‘Arrow’ Season 2 Recap, Episode 20: ‘Seeing Red’
The CW’s superhero series Arrow re-imagines Green Arrow for a TV audience as a tough, often ruthless vigilante bent on setting things right in his home of Starling City by punishing the wicked. ComicsAlliance’s Matt Wilson follows along to see how he fares.
In this week's episode, "Seeing Red," Roy goes on a rampage, a relationship reaches the breaking point, and a character becomes far more sympathetic (and on TV, you know what that means).
Obviously, SPOILERS follow.
Smoak and Dig are in the Arrowcave, helpfully reminding the audience about the events of recent weeks (Rochev’s “death,” namely) while Roy lies comatose on a table. They agree on sushi for dinner because Big Belly Burger is giving Smoak a “big belly,” (come on now), but just as Dig leaves the room, Roy mysteriously disappears from the table. Smoak turns around and there Roy is, trying his best to look threatening, though he comes off looking more constipated.
Roy flips over a table and smashes all of Smoak's computers. He also knocks Dig down, but it’s basically as if that didn’t even happen, because in the next shot, Dig is up and yelling Roy’s name. The editing is very weird.
Dig follows Roy up to the dance floor at Verdant and pulls out a gun in a crowded room full of people, but Roy still gets away.
Across town, Sara and Ollie enjoy some pillow talk in a hotel that Ollie had to call in a favor to get (because Rochev and Slade have basically bankrupted the Queens). Ollie broaches the idea of moving in together and Sara doesn’t seem super comfortable about it (she’s used to a living situation that involves more assassins), but they can’t really work it out right now, because Smoak is calling them both to report this new case of Roy Rage.
At Casa de Queen, Moira’s giving an interview to a wet noodle reporter who asks dumb questions like, “Why should people vote for you over Alderman Blood?” If these are the best questions this dude can muster, then there must be literally no problems in Starling City. And yet Moira manages to offer up the worst possible answer for why she’s a better mayor than her opponent: She’s a parent. If that’s the best answer you’ve got, Moira, I’m sure there are tens of thousands of other viable candidates out there who were never accused of mass murder.
Thea interrupts and tells Moira that she can’t have her big, upcoming campaign rally at Verdant because “it’s the only place I have that hasn’t been poisoned by you.” As Moira’s campaign manager bullies the reporter (who finally has a decent story and probably won’t effing run it) in the background, Moira and Thea argue in another room that ends with Moira telling Thea that she signed a contract to let them have the rally at Verdant.
Thea calls the reminder that she is legally bound to host the rally a “threat,” and I’m curious if she knows what a contract or a threat is. Having dispensed with that piece-of-garbage reporter, Moira’s campaign manager rushes over and tells her she can either be a candidate or a parent right now (even though Moira’s apparent entire platform at the moment is, “I’m a parent”). She really takes it to heart.
That leads into a flashback, and boy, what is there to say about the flashbacks in this episode? I guess the easiest thing to say is that they’re pretty bad. They quite honestly feel like filler. First off, they’re not on Flashback Island. They pre-date the sinking of the Queen’s Gambit and involve Ollie being sad because he got a girl (not Laurel) pregnant. Moira helps him out.
Hmmmm. Looks like we’re really trying to boost fan sympathy for Moira, huh? That’s got to be a good sign for her.
Also, it looks like these flashbacks are set in 1974. Ollie has Brady Bunch hair.
Forty years later, Arrow and Canary are out on their motorcycles searching the city for Roy. Smoak alerts them to a report of an assault by a guy in a red hoodie, so our heroes go and interrogate a bleeding, severely injured man about where Roy went (the guy says he was “roided out” and that’s pretty funny). They don’t appear to get any help for him, or, for that matter, find Roy.
Meanwhile, Roy’s skulking around outside a neighborhood bar where Sin just happens to be hanging out. A bouncer gets involved when Roy pushes Sin away, and that turns out to be a mistake for everyone involved. Roy smashes up a car like it’s a Street Fighter II bonus level and stomps away.
