Many spoilers ahead for the third episode of Arrow Season 5, entitled "A Matter of Trust."
A lot of the focus of Arrow Season 5 has been on all the new characters. "A Matter of Trust," however, featured the surprise return of one of the most unlikely characters of seasons past. Michael Rowe reprised his role as Deadshot, who was killed off in Season 3 for the sake of the Suicide Squad film that would feature a different version of the character. Arrow managed to bring its Deadshot back into the action without actually resurrecting him. Instead, Arrow's Deadshot appeared as a hallucination of John Diggle's.
Digg got a big surprise when he was thrown into a military prison and reunited with his old frenemy Deadshot. Given that "A Matter of Trust" opened with a "Previously on Arrow and The Flash," the most logical explanation for how Deadshot was apparently alive was the Flashpoint plot over on The Flash. The reveal that Deadshot was actually only a manifestation of Digg's guilt for killing his brother was a major twist, and it's likely what enabled Arrow to bring him in for the cameo. According to Arrow showrunner Marc Guggenheim, the quick hallucination appearance was approved by DC without much trouble. He shared this about the process of bringing back Deadshot:
It's always a case-by-case thing. In this case, it was really simple. I went to the writers' room, this was a pitch on the table, I shot an email off to [DC Comics CCO] Geoff Johns, I got a response back, and Deadshot's in the episode.
Marc Guggenheim's explanation to TVLine of how easy it was to borrow Deadshot for "A Matter of Trust" might come as a surprise for any who remember why Deadshot was killed off of Arrow in the first place. Guggenheim shared back in March 2015 that Deadshot had to die because he was off the table from DC Comics. Will Smith was set to play Deadshot in Suicide Squad on the big screen, and there evidently wasn't enough room for two Deadshots in DC productions at the same time.
The Suicide Squad movie actually cost Arrow more characters than just Deadshot, but Deadshot was by far the most beloved character to be introduced as part of Amanda Waller's small screen team of villains. His dynamic with Diggle as the man who (seemingly) killed his brother for a paycheck made for some of the most emotional moments of the entire series. His sacrifice of his life in Season 3's "Suicidal Tendencies" was a bummer to many fans. The one solace was that he went out with a literal bang in order to ensure that Digg and Lyla would make it back to their pre-Flashpoint baby girl Sara.
It was a fun twist to see Deadshot back to bother/inspire Digg once more, but we shouldn't get used to the idea that he can come back in any more regular capacity, and not just because he's still super dead. The Suicide Squad film wasn't a one-off; the crew will almost certainly get back together for a sequel or two, so Arrow probably won't be able to get any of its Suicide Squad characters back for any more than a cameo. We're just lucky that Hallucination Deadshot's role in "A Matter of Trust" was minor enough that DC Comics signed off.
Tune in to The CW on Wednesday night to see what's next for Oliver, Diggle, and Co. in Arrow Season 5.