Dolph Lundgren is joining the cast of Arrow in order to bring a whole new level of menace to the flashbacks in Season 5. He's playing Russian government strongman Kovar, who was first mentioned back in Season 4 as the man who took control of Taiana's village. Oliver has traveled to Russia in the flashbacks with the goal of killing Kovar to honor Taiana's memory, but it's sounding like he shouldn't get too cocky about his chances. Reports have indicated that Kovar will be a genuinely formidable (and surprisingly snazzy) antagonist, which will be a big change from the past couple seasons of flashbacks. According to Stephen Amell, the fact that he will be so formidable is really important:
I do think it would've been a missed opportunity in the last year of these flashbacks to not have a really worthy adversary, and we've found that in Dolph, which is why he'll be around for a while. It's been a blast to work with him.
Stephen Amell's tease to TVLine that Kovar will be a worthy adversary for Oliver promises some pretty great conflicts in the Season 5 flashbacks. Most viewers can probably agree that the flashbacks in Seasons 3 and 4 lacked a strong villain to really up the ante for Oliver. In fact, we haven't had a properly scary flashback villain since Slade Wilson went bonkers after being dosed with Mirakuru. Like Manu Bennett, Dolph Lundgren has the size to strike an imposing figure.
It should be interesting to see if Oliver fares better against Kovar in the flashbacks than he did against Slade. Oliver received a lot of his early training from Slade, so Slade knew exactly how to fight him. Kovar doesn't know Oliver, and Oliver has gotten a lot more lethal over the past couple of years. He may have a greater advantage over Kovar than he did over Slade.
The flashbacks so far in Arrow Season 5 have been used to set up the underworld of the Russian mob and reintroduce viewers to Anatoly Knyazev. Dolph Lundgren's debut as Kovar could significantly raise the stakes. Assassination of a government official is something that Oliver has never attempted before; depending on whether or not he is successful, his conflict with Kovar could come back to haunt him in the present day. Reporter Susan Williams is already finding connections between Oliver and Russia.
Arrow will be giving Dolph Lundgren time to really turn himself into one of the most formidable bad guys that Oliver has ever faced. Lundgren has been cast as a recurring character; he won't be a one-and-done thug dispatched right off the bat. There's no saying at this point if he'll be enough to elevate the Season 5 flashbacks above those of the past couple of years, but Stephen Amell's optimism in his chat bodes well. Luckily, we don't have to wait much longer to see Kovar in action. Tune in to The CW tonight at 8 p.m. ET to see Dolph Lundgren make his grand Arrow debut.