SPOILERS AHEAD! Turn back now if you have not seen the most recent episode of ‘Arrow!’
Ok, so for everyone who has seen the episode, Thea is officially off of ‘Arrow,’ with last week’s episode having her leave town with Roy and Nyssa to hunt down and destroy the 3 new Lazarus Pits uncovered by Malcolm Merlyn before his death, a quest which will prevent her from continuing her life in Star City, but allow her to continue to be the hero she has realized she needs to be, and let her set right the wrongs of her father.
TVLine was fortunate enough recently to have an interview with ‘Arrow’ executive producer Marc Guggenheim to discuss the departure of Willa Holland from the series, an especially impactful exit as she and her character have been around the series since Episode One and Thea was a relationship of particular importance to Oliver Queen as it was his only remaining family after the death of both of his parents earlier in the history of the series. Here are some excerpts from the interview:
When asked about how long the plan has been in place to write Thea out of the show, Guggenheim replied:
“By the end of Season 4, Willa had expressed a desire to reduce her episodic commitment to the show and that was sort of done in sort of conjunction with an indication that it was likely that she wouldn’t want to renew her contract past Season 6. So, we’ve kind of known for a while that this was in the offing. We revisited it with Willa at the beginning of Season 6, and she indicated that she hadn’t changed her mind, that she was still interested in moving on.”
They also asked whether Colton Haynes only returned as Roy because he wanted to be part of Thea’s send-off, to which Guggenheim responded:
“Actually, it’s funny — no. I had bumped into Colton on the Fox lot months earlier and we started talking and he expressed a desire to come back to the show, because he had a window of free time. I was like, “Actually, that works out great!” It worked out really, really well because we always knew that in a perfect world, Thea’s departure from the show would involve Roy in some way. Roy’s been such a big part of her story that [Colton’s return] was a fortuitous circumstance.”
Lastly, they spoke on Oliver and Thea’s final moments together, how they tried to bring things full circle with their final conversation and how Oliver was ok with her leaving as he knew she loved Roy and needed to be with him:
“Yeah, actually in the episode that preceded it, Oliver plants the idea in her head. He basically says, “Look, if you’re telling me that you’ve only been happy with Roy, then you should go with him…They were terrific. Again, that’s one of the things that’s hard about this is — Stephen and Willa are always terrific together. Their scenes are always really great scenes. At the same time, we are very philosophical about it — “This is the sort of thing that happens when you go past five seasons.” People start to reach the end of their contracts. People start to think about other opportunities. They want to stretch their legs creatively in different directions. This is a reality as old as television itself. So, you just wish everyone well…Honestly, the final scene in particular with Stephen and Willa is wonderful. Stephen actually had a terrific idea to basically make that scene evoke Oliver and Thea’s reunion in the pilot, so there’s a real wonderful sense of everything coming full circle.”
Personally, I had a feeling Thea was on her way out for some time now, especially once her character started just disappearing from episodes last season for no reason, which I found particularly annoying. I am glad they finally just let her go. While I am sad to see the loss of a character, it also felt like they never quite knew what to do with Thea as over the years she went rather quickly from bratty little sister to troubled teen on drugs, to bossy club owner, to bad-ass assassin, to superhero side-kick, and then to head of Oliver’s mayoral staff, none of which she ever seemed particularly qualified for (aside from the assassin and superhero stuff since she was trained by Merlyn).
Here’s hoping Willa Holland finds other exciting prospects for her career, and the show does not suffer all that much from her absence. Judging from the fact that they rarely missed a beat in the past 2 years whenever she disappeared, I have a feeling that ‘Arrow’ will be just fine without Thea.