The CW’s Arrow was presented way back in its very first episode as a show that would spend five years following Oliver’s development as a hero in the present while flashing back to the five years of hell that forged him into a weapon. Few of us might have expected that Arrow would turn out to be such a success that it paved the way for a whole DC universe on The CW, so it’s been hard not to wonder if the folks behind the scenes would try to stretch the flashback formula beyond Season 5. Now, star Stephen Amell has revealed that Season 5 will in fact get into the final leg of Oliver’s time in the past.
In a panel at Wizard World Philadelphia (via ComicBook.com), Stephen Amell confirmed that the fifth season will delve into the mysterious Bratva storyline that gave Oliver his rank as a captain in the Russian mob and inked him with a Bratva tattoo. The end of Season 4 featured an Oliver who was motivated to travel to Russia to fulfill his final promise to Taiana, so he was certainly getting closer to a connection with the Russian mob.
Still, Arrow hasn’t shied away from stretching flashback stories to the breaking point. The show could have conceivably spent all the flashbacks of Season 5 dealing with Oliver in Taiana’s village in order to save the Bratva for a potential and likely Season 6. Confirmation that Oliver will soon be making his final stop on his flashback tour with the Bratva is definitely reason to hope that those scenes will start to make sense again.
Oliver’s legitimate position within the Bratva has always been one of the most curious aspects of his character. We learned in Season 1 that Oliver was familiar enough with the mob that he reached a major rank, became fluent in Russian, and endeared himself to a Bratva head honcho. Season 4 could have been an ideal time to devote screentime to Oliver’s exploits in Russia. Oliver even hopped on a boat at the end of the Season 3 flashbacks that could have carried him to Russia to reunite with his pal Anatoly. Alas for poor Oliver, he ended up back to Lian Yu once more. The bizarre Lian Yu flashbacks of Season 4 worked more as filler for the sake of introducing magic than as motivation to drive him further toward the murderous Hood of the early episodes.
Arrow has been running out of steam on the flashback front in recent years, so it’s good to hear from Stephen Amell himself that the show is officially moving on to the last piece of the puzzle that turned Oliver from a poorly-coiffed doofus to a multilingual fighting machine. The flashbacks have mostly served their purpose so far, but there was no way that they could last much longer without completely pulling focus from the action in the present.
Unfortunately, Arrow is currently on hiatus and it'll be a while before we get to see Oliver move toward earning his Bratva status. For a peek ahead at what to expect, take a look at our breakdown of what we know so far about Season 5, and check out our summer TV premiere schedule to see what you can watch until Arrow returns to the airwaves.