Oh my god, last night's episode, "Seeing Red," was amazing! That was the kind of crazy, twisted episode that completely jolts an entire season. I can't even go on without spoilers, so let's just go to the recap. I mean, damn!
First, anyone else think that this episode got its name from the Buffy episode? It shares enough similar elements.
Much of the episode was Roy waking up from his coma and killing people in a drug-fueled haze, and Thea bratting around with her family, and Sara wanting to kill Roy, and Roy attacking Sin and Thea, and just as Sara is about to kill Roy, Ollie knocks him out with pit viper venom and puts him back in a coma.
In the end, Sara decides she's a killer and goes off to see an "old friend," and that's the only part of that you need to remember. The memory of the rest of that storyline you can cough out like a chicken bone. You can take its body and throw it in a pit and let the dogs eat it. If doctors ever find a way to erase memories and need a test case, volunteer your memories of that part of the episode. It's not that it was bad. It's that it was one, 45-minute-long fake-out for what's really happening, and that was all about Moira.
Thea breaks into Moira's interview with a member of the press and brats about how she's a terrible mother. This I can excuse. Moira is talking about how being a mother makes her a better politician, which first, piss off, and second, is proven to be untrue in this very episode. In fact, her aide actually says it after the interview. He tells Moira she has to choose between being a mother and being a campaigner, so Moira decides to quit the campaign at the next rally.
Usually we have Island flashbacks, but in this case, we flash back to before the island, with Ollie still at the mansion. The flashback starts out with Ollie and Laurel - who is in her usual role of Completely Superfluous Person. She talks about how Ollie is mopey, and I don't blame him. Given the wig he's always in in these scenes he's probably thinking, "No one could love me with this hair." But, no! A mother could love him! As Laurel leaves, Moira comes in and gently pries. Ollie finally admits, "I screwed up. It's bad."
I imagine every parent has a mental list they go through when their kid says something like that - "Drug addiction? Gambling debts? Accidentally killed someone? Deliberately killed someone?" I don't know where "pregnant/got someone pregnant" falls on the list, but that's what Ollie did. After he admits that, he has to let Moira know that it isn't Laurel who he got pregnant. He whines a bit about how he made one mistake and now he feels like his life is over. Moira collects herself, reassures him, and walks off with purpose in her step.
Flashback Moira gets that girl in pronto, and has her sit down on the Queen couch. Moira starts looking through a file, which the girl sees is all about her, and Moira keeps insinuating things, mentioning how thorough the investigators are, and how the Queen family gets shaken down for money all the time. She hands the girl a check, and when the girl says she doesn't want money, Moira smiles and says, "This is my first grandchild and I want to make certain that he or she has a bright future."
She waits until the girl takes the check, and sees the amount, to say, "I want to make certain my son has a bright future, as well."
The payout, she explains, is two million dollars for telling Ollie that she had a miscarriage and moving back to Central City, never to speak to him again. In a creepy move, Moira takes the girls hand and gives her some "mother to mother" advice - "When it comes to your children, there is no action that is inconceivable. There is no decision that is impossible. You do what you must to provide the life that they need, and I think that two million dollars is sufficient to provide the life that both our children need."
Back in the present day, Ollie, banged up from his encounters with Roy, hears from Moira's aide that she's going to drop out of the race. He comes to Moira and tells her she should stay on. He explains, stumbling a bit on how to say what he wants without giving away his secret, that he had to sacrifice people he cared about to do what was needed to be done. Moira smiles and says, "I know." When he turns away, she says, with emphasis, "Oliver, I know. I know." She's known for a year. See, this is the thing that makes a person watch a season all over again - even those slow episodes in the beginning third. Damnit, Arrow! Moira hugs Ollie, and says she couldn't be more proud.
Her speech at the rally is one of the moments that really worked for me. She seems about to quit, looks at Oliver, and decides against it. She assures people that she will do her best to save the city. Without this, this entire episode, and her entire character, would be about her doing things for her children in the sense of helping them out and making them happy. In this scene you understand that she's doing things for her children in the sense that she's inspired by her adult child, and uses that inspiration to do what she thinks is right in her own life.
Given what happens later, Arrow is less brutal than it could have been. Although Thea remains harsh towards her mother, she gives a brief statement of support at the rally. Towards the end of the episode - after Roy disrupts the rally and is put down with pit viper venom - Thea even opens the door to a better relationship with her mother and brother. In the limo, she chastises both Ollie and Moira for lying, but indicates she's open to rebuilding the relationship. Moira seems content - and is about to tell the kids that Malcolm Merlyn is alive, when a their car is sideswiped with a suddenness that made me jump.
Ollie swims back into consciousness seeing his mother's distraught face. I was expecting Barrowman, but in fact, it's Slade. He's tied up the three of them, and, in a reenactment of Shado's death scene, makes Ollie choose between Moira and Thea. Ollie begs Slade to kill him instead, then kind of dissolves - and I don't blame him. This scene is intense, and no one watching has any illusions that it will end anything but horribly.
Moira becomes very calm, and slowly, with her hands tied behind her back, gets to her feet. She faces Slade and says they both know that there's only one way this night can end - "Both my children will live." He sheathes the gun, and says she has "true courage," and then stabs her through the heart. He says he has one more person to kill, neatly slices through Thea's cuffs, leaving her unharmed, and walks off.
The last scene is young Ollie, in his wig, getting the "news" that the girl has lost the baby. He puts on an unconvincing smile and says he's the "luckiest guy in the world," but begins to tear up. Moira assures him he'll be a father some day, when he's ready. Hugging Moira, he asks what he would have done without her, and she replies, "You're never without me."
I have mixed feelings. I hate character death, and I wish more comic book characters were strongly influenced by their mothers instead of just their fathers. Moira, Walter, and Barrowman, and to a certain extent Quentin, were a relief on a show that's heavy on twenty-somethings complaining about their relationships. At the same time, that was a hell of a swansong. I enjoyed that Moira was not a perfect person, and that her maternal side was very much balanced by her sense that she was building a dynasty, not just a family.
And just to shake out the intensity, I like that the series is building Ollie up to have as many secret children as comic book Ollie does. How long, do you think, before that kid shows up? And will it be Connor or Cissie or Robert?