'Arrow': What Is the Ninth Circle?

Arrow's seventh season has gone into some pretty unexpected directions, with the show's ensemble going up against more than one foe. And now, it's safe to say that Team Arrow has crossed paths with a pretty surprising comic-accurate foe.

Spoilers for tonight's episode of Arrow, "Inheritance", below! Only look if you want to know!

The episode saw Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) forming a closer bond with his half-sister, Emiko Queen (Sea Shimooka). This was further complicated by Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) arriving with news about Emiko's true mission -- which somehow seemed to involve Dante, the elusive villain that ARGUS had been tracking throughout the season.

Oliver eventually discovered a shared symbol across the weapons and other known evidence that Dante used -- which led back to an ancient terrorist group known as the Ninth Circle. As flashbacks throughout the episode revealed, Emiko had been taken in by Dante when she was a teenager, and had been endoctrined into the Ninth Circle several years after.

After Team Arrow appeared to bust one of the Ninth Circle's jobs, Emiko briefly joined up with the team, revealing that she was in too deep to leave the group. This soon ended up being a lie, as it was clear that Emiko still had an allegiance to the group.

Team Arrow eventually realized that the Ninth Circle was gathering the material for drones that could emit dangerous gas, and met them at an airfield to stop them. After a lengthy battle, Emiko successfully got away, and one of the drones was set off in the process -- although it ultimately was bombed into an empty building.

For comic fans, the mention of the Ninth Circle probably raised an eyebrow or two, as it served as a prominent villain throughout Benjamin Percy and Otto Schmidt's Green Arrow: Rebirth. It was established as an international group of corrupt business executives, who would wear masks to conceal their identity while carrying out evil activities and managing the criminal underworld's money. Lower members of the group were essentially forced into joining, and often were submerged into lava and brainwashed. Coins of nine circles were then inserted into the members' eyes.

The fight against the Ninth Circle carried on for quite a while in the comics, bringing Green Arrow and Black Canary up against them several times over. The group was originally founded by both Robert Queen and an unknown man named Dante. Shado was briefly involved with the group as well, leading to Emiko to briefly follow her mom and double-cross Oliver and Dinah.

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While the Ninth Circle might take on a less grotesque shape (for now) within the world of Arrow, their conflict with Oliver and company does mirror the comics in an interesting way. While it remains to be seen how long the group will play a role in the remainder of the season, their official arrival certainly indicates something interesting for the team -- especially as the show nears its final season.

Arrow airs Mondays at 9/8c on The CW.