The next day, Ollie and Sara are walking around in Verdant with purpose, talking about how badly they need to find Roy, even though they seemingly gave up after interrogating that guy the night before. Thea approaches and tells Ollie to get out of there. She complains about Dig being around all the time, guarding her. Ollie explains she needs the protection.
Sin shows up with a big shiner on her eye and reports that she saw Roy, who is now “comic book strong.” (That’s not a terrible line, but it’s a bit too on-the-nose for me to really love it.) She asks Sara and Ollie to help Roy, because that’s what he needs right now.
Moira goes to visit Sebastian Blood, who suddenly has a mayoral campaign again, to tell him that she’s dropping out of the race so she can reconcile with Thea. Instead of dancing around and cackling, Blood launches into a stump speech about how a better day is coming. I don’t see why he has any reason to do anything but go full Sideshow Bob at this point.
In the Arrowcave, Smoak, Ollie and Sara are tracking Roy’s movements and have determined that he’s heading east. “What’s east?” Sara asks, and instead of answering with, “It’s a cardinal direction, the opposite of west,” Ollie says the Queen mansion. They surmise that he could be on his way to finding Laurel, but Sin calls and says he’s actually at the clock tower that once served as Canary’s hideout.
Arrow and Canary go there, and a fight breaks out. Roy dispatches Canary pretty quickly, so Arrow unmasks and tries to appeal to him on a personal level. But Roy’s basically a Frankenstein right now, so he kicks the crap out of Ollie’s knee and smashes his way through the floor. A pair of cops drive up and hold Roy at gunpoint, but Roy just beats the crap out of one of them and shoves an arrow (one that Ollie shot at him) in the other’s chest.
Hilariously, Ollie looks down at what’s happening from a hole in the clock and shouts, “Noooo!”
Then it’s time for…a hospital scene! This one’s a doozy, too. Remember in The Dark Knight Rises when Doctor Thomas Lennon told Bruce Wayne his knees were basically garbage? This is a lot like that, except the doctor is that sort of creepy doctor we’ve been seeing all season, Ollie gets a knee brace, and the doctor gives Arrow free medicine for taking down the Triads.
Verdant. Dig and Thea begin building a tenuous bodyguard/target relationship in which Dig tries to convince Thea to warm back up to her family. They’re interrupted by a grossly irresponsible news report in which Starling’s One News Channel straight-up shows video of Roy murdering a police officer. Sure, it gives Thea a real kick in the pants, but how do you think that officer’s family feels?
Thea heads out to find Roy and Sara does basically the same, though she’s packing some heat. Ollie tries to tell her that killing Roy isn’t the answer, but his busted knee doesn’t give him much opportunity to give chase.
In an alley/street fighting arena enclosed by chain-link fence, Thea meets Roy and starts telling him about how this is all her fault.
Eventually, she starts asking him to kill her and it becomes clear that she’s a hallucination. Sadly, he’s not holding a dead cat.
At Verdant, Moira’s campaign manager drops the bomb on Ollie that the rally everyone’s milling around for is going to be where Moira drops out of the race. Was now really the best time to mention this dude? Were you too busy pushing reporters down in the mud to say something earlier?
Ollie goes to see Moira in the back room and Moira once again puts forth the Thea excuse. Ollie says Thea needs to see her mom doing something good for the city and being mayor would be a chance to do that. He then launches into thinly veiled talk about sacrifice, and Moira says she knows he’s Arrow and she’s proud of him. With Ollie talking like that all the time, how couldn’t she?
(Also, she is definitely, definitely going to die now, because she’s gone from being “mom who tried to have her son killed” to “proud, brave lady with no faults.”)
Back in 1974, Moira meets with the girl Ollie knocked up and gives her a check for $1 million. (We know this because the girl says, “This is one million dollars!” like Moira doesn’t know what she wrote on the check.) The catch is that the young woman has to tell Ollie that she lost the baby and get out of town.
Okay, maybe Moira still has some faults. But honestly, that baby’s probably better off far away from Ollie and his Brady hair. I wonder if we’re going to find out one of the characters on the show is Ollie’s secret kid? I hope somehow it turns out to be Dig.
