Arrow: 220 “Seeing Red” Review
Reviewed by Phil Boothman.
We’re now rapidly approaching the end of Arrow season two, and as such every single moment of every single episode counts as we build towards the finale. Unfortunately, the writers of “Seeing Red” didn’t seem to understand this, and gave us an episode in which nothing of much consequence really happens. Well, until the final heart-stopping moments, that is…
The episode centres on Roy and his unfortunate reaction to the mirakuru: after being subjected to all kinds of scientific nastiness at Slade’s hands last week, he starts the episode comatose in the Arrowcave. Naturally, because this is Bonkers Superhero Land, his unconsciousness doesn’t last long, and he wakes up in what can only be described as a berserker frenzy, throwing Dig across the room and then going on to cause some general havoc upstairs in Verdant.
In response, Felicity interrupts a moment between Sara and Oliver that is at once intimate and extremely awkward, calling them back to the Arrowcave to try and find Roy. However, their main tactic is to drive around the city hoping they’ll bump into him, but as soon as Sara points out how ridiculous that is, Felicity gets reports of a group of men who got beaten up by a man in a red hoody, and they head to the scene of the crime.
Unfortunately, Roy has found his way outside a bar where Sin is hanging out, and promptly opens a can of whoop-ass on some of Sin’s friends as they try to protect her. Sin then heads to Verdant and opens up to Sara about what happened to Roy over Christmas, and Felicity works out that he is heading east, towards the Queen family mansion. Sara is getting ready to head over there and kill Roy to stop him, which Oliver naturally has a slight problem with, but they receive a call from Sin just in time to kill the tension telling them that Roy is at the Clocktower Sara previously used as a base and Sin apparently still uses as a home.
The Arrow and the Canary head over to the Clocktower, where Roy wordlessly and violently drops down from the ceiling, knocks Sara unconscious and breaks Oliver’s knee with a single kick, then heads outside, straight up murders a cop and flees into the night as Oliver looks on helplessly. Sara manages to get Oliver to the hospital, where a doctor who is thankful to the Arrow for stopping the Triad stealing medical supplies some months ago fixes him up temporarily with a brace and some painkillers.
Elsewhere, Roy has a hallucination of Thea, in which she tells him to kill her, and he heads to Moira’s campaign rally at Verdant to do just that. Despite her pleading for him to remember her, he still grabs Thea and is looking like he’s going to kill her when Sara shows up and shoots him in the leg: he asks Sara to kill him, but as she is about to do just that Oliver shows up and shoots him full of snake venom, knocking him unconscious and placing him back in the coma he was in before. Oliver tells Sara that he’s not ready to give up on Roy, and she decides that she needs to leave because she was ready to kill him, thus showing that she is not good enough to be with Oliver. After a quick goodbye to Sin, she heads off to see an ‘old friend’, presumably of the lesbian assassin variety.
It’s an oddly frustrating A-plot, which seems to only exist to get Sara out of the picture for a little while (it’s been announced that she’ll be back in the finale, so she won’t be gone for long), as it ends with pretty much everyone involved back in exactly the same place as they were at the beginning of the episode. That kind of thing is fine for an episode in the middle of a season, but as we enter the endgame there’s really no excuse for the kind of story that goes nowhere.
Elsewhere, Moira is having second thoughts about her campaign, planning to use her latest rally to drop out of the mayoral race. However, Oliver convinces her to continue running, and in return Moira reveals that not only does she know that Oliver is the Arrow, and has known since the Undertaking, but she is also proud of him for what he does, and the circle of people who know Oliver’s secret expands to contain almost everyone else in the entire show: at this point I believe it’s only Thea and Quentin who don’t know.
Meanwhile, instead of an island flashback, we get an odd flashback to seven years ago as pre-island preppy douchebag Oliver panics after getting a girl pregnant. He vents to Moira about it, and Moira gets in touch with said girl, offering her a million dollars to tell Oliver she had a miscarriage and to leave Starling City forever, which she does.
It seems like a completely incongruous flashback, until the final moments of the episode: as the Queen family drives away from the rally/disaster area, their limo is T-boned by a truck, and they awake tied up in the middle of nowhere. Slade appears, and offers Oliver the same choice Ivo offered him on the island: to choose who dies, Thea or Moira. Oliver tearfully begs Slade to kill him instead, and Moira realises that Slade was on the island with Oliver, and stands up to sacrifice herself for her children. Slade tells her she is a brave woman, and puts his gun away.
Then he turns around and stabs Moira through the chest.
As she dies, the reason for the flashback becomes clear: it was to give one final example of what Moira would do for her family and to show that, no matter how devious or immoral the act, everything Moira did was in service of protecting her children.
An odd instalment of Arrow, “Seeing Red” adds little to the overall plot other than the shocking twist in the final moments, but with just three episodes left, the show can’t just subsist on ‘moments’: we need episodes with real impact.