big Bad, there will be a Big Bad. [...] We'll have recurring villains and new villains we're starting with this year and people who are coming back from the previous two seasons."
- ON OLIVER AND FELICITY'S (DOOMED?) FIRST DATE - "In the same way that the [opening episode of Season Two] was really about Oliver struggling with whether or not he should be the Arrow, in this season première it's, "Can I have everything I want?" That quest is going to take up his entire year, and hers."
- ON THE INTRODUCTION OF BRANDON ROUTH'S RAY PALMER (AKA THE ATOM) - "He and Felicity can have that verbal repartee that we haven't typically had on the show. As much as the show is getting darker, it's gotten a lot funnier. It's just such a different energy. He and Felicity are really cute together."
- ON ROY'S CHARACTER ARC IN SEASON THREE - "You're happy for Roy in the beginning that he's really found his place [in Team Arrow]. Of course, then we're going to shake his world up [by revealing the previously-hidden truth of the character's Mirakuru-prompted actions to him]."
- ON LAUREL'S FUTURE - "As always with all of these things, you can't just put on a mask and go running around. [...] I think Kate Cassidy fans are going to be very, very excited about her trajectory this year. Laurel is going to have a new love interest this season."
- ON EPISODE 2, "SARA" - "Colin Donnell [who played the now-deceased Tommy Merlyn in Season One and gained a cameo in hallucinatory form during Season Two] is coming back in Episode 302. Tommy will be in the flashback story. We'll be telling the story about how Tommy and Oliver just missed each other in Hong Kong." [Exec Mark Guggenheim also teased at Green Arrow TV that the title "Sara" "may have a double meaning"....]
- ON SARA'S SEASON THREE ROLE - "We have [actress Caity Lotz] booked for three episodes and hopefully for more."
- ON DIGGLE'S DIVIDED PATERNAL & PROFESSIONAL LOYALTIES - "A lot of the opening episodes are about Diggle's changing circumstances and how that's affecting his decisions and how he approaches being part of Team Arrow. There's a lot of conflict between Oliver and Dig about Dig now being a father. There's also interesting conflict between Dig and Lyla because Lyla is still working at A.R.G.U.S., which we've painted as a less than savoury organization. [...] As big a part that Amanda [Waller] is playing in the past, she's playing just as big a part in the present."
- ON THEA'S DEVELOPED CHARACTER ARC - "We always say that if you're ever going to become who you are in the comics, you have to go to the island. Oliver literally went to the island. We always said last year was Roy's trip to the island. This season is about Thea's trip to her version of the island."
- OTHER DETAILS - The CW's Commander-In-Chief Mark Pedowitz additionally revealed that though "[they] occasionally speak to [Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment]" about connecting the cinematic narrative continuity first established in Man of Steel with Arrow and The Flash, ultimately, "that's up to the studio". On the plus side, what will be happening is that antagonists from both shows will crossover throughout Season Three / Season One!
- Ronnie Raymond (played by Stephen Amell's brother Robbie) will make his Flash début in Episode 3, "Things You Can't Outrun".
- "As we evolve Firestorm [a dual entity comprised of Raymond and another individual]," says exec Greg Berlanti, "You'll definitely meet [Martin] Stein [the JLA superhero's other half]."
- Just as the Arrow's costume has developed over the course of Arrow's opening two seasons, so too will Barry's allies at Star Labs upgrade his superheroic suit on a regular basis.
- Last but by no means least, Wentworth Miller will play the iconic arch-enemy of the Flash, Captain Cold, in a recurring capacity throughout Season One. The character's origins tale will be explored in Episode 4, as well as the beginnings of the Rogues, a supervillain team who'll no doubt crop up in Arrow too.
GEOFF JOHNS DISCUSSES THE WIDER CINEMATIC & TELEVISED DC UNIVERSE:
In spite of all of these enticing reveals, however, DC Entertainment's Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns did still have some less-than-welcome news for fans of the shows regarding their potential connections to projects such as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League of America. Personally, we reckon it's a huge missed opportunity on DC's part to omit Amell and Gustin's respective incarnations of the Green Arrow and the Flash from future JLA motion pictures, yet that appears to be exactly the direction in which Warner Bros. are heading, according to Johns:
"You'll see a lot of DC universe characters in [Arrow and The Flash]. You won't see Batman or Superman. We're on production on Batman v Superman now. So you'll see characters like the Atom and Firestorm, but no, not Batman or Superman right now. It's a separate universe than film so that the film-makers can tell the story that's best for film, while we explore something different in a different corner of the DC universe. We will not be integrating the film and television universes."
So, there you have it! Arrow will return with its victorious third season on The CW this October 8th, with The Flash set to première the pilot episode of its first season the day before (October 7th) on precisely the same US TV network. Both programmes are all but guaranteed to come to Sky1 for their UK broadcasts this Autumn.