Arrow Review: Red Herring

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Arrow does know how to toss around the red herrings, right?

Everyone went into Arrow Season 2 Episode 20 expecting the big story to surround dealing with Roy and his destruction of Starling City after being infused with a new strain of Mirakuru (I think he even managed to kill a cop)... but that was hardly a blip on the Arrow radar by the time the installment ended.

As the focus shifted throughout from a sweet scene between Oliver and Laurel when they were a couple, to Moira acting as mama bear, to Sara's desire to kill and back to Moira and her desire to be a mother instead of a mayor, it became apparent things were on an unstoppable trajectory.

Before we get to that moment let's talk around it and before it. I don't think it was a coincidence that we were shown a scene between Oliver and Laurel seven years ago, and one in which Laurel was a sweet girlfriend very much in love with Oliver Queen. 

The wrongs done to her were driven home by his mopey behavior in that scene when he shared with his mom that he got someone pregnant. Oliver was never a good boyfriend to Laurel even before he started dallying with Sara. Moira did her due diligence and took to the grave yet another untold secret -- Oliver has a child out there somewhere. 

To protect Oliver's future she paid the neat sum of $2 million to the pregnant girl to ensure the happiness of her first grandchild as well as her son. Learning that secret  in conjunction with the sweet Laurel scene? Certainly not a coincidence. How soon we'll learn of Oliver's offspring? Who knows.

Tied into the Laurel line came the admission of Sara that she hasn't bought what Oliver's been selling.

Sara: That's not true. I wanted to kill Roy because that's what I do. That's who I am. I spent six years in the darkness and I looked into the eyes of the devil and I gave him my soul.
Oliver: I can help you get it back.
Sara: No. You deserve someone better. You can harness that light that's still inside of you, but I'm not that person and I never will be.

Not only did she break up with him, but it seems like she took her bike and rode out of Starling City. When Sara learns what happened to Moira will she come back? I guess we'll find out next week. Saying goodbye to Sin with a flippant, "I'm going to see an old friend," sure seemed like she was headed back to Nyssa al Ghul. What other old friends does she have to visit? If it is to Nyssa she's heading, to what end is she going?

As much as it pains me to bring this up on this sorrowful night, do her actions and the coincidental flashback between Laurel and Oliver mean anything? Carrying on.

It's never a good sign for a character on Arrow to suddenly become the focus of flashback scenes while they're actively working on setting their relationships straight. Moira started her path to redemption in Arrow Season 2 Episode 19 when Oliver started to give a little with his mother in light of the truths Slade had shared with his friends and family. It's sort of difficult to hold mom to a higher standard than you hold yourself.

This week we saw Oliver encourage his mother to stand up and do the right thing for her daughter and her city by remaining in the mayoral race. 

Oliver: Mom, I know a little something about sacrificing myself for the good of this city. It's what you need to do now.
Moira: I know.
Oliver Good.
Moira: Oliver. I know. I know. I've known since last year, I suppose. The night of the undertaking everything became so clear. It's pretty much the night I stopped sleeping.
Oliver: Before you say anything else...
Moira: There's nothing else to say. Nothing I need to say. Except I could not be more proud.

Moira's knowledge of her son's secret identity begs the question of just how many other people are holding back on revealing what they know and losing sleep to give the heroes the latitude they need to fight evil in Starling City. The expression was beautifully played by Susanna Thompson in an episode in which she was given the opportunity to show her more sensitive side.

Of course, having everyone live and all secrets revealed wouldn't play well for Arrow going forward. There has to be mystery and misery to drive the characters to and beyond their breaking points, so they rise up better and stronger than they are at the moment they think they can't possibly take another step forward.

Oliver has now been a central player at two executions wherein people he loved have been placed before him and the choice as to whether they lived or died was his to make. Moira didn't have to understand the full breadth of the history between her son and Slade to realize she couldn't let him bear that burden again. It's her job as his mother to bear that weight herself, for as long as she can.

Moira: There's only one way this night can end and we both know that, don't we, Mr. Wilson?
Oliver: Mom!
Moira: Please tell me both my children will live.
Thea: Mom! What are you doing?! Mom!
Moira: Thea, I love you. Close your eyes baby!
Oliver: NO!
Slade: You possess true courage. I am truly sorry you did not pass that on to your son.

When Susanna Thompson delivered that line to Thea not to look, that was the crusher of the episode. There was so much feeling in Moira's plea to her daughter not to watch what was coming.

