‘Arrow’ 6×16 Review: You’ll Be With Us The Whole Time, Thea

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Six years ago, Oliver Queen returned home to Star(ling) City after five years of being presumed dead. He was a broken man still marred by his demons and the unsettling feeling that came with returning to his former home knowing that things would never be the way they once were. He was almost robotic in nature. He didn’t let any emotion show on his face. Almost as if he were convinced that he wasn’t capable of any type of positive emotion or not wanting to show the world any weakness.

And then Thea Queen came running down the stairs and into Oliver’s arms. That was the first moment where we saw happiness cover those masked features of our brooding hero as he held his sister in his arms. It was a moment of complete release — in which Oliver forgot to guard himself and just let himself feel happy for the first time in half a decade.

“You were with me the whole time,” Oliver told Thea of his horrific experience. And she was. She was one of the reasons he kept fighting to return home. And she continues to be one of the reasons he fights.

In Arrow’s return from hiatus, “The Thanatos Guild” served as a goodbye to Thea Queen, who this show is doing an incredible disservice in letting go. But we’ll get to that later. Thea has been a character that, next to Oliver, has undergone an immense amount of pain in her life. She no longer resembles that careless, carefree, spoiled teenager we met in the pilot. Over the course of these six years, she’s grown into a woman of great respect, nobility, and strength. Thea has taken the hardships in her life and used them as opportunities for personal growth. She’s been an incredible inspiration in the time she’s been on Arrow. And while I’m upset that her time on Arrow, as a regular, has come to an end, I’m glad to see her get the happy ending that best suits her.

So as Oliver said goodbye to his sister — who was following her heart, as her big brother had advised her to — it was hard not to be overcome with emotion. Thea was doing something that made her feel complete. And she was doing it with Roy, the person that makes her complete.

“You’ll be with me the whole time,” Thea tells Oliver, paying homage to the words he first muttered to her in his return in 2012.

 

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The beautiful parallel brought me to tears instantaneously as a wave of emotions hit. Oliver and Thea have been a staple in this show since the pilot. Their brother-sister bond has been one of the grounding forces in both Oliver and Thea’s lives. It’s something that has defined Oliver as a human being and as a hero.

As Thea got in that car and drove away from Star City — which was a nice parallel to Roy’s “goodbye” in season 3 — I couldn’t help but feel a sense of happiness, sadness, and satisfaction. But also, I couldn’t help but believe that Thea’s story isn’t done. I just hope that we’ll get to see that to some extent.

Let’s break down “The Thanatos Guild,” which includes Thea and Roy’s happily ever after, finding the best version of yourself, and why Thea Queen deserved better.

Happily Ever After

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Thea Queen got her happily ever after.

No, it’s not your typical happily ever after. Where you ride off into a literal sunset (ala Oliver and Felicity at the end of season 3.) But then again, who needs perfect? A happily ever after is being with the person you love that is supporting you every step of the way. And that’s exactly what Thea got.

This episode served to wrap up Thea’s story on Arrow (sadly), and it just was never going to be easy. What happy ending has ever come easy on this show? Instead, we got to see Thea go through a journey of self-actualization in realizing the things she needs to feel complete — righting her father’s wrongs and doing it beside the love of her life in Roy Harper.

It would’ve been way too easy to have let Roy and Thea ride out of town in the opening minutes of the episode. And it would’ve been far too boring. And it would’ve been far less revealing about Thea. This hour really allowed Thea to think within herself — Why is she leaving? Why does she feel the need to right Malcolm Merlyn’s wrongs? How can she feel complete?

“You see it as running away from something. I see it as running towards something.”

Those words really made Thea stop and think. Was she choosing to settle with Roy? There’s no doubt that she wanted a life with Roy — we’ve seen it, we’ve heard it, and we know it. But it’s the same with Oliver. Felicity makes Oliver complete, but he’s also learned that he can’t stop being the Green Arrow because it’s become a part of him in a way he can never shake. Thea was forced to contemplate her future.

When presented with the choice of leaving with Roy or going with Nyssa to destroy the remaining Lazarus Pits, Thea chose to go with Nyssa. Not because she didn’t love Roy. Not because she didn’t want to go with Roy. But because she felt something deep within her telling her that she needs to do this. She needs to finish what her father started. She needs to correct his wrongs. She wouldn’t be able to live with herself if she didn’t. She wouldn’t be the hero we know her to be if she didn’t do something.

So Roy stepped up. Roy offered to go along with her and Nyssa. Roy Harper trusts Thea Queen. Roy Harper believes in Thea Queen. Roy Harper would die for Thea Queen. Roy Harper loves Thea Queen. Roy Harper was not going to lose Thea Queen again.

But that’s the thing about love. Sometimes you need your other half to step up. Sometimes you need your other half to accept you and your choices. And that’s exactly what Roy did.

“It doesn’t matter where we go as long as we’re together.”

This was Roy choosing to — instead of running from Thea because the circumstances weren’t ideal — follow Thea where she needed to go. Being in a relationship is about being partners. It’s about supporting each other through the good times and the bad. It’s about believing in each other. It’s about showing that faith and dedication and love that they’ll need along the way.

So while Thea and Roy aren’t riding off into a sunset into Ivy Town, they’re setting off on a new adventure. Together. And, after all, the only thing that’s ever mattered is that they’re together. A house is just a place. A home is wherever you’re together.

