'Arrow' Review: "Seeing Red"

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The CW

Arrow’ season 2 lets loose its twentieth episode of the year with “Seeing Red,” as Roy loses control of his strength in a mirakuru rage and goes on a rampage, for which Oliver and the team are forced to make an impossible choice, just before another tragedy strikes.

Last week's ‘Arrow’ installment “The Man Under the Hood” saw Oliver fighting to prevent Slade from achieving his goal of a Mirakuru-enhanced army, enlisting the help of a few 'Flash' characters, while Laurel wrestled with her newfound knowledge of the Arrow's identity, so what does the twentieth episode of ‘Arrow’ season 2 bring? Is all hope for Roy lost as we head into the final episodes of the season?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Arrow’ season 2, episode 20, “Seeing Red!”

Roy remains comatose in the lair as Felicity searches for news on Isabel Rochev’s death, though Roy quickly disappears off the table and surprises the team, seeming more rage-filled than ever. Diggle follows Roy upstairs, but loses him in the crowd. Meanwhile, Oliver and Sara enjoy a night off as Oliver suggests they find a place of their own, before Felicity calls with news of Roy.

Moira and her aide meet with a reporter to discuss her pulling ahead in the polls of Sebastian Blood, before Thea interrupts to deny Moira the club as a venue for her fundraiser the following night. Moira reminds Thea that she signed a contract, while her aid urges her to choose between being a mother, and being a candidate. Seven years earlier, Oliver brushes Laurel off over what has him in a mopey mood, before admitting to Moira that he got another girl pregnant.

Back in the present, Oliver and Sara follow a trail of injured thugs, while Sin attempts to confront Roy outside of a club. Roy easily decimates a group of men concerned about their conflict, before backhanding Sin to the ground, and again running off. The next day, Thea expresses her annoyance with Diggle following her around for protection, before Sin shows up and asks Sara for her help with whatever seems to be afflicting Roy.

Moira visits Sebastian Blood to reveal that she’ll be dropping out of the race, as she needs to tend to her daughter. Back in the past, Oliver wonders what to do about his pregnant mistress, to which Moira poses that the baby night not even be his, before departing to make a call. In the present, Sin calls Sara to reveal that Roy appears to have holed up in their old clock tower.

Oliver and Sara arrive attempting to reach Roy at the tower, though he ignores them and severely injures Oliver’s leg before escaping once more. Outside, two police offers attempt to subdue Roy, only to have him stab one with Oliver’s arrow and incapacitate the other. Afterward, Oliver seeks treatment for his knee with a doctor grateful for the vigilante’s earlier intervention with the Triad medicine embargo. Meanwhile, Diggle attempts to get through to Thea about her family, before Thea recognizes Roy on the news for his rampage.

Oliver attempts to further treat his leg with herbal remedies, while Sara insists they’ll need to kill Roy, having had the same attempt to reach Slade’s better half years earlier. Oliver laments that Sara lacks hope in the manner he once did upon returning from the island, though Felicity reminds him he found it eventually. Elsewhere, Thea visits with Sin to learn of Roy’s injection months earlier, theorizing that it might be why Oliver tasked Diggle with protecting her. Meanwhile, Roy experiences a hallucination of Thea that blames herself for their problems, and begs Roy to kill her.

After learning of her true plan for the rally, Oliver attempts to dissuade his mother from dropping out, pointing out that she’d be better served to show Thea she can do good work, rather than linger on past deeds. To Oliver’s surprise, Moira admits that she’d known of his nocturnal activities since the time of the Undertaking, and couldn’t be prouder of her son. In the past, Moira meets with Oliver’s mistress privately and offers the girl $1 million to tell Oliver she lost the baby, and another million to move to Central City, wanting to look out for the futures of both her son and her grandchild.

Moira goes to deliver her rally speech, preparing to concede the race to Sebastian Blood, but ultimately decides to follow through on Oliver’s suggestion and press on with the race for Thea. Afterward, Thea takes the podium and delivers a show of support for her mother, though Oliver realizes she simply wants to lure Roy to the club for a confrontation. A short while later, Roy arrives and fights off security, Diggle included, before raising Thea by the throat. Sara appears and takes aim, but at Sin’s protest, merely shoots Roy in the knee while Oliver hits him with three tranquilizing arrows, finally bringing him down.

With Roy safely tranquilized for the moment, Sara admits that she had every intention of killing him, and can’t shake free of the darkness like Oliver learned to. Choosing to leave Starling behind, Sara says her goodbyes to Oliver and Sin, riding out of town to “see an old friend.” Later, Moira, Oliver and Thea share a limo home, as Thea insists that the lies between the two of them do more damage than any threats they might protect her from. Moira agrees, and goes to share something about Malcolm Merlyn that neither Thea nor Oliver know, just before their limo is blindsided by another car.

