And lo, 'Arrow' season 3 has finally premiered with last night's action-packed "The Calm," beginning a new day in Starling Star City that came with the cost of a fan-favorite character. Now, producers explain their motivations behind the shocking death for the season to come, while an intriguing new detail has emerged on recent rumors that Liam Neeson might return to the role of Ra's al Ghul.

You're warned of major 'Arrow' season 3 spoilers from here on out, but last night's premiere "The Calm" threw a major gut punch in its final moments, both literally and figuratively, as an unseen figure shot several arrows into Canary / Sara Lance's abdomen, knocking the character off a roof to her death. Caity Lotz remains contracted for two additional episodes, with potential for the character to be featured in flashback down the line, but series producer Marc Guggenheim explained the shocking death to reporters following a screening of the premiere (per EW):

We had this notion of starting the year off in a way that we typically end the year. Every time we kill off a character on the show, it’s always incredibly hard. We’re not Game of Thrones, we’re not Sons of Anarchy. It’s really, really, really difficult. As with Tommy’s death and as with Moira’s death, the story implications for this development are so far-reaching for the show and affect all the characters.

Adding that next week's "Sara" would address questions of what to do with the body, and whether or not to tell Quentin (Paul Blackthorne) of his daughter's latest demise, Guggenheim previewed that the fallen character would still have story to tell moving forward:

We still want to tell the story of what happened when Sara washed up on the shores of Lian Yu after the… sinking of the Amazo, how she met Nyssa [Katrina Law] and how she joined the League of Assassins. There’s still a lot of story left to be told with Sara.

As for how Oliver and Laurel deal with the news?

Sara’s death probably pulls [Oliver and Laurel] closer together than further apart. That’s not to say that there aren’t significant moments of conflict between them also. There’s a scene in episode two where they’re going at it and can’t stand each other. There’s also a scene in episode two where they’re the closest they’ve ever been. It’s all in the same episode and it doesn’t feel schizophrenic. Each moment feels earned because of the emotional roller coaster that these people are on.

Finally, where we initially brushed off MTV News' original report about Liam Neeson's willingness to return to his 'Batman Begins' role as the immortal (ish) League of Shadows Assassins villain, it seems The CW may have taken things more seriously than we might have thought. BuzzFeed's recent piece on 'Arrow' season 3 reveals that CW president Mark Pedowitz actually did briefly approach Neeson after his comments, saying “We never thought he would. We quickly went to him, just on the off-chance that he had the time to do it.”

Of course, by that time 'Arrow' season 3 had already been well into pre-production for its own take on Ra's al Ghul, and with Neeson ultimately unavailable anyway, the part went to 'Riddick' star Matt Nable. The character will first appear in season 3's fourth episode "The Magician," but whether or not Ra's had anything to do with Sara's murder, as implied, remains to be seen.

You can read our full review of 'Arrow''s season 3 premiere here, but in the meantime, what do you think? Will you miss Caity Lotz's Sara Lance, or did the character need to die to service the story? How do you think Ra's al Ghul will be involved? Watch the latest 'Arrow' trailer below, and give us your thoughts on Sara's shocking death in the comments!