The Best Version of Yourself

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The parallels between Oliver Queen and Thea Queen have been a thing of beauty. Their journeys have mirrored each others in a way that makes you smile. Not because of the excruciating pain they’ve had to endure, but because of the incredible strength they’ve shown in that adversity.

Thea Queen was so close to getting out. To escaping any last ties to Malcolm Merlyn. Nyssa gave her an out. And yet, Thea didn’t take it. She couldn’t take it. And for a while, she didn’t know why.

At first it revealed itself to be some sort of allegiance to Malcolm. “He died for me.” But just because Malcolm died for Thea, did that mean she owed him this? Did she have to pay for his sins? Well, if Arrow has shown us anything, we’ve seen this story before. Oliver’s father died for him. Oliver decided to right his wrongs. Nyssa had to right her father’s wrongs. Wasn’t Thea obligated to do the same?

But it dawned on Thea — in watching Oliver out in the field — that Oliver found himself in suiting up as the Green Arrow. While Felicity completed him, the Green Arrow was also something that made him feel complete. Because when Oliver was in that suit, he felt like his best self. Oliver may have started off by righting his father’s wrongs, but his mission soon morphed into protecting the people of this city. This became about Oliver. This was about Oliver going out there and fighting for his city. He found himself out there.

And that inspired Thea. Inspired Thea to want to find her best self. And she realized that it involved correcting the wrongs brought forth by her family, in this case her father. It gives her purpose. It gives her that sense of completeness. She feels like she’s doing good. She feels like the best version of herself.

So Thea’s story continues. With Roy and Nyssa by her side, Thea will set off across the world to find the three remaining Lazarus Pits and destroy them. She’s found a purpose. Sure, it started with righting her father’s wrongs. But she soon realized that this hero life isn’t something she can run from.

Thea Queen Deserved Better

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Thea’s departure has me conflicted. On the one hand, I’m incredibly satisfied in watching Thea get the type of happy ending that is happy in her eyes. She deserves it. She really, truly does. Getting to see her get that happy ending — in getting to serve her purpose in this world and be with the man she loves, that’s so incredibly beautiful.

But then it also makes me stop and wonder: Why the hell has Arrow mishandled and mistreated this amazing character over the years?

Somewhere between the time where Arrow decided it was a good idea to abandon the thing that made it a success — the core Team Arrow — and bring in a swarm of newbies and have Thea on screen but not have any semblance of storyline surrounding her, Thea Queen was forgotten.

Contrary to what this show may have convinced itself, Thea’s story was far from over. Instead, it chose to ignore an established character — one with substance, purpose, and fan favor — over new characters the show decided to implement to feel “fresh.” But Arrow only served to alienate its fans and wipe an amazing character under the rug.

You have to go back to season 4 for an actual Thea storyline. I’m not talking about that poor excuse of a blackmail storyline in season 5, which was horribly executed. I’m talking about a storyline that serves to grow her character. And no that doesn’t mean it has to be good things that happen. I mean the overall endgame of the storyline will serve as a lesson to be learned and a moment of growth. So, no, we haven’t had a Thea storyline since season 4.

Even when Thea was on screen she was forgotten. She was being used as a prop for other characters. Her story was being forgotten. It’s been incredibly infuriating as a viewer to see a great character like Thea forgotten and wasted. Even in her final season, it took Arrow until episode 15 of this season to finally get to Thea’s story. Two episodes. Two forty-three minute episodes. That’s all we got of Thea’s story. It wasn’t enough. I wasn’t enough, damn it.

I’d like to personally thank Willa Holland for bringing Thea Queen to life and carrying her with such grace and realism. It’s been satisfying to watch Thea’s evolution over the years, and to watch how she handled the hardships in her life. She used those moments of weakness to become stronger. She really is made of steel. Just like her mother.

Thank you, Willa.

Thank you, Thea. Enjoy your happily ever after. You truly deserve it.

Thea Queen deserved better.

Other Thoughts

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  • I’m going to really miss Oliver and Thea’s conversations. Their relationship has been something truly special to watch.
  • “I have a wife now.” You tell her, Oliver!
  • The fact that Nyssa’s continued joking about Oliver being her “husband” was all to get on Felicity’s nerves is to adorable.
  • Felicity throwing shade back at Nyssa was beyond satisfying. You might be an assassin, Nyssa, but Felicity will end you.
  • Thea to Nyssa about Felicity: “We have the world’s greatest mathematician right here.” YOU’RE DAMN RIGHT.
  • The seeds of conflict between Oliver and Diggle have been planted for next week in an episode I’m sure to loathe. Because there’s no way these two characters — judging by that promo — would treat each other that way.
  • I loved how the episode started with Thea leaving Starling City (in a flashback in season 2) without a purpose, and ended with Thea leaving Star City (in the present) with a purpose and with someone she loves.
  • “As long as we’re together that’s all that matters.” DAMN IT ROY. STOP MAKING ME CRY.
  • Roy might have a good point when it comes to jinxing things. Just saying.
  • Thea will never be able to outrun Malcolm Merlyn.
  • Can I get a spinoff of Thea, Roy, and Nyssa traveling the world, kicking ass, and taking names?
  • Speaking off, can I also get a spinoff where it’s just Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity? Because I know where this season is headed. And this is a NTA-Free Zone.

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