Arrow’s treatment of Sara’s death has been one of my bigger criticisms for the show this season. I didn’t like the ableist way Laurel handled it by refusing to tell Quentin—though that’s at least changed these past few episodes—but the bigger issue that a lot of people have pointed out is that Sara was an established bisexual character. She was complex and intriguing, and good bisexual representation is really hard to come by in our media.
Her lover, Nyssa al Ghul, swears revenge on Sara’s killer. Unfortunately for Nyssa, Oliver Queen decides to take the blame for what happened. To Deliver Grief is a oneshot that takes place after Oliver’s duel with Ra’s. Nyssa, knowing Felicity’s feelings for Oliver, and feeling a bit of kinship with her because of both their losses, decides to go back to Starling City to tell Felicity the truth about what happened to Oliver.
Needless to say, Team Arrow does not take either the news or Nyssa’s presence well. She did threaten to murder a whole bunch of people right before Oliver’s supposed death. But Nyssa is not one to be deterred.
Nyssa places the sword on the nearest table before turning back to Felicity. “I am sorry,” she says.
“Be specific,” Felicity snaps, “you’re sorry for what? Threatening to kill the people of Starling, so Oliver has no other option? Watching your father kill him? Not bringing him home?”
“He is no more. His body is a mere vessel, one you neither want nor need.”
“You don’t know that.”
“I saw my beloved, right on that table,” Nyssa says, pointing at the very table she has placed the blade that took Oliver, “and I regretted it. Until now I cannot recall her without recalling the death that veiled her face, the blue of her cold veins. I wish to spare you that.”
“Not really helping,” says Felicity, her voice trembling. “Not when you bring the sword that killed him with his blood on it.”
“Nothing can help the sorrow of a bereft lover. It is something I know well, and I am sorry that you have to endure the same.”
To Deliver Grief is a short story; I was pleasantly surprised by it and disappointed that it wasn’t longer. It’s well written, it informs us about the characters, and it explores Nyssa’s feelings over Sara’s death. She and Felicity don’t leave this conversation as friends; they’re still enemies at the end, and Felicity never wants to see Nyssa again—Oliver’s death is partly her fault, after all.
As the oneshot ends, we gain a better understanding of Nyssa’s character, even though she and Felicity don’t really understand each other. Nyssa is someone who sees the worst in people. She accepts death as a natural part of life because that’s what she was taught from an early age. Everyone, save her father, will die at some point. Felicity doesn’t accept that. The two of them operate on two very different paradigms of thought. The story ends with Felicity making Nyssa swear by her own name, not her father’s, to never return to Starling City again. Nyssa agrees, even though no one on Team Arrow could stop her if they wanted to, and says that she won’t come back even when the city inevitably goes to hell again.
At just over 1200 words, To Deliver Grief is a short, easy read. It’s not a fun story, since it’s about two women mourning their lovers, but it is really well written and it understands the characters it’s exploring. You can check it out here on AO3.