Manu Bennett is confirmed to return to Arrow as Deathstroke in the season 5 finale, despite the actor's recent denial. When the fifth season of Arrow ends in just a few short weeks, one very specific chapter of the series will be coming to an end. When the show started, Oliver Queen was rescued from the island of Lian Yu, where he had supposedly been living for the previous five years after being shipwrecked. Each year of the series has also included flashbacks, most of which focusing on the corresponding year of Ollie's time away. So the final flashback of season 5 should end either with the same moment the series began or just before - Ollie racing across the island to light a fire, signaling a fishing boat. Near the fire was a mask - half orange and half black - with an arrow jutting out of one of the eyes.
That mask was revealed to belong to Deathstroke, aka Slade Wilson. Wilson was Ollie's friend on Lian Yu, until circumstances drove them apart. Slade eventually appeared to Ollie in the present day, minus one eye, courtesy of Ollie. Their fight carried through the second season and has only been touched on once or twice since, though with Slade exiled instead of dead he has remained a potential looming threat that many fans have hoped to see again. That hope was amplified when Stephen Amell tweeted his welcome back message to Manu Bennett - Slade's portrayer. EP Marc Guggenheim also tweeted about Bennett returning. This was apparently to the surprise of Bennett, who is in Australia filming The Shannara Chronicles. He responded on Twitter repeatedly claiming that he will not be returning.
Well, sources have reached out to TVGuide to reveal that Bennett is returning to Vancouver to film the Arrow season finale. He is simply not there yet, though is scheduled to be later in the week.
[Update: Arrow executive producer Marc Guggenheim further confirmed on Twitter that fans will "hear the voice" of Bennett in the season finale.]
Why Bennett stated so firmly that he is not returning to Arrow is not yet clear. Possibly he was trying to preserve a bit of surprise for the fans. Or he could have simply meant that he was not filming at this time. It might even be possible that he did not know he was returning when he wrote those tweets, his agent could have made the arrangements but hadn't told him yet that it was finalized. Or maybe Bennett is a genius at social media and is pulling off a fantastic bit of PR for the show.
In any case, an eagle-eyed Twitter user with a camera snapped a shot of Bennett in Canada and tweeted it to Bennett. He responded with a denial, but one that infuses a bit of witty humor:
— Manu (@manubennett) April 12, 2017
Deathstroke has been seen twice since the Green Arrow defeated him at the end of season 2. Once when Ollie and his sister Thea went to Lian Yu - where he was exiled after the Arrow won their battle - and confronted him again. And once in the 100th episode, where he was seen in the fantasy world that The Dominators trapped Ollie and some of his friends in. Bennett only returned for the first of those appearances, the fantasy Deathstroke never spoke or removed his mask and was most likely played by a stunt person.
Arrow has teased many things years in advance through the use of the flashbacks. Ollie's time in Russia and his rank in the Bratva were first brought up in early season 1 but not seen until the flashbacks of season 5. Knowing that this may be the last time we see Slade Wilson on Arrow - with the flashbacks ending the characters might never return to Lian Yu again, there is definately the promise of a long awaited conclusion to his story.
Arrow returns to The CW at 8pm on Wednesday, April 26 with ‘Dangerous Liaisons’.