Arrow Season 6 Episode 16 Review: “The Thanatos Guild”

Arrow Season 6 Episode 16

If you’re an Arrow fan who pays even the tiniest bit of attention to what’s happening behind-the-scenes on the CW drama, you were already aware of Willa Holland’s shortened episode commitment for the past two seasons. This was a request Holland herself made to the series’ executive producers in an effort to give her more availability to pursue other projects. Due to Holland’s desire to move on from Arrow, plus the fact that Thea’s departure from Star City was heavily teased in “Doppelganger,” it was easy to predict that tonight’s installment, “The Thanatos Guild,” would be her swan song. Fortunately, though, the show zigs when I expected it to zag throughout the hour and delivers a farewell to Thea that feels both surprising and (mostly) satisfying.

So how does Arrow make Thea’s departure from the show surprising? By bringing back Nyssa (the always excellent Katrina Law) and the remaining members of the disbanded League of Assassins, who now call themselves “The Thanatos Guild,” to prevent Thea and Roy from getting the happy getaway they planned to have together at the end of previous episode. The couple’s car ride out of Star City is literally interrupted by an attack from Athena’s followers, and fortunately, Nyssa is there to help fight them off and inform Thea about what the group wants: a map Malcolm left behind that leads to a source of great power and Thea’s help in finding and reading it, since Malcolm guaranteed that his heir would be the only one to do so.

Ultimately, it’s revealed that the map leads to three more Lazarus Pits that exist throughout the world, and Nyssa immediately takes on the task of destroying them all, offering Thea the opportunity to join her since they are both Heiresses to the Demon. By episode’s end, Thea agrees to come with Nyssa (Roy also joins them–more on that in a bit), and it’s a decision she comes to after a conversation she has with Oliver; however, during this talk, it’s Thea giving advice to her older brother and not the other way around, advice that she finds useful for herself when choosing what to do next with her life. When Oliver admits to Thea that he’s unwilling to relinquish the role of Green Arrow to Diggle and he can’t pinpoint why, she smartly tells him that it’s because putting on the hood makes him feel complete. Being the Green Arrow is as much a part of Oliver’s DNA as being a brother, husband, and father are.

While I would push back against Thea’s suggestion that Oliver is his best self when he’s under the hood (Didn’t we just spend all of last season showing how and why that isn’t the case?), her argument for why he’s reluctant to give the role up makes sense. The Queen siblings are people who are not simply satisfied with normal, everyday activities; they need to be of service in a larger way. They need a greater purpose, and for both of them, it appears that this purpose is to make up for the sins of their parents in an effort to create a better world. Thea’s choice to go with Nyssa feels right for her character because she’s always been meant for bigger and better things than domesticity. Just like Oliver, being a sister, daughter, and girlfriend was never going to be enough for Thea. She always was and always will be Speedy, and that’s why, as she explains to Roy, she has to go rectify Malcolm’s mistakes by destroying every last remnant of the League just as Oliver has tried to rectify the ones Robert made by being Star City’s hero.

Fortunately, Roy Harper is the best, and instead of insisting that he and Thea move somewhere with warmer weather and less crime than Star City, he tells her he’s coming with, reiterating what he says earlier in the episode: it doesn’t matter where the two of them go as long as they’re together. “How did I get to be so lucky?” Thea asks. “I think it had something to do with a stolen purse,” Roy quips back. It’s a sweet, tender scene, one that’s only eclipsed by Oliver and Thea’s goodbye to each in the episode’s final scene, a goodbye that intentionally echoes their reunion in the Arrow pilot. “I’m going to miss you so much,” Oliver tells Thea. “You’ll be with me the whole time,” she responds, referencing what he said to her when he finally returned from Lian Yu.

Is Thea’s final episode perfect? No, not at all. There are no proper farewell scenes between her and Felicity, her and Diggle, and, worst of all, her and Quentin. Much of the episode’s action is a letdown; it’s darkly lit, unfocused, and confusing to the point where it’s sometime difficult to pinpoint who is fighting whom. Too much time is spent on Curtis’s romantic life (Really, at this point, who cares?) and his and Dinah’s investigation into Captain Hill, who we already knew was shady.

