Wednesday, September 30, 2015

#CountdownToArrow: 5 Times Thea Queen Out-Sassed and Outmatched Everyone

We're rapidly approaching the end of #CountdownToArrow, which means that the season four premiere is within sight. As we wind down our month-long celebration of the hit series, Arrow, I thought we would take a day to celebrate Thea Queen. We've already had celebrations for Diggle, Felicity, and Laurel so this seemed appropriate. I'll admit it: I didn't love Thea when she first entered the show. I thought she was spoiled and a bit of a brat. Willa Holland won me over, though, with how wonderfully layered she allowed Thea to become. Willa is an expert at taking biting sarcasm and making it such an endearing trait of Thea's. The youngest Queen has been through a lot -- not as much as Oliver, but pretty close through Robert's death and her brother's (seeming), her descent into drugs, revelation about Moira's hand in the genocide in The Glades, the murder of Moira in front of her, the revelation that Malcolm is her real father, the loss of trust in Roy, the brainwashing and murder of Sara, almost-basically her own death, the spiral of guilt and manipulation, etc.

When I was thinking about the dark road that Thea has been down, I contemplated what made her such a strong, well-written, relatable young woman. And I settled on this: her unwavering sense of protectiveness (it's a Queen family trait) and her ability to inject dark humor into whatever is happening. Thea's sense of humor is one of my favorite things about her. And Willa Holland has done amazing work throughout the seasons of making Thea this delightfully sarcastic young woman, while also not making her too brash or insensitive.

Thea is honest -- bluntly so and hilariously so. But she's also extremely protective of the people she cares about. She's willing to leap to the defense of Diggle quite quickly by shooting her own brother in the arm. She doesn't let Malcolm get away with the pain he's put her through. She stands up to the Demon's Head when he tries to attack her in her own apartment. The thing is, if Thea Queen goes down, she will never go down without a fight: whether that's literal or metaphorical in her relationships with others.

So in honor of Thea Queen Appreciation Day, I've decided to talk about five times the baby Queen out-sassed and outmatched everyone else. Ready? Let's do this!


5. Thea teases Oliver/the sibling banter throughout the series. (“An Innocent Man”)


I just love the way that Thea managed to sass and tease Oliver early on in the series (before things get twisty and crazy and dark). Remember Thea making fun of Oliver whenever he referenced pop culture? Remember their back-and-forth banter when teasing Moira about Carter Bowen? I miss that Oliver/Thea dynamic. And the relationship between them is such a great one to explore. (Stephen Amell and Willa Holland have a fantastic chemistry and banter as siblings that makes them both more endearing as Oliver and Thea.)

I hope that this year returns us to some more of that playful banter. Yes, these two characters have been through a lot both together and separately. But I would love to see a return to the silly, playful sibling dynamics we once had. I want a short scene with something silly like fighting over a television remote or Thea poking fun of her grumpy bear brother or Oliver buying Thea another giant bag of popcorn.

Because Thea has some of her best moments with Oliver and I would love if some of those moments in season four would be happier ones.


4. Basically any scene with Moira ever.

Moira and Thea’s relationship was so complex and I loved it. From the moment Thea found out she had been lied to about her parentage and the time she found out about Moira’s (rather large) hand in the genocide in The Glades, we saw Thea’s sass and strength and bitterness on full display. I think that up until the moment Thea realizes what Moira has done and who she is as a person, I always thought of Thea as the reckless, immature child on the show.

But that’s not who Thea was. Oh, sure, she made a lot of mistakes. I can’t negate those. She was into drugs and partying and superficial in a lot of ways. But even when she was doing all of those things, she was doing them because she was trying to distract herself from pain and loss. Everyone on this show does that frequently, actually (see: the conversation between Laurel and Oliver in the alley during “Canaries”). Everyone finds ways to distract themselves from pain and loss and Thea’s first defense mechanism is to pretend she is fine by building up walls of indifference. She lives it up, early on in the series, by partying and distracting herself from life. Because if she’s partying, she’s numb to what’s happening around her and within her. We see that as a little bit of a recurring thread later in the series, too, and even up until season three. She ran away with Malcolm because she wanted him to teach her how to stop being hurt and stop feeling pain.

