Arrow: 6.16 The Thanatos Guild
I wasn't able to review last week's Arrow (thanks to Steven Slatter for stepping in), but it was a real return to form; the appearance of Colton Haynes' Roy Harper harking back to the great days of season two. It was also interesting to note that I wasn't the only one tired with the Team Arrow versus Team-Not Arrow storyline which has dragged down the series as of late.
Doppleganger ended with Thea ready to run off into the sunset with Roy, bringing a natural end to her storyline. So naturally their attempt to say goodbye to friends, family and Star City was abruptly interrupted by a new league of assassins - the titular Thanatos Guild - and another welcome returnee in Katrina Law's Nyssa al Ghul. I'm glad to see she survived the explosions on Lian Yu (though it does lessen the impact of the season five cliffhanger).
There was plenty of great chemistry with Oliver, reminded him that she was his first wife and having great fun teasing Felicity with her droll sense of humour. Calling her 'sister wife' was hilarious as was her gift of annulling their 'marriage' with an ancient relic. I've forgotten how good a character she can be at times, particularly when she isn't always so deadly serious.
There was certainly an element of Arrow playing its greatest hits, returning to the league, now united under new recurring villain Athena (Kyra Zagorsky), a rival of Nyssa leading the Guild in the deceased Malcolm Merlyn's name. She was a decent baddie and one I suspect we haven't seen the last with despite her bloody duel with Thea. While not in the big leagues of villains, I did notice that she made more impact in one episode than Diaz has so far (as much as the character is more interesting post- Cayden James' death).
The episode also had plenty of fun with Indiana Jones' motifs, as the team hunted for a map in a mysterious golden box (nice callout to it being the box from Hellraiser), traversing deadly traps and finding secret maps written in secret blood writing to find the location of three new Lazarus Pits. There was a sense of levity and adventure I haven't seen in Arrow in a while.
There were plenty of action sequences to enjoy as the story took a nice detour from the main thread, though where it was focused upon - the investigation into the corrupt police force working for Diaz - it gave Dinah and Curtis something less angsty to deal with, which was a nice change. I really like both characters, but I don't feel this team divide as served them well. Oh and Curtis' new police boyfriend is going to be totally evil, isn't he?
For the second week in a row, Arrow felt like it had regained some of its magic and gave Willa Holland a satisfying departure from the show (it's been a long time coming) while still leaving some scope for a return of Thea in the future once she, Roy and Nyssa have dealt with the fallout of her father's legacy. I'm not sure what a recent confirmed return of a key character for the season seven will mean for this storyline, but I am happy for Thea to get something of a happy ending, while allowing her story to take a new direction off screen.
In fact, how's that for the next Arrowverse spin-off? Thea, Roy and Nyssa on a road trip, righting the wrongs with the world. I think there would be plenty of good mileage (pun intended) out of that...