This week’s episode of Arrow, which the creators of the show have been calling the beginning of a four-episode season finale, exemplified everything about the show that we have all grown to love this season. It was intense, bold, emotional, and powerful, and it delivered where it counted, when it counted.
Seeing Red picked up right where The Man Under the Hood left off, and we rejoined Oliver, Diggle, Felicity, and Sara as they attempted to find a cure for the Mirakuru that threatened to unravel Roy’s body, and as we see later on in the episode, his psyche. While having the Mirakuru send Roy on a rampage was an expected twist to be sure, I think seeing him finally snap like that has been long overdue, especially considering just how rough these past couple episodes have been for him and how the Mirakuru has only made it all worse.
While Roy’s violent outbreak didn’t quite reach the heights it could have, primarily because he ended up exactly the same way he started, the scenario did allow for some really great moments, including several examples of just how violent the Mirakuru can make someone, as Roy injured almost almost a dozen people and even killed a police officer in a particularly violent scene. He also managed to take down both Sara and Oliver in a fight at the same time when they came to confront him, which was no small feat to be sure. Roy actually came dangerously close to paralyzing Oliver for good when he brutally stomped down on his knee after he had already won the fight, and I know I wasn’t the only who winced as Oliver screamed out in pain. It was a brutal moment, but I appreciated the reminder that Oliver is far from invincible as we saw him struggle with the pain of the injury for the rest of the episode.
As Roy got increasingly more out of control, however, Oliver had to decide whether or not he could truly be saved, or if he was doomed to leave a trail of bodies behind him. As it turns out, however, it was Sara who was the one willing to end it when the time came for it, and as Roy held Thea in the air by her throat, seemingly ready to kill her, I almost thought that would be the end for him. Sara seemed awfully eager to put him down like the mad dog he seemed to be, but as was expected, Oliver came to the rescue and subdued Roy with the same powerful snake poison he used on Slade a couple episodes back.
All this acted as a nice way for Sara to finally confess that she was far from healed from her time on the island, and while I rolled my eyes a little bit at her admittance that she wasn’t safe for Oliver to be close to, I appreciated the development for her character and really look forward to seeing where she goes from here. Especially if it includes bring Malcolm Merlyn or the League of Assassins back into the mix for the upcoming season finale.
However, the real standout moment from Seeing Red was in its final minutes. While it’s true that I’ve had some mixed feelings for Moira throughout the show, Seeing Red defined her character in a way that the show hasn’t been able to do before, and it perfectly married the selfish manipulator we know her to be with the devoted and caring mother she strives to be. The flashback involving her dealing with Oliver’s confession of having gotten a girl pregnant just emphasized this further, as she literally went on to bribe the young girl to disappear forever and lie to Oliver about the baby’s survival.
This all came to an inevitable climax when, after delivering a powerful speech at the final rally for her candidacy for Mayor of Starling City, Moira, along with Oliver and Thea, were assaulted and subsequently kidnapped by Slade Wilson himself, who had his own dark motives in mind. It was a powerful scene to see Oliver wake up and see his mother and sister being held at gunpoint in front of him, in the same way Sara and Shado were back on the island, and the anguish Oliver exhibited as he realized he had to chose for one to live, and one to die was heartbreaking. This might just be one of the best episodes for actor Stephen Amell, as he perfectly nailed the many different aspects of Oliver’s character, and it just goes to show how far he’s come since the first episode.
The performances from everyone involved were truly spectacular, and Moira’s final words, as she gained the courage to literally volunteer for death in order to save her children, sent chills running down my spine and sent her character out on what was probably the highest note possible.
Moira’s death was just as powerful and shocking as Tommy’s was at the end of Season 1, and I applaud the writers of the show for that bold, yet rousing, plot twist. The stage is now very much set for an explosive confrontation between Oliver and Slade that can only end badly, and I cannot wait to see it unfold in next week’s episode.