EW is reporting as follows: “In our flashbacks in Russia — we’re set in Russia this season — we are going to be bringing in Dolph Lundgren as one of our big bads,” executive producer Wendy Mericle revealed.
Lundgren’s character was actually mentioned toward the end of season 4, when Taiana referred to the Russian villain Kovar.
“He is somebody we heard about in season 4,” Mericle told EW following the panel. “Kovar. We are going to bring him in and he’s going to be this super big badass guy who works for the Russian government, and is not a friend of Oliver or the Bratva. It’s part of Oliver’s promise to Taiana at the end of season 4 and it’s going to be interesting because it’s going to get complicated and very messed up very fast.”
Fellow executive producer Marc Guggenheim also revealed that this will be the final year for the flashbacks. “We always said that Oliver had a five-year journey when he was marooned on the [island],” he said. “This year, Oliver spends his time in the flashbacks in Russia. We know from various seeds we planted back in the pilot that he knows how to speak Russian, he became a Bratva captain. Sort of the flashback story in the first half of the year is going to involve Oliver’s introduction into the Bratva.”
Oliver’s storyline in Russia will mirror what’s going on in the present as he rebuilds Team Arrow. “He’s basically recruited into this crime organization while at the same time in the present day Oliver has recruits of his own,” Guggenheim said. “He’s a trainee in the past, trainer in the present, and I think that will give the audience the connect-up thematically between present in the past.”