“You are an heiress to the Demon. That is something you can never truly run from.”
With Thea (Willa Holland) and Roy (Colton Hayes) ready themselves to embark on their happily ever after, they are reminded that you cannot simply walk away from the world they have inhabited.
It’s been a while since Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) has made an appearance on Arrow, but his legacy is far from over, as this week sees the emergence of a new league, built by Malcolm. Though the League of Assassins has long-since been disbanded, its followers have found another group to belong to – Malcolm’s Thanatos Guild, who are looking to unearth an ancient and powerful “treasure.” The problem – they cannot find Malcolm’s map to the treasure, and they won’t be able to find it without Thea, his heir.
Having infiltrated the Guild in order to discover what it is they are doing, Nyssa al Ghul (Katrina Law) journeys to Star City to warn Thea of the Guild’s plans. This episode does an excellent job of fleshing out Nyssa’s character in more detail, as we see the toll that her own father’s legacy has had on her – she did not make the choice to be the Demon’s heir, and yet she has had to fight for her right to survive in the world he left behind for her. To her credit, Nyssa spends much of this episode insisting that once she and Thea discover the map, she will take it from Star City, and hopefully draw away the Guild at the same time.
It turns out that Malcolm encased his map inside a League cipher, which is basically a giant Chinese puzzle box, with a code that he ensured only Thea would be able to crack. So, naturally, Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) is the one to discover the cipher’s code, and given it involved the Fibonacci sequence – which Thea clearly knew absolutely nothing about – Malcolm didn’t seem to know his daughter all that well. However, the team is left utterly confused when they unlock the box and discover that the map within is completely blank.
To make matters worse, Malcolm’s one-dimensional second-in-command, Athena (Kyra Zagorsky), is on the warpath. With the Guild at her side, this seemingly indestructible villainess does little other than attack everyone she comes across in order to try to get the map. Admittedly, this leads to some truly incredible fight choreography from everyone involved, including a very impressive fight which sees Oliver (Stephen Amell) taking on three of the Guild’s assassins all on his own. It’s possible that the choreography in this episode is the best this season has had to offer, excluding the Arrowverse crossover.
Of course, when Thea comes face to face with Athena, she comes away with more than a few cuts and scrapes – and though it isn’t ideal, her injuries reveal the map’s secret. In seems that when Malcolm explained to the Guild that the blood of the Demon’s heir would reveal the map, he meant it literally, as in a twist that is both clever and pretty gross, Thea’s actual blood is the key. When the youngest Queen’s blood is spilled on the blank map paper, it reacts to bacteria on the page, and the map is revealed to the team.
The discovery that Malcolm’s map leads to the location of three more Lazarus pits prompts Thea and Nyssa to vow to ensure that they are destroyed as the original one was. Far from the happily ever after they were hoping for, Thea and Roy join the Demon’s heir on her mission, though hopefully this won’t be the last we see of them, as it would be a poor farewell to three well-rounded characters. It would also be something of a waste of Thea’s character, as she spent the majority of this season in a coma, only to wake for a few episodes, then leave the city to travel the world, cutting down the strong, well-developed female characters in the series by one, leaving precious few behind.
Elsewhere, one team member down, Dinah (Juliana Harkavy) and Curtis (Echo Kellum) are working hard to discover just how many members of the SCPD are working for Ricardo Diaz (Kirk Acevedo) and how high up his reach goes. When Dinah gets called in on a routine drugs-related homicide, and Captain Hill (Tina Huang) turns up, confiscating evidence, she begins to get suspicious that her boss is also on Diaz’s payroll. However, when she retrieves the drugs, and gets Curtis to perform an analysis of their makeup, they find that it isn’t the kind of drugs that Diaz is pushing. Because drug dealers are known for putting all their eggs in one basket. Yes, this episode sees the return of our old friend Vertigo on the streets of Star City, which will likely have unfortunate consequences for Oliver and the team, as the drug has done every time it rears its ugly head.
Though this episode delivers on the action, the story seems a little rushed. While there is excellent work on Thea and Nyssa’s characters, everything else seems weak in comparison – with the sudden emergence of Malcolm’s new League, along with a mysterious treasure, both of which seem to only exist in this episode, it feels as though the Arrow writers are trying to buy some time before they delve any deeper into Diaz’s plans.