Now Oliver can truly blame Slade for Moira's death. It was Slade and Slade alone who plunged the sword into her chest, not a decision Slade was forced to make, like Oliver did with Sara and Shado. Slade placed himself directly into the executioner's shoes and skipped the difficult decision. He'll still never know what Oliver went through until he has the capacity to love. From what we know in the comics, that never comes.

Where there was once a chance that the relationship between the two island brothers could be repaired, it's beyond that now. Thea being left in the dark again might not bode well for her relationship with Oliver, either, even without their mother present. While they could have turned to one another in their grief, Thea will likely seek solace elsewhere, with someone she can trust.

When will Malcolm come back? He knows he's Thea's last living parent. Moira almost shared his status with her kids, but that was cut short. I just hope Thea remembers that phrase about Malcolm so she knows Moira was making an attempt to make things right. 

Finally, Slade said one more person had to die for everything to come to an end. Is that person Sara? Laurel? Oliver himself? Can one surmise what a psychopath with Mirakuru visions could possibly be thinking about?

Share your thoughts about the episode and everything that went down in the comments. We'll be sure to have a hearty Arrow Round Table as soon as we can and we'll try to answer some of the questions posed in this review there. If you have questions you'd like us to tackle, toss them in the comments. If you missed the installment, you can watch Arrow online.

Did Moira's death take you by surprise?


Editor Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (127 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.

Chris albanese

I for one am glad that Moira's character is gone so that I don't have to think of an abreva commercial every time she has a scene. In today's day and age, the makeup people couldn't have covered up the herpes simplex ten any better? Plus, it was also comical that in the flashback she still had the lip cooties. Persistent little bugger. There is no cure for herpes.

@ Chris Albanese

.......there's something very wrong with you, a-hole ; )

Karla baez

i've never read the comics but still love the story and how the installments develop, the change on the characters will be such an interesting thing to watch now, family is family doesn't matter what they do and Moira wasn't a model parent but did what she told was right to protect her family, would've loved she said it to him sooner that she knew, maybe that way he could be able to get some stuffs off his chest a little catharsis from his character would be nice, and could take some demons off his back, still is amazing to think all the things Moira left unsaid that could play out now, the arrow baby well that was a shocker and is nice to think that oliver could have someone to really watch for, and that even better will make him put all his mom did on perspective, and im really thinking that i hope Laurel get more screen time, but she could be such a strong character, i hate wimpy, needy, pitiful Laurel, come on she is supposed to be a Lawyer that fights criminals get her some attitude. Slade im thinking it could be a little more psycho, he sees dead people literally, bring on the craziness a few levels up! Blood so far has being a filler here and there, but now i see that mister mayor will do some mess around next season, and last but not least i stand Sarah but the actress she is kind of lame, doesn't convince me of anything fighting, emotions, love, not even in the scene when she was in bed with oliver after sex! is done and everything but they could've gotten someone better... By the way oliver needs some sort of bromance we knew tommy was his bff but still he has no kind of human contact other then diggles and felicity cause we know that Laurel could not count completely in that category and by all means even tho they are a great team and have a great bond still would be nice seeing him loosen up a bit even if is just a second. Loved the episode really did, the few last ones have being really good, and i just hope that the casting department for the next woman castings heroes or villains get some better actresses.

Karla baez
@ Karla Baez

im hoping Roy gets some clarity cause he was seeing Thea, that's a fun fact for team arrow to learn if Oliver remembers when Slade told him about shadow and pointed where he was seeing her and no one was there. And Malcolm coming back would be nice could be that he just work the dark side out of thea... At least he know how to act like the looney he should be.


So now we wotn know what Moira was trying to tell Oliver and Thea about Malcom inside e limousine cause that was the precise moment, they were ambushed by Slade...?? Now that is not FAIR!!! I hope we will find out in the next season but hey if Moira is dead how the hell we will know the secret if she was the only one who knew... unless she shared this secret with someone else and that is yet to find out... I mean I really want Slade and olvier to become friends agian, they were so good in the island, close friends and partners, but now cause Slade has this Mirakuru in his system he is totally unrecognizable and he had became a lethal, dangerous person to be away from, who does not know what he is doing cause it is the Mirakuru working on it. I bet he will regret all the things he did if he will eventually take the cure and find out everything he has done to the people he cared. But I think it will take a long time for Slade to take the cure, that wotn happen soon, my bet is either it wont happen at all and he will remain this lethal , dangerous vindictive man forever or it will happen but next season or even at the end of the next season, which means a long time from now.

