The most recent episode of “Arrow,” “Dead to Rights,” was arguably the show’s best episode yet — but when new episodes return on March 20, things are only going to get more intense. In fact, Stephen Amell tells us that Episode 18 is his favorite episode yet. (OF course, he says that about most episodes… but to be fair, he’s never wrong.)

At the show’s PaleyFest panel in Beverly Hills on Saturday night, the cast and creators of the show dished on what’s to come — and took a fond look back at the wild ride we’ve already taken. With all that’s happened, it’s hard to believe it’s been less than a season since Ollie was rescued from the island.

First up, let’s talk about this super-intense sizzle reel that was played before the panel began. The trailer teased that Shado will become a significant player in the island adventures, which was hinted at earlier, given the fact that Oliver got a tattoo to match hers. Meanwhile, in real-time, Oliver and Diggle are getting closer to digging up the motives of the Dark Archer and the “Undertaking,” and how it relates to The Glades and Starling City.

One of our favorite parts of the clip is the return of Seth Gabel as Vertigo, seen screaming in a mental ward, “You have failed this city!” We’re also kind of digging Colton Haynes’ Roy Harper putting the moves on Thea… you know, until she realizes he’s packing heat. Awkward.

And then, of course, there’s Jessica De Gouw as The Huntress, Helena Bertinelli. She’s apprehended by Detective Lance, and when he questions her, she flat-out tells him that Oliver Queen is “The Hood” he’s been after. That said, in Lance’s mind, he’s already ruled Oliver out as a suspect, and the Huntress isn’t exactly the most reliable witness, so we’ll see how he handles her revelation.

If that’s not enough to get your blood pumping, here are 7 more pieces of scoop from the evening’s presentation to tide you over until the show returns next Wednesday at 8 p.m. EST on The CW.

1. A very exciting mystery guest star is coming to Starling City. “There is an episode coming up with somebody who is one of the stars of a
very popular genre show that you will all recognize and be happy that
they’re on our show,” said executive producre Andrew Kreisberg, careful to keep from spilling too much info. Any guesses as to whom he is referring?

2. There was a deleted scene between Roy and Thea
, in which she calls him “Speedy” because of how quickly he ran away with her purse. He replies that it’s a dumb nickname, and she says “Tell me about it.” In the comic books, Roy and Mia Dearden (a character upon which Thea is loosely based) are both referred to as “Speedy” when they become Oliver’s sidekicks.

3. Don’t expect Laurel to go full-on Black Canary this season. Though the executive producers admit that they’re “burning through story” at a breakneck pace, they’re not going to rush Laurel into her Black Canary costume too quickly. “We don’t want to disservice Laurel or Oliver by saying she could have a bad day, put on fishnets and start killing people,” says Marc Guggenheim.

4. The island bromance will get messy. Producers love Manu Bennett as Slade Wilson as much as the audience does, and Stephen Amell admits that Island Oliver is currently his favorite thing about the show. But an “unexpected third element” is about to come into the picture. We’re guessing that would be Shado, who teams up with the guys to plan an Island escape… which we assume is thwarted, considering Oliver still has five more years to rot there.

5. Nightwing is taking a vacation from Bludhaven. We’ll leave Starling City this season to visit Bludhaven, another marker on the DC Universe map, but the city’s most famous inhabitant, Nightwing, will not be coming into the “Arrow” picture this season.

6. As for venturing to other cities, the executive producers say it’s a definite possibility, but there are two cities they probably won’t ever visit. An educated guess? We’ll likely never see Oliver Queen in Metropolis or Gotham.

7. Things are about to get very tough for Laurel. The return of her mother, Dinah Lance, is by no means a joyous family reunion for Laurel — particularly because Dinah seems to believe that the sister Laurel has mourned for years may still be alive. “Her mother also has a lot more information than you necessarily think,” Katie Cassidy teased, emphasizing the extremely strained relationship between Laurel, Dinah, and Quentin Lance.

Posted by:Carina MacKenzie