EPISODE REVIEW: Arrow S6 EP16 ‘The Thanatos Guild’

The League of Assassins is back, but what does this ancient order want from Thea this time around? Will Thea and Roy be allowed their “happily ever after,” or will the legacy of Malcolm Merlyn spoil the reunion?

Arrow “The Thanatos Guild”, Season 6, Episode 16
Airdate: March 29th, 2018
Director: Joel Novoa
Writer: Greg Berlanti & Marc Guggenheim
Based on the DC Comics Created by Mort Weisinger & George Papp

What You Should Know:

Much of the backstory to this week’s episode harkens all the back to season 3 when the position of leadership over the League of Assassins came equipped with a revolving door. Ra’s al Ghul is killed by Oliver, and Oliver takes over for a bit, only to eventually lose the League to Merlyn. Along the way, Thea dies and is resurrected via Lazarus Pit, but with some demons in tow. With Merlyn’s death last season, Thea (and also Talia and Nyssa al Ghul) is the heiress to the League.

Fast forwarding to the present, if you aren’t aware already, Roy is back, baby! Yeah, Rooooyyyy! Reintroduced last week, Roy and Thea are an item once again, tensions are slowly breaking down between The Outsiders and Team Arrow, Diggle is healthy again, and the evil criminal mastermind, Diaz, is still on the loose.

Roy and Thea

What You’ll Find Out:

Merlyn gave the League of Assassins a makeover before he died, spawning The Thanatos Guild (Thanatos is the ancient Greek personification of death). In Merlyn’s absence, a woman named Athena is running the Guild and searching for a map to three previously unknown Lazarus Pits. Only Thea’s blood can reveal the map, so Athena and the Guild come after Thea and Roy as they attempt to drive off into the sunset together. Luckily for them, Nyssa al Ghul returns and recruits Thea to her cause, which in turn convinces Roy to tag along as well, and the three of them set out to destroy the pits before the Guild can seize them and claim their awesome power.

Other noteworthy moments:
– Quentin is now living with Black Siren as she tries to reform. He sounds very hopeful. I’m sure everything will work out fine in the end.
– Curtis and Dinah continue to track down the corruption in the SCPD, and finally, discover that Captain Hill is corrupt. We also see the return of the Vertigo drug, as covering up Diaz’s involvement in Vertigo seems high on Captain Hill’s task list.
– Curtis gets a date with a cute police officer that Dinah knows. I’m sure everything will work out fine in the end.
– Roy inches ever closer to taking on a full-fledged Arsenal costume. He just needs to get some red clothes, some sunglasses, and turn that hat around.
– Nyssa finally annulled her marriage to Oliver by giving him a dagger that severs marital ties. It was cute.


What Just Happened?

This season of Arrow continues to struggle with an apparent identity crisis in the wake of Cayden James’ death. Perhaps we are building to a much bigger picture that we, as viewers, cannot see yet, but for now, the storytelling feels listless in the grand scheme. Diaz and the corruption of Star City lie at the center of the narrative but still don’t feel adequate given the nature of the series.

Last season, Prometheus delivered unto us fire, and the show emerged from a two-season long struggle to find it’s footing. Unfortunately, that fire burned gloriously bright and faded out, starved for fuel. Since James’ death, the show has bounced around from storyline to storyline, including, but not limited to: the saga of not-Laurel Lance, the pending trial of Oliver, Oliver’s kid and parenting trouble, the on-again/off-again blood feud between The Outsiders and Team Arrow, Diaz and city corruption, the return of Roy, and now more League of Assassins drama. That’s simply too much for any of it to emerge as well-developed, and that’s only the last three or four episodes worth of drama.

The Thanatos Guild

A few side notes:

  • This episode introduced (and promptly killed off) a character named Tigressa. Tigressa was a former associate (maybe more?) of Merlyn’s, with League training. The only reason I’m even taking the time to mention her at all is that the name, Tigressa, is strikingly familiar to Tigress, a character that has had some ties to the Green Arrow comics and other media portrayals in the past. One incarnation of the character, Artemis Crock, was prominently featured in the Young Justice animated series as a former protégé of Oliver. If Tigressa has a daughter wandering around out there, I expect we’ll be seeing Artemis sooner rather than later.
  • There was a fair amount of talk about legacy in this episode, particularly revolving around Nyssa, Thea, and Oliver’s sense of responsibility to right the wrongs of their respective fathers. Thea has a very well thought out conversation with Oliver as to why he has found it too difficult to retire—because, as Green Arrow, Oliver is afforded the ability to be the best version of himself. This reason, of course, means Oliver won’t be handing the hood back to Diggle any time soon, so I fully expect that let-down to be the most recent cause of strain on their relationship, because nobody is allowed to be happy in Star City for more than, say, two episodes at a time.
  • Nyssa makes a number of jokes/barbs regarding the recent nuptials between Oliver and Felicity, and how Nyssa and Oliver are still married (until the end of the episode). Felicity gets jealous, and Oliver tells Nyssa to knock it off. I’m certain that all of this was just to remind the viewers of the marriage and to bring them to a place where they could end it, but all three characters seemed out of character for all of those moments.

Rating: 7/10
Final Thought:
I know I was a little rough on this episode, but I really did enjoy it in a vacuum. As a mostly stand-alone episode, it had good action and character development. The problem lies in it being a part of a season that feels lost. If I’m overly critical, just know that it comes from a place of love.

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