Why Arrow's Next Episode Will Be Important For The Flashbacks

arrow the cw flashbacks season 5 oliver queen
The CW's Arrow has always been formatted to split its episodes between scenes of Green Arrow action in the present and flashbacks to Oliver Queen's five years of hell in the past. The Season 5 flashbacks have Oliver honing his murderous abilities and making some dubious alliances with the Bratva in Russia, and it seems that we'll see some major plot twists in this week's episode. Arrow executive producer Marc Guggenheim has spilled some details about what's to come in the next hour of the show, saying this:
We've always had this tradition of doing what we call the 'all-flashback' or 'mostly flashback' episode. That's actually what this episode is going to be. It's going to be a story that's mostly set in Russia, with Dolph Lundgren coming back as Kovar. It's the big confrontation that we've been building up to for the past several episodes, which is the Bratva vs. Kovar, with a couple surprises thrown in -- Oliver may or may not get a certain tattoo; he may or may not lose a certain tattoo.
Oliver Queen has had a lot of shirtless scenes over the five years of Arrow so far, and one thing that fans have known from almost the very beginning is that Oliver has a whole bunch of scars and several tattoos. The tattoo on his chest is one that designates him as a member of the Bratva, so many fans have been waiting for years to see what happens for him to earn his Russian mob ink. Marc Guggenheim's tease of tattoo action in the next episode means that we may finally see Oliver gets his Bratva tattoo.
Of course, Marc Guggenheim also said that Oliver may lose a certain tattoo, which could mean that Prometheus will start burning off ink in his efforts to break Oliver. Guggenheim went on in his chat with EW to reveal that the Season 5 flashback-heavy episodes will be "probably one of the darkest episodes we've ever done," so I wouldn't be surprised if we see Oliver go through some serious tattoo pain sooner rather than later, whether he's getting or losing the Bratva mark.
The flashbacks have featured a few unforgettable faces in Season 5, including Anatoly, Talia al Ghul, and Kovar. Action star Dolph Lundgren joined the cast of Arrow to play Kovar, so it didn't really come as a huge surprise that the character was kicking ass and taking names pretty quickly. Lundgren will evidently be back to cause more trouble as Kovar in this year's flashback episode. I'm guessing Oliver is going to take a pretty severe beating in the past and present when Arrow hits the airwaves on Wednesday night.
A big question is what (if any) role Talia al Ghul will play in the events of the episode, in both the past and the present. She's been an ambiguous ally to Oliver in the flashbacks so far, and actress Lexa Doig recently told CinemaBlend that Talia was training him as part of a long game, but she's decidedly less friendly in the present. As it turns out, Oliver's decision to kill her dad back in Season 3 was enough to team her with up Prometheus nowadays.

We'll have to wait and see. The Season 5 "mostly flashback" episode will air on Wednesday, March 22 at 8 p.m. ET on The CW. Check out our midseason TV premiere schedule and our summer TV premiere guide for a look at all your other small screen viewing options now and in the near future.
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