So much is happening on the final few episodes of Arrow Season 2 that any of them could have been a season finale. Story twists, character reveals and deaths have almost become expected, as things continue to escalate towards yet another and even bigger showdown between The Arrow (Stephen Amell) and Deathstroke (Manu Bennett).
During this recent interview to talk about the remaining episodes this season, executive producer/writer Andrew Kreisberg addressed the big reveals of Episode 20, “Seeing Red,” and what it means for the story and characters, going forward. Check out what he had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some major spoilers.
Before getting to the interview, here’s our recap of Episode 20, “Seeing Red.”
ANDREW KREISBERG: No, it wasn’t something we were talking about, and certainly not last year. I don’t want to give the impression that we were like, “Well, somebody has to do, so let’s spin the wheel. Bad luck, Moira!” First of all, as with Colin Donnell, it was a difficult decision. Susanna [Thomas] has been with the show since the beginning. She was one of our big gets, early on, that really signaled to the audience and to reviewers that this wasn’t your average CW show and 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. But unfortunately, because of the kind of show it is, it probably won’t get recognized as such. You see all the scenes between her and Stephen [Amell], and her importance to the show, in helping Willa [Holland] and Stephen go from solid actors to amazing actors, is due to sharing screen time with her. But, just like with Tommy, the decision really was about where her trajectory was going. In Season 1, she had this incredible secret that she was part of the Undertaking. She suffered for it and went to jail for it. And then, we discovered that she had an even better secret, that Thea was really the daughter of Malcolm Merlyn. When that secret blew up, it split the whole family apart.
Obviously, we had been taking steps to bring people back together again, and we were talking about the future, knowing that it was only going to be powerful if Slade really changed the game by doing something truly monstrous. If Moira wins the mayorship and 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 felt like we were becoming a soap opera where it was, “Well, yes, you tried to blow up the city. And yes, you lied about this. And then, you lied about this other thing.” It just felt like, in a way, she could die a hero’s death, and also die as this person who was conflicted because, even as she’s saying, “We have to tell the truth,” we know she’s kept this other horrible secret. You literally can’t change her. She goes to the grave, despite the fact that she sacrifices herself for her children, which is so amazing, still lying.
In the next episode, Walter says to Thea, “Your mother showed you how much she loved you, in ways few parents can.” That was the essence of her character, and that’s why it was so great. 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. Just like with Tommy, it was horrible math and it was tearful math. But also, her death, just like with Tommy, has a profound impact on everyone in the 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 3. Sometimes the worst thing you can do, personally, is the best thing you can do, professionally.
Why did you want Moira to reveal to Oliver that she’s known he was 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, “This is where she should let him know.” We felt like one of the great things about “Sacrifice,” last year’s season finale, was that when Oliver walks in to talk to her, he’s not Oliver Queen. He’s The Arrow and he’s saying, “We’ve gotta stop this.” She’d be borderline low IQ, if she wasn’t like, “Wait a minute!” But, we always liked that she never told him. Everything felt like it came together in this one episode. Secrets are a tough thing. One of the most interesting things about writing this show is deciding when secrets are good and when secrets are bad. Even for Oliver, he hasn’t told Laurel because he had this idea in his head that she shouldn’t know. I think you guys will all see that he was wrong, and he was wrong not to tell her because she could handle it. But yet, there was no reason for Thea to ever know that Malcolm was her dad.
It’s a complicated thing. 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. 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 and hurting their feelings. One of the most interesting things for us was realizing that our villain, Moira, and our hero, Oliver, were essentially doing the same thing, and having Thea call them out on it. Not that I’m comparing us to The Empire Strikes Back, but if you look at Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars introduces the characters and they’re very much archetypes, and in The Empire Strikes Back, you really got to go deeper and darker. That’s the fun thing of a sequel. Once the characters are established, you get to put them through their paces and take them to different places. We always looked at Season 2 as the sequel to Season 1. We do feel like things have gotten richer and deeper, and these decisions that we’ve made are what’s allowed that to happen.
Thea has been through so much lately. How will all of that affect her, in the long run?
KREISBERG: All hell is going to break loose in the city. Thea will find herself in a precarious predicament. Part of our math with killing Moira was that, if we were going to send Thea in that direction, she needed to have nothing pulling her back here. Now, she has a brother who lied to her and has done something unforgivable, and no mother.
What will happen to the Mayor’s race, now that one candidate is dead and one candidate is evil?
KREISBERG: The politics of Starling City are probably less important than there are going to be super-villains running around the city. The one thing you don’t get from this episode is that maybe Slade didn’t just kill Moira to piss Oliver off, and maybe somebody realizes that.
KREISBERG: I can tell you that the next episode opens with Moira’s funeral, and Oliver is missing.
What will the fall-out be with Roy Harper, moving forward?
KREISBERG: It’s a race against the clock, these last episodes. After Act 5 of 221, the show pretty much runs in real time, from that point on, through the last two episodes. For Roy, it’s about, “Is Roy going to be strapped to a table with snake venom in him for the rest of his life, or are they going to come up with a cure?” The cure is not only the means to salvage Roy, but it’s also the means to stop Slade.
How significant will it be that he’s now crossed a line and taken a life?
KREISBERG: That is something that’s going to play out in Season 3.
How will you deal with Oliver’s knee injury?
KREISBERG: The doctor actually literally said what was wrong, and Stephen was like, “There’s no way I’m walking around after that,” so we cut that out. But, he actually plays it. You see Oliver hobbling and you see him sore. His mother is dead. His sister hates him. He blames himself. Sara is gone. His knee hurts. Roy is 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 this season is, “Is Oliver Queen a killer, or is he a hero?” Since the first episode, he’s been trying to be The Arrow. Now, he’s had everything and everyone he loves taken away from him. He’s been hobbled. His team is in shambles. He 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?
What can you say about when and how that will come back into play?
KREISBERG: The seeds for Season 2 were planted in Season 1. The best part of the success the show has had is knowing that we were going 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.
Arrow airs on Wednesday nights on The CW.