Much buzz and speculation has been circulating as to what fans can expect from season 5 of Arrow, The CW’s longest-running foray into televising the DCEU. Despite a dip in ratings during its most recent season, The CW announced that Arrow would be back for a fifth run earlier this year. When we last left protagonist Oliver Queen in season 4, he had adopted the mantle of his comics persona, Green Arrow; been appointed mayor of Star City; and was still reeling from the loss of Laurel. If you’re having trouble following all of that, we’ve got you covered.
Still, despite the lapse in ratings and many fans venting their frustrations for the season 4 finale online, the show is hoping to come back strong for season 5, which will see a new gang of vigilantes and reintroduce the Russian mafia, or Batva, as an element in the plot. Most recently, the show announced they’ve found the actor to play Ishmael Gregor, the Batva’s leader, or Pakhva: David Meunier, of Justified fame.
Arrow fans may remember Anatoly Knyazev (played by David Nykl) from the season 2 flashbacks, where he and Oliver established a trusting relationship despite Anatoly’s status as a mafia leader. Though a friend to Oliver, Anatoly has a history of ruthlessness — and we’re about to meet his boss in season 5. According to Deadline, David Meunier will play Ishmael Gregor, Anatoly’s “slick and intimidating” boss who “takes a special interest in Oliver Queen.” The report also specifies that, although Gregor consorted with demons in the comic book arc, he will stick to more mundane pursuits on the show. Besides his regular appearances as Johnny on Justified, Meunier has also starred in A&E’s Damien and Aquarius with David Duchovny.
Introducing Ishmael Gregor to the show’s plot could mean that Arrow is looking at a new villain, as the show’s star Stephen Amell teased that season 5’s baddie would not be superpowered. Since reports specify his intimidating nature and interest in Oliver Queen, we can definitely count Gregor as a potential new adversary. After all, in his comics run, the character murders a bus full of people to achieve his goals and terrorized Gotham City as a demon. Even though this iteration of Ishmael won’t have the occult on his side, since, per Amell, the show is “getting back to its roots,” we can probably still expect some serious antagonism from Gregor.
Showrunners would be even smarter to make Gregor a fixture in Queen’s present, rather than his past, because of how much flak the show has received for its flashback sequences. Though it looked like the season 5 Comic-Con trailer promised a return to the Russians via flashback, it’s possible that the Bratva will occupy both Queen’s current and past story lines. If Gregor is just relegated to the story’s periphery, it could mean squandering a character with great potential and irking the fan base.
At the same time, maybe it’s still possible for another Arrow season with a flashback subplot to appeal to fans, especially if the show is “getting back to its roots.” All we can hope is that the show proves itself long enough for Oliver to potentially team up with other CW heroes Rip Hunter, The Flash, and now, Supergirl.
Arrow Season 5 premiers Wednesday, Oct. 5 at 8 p.m. EST. The Flash Season 3 premiers Tuesday, Oct. 4 in the same time slot. Supergirl Season 2 premiers Monday, Oct. 10 in the same time slot. Legends of Tomorrow Season 2 premiers Thursday, Oct. 13 in the same time slot. All shows air on The CW.