Warning: Contains spoilers for the Season 5 finale of Arrow
One of the longest-running villains on Arrow, Deathstroke, made his return to the show this week for the season 5 finale – and it may have also been his final appearance on the show. Recruited by Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) to help save his friends, Deathstroke (Manu Bennett) was a changed man and helped Oliver’s friends in their attempts to get off the island. It was a phenomenal return to the series, but it’s not yet clear whether or not Slade died when the island was blown up.
Slade Wilson’s return was also his redemption, as the character spent most of the series as a villain, driven mad by Mirakuru and hellbent on ruining Oliver Queen’s life. It also brought him full circle, to the time that he first met Oliver on the island. Through the flashbacks, Slade was shown as a mentor to Oliver when he was first shipwrecked on Lian Yu, and a close friend. It was only after the death of Shado and the injection of Mirakuru that he became an enemy. He led an army to Starling City, murdered Oliver’s mother, and tried to destroy the city before being taken down by ARGUS and imprisoned on Lian Yu, where Oliver freed him for the finale.
Who Is Jericho?
In addition to his redemptive arc, the finale saw another big moment for Slade Wilson – when Oliver revealed that his son is alive. Joe Wilson has yet to make an in-person appearance in the show, but he has been mentioned a few times in both the show and the tie-in comics/novels. In Arrow, Slade mentions that both his son and wife were killed in a raid on his home, and that fact was something that built up Slade’s character, his loss, and his need for revenge. However, in the finale Oliver bribes Slade with the location of his son, which means that Joe is presumably alive, and would be all grown up.
In the comics, Joe Wilson becomes the anti-hero/villain Jericho, a young man without a voice, but with the ability to control other people as long as he can make eye contact with them. A gentle and artistic young boy, he started out as a hero, and a member of the Teen Titans. However, Joe became increasingly warped and dangerous, and was an eventual foe to his old teammates.
Taking Up The Deathstroke Mantle
It’s unlikely that the mention of Joe Wilson in the Arrow season finale was a random one – and far more likely that this was a hint that Joe will be making his on-screen debut in season 6.
There are several ways that this could happen, of course, and a lot is riding on whether or not Slade survived the explosion on the island. If he did, he will probably seek out his son, and even become an ally to Team Arrow, now that he is sane once again. This could lead to an interesting dynamic as both Slade and Oliver bring their sons into the fold, attempting to both train and guide their children. Another option if Deathstroke survived the explosion would be for Joe to appear as an antagonist, seeking his own vengeance on his father. In the New 52, Jericho sought to kill his father for constantly putting Joe and his mother in danger with his decision to become Deathstroke – this would be a fantastic storyline to cover in the series. If Deathstroke reverts to an enemy of Team Arrow, Jericho could appear as a new member of the team, fighting on Oliver’s side.
If Slade died, however, we won’t be seeing Joe Wilson as either a protege or an enemy of Deathstroke – but he could become the new Deathstroke instead. There’s no way of knowing what Joe has been up to for all these years, so he could well have spent them training, and show up as a full-fledged superhero/villain in his own right. Vengeance has always been a key part of Deathstroke’s story on the show, so perhaps Joe will blame Oliver for what happened to his father, and the Green Arrow will have a new Deathstroke hell-bent on killing him for revenge.
What About Grant Wilson?
There’s also another option for the next Deathstroke: Grant Wilson (Jamie Andrew Cutler). The second son of Slade Wilson, Grant has already appeared as the future Deathstroke in an alternate future visited by the Legends of Tomorrow. In this world, Grant idolized his father, and took up his name and his suit (with a slight color change), before taking over Star City. He is violent and cunning – but hasn’t been mentioned in Arrow itself.
What’s To Come: Arrow Season 6
While it’s certainly possible that Grant will pop up as a future Deathstroke, it’s far more likely that Joe Wilson is going to be the newest player in the Arrowverse for season 6. The possible death of his father combined with the carefully emphasized mention of his name and status as living in the finale points toward Joe’s appearance in the new season, although whether that’s as Deathstroke or Jericho remains to be seen.
Arrow returns with season 6 this fall.