At the rally, Moira gives a really stilted, highly unprofessional speech in which she doesn’t drop out and says nothing at all. So it’s a pretty decent political speech.
Then Thea takes the lectern and announces her location, as if Starling’s One News Channel was keeping the location of this huge political rally they’re televising live a secret or something. Ollie surmises that Thea’s trying to draw out Roy. It’s about as TV as a moment can get.
Ollie rushes downstairs to the Arrowcave to suit up and get some of those snake-venom arrows Sara made. He jams a syringe full of lidocaine into his leg (it makes some super-gross noises) and heads back up.
As if on cue, Roy shows up and starts trashing the place. He knocks out Dig with a pole while Thea tries to talk sense to him. He picks her up by the throat, so Canary aims her pistol at him. Sin jumps in the way, but Canary pushes her aside and shoots Roy in the leg.
Finally Roy speaks, begging Canary to kill him. Before she can, Arrow pops him with three venom arrows.
“NO ONE DIES TONIGHT!” Arrow yells at Canary, even though the situation is basically over. Unnecessary, Ollie.
So here’s a question: Literally the entire news media of Starling City was here all of five minutes ago. Now, they’re completely gone. Wouldn’t all of them want to be covering this situation involving Arrow and someone who seemingly tried to attack a mayoral candidate? Is every reporter in this city just a wimp?
Down in the Arrowcave, Team Arrow keeps Roy sedate with a steady stream of viper venom. Ollie and Sara continue their debate about killing and Sara eventually concludes that she’s too far down Assassin Road to change her ways. Then she more or less breaks up with Ollie. Hey, Sara, you’re not the one who yelled unnecessarily. Don’t put this all on you.
Back inside the club, Moira covers for Ollie, who went missing during all the Roy madness. They all jump into a limo together, even though Thea would almost certainly refuse to ride with them unless it was plot-necessary. Thea says Ollie and her mom are still both liars, and Moira says she’s right. Just as she’s about to drop a big bomb about Malcolm Merlyn to both of them (I assume she was planning to tell them he’s still alive because of his Goblin Serum), a car comes smashing into the side of the limo. (This is the best act break they’ve done in a while.)
A very groggy Ollie wakes up to find Slade, who we haven’t seen all episode, presenting him with a very familiar scenario: He’s making Ollie choose who lives and who dies between Moira and Thea. It’s a nicely done moment that does a great job of calling back to stuff the show has already set up, and it’s actually really bolstered by Slade coming out of nowhere after all the focus has been on Roy all episode.
Ollie begs Slade to kill him instead of Moira and Thea. Moira figures out that Slade was on the island with Ollie. After a while, Moira stands up and tells Slade to kill her so that both her children can live. Slade puts away his gun and tells Moira she’s truly courageous. It looks like he’s moved, but then he pulls out a giant f*cking sword out of literally nowhere and stabs her with it.
The writers telegraphed the crap out of Moira getting killed this episode, what with all the sweeping her more awful tendencies under the rug and suddenly making her a selfless angel who doesn’t do anything but love her kids, but I have to say: This moment is pretty terrifically pulled off. This is how you do character deaths.
Then there's one more flashback. Ollie gets a phone call about his “lost” baby, and Moira tells him he’s never without her. You just did something cool, writers. Don’t push the irony button too hard now.
Two good episodes in a row!
This one seemed to be spinning its wheels for a while (those flashbacks were just plain rough), and the entire mayoral race plot remains an ugly hole that the writers can't seem to dig their way out of, but the final minutes were handled really nicely. Slade has been as close to a supervillain done right as this show has gotten, by a long shot, and this really cemented him as A Big Deal Bad Guy.
The only complaint I have about that final scenario is that it makes women into people who are just used as pawns in disputes between men (the scene it calls back to did that as well), and that's pretty gross and terrible, but Moira standing up and actually having some agency in the end helps about that a lot.
And where the heck did Slade pull that sword from? It was seriously nowhere. I really loved that.