Arrow has introduced some pretty epic villains over its five years so far, but perhaps none has been so impactful and terrifying as Slade Wilson, a.k.a. Deathstroke. Although he wasn't the first big bad of the show, he was around from almost the very beginning, and his vendetta against Oliver has been the most personal to date. Although Slade has been absent since way back in Season 3, it looks like he'll soon be back on the scene. Arrow star Stephen Amell posted a picture on Twitter, hinting at a big return from Original Recipe Deathstroke:
Given that we've had a hallucination Deathstroke, a not-quite-real 100th episode Deathstroke, and a Deathstroke Jr. in The CW's DC universe ever since Slade's last appearance, there was every chance that Stephen Amell's pic was just a tease that another version of Deathstroke was going to appear. Still, his tag of Manu Bennett in the tweet indicated that this upcoming Deathstroke might not be just another random stunt guy in the mask. Luckily for those of us who have been desperate for more of the original Manu Bennett version of Deathstroke, EW has confirmed Manu Bennett is indeed reprising the role for Arrow Season 5.
Unfortunately, The CW hasn't announced any details about how, why, or when Manu Bennett might be back as Deathstroke, but we can make a few guesses based on Stephen Amell's tweet. Co-showrunner Wendy Mericle recently revealed that Oliver is going to need to deal with some very surprising characters in his battle against Prometheus in the Season 5 finale. Since we already knew that Katie Cassidy would be back as Black Siren in the final episodes of the season, it seemed likely that Oliver would be allying with some baddies to beat Prometheus. Amell's "Desperate times call for desperate measures" points toward Oliver being so beaten down by Prometheus that he'll even turn to Slade.
As somebody who has been waiting two seasons to see Slade come back and make good on his implicit promise to try and take out "the girl with the glasses," I'm pretty psyched that Manu Bennett will seemingly be back to play Deathstroke. He's obviously not going to kill Felicity, but Slade keeps his promises, and his threat to Oliver back in "The Return" was so awesomely ominous that I've been dying for him to try. We'll have to wait and see just what Prometheus might do to drive Oliver to the point that he'd turn to Slade for help.
Asking Black Siren or any of the other minor villains for help is one thing; pulling Slade Wilson out of ARGUS detention on Lian Yu points toward Oliver bringing out the very, very, very big guns in his final battle of Season 5. Prometheus is going to have to pose a very great threat if Oliver is going to bust the man who murdered his mom out of captivity. Considering that Oliver is much more willing to kill off his supervillains nowadays, I'm just hoping that Slade survives his next encounter with the Emerald Archer. Yes, it would have been smarter for Oliver to kill Slade long ago, but damn it, he's such a compelling character that Arrow might be foolish to let him go for good.
For a while, it actually seemed pretty unlikely that we'd get Manu Bennett back as Deathstroke. He has been open about his disappointment in how his character was handled in Season 3, and all the apparent returns of Deathstroke ever since have been fake-outs not actually requiring an unmasked version of the character. Apparently either Bennett has come around and decided that he wants to appear on Arrow again no matter what or the treatment of Slade this time around is more to Bennett's liking.
All of this said, Manu Bennett has fired off a tweet of his own, just to make things a little bit more complicated for all of us Arrow fans who have been getting ourselves worked up at the idea of his return. Check it out:
The plot doth thicken! I see a few possibilities here. Manu Bennett could simply be lying to stir fans up into a frenzy. Alternately, by "Arrow," he could mean Oliver, and so the tweet means that Slade isn't going back to Star City for Oliver. Instead, he's going back to finish fulfilling his promise to take everything from Oliver, who was known as "the Arrow" when last they met. Then again, maybe he's going to The Flash instead of Arrow. Who knows? Maybe this is all an elaborate and belated April Fools' joke.
We'll have to wait and see. Arrow airs on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW. Check out our midseason TV premiere guide and our summer TV premiere schedule for all your other viewing options. For some more blasts from the Emerald Archer's past, take a look at my list of 13 times Oliver's hair almost made me quit Arrow.