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Anatoly will be making life complicated for Oliver when he returns in Arrow season 6. Comic books and their movie/TV adaptations have long used the idea of redemptive villains as plot points. Equally as common, however, is the friend who becomes the enemy. Both stories can offer compelling new lenses to view characters through, and season 6 of Arrow will be put the trope to good use.
Following the events of last season, Arrow will open with Black Siren in the mix and Slade Wilson back from Lian Yu. Given Oliver’s connection to Laurel, we know that he’ll be trying to save Siren – even if she’s damaged goods. Deathstroke, meanwhile, looks to be back to the side of the angels now that the Mirakuru is out of his system, and will even have his own flashbacks this season. On the flip side, though, will be Anatoly: one of Oliver’s oldest allies.
EW spoke with Stephen Amell about the role Anatoly will play in the Arrow season 6 narrative, now that he’s been betrayed by Oliver. Part of the drama will come from the fact that Anatoly isn’t necessarily a villain in the world of Arrow. And considering he was wronged by Oliver, their conflict will be an intriguing one. As Amell put it:
“Anatoly has an interesting power over him that I don’t know a lot of other villains — if any villain at all — has ever had. Oliver didn’t kill Chase for a very specific reason, because that’s what Chase wanted, but he tried to kill Malcolm, and he killed Slade once upon a time, and then put him away in prison, and then he went on this anti-killing thing, but he still killed Ra’s al Ghul and still killed Damien Darhk. Anatoly is this weird grey area of a guy that he loves and respects too much.”
Few people know the full range of Oliver’s evolution like Anatoly. From cellmates to close friends to mentor and student in the Russian mob, they’ve had an intense relationship over the years. However, now that Anatoly is leading the Bratva and has his sights on Star City, one of Oliver’s greatest friends will became a powerful enemy.
Of course, Oliver will have plenty of other foes to contend with. Along with Black Siren and Anatoly, Richard Dragon will emerge as the big bad this year. And when it comes time for the annual crossover, Green Arrow will come face to face with another version of Prometheus, among other things. All told, Star City’s vigilante will have a lot on his plate in Arrow season 6.