'Arrow' Brings Bratva To The Center Of Season 5

Every year on Arrow, the show introduces a season-long flashback, which explains some aspect of Oliver's past. In Season 5, so far, Oliver has been kidnapped by a Russian gangster while in the country plotting to kill Constantine Kover. But what is the Bratva on Arrow ? It looks like they'll be a big part of Season 5, since in these flashbacks they've taken an interest in Oliver, and, somehow, after getting a rough lesson in kidnapping escape, Oliver has even infiltrated their ranks after proving his incredible resilience and willingness to dislocate his own thumbs.

Oliver's connection to the Bratva has been brought up in other seasons before, and he's even mentioned that he's pretty high within their ranks. After saving their leader, Anatoly Knyazev, from a torturous initiation, the two became friends, and have helped one another out on multiple occasions. Now, the show is finally explaining how the resident good guy in Star City got a connection to the Russian gangsters beyond simply what happened while they were on Lian Yu (the island where Oliver underwent most of his training). Because of this reintroduction, you might be wondering if the Bratva is based on some kind of organization from DC Comics, or if this is a famous Green Arrow storyline — well, the Arrow producers are one step ahead of you there, because the name is similar to a real organization.

According to Fortune, the Solntsevskaya Bratva is a Russian gang worth $8.5 billion. Frederico Varese, a professor of criminology at the University of Oxford, told Fortune that the group is highly decentralized and made up of 10 essentially independent “brigades.” Varese also said a council of 12 people oversees the Bratva's money and “meets regularly in different parts of the world, often disguising their meetings as festive occasions." However, Anatoly Knyazev isn't a real person, and it seems that Arrow isn't basing its Bratva storyline on the real gang, but simply using part of its name to lend some authenticity to this storyline. The Bratva have also appeared in comics before, albeit as minor characters, not as a major part of Oliver Queen's backstory.

Over the course of Season 5, Oliver will likely see a conclusion to this revenge tale, and then maybe even realize that seeking out Constantine was a bad idea. But he'll also somehow form a lasting relationship with Anatoly and the Bratva. It's sure to be an interesting ride as Oliver walks the line between doing good as mayor in the present and taking an adventure into the underworld of a Russian gang in the past.

Images: Bettina Strauss/The CW (2)