And that’s just so indicative of her as a character, really. It’s why I loved Thea and Moira’s relationship. They would trade barbs. They would spat. They would roll their eyes at one another. But it’s because they were both stubborn, strong-willed women who pretended the world didn’t bother them as much as it did because they could not stand appearing weak. And I loved that. I love that Thea is a woman who is a lot like Moira in the important, good ways and also in some of the bad ones.

And I honestly think Moira would be proud of the person Thea has become.


3. Thea sasses Laurel. (“Vertigo”)

I kind of lament the fact that we didn’t get more of the Laurel/Thea bond. Because we know that Laurel, having been Oliver’s girlfriend for so long, likely had a sort of sibling relationship with Thea, too. Laurel genuinely cares about Thea because I bet one day, she thought she would actually be her sister (in-law). And so, early on in this show in episodes like “Verigo,” we saw how hard Laurel fought to protect and care about Thea’s well-being. I love the sass and wit that Thea provides in return. She loves Laurel like a sibling and banters with her like a younger sister is supposed to do. When Laurel helps Thea get community service hours and probation for her drug charges, Thea is angry -- she wanted to go to jail because she wanted to ruin her mother’s life. Isn’t she just a peach in the earlier episodes?

But I love this moment and moments like these in which we remember that in the early days of Arrow, Thea Queen was still this reckless, vindictive kid who was trying to take out her pain on other people. Willa Holland was great playing this layer of Thea Queen, and I enjoyed the scenes where she had the opportunity to display just how sassy she could be.


2. Thea vs. Ra’s in the apartment (“Broken Arrow”)

I think that ironically, the thing that annoyed me most about Thea when she first debuted on Arrow is now the thing that I find most endearing about her -- attitude. Thea Queen has a lot of attitude at the beginning of the series, being an angsty and defiant teenager. I wanted to slap her so many times for the decisions she would make or the things she would do without care or consequence. But in season three, I became a huge fan of Thea Queen. Like… a HUGE fan. I found her to be insanely deep, layered, nuanced, and glorious in all of her suffering. She went through so much and she was broken by so much that the residual bitterness from those circumstances actually made her stronger, not weaker. She was manipulated by every man in her life for so long (and women, too) that I think her defiance and her attitude are what truly saved her in the end. That, and her desire to keep herself whole, no matter the cost.

So when Ra’s and Thea went toe-to-toe in her apartment, I was elated (even though I saw the tragic outcome a mile away) because she was exactly who she needed to be in that moment: fueled by defiance and power. There is so much light within Thea and so much innocence that was stripped either willfully or forcefully from her in her life. She’s not a stranger to darkness and to pain and to intense suffering, which is what makes her such a compelling character.

That attitude is what sets her apart though. While other people break down emotionally, Thea does too -- but she gets angry. She fights and bites back. And I seriously love that about her.

1. “Where are you going?” “To go buy my evil dad some soup.” (“The Offer”)

This is the actual best line in the history of Arrow and I’m sorry if you think otherwise because you’re wrong.

The Malcolm/Thea relationship last year was so interesting to watch unfold. Because the thing is… it’s one thousand percent toxic. He manipulates her to do his bidding like a puppet. You don’t manipulate people you love. You don’t force them to KILL ANOTHER PERSON so that you can get what you want. Thea’s relationship with her biological father is extremely toxic and warped and twisted and yet it was also one of the best parts of the season because we got the chance to see Thea really develop as a character through it. While Thea is in Corto Maltese, she learns how to fight from Malcolm. She learns how to channel her rage and her pain into something productive.

Thea is a character who is far from perfect. But she’s really layered and really interesting. She’s quick-witted and her zingers are biting, especially in this particular scene. She hates Malcolm, but she still cares about him. Because the thing you have to appreciate about Thea is the fact that no matter who hurts her, how badly they hurt her, or what happens in her life, she’ll always care about other people. She can’t help it. She wears her biting retorts and her sass as a mask to cover her scars, but she’s not heartless. She buys her evil dad soup. She forgives Roy and Oliver. She can’t pull the trigger to kill Slade.

She’ll never be innocent again. She’s had that stripped from her. But Thea’s innocence is never what made her an interesting character -- her strength and determination and ability to see the world the way she does is what makes her great.

There you have it, folks! These are some reasons we really love Thea Queen. Hit up the comments below and let us know what you love most about her. And stay tuned because as the season four premiere nears, we'll be doing more special things in our final week of #CountdownToArrow. :)


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