Arrow EP So Excited About Season 5 Bratva Flashbacks and Back-to-Basics Approach

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Arrow looks to a fifth season that will see the end of Oliver Queen's five-year exile from Star City. As told via flashbacks over these five years, Oliver wasn't just on that Island, but also spent time in other countries, on missions, and even dabbling in magic. But one particular story was alluded to early on in the series, and never told. Ollie had a Bratva - the Russian mob - tattoo, and could speak Russian. That only could have happened during that five years away, and now we're finally going to find out how.

Part of the flashbacks getting to Bratva helped inspire executive producer Wendy Mericle and her team to give the back-to-basics approach that star Stephen Amell has lobbied for a real push.

"Absolutely [we're going back-to-basics]," Mericle told Comicbook.com during an interview at San Diego Comic-Con. "One of the things we talk about a lot is that Season five is an answer to Season one. So a lot of the questions that came out to Oliver out of the gate, about his father, about restoring the city's greatness, all of those things are going to be explored, and hopefully - not fully settled, but definitely bookended in season five. It also means we'll be going back to basics in terms of who the bad guys are. We'll be doing more close-ended stories, more villains of the week, and a lot of the criminals will be coming out of criminal underworld Mafia and Bratva organizations."

There's that word fans have been waiting for!

"So have we! We're so excited!" Mericle said with a laugh. Bratva wasn't always destined to be the season five flashback, though. "There was always talk, every year, the question would be explored: 'Is this the time to go to Russia?' Every year we would all get excited, and then a voice of reason would come in and say 'do we really want to do that now?' and we'd have to rethink it. Last year we decided to go to the Island. It was never the gameplan. You start to think about the season in March and April, and you go 'does that fit?' It never really fit until now."

As for looking back at season four, Mericle readily admitted that there were aspects that faltered.

"We really want to get in the mind of a villain, and I think we did that with some success, and there were some things we didn't do as well as we could have," the producer said. She praised Neal McDonough's performance as Damien Dark, though, saying, "If you have a good actor, it can kind of carry you through some things, and he was tremendous." What she takes away from where things weren't done as well is simply inspiration "to do even better in terms of the big bad this season."

Arrow season five kicks off October 5, 2016 on The CW.