In its first four seasons on the air, Arrow made pretty extensive use of flashbacks. Rather than give Oliver Queen's origin story all up front, the show has doled it out in bits and pieces, intertwined with his present-day exploits.
Season 5 will not be an exception to that rule, with the show's co-showrunner Marc Guggenheim confirming at a TCA panel that it will continue the show's long tradition of switching back and forth between the past and the present. Along with that news came perhaps the biggest casting news in the show's history: the addition of The Expendables' Dolph Lundgren, who will appear in the show as a Russian mob boss.
Lundgren's mob boss character ties into the flashbacks, which deal with Queen's time spent in Russia as a member of Bratva, a.k.a. the Russian mafia. One might expect that anything involving the Russian mafia is going to be pretty gritty and dark, and according to comments producer Wendy Mericle made to TVLine, that will definitely be the case:
"We really wanted to go gritty, dark, and make it feel very real. We’re dealing with the Bratva, and the Bratva is, as we all know, a pretty interesting and messed-up institution. I might get shot for saying that, but hey!"
To prepare for the show's gritty depiction of Bratva, Mericle used a combination of fact and fiction, directing the show's staff to watch some David Cronenberg while she herself dug more into Bratva's real-life history:
"Everyone on staff watched [the 2007 film] Eastern Promises. I watched documentaries about Bratva and how they operate in Russian prisons.”
With the show bouncing back and forth between past and present, one big question is where on the timeline Lundgren will appear. Obviously with his having ties to Bratva, his character will be linked to the flashbacks. But will he appear in the present as well? Given some ties to another character on the show, that is a distinct possibility:
"[Dolph’s character] is a government strongman. He is scary and formidable — and he had a role in some stuff with Taiana’s family last season. He’s a bit of a badass."
The addition of Lundgren to Arrow's cast gives its fans reason to be excited after what some felt was a lackluster season 3 and mixed bag season 4. While hints have been made that the flashbacks of season 5 would be the show's last, that may not have been entirely accurate. With Lundgren in the mix, though, the flashbacks may end up being the most interesting aspect of the next season. If they can follow through on that promise, fans might be a little less averse to flashbacks when season 6 rolls around.
The Flash season 3 will premiere Tuesday October 4th at 8pm on The CW; Arrow season 5 will premiere in the same timeslot on Wednesday October 5th; Supergirl season 2 on Monday October 10th; and Legends of Tomorrow season 2 on Thursday October 13th.