But there’s also plenty of terrific brother-sister moments between the Queen siblings, including Thea joking to William about the night-light Oliver had until he was 16. There’s powerful themes of legacy, independence, and honor, which are fully on display during multiple interactions between Oliver and Thea, Thea and Nyssa, Thea and Roy, Oliver and Nyssa, and even Oliver and Diggle. And there’s also too many tremendous one-liners to list, most of them delivered by Felicity, Nyssa, and, of course, Thea, who, no pun intended, remains the Queen of Arrow One-Liners.

Overall, “The Thanatos Guild” is a mostly fitting sendoff to one of Arrow‘s very best characters, one I hope is more of a “See you later” than a “Goodbye forever.” I know Willa Holland is no longer a series regular and is going off to pursue new opportunities and join different projects, but before Arrow is officially over, I’m going to need to see Thea Queen return. Her character and her relationship with Oliver is too important to the show’s DNA to be forgotten. No matter what the writers do, though, I know I’ll always remember Thea’s scenes on Arrow as some of the best moments in the show’s history.

Other thoughts:

  • A huge shout-out to Willa Holland, who has been fantastic on Arrow for the past six seasons and who helped make Thea one of the most empathetic, entertaining, and heroic characters on TV. As I said above, I’m really going to miss her.
  • “The Thanatos Guild” also marks Katrina Law’s first and final appearance in Arrow Season 6, since she’s busy being a regular on Crackle’s The Oath. Law brings so much depth, power, and, in recent appearances, humor to the role of Nyssa. It’s always a pleasure when she shows up as a guest star, and similar to Willa Holland, I hope this is not the last we see of her for the rest of Arrow‘s run.
  • Speaking of Nyssa, she officially annuls her and Oliver’s marriage at the end of the episode, which also ends one of Arrow‘s best recurring jokes. Thankfully, they get plenty of laughs from it in this episode.
  • The Arrow writers have done a nice job of peppering the past few episodes with small moments of conflict between Diggle and Oliver over the Green Arrow mantle. I’m still not in love with this storyline (I don’t fully buy into the fact that Dig would need the hood and the title of GA to feel that important to the team), but I’m hopeful that it will turn into something worthwhile when the two friends clash in next week’s episode.
  • Caity Lotz announced on Thursday that she’s returning to Arrow for the Season 6 finale, and I’m excited. What do you think will bring Sara back to Star City? Speculate below!
  • This short little exchange between Thea and Felicity over the code to the box got the biggest laugh of the episode from me: “Try my birthday.” “It’s eighteen digits over three alphabets.” “Okay, so it’s not my birthday.”
  • “I am completely supportive of anything and everything that makes you happy. Speaking of which, I did tell Roy that the two times that I shot him with arrows would be nothing compared to what would happen to him if you end up unhappy. “
  • Nyssa: “I hear you’ve taken my husband as your own.” Felicity: “Yeah, well, we can talk about that later.” Nyssa: “In the League, such talk would take the form of mortal combat.”
  • Oliver: “Nyssa.” Nyssa: “Husband.” Oliver: “You’ve got to stop doing that. I do have a wife now, and she doesn’t like it.” Nyssa: “But that’s the fun of it.”
  • Roy: “When you said ‘ancient,’ you weren’t kidding.” Nyssa: “I never kid.” Felicity: “Except where my marriage is considered apparently.”
  • “I’ll stay here to make sure you stay uninterrupted, sister-wife.”
  • “Goodbye, Speedy.”

What did everyone else think about this week’s episode of Arrow? Did you find it to be fitting farewell for Thea? Comment below and let me know.

[Photo: Shane Harvey/The CW]

Arrow Season 6 Episode 16 Review: "The Thanatos Guild"
3.5

Summary

Nyssa returns to Star City, and Thea and Roy make an important decision together in a solid episode of Arrow.

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