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Michael Emerson has joined the cast of Arrow in a mysterious new role for season 6.
As announced at Comic-Con on Saturday, the Lost and Person of Interest alum will recur as an unnamed mystery character that has yet to be announced. However, it seems likely that Emerson is playing Helix leader Cayden James, who appeared last season with a hood over his head.
When EW recently asked whether Helix and Cayden James would return in season 6, EP Wendy Mericle left the door open. “You never know,” she said. “They are still in the wind. We don’t like to leave those threads dangling.” Another possible clue: At the panel at Comic-Con, Mericle teased that Kacey Rohl would return as Helix hacktivist Alena next season.
Emerson’s casting is all part of Arrow leaning into multiple villains for the upcoming sixth season. “Season 5 was really about building up this team,” EP Marc Guggenheim said. “By the end of the season, we had Team Arrow 2.0 in a really formidable tightly knit way. We wanted to really double down on this concept of family and found families. Toward that end, we started thinking of a group of villains, something we’ve never done on the show before.”
Hence, we’ll also see the return of an-favorite actor David Nykl as Anatoly Knyazev, Oliver’s former Bratva mentor-turned-nemesis. “He’s coming back with a literal vengeance,” Guggenheim said, teasing that Richard Dragon — a character from the new DC: Rebirth run of Green Arrow comics — will also appear as part of this “villainous cabal.” “You’ll be seeing a lot of different villains through season 6,” he said. “These are characters we’ll be seeing really throughout the season.”
But what fans really wanted was answers about the shocking cliffhanger. At the end of season 5, after Oliver’s life was systematically dismantled by Adrian Chase, the Emerald Archer was forced to team up with past foes like Slade Wilson and Malcolm Merlyn to save his friends and family from Lian Yu. However, when Oliver got the upper hand and saved his son William, Chase took his own life to set off the kill switch explosion that may have blown up everyone on the island. Who survived?
Unfortunately, the cast was shy to actually provide answers on that front at Comic-Con. But Guggenheim did reveal that the new season is something of a reboot after Oliver’s now 10-year journey is complete. “We always said that season 5 would end as a culmination not just of season 5, but of the first five years of the show and the last 10 years of Oliver’s life,” he said. “We’re going to double down with the things that resonated with people in season 5 — the dark, gritty, really grounded storytelling, but we are going to see a really different Oliver Queen. We’re looking forward to telling some very different kinds of stories with Oliver.”
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One of Oliver’s first hurdles is trying to now take care of his son, William. “He’s not the best dad,” Amell admitted. “My first day on season 6, it was all with Jack, who plays William. We had never really acted together, so I was really legitimately nervous because I didn’t know. Not only was he equal to the task, but he exceeded my expectations. To start on episode 116 and to be able to do fun new stuff as Oliver has been a real joy so far this season. But yeah, he’s a sh— dad.”
Whatever is left of Team Arrow — we know Black Canary survived since she’s officially suiting up this year! — will quickly confront a very familiar villain in the premiere: Black Siren (Katie Cassidy). “You come in like a wrecking ball in the first episode,” Amell said to Cassidy during the panel.
“To be honest with you, I’m obviously so excited to be back,” Cassidy said. “It feels like I never left. It’s been home and we’re a family. It’s definitely been pretty easy just getting back into the swing of things. It’s interesting the dynamic between Black Siren and other characters, Team Arrow, and the different points of view that she has. It’s a parallel exactly opposite to Laurel, or Black Canary. But it’s good.”
In other news, Manu Bennett will be back for the season premiere, as well as a two-part episode that really focuses on Slade Wilson post-everything he’s experienced on the show, which will include flashbacks.
As for the identity of Vigilante, Guggenheim didn’t necessarily turn down a fan theory that he’s Tommy Merlin (Colin Donnell) from Earth-2, though explained it’s hard to find time in the Chicago Med actor’s schedule to return. “You can probably expect that whoever is behind that mask is a face that is familiar to you,” Guggenheim added.
Arrow returns Thursday, Oct. 12 at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.