Arrow expanded its roster in a big way for Season 5, and Oliver has more allies than ever before in Team Arrow. One of those allies hasn't actually appeared all that often, however, and all the magical rags and origin stories haven't been able to distract from the fact that Thea Queen has been hard to find in Season 5. Now, executive producer Marc Guggenheim has an answer to the question of where Thea has been, and it has everything to do with actress Willa Holland. He had this to say:
Everyone's, like, 'where's Thea?' Well, Willa's [in] 14 out of 23 episodes this year. She's not in all 23. That's not her contract. So we've had to write around that... It's complicated. We try to make the process invisible in terms of our storytelling, but there are just human realities and contractual realities that not only tie our hands, but tie the hands of everyone running a show these days.
Well, there we have it. Arrow isn't necessarily in the process of writing Thea out or replacing her altogether with a crew of newbies; Willa Holland's availability has simply influenced how and when they can use her character on the show. Holland is billed as a regular and has been from the very beginning, but she has also been known to miss episodes in years past, so her absences in Season 5 aren't necessarily cause for alarm. If she's only contracted for 14 out of 23 episodes, she has flexibility for other areas of her life. Marc Guggenheim's explanation at a recent Q&A event (via Green Arrow TV) may help Thea fans rest easier.
All things considered, Arrow has done a pretty solid job in justifying why Thea isn't around all the time. She no longer lives with Oliver, she no longer joins Team Arrow on missions, and she no longer has a job directly above the Green Arrow's secret vigilante lair. Her work as Oliver's chief of staff has kept her busy at City Hall, far away from the shenanigans of Oliver and Co. on the streets. In fact, given how much of his time Mayor Oliver devotes to hitting the streets as the Green Arrow, it's somewhat surprising that Thea ever has time to leave the office. She seems to do most of the work actually running the city.
Personally, I was bummed at the beginning of Season 5 to discover that Thea was giving up on her work as Speedy - outside of the occasional alien invasion/crossover event, that is - but it's been nice to see how she has grown into her civilian role. As great as Thea was as Speedy, she has always shown aptitude for managerial positions. She was excellent as the boss at Verdant, she delegated during Oliver's campaign like a pro, and she's currently working her hardest for Star City. Good for her for finding something that she enjoys without immersing herself back in darkness.
Willa Holland hasn't yet appeared in her bare minimum of 14 episodes, so we still have more of Thea to see in Season 5. Tune in to The CW on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET to discover what she's up to in Star City, and check out our midseason TV premiere schedule for a look at what other superhero action you can catch on the small screen.