There are multiple reasons to respect Arrow and think of it as more than a silly superhero show. One of the chief reasons though is the amount of effort the show dedicates to developing their characters and really transforming them for the better. It’s a mission statement best exemplified in Oliver’s own arc but maybe even displayed in his own sister, Thea.
Throughout six seasons, Thea has been through a huge transformative journey turning from the bratty young sister to a capable and independent hero and woman. In this episode, “The Thanatos Guild,” Thea’s story reaches, if not its final resting point, at least an end to a very significant chapter.
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Sins of the Father
When the episode begins, Thea has decided to leave Star City and run away with Roy. Oliver, Felicity, Diggle, Quentin and even William throw her a going away party but obviously, things don’t go over that smoothly and not just because an original series regular is going to leave the series at the beginning of an episode. Before Thea and Roy get out of the city limits, Nyssa al Ghul shows up to tell Thea that the resurrection of League of Assassin, The Thanatos Guild, is after her blood. Malcolm Merlyn left a map that reportedly only Thea can decipher.
The new League is led by Athena, a fanatic of Malcolm Merlyn. Athena looks cool, even having a cross-eye villain scar and everything, but she’s not more than a non-descript threatening accent. She’s the definition of passable. Athena might be one of the better female Arrow villains but that’s only because the previous examples are absolutely dreadful. The MacGuffin-like map the Guild is after is similarly unremarkable.
Thankfully, Arrow makes the wise decision to focus purely on character emotions and motivations, specifically of the ones we know and love. There’s a lot of Nyssa being her wonderful mix of terrifying and hilarious. (Nyssa continues to rib Oliver and Felicity that she’s technically married to him and it’s delightful.) There’s even more of Thea.
The Price of Being a Queen
“The Thanatos Guild” is really Thea’s episode through and through. The intense focus on Thea doesn’t quite make up for how little Arrow has used her in the recent years, but it is a shining example of how great a character Thea can be when used properly. Willa Holland plays Thea perfectly throughout the episode; conveying an exasperation that she’s continuing to deal with father’s legacy as it mixes with a sense of duty to do the right thing.
“The Thanatos Guild” manages to hit on all aspects of Thea’s character that make her great: her sense of humor, her complicated relationship with Malcolm and her strong moral core. Thea sees the logic of running away with Roy and having a happily ever after but she feels drawn to see this last thread of her father’s life tied up.
Once Team Arrow (and Nyssa) obtain the map, things get even more complicated. Although they can’t immediately decipher it, Nyssa volunteers to take the map and run, leaving Thea to be free. Thea though can’t accept that. She wants to finish this mission, whatever the cost.
This results in a fantastic scene between Thea and Oliver. Oliver urges Thea to go and be happy but Thea counters with the argument that Oliver was supposed to quit being the Green Arrow and live a normal life. Yet he won’t take his own happy ending. It’s a beautiful demonstration of how well Thea understands Oliver and that both Queen siblings can’t just sit on the sidelines while others protect the world.
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Elsewhere in the episode, Dinah and Curtis are investigating the corruption in the SCPD. This side story couldn’t feel less connected to all the interesting Thea stuff. However, Dinah and Curtis are rather enjoyable (for once) while they look into the problem. There’s none of the sanctimonious and hypocritical preaching from them. Dinah doesn’t spend the entire episode in tears. It’s good old fashioned Arrow detective work and helps a tremendous amount in making New Team Arrow feel like a team.
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It doesn’t hurt that their investigation is uncovering information well known to the audience. There is a diversion where Curtis gets a date with a handsome cop (who is either evil or going to die soon). But more importantly, Dinah and Curtis discover that SCPD’s obviously crooked captain is obviously crooked. Score one point for NTA.
The End of an Era and Start of a New One
Meanwhile, Thea continues to struggle with her options as Felicity and Nyssa try to decipher Malcolm’s map. All that angst is interrupted by Athena and the Guild attacking. The action scene that follows is chaotic but only in a really satisfying, pulse-pounding type of way. We even get some unnecessary parkour flips from Roy (who gets the lamest superhero outfit yet) as Thea is still using his old duds.
The fight between Athena and Thea in the brawl is especially interesting. Athena tells Thea she’s not leaving without the map and Thea’s blood. Both demands are literal. During the fight, Thea manages to stab Athena (not killing her, but injuring Athena enough that the assassin runs away to terrorize Oliver another day). Thea is cut similarly and her blood spills on the map. This finally unveils the map’s secrets. It turns out is a map that unveils the location of three new Lazarus Pits.
Nyssa, of course, immediately decides to set off and destroy them. After a little more hemming and hawing, Thea agrees to go with her. Like Oliver, she can’t just sit by and she’s the best version of herself when she’s in her suit and helping people. Roy, because he’s done nothing but follow people around this whole return, agrees to go with Thea. Together Thea, Roy and Nyssa set off on their adventure, leaving Star City forever for now.
Thea is leaving Arrow because Willa Holland wants to go and pursue other projects. Yet every part of me wants a new road trip spin-off with Thea, Nyssa (and Roy) called Daughters of the Demon. It’ll never happen, but at least it can exist in my dreams.
What do you make of Thea’s swan song? Is this the last time we’ll see her character or will she be back eventually? How would you have written Thea out of the show? How do you feel about Athena as a villain? Are you feeling better about New Team Arrow?
Arrow season 6 airs Thursdays at 9/8c on The CW. Want more news? Like our Arrow Facebook page!
(Image courtesy of The CW)