SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for this week’s recently aired episode of “Arrow,” “Seeing Red.”
See that spoiler warning up there? It’s not for decoration — if you’re behind on “Arrow” and avoiding spoilers, this isn’t the article for you.
Those who did see this past Wednesday night’s “Arrow” installment know that an already significant episode featuring Roy (Colton Haynes) on a deadly Mirakuru-fueled rampage finished with Slade (Manu Bennett) dealing his unkindest cut yet to the Queen family — fatally stabbing the ethically challenged Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson) as she heroically sacrifices herself to save her kids Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Thea (Willa Holland).
The episode, directed by Doug Aarniokoski and written by Wendy Mericle and Beth Schwartz, left fans with quite a bit to freak out about. (We didn’t even mention the revelation that Oliver fathered a child years ago, and Moira manipulated him into falsely thinking said child was lost during the pregnancy.) “Arrow” executive producer Andrew Kreisberg talked to select media outlets, including CBR News, at The CW headquarters in Burbank to process the latest happenings on the DC Comics-inspired series.
What prompted the decision to kill Moira?
Andrew Kreisberg: I don’t want to give the impression that we sort of [said], “Well, somebody has to die, let’s spin the wheel. Bad luck, Moira.” Just as with Colin Donnell, it was difficult. Susanna has been with the show since the beginning. She was one of our big gets early on that I think really signaled to the audience and to reviews that this wasn’t your average CW show, it wasn’t your average superhero show. Like with Colin Donnell, these last episodes are 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. Truthfully, you see all of those scenes with her and Stephen, and her importance to the show in helping Willa and Stephen go from solid actors to amazing actors.
It really was, just like with Tommy, “Where is her trajectory going?” In season one, she has this incredible secret, that she was part of The Undertaking. She suffered for it, and went to jail for it, and then we discovered she had an even better secret — that Thea is really the daughter of Malcolm Merlyn. When that secret blew up, it split the whole family apart. Obviously, we’ve been taking steps to bring people back together again, and knowing it was only going to be powerful if Slade really changed the game by doing something truly monstrous, it was, “Well, if Moira wins the mayorship, if she makes up with her kids, what is she?” What is Moira without a giant secret? And if they all forgive her, and then there’s some other giant secret, for us it sort of felt like we were becoming a soap opera.
In a way, she could die a hero’s 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. You just literally can’t change her, despite the fact that she sacrifices herself for her children — which is so amazing, yet she was still lying. We felt like ending it at this time left you with that great feeling of what an amazing character she was, rather than let her become a caricature. That was the math, and just like Tommy, it was horrible math, and it was tearful math, but her death, just like with Tommy, has a profound impact on everyone on this series. It’s certainly 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 season three.
On Moira knowing that Oliver is secretly “The Arrow”:
Kreisberg: We had always talked about the idea that Moira knew that Oliver was The Arrow. There’s actually been a couple of other places where we were like, “Oh, this is where she should let him know.” One of the great things about last year’s season finale was, when Oliver walks in to talk to her, he’s not Oliver Queen. He’s the Arrow. She’d be borderline low IQ if she wasn’t like, “Wait a minute…” We always liked that she had never told him, and everything just sort of felt like it came together in this one episode.
Secrets are a tough thing. It’s one of the most interesting things about writing this show — “When are secrets good, and when are secrets bad?” Even for Oliver, he hasn’t told Laurel, because he had an idea in his head that she shouldn’t know. He was wrong, and he’s going to find out that he was wrong not to tell her, because she could handle it. We love that we have a superhero show where the heroes are doing the wrong thing a lot of the time, and making bad decisions, even with the best of intentions. I think that’s ultimately the thing about Moira. We always said she’s doing the wrong thing for the right reasons, and everything she does, she does because she loves and wants to protect her children. Even if that means blowing up a city, lying to them, hurting their feelings — I think one of the most interesting things for us was realizing that our villain, Moira, and our hero, Oliver, were essentially doing the same thing.
On the secret Moira was about to reveal in the car:
Kreisberg: I think what she was about to tell them is going to play out sooner than you think.
How will Moira’s death affect Thea?
Kreisberg: 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 — and Malcolm is going to offer her what she doesn’t have anymore.
That was part of our math with killing Moira. If we were going to send Thea in that direction, she needed to have nothing pulling her back here. And now she has a brother who lied to her, and has done something unforgivable, and no mother. On the flipside, she has Malcolm Merlyn, saying, “I will never lie to you, Thea.”
What does Moira’s death mean for the Starling City mayoral race, now that one candidate is dead and the other is evil?
Kreisberg: I think the politics of Starling City are probably less important than the fact that there’s going to be supervillains running around the city. [Laughs] The one thing you don’t get from this episode is that maybe Slade didn’t just kill Moria to piss Oliver off, and maybe somebody realizes that.
How significant will Roy killing a cop during his rampage be to the character going forward?
Kreisberg: That is also something that is going to play out in season 3. When Roy wakes up, he doesn’t remember anything that’s happened to him in the last seven episode. We sort of say in this one he kind of went “full Mirakuru.” When he wakes up, it’s, “Did anything happen while I was asleep?” Now it’s, “Do we tell Roy that he killed somebody,” because that wasn’t him. Yet again — secrets, secrets, secrets. These crazy kids never seem to learn their lesson.
How permanent are the Queen family’s financial problems?
Kreisberg: We’re going to make it a thing. That plays out in the last five episodes, and we’re going to start season three with Oliver in very different circumstances that he’s been before — obviously him being in different circumstances changes the circumstances of his paid bodyguard and his paid assistant, since he can no longer pay them.
We are really proud that season 2 had a substantially different look, and the sets felt different, and the circumstances felt different, and there was different casting — for season 3, we really want to continue that. You’ll see that some of our standing sets from season 1 and 2 that we’ve come to know and love as being “Arrow’ are going to be retired for reasons that will become apparent. We’ve already seen designs for some of the new sets for season 3, which are amazing. We want the show to constantly feel like it’s evolving and changing and growing.
How significant will Oliver’s knee injury be to the final episodes of season two?
Kreisberg: His mother is dead, his sister hates him, he blames himself, Sara’s gone, his knee hurts, Roy’s in a coma. We literally were like, “How bad can we make this?” And we have. He really is coming from the lowest point he could come. The arc of his season is, “Is Oliver Queen a killer, or is he a hero?” He’s been trying to be the Arrow, and now he’s had everyone and everything he loves taken away from him. He’s been hobbled. His team is in shambles. He’s lost his company. His mother is dead. 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?
Is there a character name for the woman who was pregnant with Oliver Queen’s child in the flashback?
Kreisberg: (coyly) … no. The best part of the success that the show has had is knowing that we were going to be able to make more, and knowing that we could drop these things, and pay them off later. That experience is something that will be paid off in season three.
Will Sara (Caity Lotz) be back before the end of the season?
Kreisberg: Sara will be back.
On how the next episode, “City of Blood,” starts:
Kreisberg: The next episode opens with Moira’s funeral, and Oliver is missing.
“Arrow” airs 8 p.m. Wednesdays on The CW.
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