For five years on #Arrow, we've seen Oliver Queen's trials and tribulations as he struggles to maintain his double life, his battle to find his identity. After returning to save his city, he's fought many foes over the five years, but there's one man in particular who has been a thorn in Oliver's side throughout all of the show's fun: Malcolm Merlyn.
Initially introduced as the mysterious, sharp-dressed but slightly shady business associate of Moira Queen, we quickly learned that there was more to #JohnBarrowman's character than met the eye. Merlyn was, in fact, a former member of the League of Assassins and the man behind the mask of the Dark Archer who Oliver battled in Season 1.
After his undertaking failed, Merlyn became a key player in Arrow, appearing as both enemy and friend on a number of occasions. His role was expanded further when it was revealed that he was Thea's father and at the start of Season 3, he became instrumental in Thea's journey to become Speedy.
At the recent Planet Comicon, Barrowman threw doubt on his future appearances in the #Arrowverse:
Does This Mean The End For Malcolm Merlyn?
If Barrowman speaks the truth, there is certainly the possibility that Malcolm Merlyn's story will be coming to an end in the #ArrowSeason5 finale. We already know that the finale will take place on Lian Yu and a couple of fan-favorite characters will return. Malcolm Merlyn is set to play a key role.
Executive Producer Wendy Mericle offered an insight into Merlyn's role:
"He's going to be a huge factor leading up to the finale. This season is all about legacy, and when Malcolm comes into the story, it’s really rooted as much by necessity from Oliver’s point of view as it is about what Malcolm means to him and what Malcolm means to Thea."
It's possible that Prometheus has captured Thea in his attempts to destroy Oliver. If he has captured Thea and is threatening to kill her, Merlyn would have a personal connection to the conflict and would seek revenge against Prometheus. The doubt over his return does lead to the possibility that Merlyn will meet his end in the battle.
Arrow is Merlyn's Story, Too
As much as Arrow is Oliver Queen's story, it's safe to say that it has also been Malcolm Merlyn's story as well. At the start of the series Merlyn was a grieving widower who aimed to destroy the Glades, a rough area of Starling City, as revenge for a criminal murdering his wife. After Oliver foiled his plan, he was believed to be dead, only to reveal himself as Thea's biological father.
Season 3 began with him training Thea in Corto Maltese to suppress her emotions and become a hardened fighter; he also drugged her and made her kill Sara Lance. Throughout the rest of the season he clashed with the League of Assassins as Nyssa Al-Ghul held him personally responsible for Sara's death. Malcolm was grief-stricken when R'as critically injured Thea and took her back to Nanda Parbat to revive her in the Lazarus Pit. After Team Arrow's defeat of R'as Al-Ghul, Merlyn took the mantle and became the new R'as Al-Ghul.
He appeared once again through Season 4 when Thea and Laurel arrived at Nanda Parbat with Sara's body in an attempt to revive her. Merlyn advised against this as he warned that the person who came out of the pit would not be Sara, but Laurel and Thea ignored his advice. He continued to appear throughout the season as Oliver battled former League member, Damien Darhk.
His appearances in Season 5 have been few and far between, after Nyssa overthrew him as R'as, he fell into a spiral of depression until Eobard Thawne came to him and offered him a chance to change his fate. He went on to become a key-player in the Legion of Doom in #LegendsofTomorrow and after the Legion's defeat, we have yet to see him again.
If Season 5 proves to be the swan song for Merlyn as a character, he's certainly had a good ride. His character has developed massively from the killer we first saw five years ago. The reveal that he is Thea's father offered another dimension to his character and allowed us to connect with him on a personal level. Perhaps the producers feel that his story will have reached its natural conclusion and his five-year story could be a parallel to Oliver's. He's played a big part in the development of the Arrowverse so if the news that he will be leaving the is indeed true, this will certainly be sad news.
Do you want to see more of Malcolm Merlyn, or has his character reached the end of his story? Let me know in the comments!