This post discusses the events of Arrow‘s most recent (4/23) episode. Spoilers. You’ve been warned.
When Arrow began, its number of full-time characters was only 7 (Oliver, Thea, Moira, Tommy, Laurel, Quentin, Diggle). Prior to tonight’s “Seeing Red” that number was up to 10 (Oliver, Thea, Moira, Laurel, Quentin, Diggle, Felicity, Roy, Slade Wilson, Sara) along with 3 recurring players (Isabel Rochev, Sin, Sebastian Blood). Arrow had been coping with it pretty much the same way the CW’s similarly stuffed, serialized drama Vampire Diaries normally does: simply rotating various characters in and out, meaning several characters (usually Roy or Laurel) would disappear for unexplained stretches of time. Of course, Vampire Diaries is also fond of another option, which is to just kill some characters off entirely. If you’d been reading the signs you could see that’s where Arrow was headed, and the producers certainly did nothing to dispel such assumptions, claiming no one was safe.
But who really expected them to start out the cast subtraction by have Slade Wilson stick a sword through Moira’s chest while Oliver and Thea helplessly watched? Holy smurf! Rather than wait until the season finale to drop the hammer, as they did with Tommy’s death last season, they offed poor Moira while there were still several episodes left to go.
Arrow‘s Executive Producer would likely argue with the argument I’ve made about the need to thin the herd. About Moira’s death, he told The Hollywood Reporter “I don’t want to give the impression that [it was like] ‘Welp! Somebody has to die, let’s spin the wheel. And, bad luck Moira.'” Kreisberg was pretty busy chatting up the events of “Seeing Red” to reporters. Here’s what he told Entertainment Weekly’s InsideTV blog and THR:
Why did they decide to kill Moira?
One of the great reveals of Arrow’s stellar pilot was that Moira was somehow involved in the accident which resulted in her son being shipwrecked for 5 years. Though they ultimately were just using it as a misdirection, for all the world Moira seemed like she’d be one of the show’s villains. Instead, she turned out to be a woman with a dark secret whose actions were dictated not by selfish self-preservation but motherly devotion to protecting her children. However, once that was revealed at the end of the first season the writers struggled with using her in season 2, rushing her through the world’s quickest trial of a clearly guilty accomplice to mass murder, revealing she was again harboring a huge secret, and nonsensically placing her in the middle of a mayoral election. It was clear that in their conception of the character a Moira who was not guarding a secret of some kind was not Moira at all.
So, Kreisberg says killing her was partially to avoid making her a caricature “When we were talking about the future, knowing that it was only going to be powerful if Slade was going to change the game by doing something truly monstrous –if Moira wins the mayorship, if she makes up with her kids, what is Moira without a giant secret? If they all forgive her and then there’s some other giant secret, for us it felt like we were becoming a soap opera.” It’s important to pause and note that Kreisberg said that with no trace of irony. Does he not realize how much of a soap opera Arrow already is? “It really just felt like, in a way, she could die a heroes death and also die this person who was conflicted. Because even as she’s saying, ‘Hey, we have to tell the truth,’ we’re seeing that she’s kept this other horrible secret.”
How hard was it to say goodbye to Susanna Thompson?
Um, not easy. It’s not like Thompson was dreadful in the role thus making her leaving a delight, “Susanna has been with the show since the beginning and she was one of our big [casting] gets early on that really signaled to the audience and to reviewers that this wasn’t your average CW show. And like with Colin Donnell [whose character was killed off in the season 1 finale], these last few episodes were her pinnacle. This is as good as anything that’s on television, and unfortunately, because of the kind of show it is, probably won’t be recognized as such.”
Why have Moira turn out to have known Oliver was the Arrow for at least this entire season?
The second Moira told Oliver, “I know,” was the second you should have realized this was her last episode of Arrow. They wouldn’t just have her drop the bombshell that she’d known her son was the Arrow for at around a year in the middle of any old episode. They were doing it now because it felt important to learn before she dies that the queen of secrets knew about Oliver’s for so long. Sure, her proclamation that she couldn’t be more proud about him does kind of paper over more practical questions which might arise, such as, “The Arrow, or somehow claiming to be him, kidnapped me, and then beat you before my eyes last year. How’d you pull that off, son?” However, according to Kreisberg, “We had always talked about the idea that Moira knew that Oliver was the Arrow.” Specifically, after Oliver stormed into Moira’s room in Queen Manor in the season 1 finale, demanded that they do something to stop Malcolm, and then left with the stern proclamation, “Somebody in this family needs to put an end to this, whatever the cost,” Moira’d “be borderline low IQ if she wasn’t like, ‘Wait a minute…’ But we always liked that she had never told him and everything sort of felt like it came together in this one episode.”
Will we hear any more about Oliver’s bastard baby? Or the cop that Roy killed?
So, Oliver has a bastard child out there in Central City he doesn’t even know about? For starters, Kreisberg says the writers haven’t created a name for the kid yet (word of advice: Jon Snow is taken), but it’s not the last time we’ll hear of this mystery kid. “You know, I think like we did in season 1, the seeds for season 2 were planted in season one. The best part of the success that the show has had was knowing we were going to be able to make more and knowing that we could drop these things in and pay them off later….This is something that will be paid off in season 3.”
As for Roy’s new homicide, Kreisberg would only say they will address but “that’s going to play out in season 3.”
What does this mean for the rest of the season?
So, the next episode will begin with Moira’s funeral, and Oliver missing. However, the rest of the season beyond that is described as a “race against the clock,” with indications that the actual finale may play out in 24-like real time.
“[Oliver]’s mother is dead, his sister hates him, he blames himself, Sarah is gone, his knee hurts, Roy is in a coma. We were literally like, ‘How bad can we make this?’ And we really have. He really is coming from the lowest point that he could come. What is Oliver Queen going to do? Is he going to be that guy on the island or is he going to be something else?”
Plus, in different interviews prior to “Seeing Red” the producers have repeatedly teased the possibility of multiple familiar faces popping up in the finale, though Kreisberg outright told THR Malcolm Merlyn will be back, “All hell is going to break loose in the city and Thea will find herself in a precarious predicament and she will be saved by her father. Malcolm is going to offer her what she doesn’t have anymore. If we were going to send Thea in that direction, she needed to have nothing pulling her back here.”
What does any of this mean for season 3?
As you’d expect, Moira’s death will have a lasting impact, “That was the math — it was horrible math, it was tearful math but her death has a profound impact on everyone on the series. It’s certainly is what’s going to drive Oliver in these last three episodes and it’s going to drive Thea, not only in these last three episodes but also into series 3. Sometimes the worst thing you can do personally is the best thing you can do professionally.”
However, the entire show will look different by the start of season 3, “We’re going to start season 3 in very different circumstances than he’s been before. Which, obviously, him being in different circumstances changes the circumstances of his paid bodyguard and his paid assistant — since he can no longer pay them,” he says. “It’s like any long-running show you turn on in re-runs. You can watch the episode for about 4 seconds and know, ‘Oh, that’s season 3. Or that’s season 4. And it’s not just the haircuts. The show has a different feel.” They’ve already dismantled some of their long-standing sets, and are currently designing new sets for season 3. Could this mean a final goodbye to Queen Manor?
What do you think? Worried? Still confused? Let us know in the comments.
You can also check out an interview Susanna Thompson conducted with THR discussing when she knew she was being written out, and how long she thinks Moira knew Oliver’s secret.