Oliver awakens by the side of the road to find Slade hovering over a bound Moira and Thea, as Slade demands he make the same choice Ivo once posed him for Sara and Shado. Oliver protests that there was never anything he could to do save Shado, offering up his own life instead, before realizing that Slade still sees Shado as if she were present. Oliver refuses to choose between his mother and his sister, before Moira stands and offers herself to spare her children. Slade admires her courage, holstering his pistol, so instead he runs Moira through with his sword, killing her, before departing.

In the past, Oliver learns from his mistress that she lost the baby, bittersweetly lamenting to his mother that he wouldn’t have known what to do as a father. Moira assures him she’ll always be with him, as in the present Oliver and Thea cradle their dead mother’s body.

OUR REVIEW:

Boy…that escalated quickly. I mean, that really got out of hand fast! No, we’re serious! Don’t get us wrong, there wasn’t anything overtly wrong with “Seeing Red” going into the final minutes, though Roy’s nondescript anger could only have taken us so far as a plot device, and choosing this particular moment in the series for Moira’s first flashback episode, especially one with such an atonally afterschool plot certainly seemed like an odd choice. And then…bam! Good grief. Not only did Moira deduce on her own that Oliver was the Arrow (seriously, come on, Quentin!), but Slade brutally took over the episode to deliver one of the most gripping, heart-rending scenes of the series to date.

Man. These old eyes have seen quite a bit of TV in their day, and gotten reasonably good enough at following production and storytelling cues to see major deaths coming a mile away, but we in no way saw those final minutes coming. Keeping in mind the literal blindside to the scene, it’s especially gutsy of The CW and ‘Arrow’’s writing staff not only to kill off such a pivotal character, but to do so in such a tense, unpredictable way that could have seen Slade’s paradigm unfolding in any number of directions. We wanted to believe that Slade might honestly have respected Moira’s courage to the point of delaying any death for another day, but out came the sword, and gone goes our feeling of security. Seriously, between all the sobbing and Oliver’s desperate, logical pleas that he could never have saved Shado, who hadn’t even loved Slade to begin with, that scene hurt. This, this was our ‘Dark Knight’ moment at last.

Shaking off THAT scene for a moment, and all its subsequent implications, it was good of “Seeing Red” to have the main cast take the spotlight again after last week’s installment got a bit bogged down in its jarring ‘Flash’ introductions. Even minor appearances like Laurel’s flashback moments, Sin’s interventions or Sebastian Blood’s minor role helped to bring things a bit more full circle, so as not to get lost in the aimless destruction caused by Roy, the source of which seemed a bit shaky to begin with. If anything, the rampage at least brought back to the surface some of the core ideology differences between Oliver and Sara, and while her ultimate decision to break up with Oliver and flee town rang a bit false in light of everything still happening with Slade around them, it at least gave a nice bit of balance to their earlier moments of bliss. The final episodes have already begun putting Ollie through the ringer, and we needed to see a few of the ups before everything went way, way down.

We’ll need some more time to process everything, and suss out how Moira’s death will inform the three (!) remaining episodes of the season, but however clunky and inconsequential “Seeing Red” might have seemed in some spots, good grief did the ‘Arrow’ team knock this one out of the park by the end. Oliver and Moira’s relationship has rightly proven all over the map this season, compounded by an uncertain future generated by Moira’s complacence in the Undertaking plot to begin with, but her death will cast a major shadow on the series going forward, let alone the last of the season. Presence like that of Susanna Thompson is hard to come by, and ‘Arrow’ pulled out some major touchstones of Moira’s maternal strength for a farewell episode we never saw coming.

Ugh. I need a hug.

AND ANOTHER THING...

  • I bet big belly Felicity is even more adorable, you guys.
  • Gotta hand it to the flashbacks for suggesting a more youthful Moira with a few scant hair and wardrobe tweaks. That said, if you thought Oliver's first season flashback wigs were bad...
  • Interesting addition to have a Starling doctor who doesn't mind tending to the vigilante now and again. Wonder if it'll stick.
  • I will have to wonder if Moira knowing Oliver's identity all along tracks with what we've seen from the character all season, but it's plausible enough, I suppose.
  • Yes, we glossed over the fact that Oliver apparently has a 7 year-old in Central City. We imagine they'll find something of use to do with that by next season.
  • Any guesses on Sara's "old friend?" League of Assassins vs. Mirakuru army, anyone?

Well, what say you?  Did ‘Arrow’ hit the mark with its latest installment? Were you shocked by Moira's ultimate fate? Give us your reactions in the comments, and join us next Wednesday for another all-new ‘Arrow’ recap of season 2, episode 21, “City of Blood” on The CW!

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