@ Unfair....

I'm pretty sure she was going to tell them Malcom is alive. They don't know that, but I bet they will shortly.

@ Carissa Pavlica

I agree with Carissa, I feel like she was going to tell them he was still alive. Which means he will show up again eventually in the series.


Im a bit dissapointed Moira is dead, she still had potential in the show, like to face again Malcolm and try to fix her problems with Thea but also help Oliver to recover the company.. Also It would have been nice if she finally knew before dying that Oliver was the Arrow, too bad she never knew that. She had potential, im a bit dissapointed she is gone, but I hope the writers will manage to give a good story next season to Oliver and company without the presence of Moira.

@ Dissapointed in..

I have to agree with @moiraknew here. Did you even watch the show or read the review before commenting? Her entire quote telling Oliver she knew is in type three times as large as regular type above. I understand it can be difficult to follow along, but reading a review afterward that sums things up can help.

@ Dissapointed in..

she did know... she said so: "Moira: Oliver. I know. I know. I've known since last year, I suppose. The night of the undertaking everything became so clear. It's pretty much the night I stopped sleeping." she had figured it out but didnt let on that she knew! and then when the moment was right she told him, and also told him she was proud.. so even though am also disappointed she is gone, at least olly knew she knew and was proud


You mean there is a Arrowete or Arrow jr, running around somewhere in Starling city? Mm I wonder who could be the mother


This Episode was damn good, the heroic death for Moira was the best way to show how much she changed and how much she's a good mother specially for Oliver.
this episode was around Roy but i think he was the subject to see others relationships. he's important because Oliver thinks that he is responsible for what happened to him and they need him in Team arrow to fight with Slade.
and the shocking flashback (i never read the comic books),
they said Risa will back and i think she knows about Oliver's baby so she will say that to Oliver. after all the darkness we'll see in the finale Oliver needs a light for the future life and what's better than a baby?


I was sure it would be Sara who would die, just so that they could make Oliver/Laurel happen again (barf). I guess she will be ''the other person to die''. I haven't read the comics, so the baby storyline was a big shock and it feels weird to me. Especially when regarding miscarriage Oliver said that he continues to be the luckiest guy in the world ... sometimes they really make it hard to like him without feeling bad about it, although I do realize he was young and dumb and he has changed since then.

@ Jessy

you could see it in his face he got disappointed with the miscarriage news, looks like he got some kind of hopes on about it and then just felt heart broken


Gotta say don't care one iota about borg Roy and pretty much FF'd almost all of his stuff. The last few minutes of the show just wow. Really surprised they killed Moira but I'm glad that Oliver and Moira had their moment (e.g., about his secret). Bring on Malcolm Will be interesting to see his reaction and who and where the players will be on the chess board to bring down Slade.


I never liked Moira queen but gotta admit she was flawless in this episode. Didn't see it coming that she was the one whose going to die. Everyone thinks its the obvious choice Sara(who i think has gone to get help in the form of Nyssa and the league of assassins). I really wish they'd kill off Laurel, The show goes on just fine without her and I really like Sara and Oliver together(better then laurel and him who frankly are done. I mean he's cheated on you with your sister and then chosen her over you again!! and now it seems he's fathered a child while in a relationship with you- so finish that story line for good now before making her look even more pathetic). Whats with Slade thinking Shado was his-i mean she had a relationship with Oliver and he didnt pick Sara over her he just came infront of Sara when Ivo pointed the gun. I have a strange feeling Shado is somehow going to come back from the dead in the finale+Oliver will take the mirakuru to fight slade then take the cure after. Season 2 has been amazing. But stop killing off main characters like game of thrones!


I would guess that slade still wants to kill the oliver's great love, which means he is going to make oliver choose between laurel and sara. but before this happens its possible whilst oliver is mourning his mother and sara being gone to seek help he might hook up with laurel again because of their past and just as soon as it might seem that Ollie and laurel might get back together, sara will die and she will blame Ollie like she blamed him for tommy's death, unless they decide not the end this season like last season...

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Arrow Season 2 Episode 20 Quotes

Mom, it doesn't seem fair to me. One mistake and it feels like my entire life is over.


Laurel: You're really cute when you're mopey.
Oliver: I'm not mopey.
Laurel: Mopey's your default Ollie. It's part of your smoldering charm.
Oliver: I do have smoldering charm.