To be completely honest, I was not at all excited about this week’s episode of Arrow, despite the fact that this season has been great so far, especially the last handful of Deathstroke-centric episodes. The promos for “Seeing Red” gave the impression that this would be a filler episode to stretch out the final confrontations a little bit longer as we wait for the finale, and the idea of a Mirakuru-fueled Roy rampage hour felt unnecessary.
Luckily, I was proven wrong, and this week’s hour was just as surprising, engaging, and shocking as the last few episodes. I want to give a big round of applause to the writers and showrunners, for taking what could have easily been a meaningless and boring group of subplots and bringing them all to a head in a way that defies all expectations. I guess by this point, 2o episodes into a stellar season, I shouldn’t be so surprised.
Before we proceed, I must warn you that there will be spoilers in this review; so if you haven’t seen the episode yet, make sure to do so before proceeding! You have been warned.
Okay, where do I even begin? The Roy-centric material may have been front and center in the marketing, but that took a backseat to more of the character-driven moments between the other key players. The episode isn’t really about Roy at all, and it does nothing to progress his character. In fact, he ends up in the same place as he began. Instead, he’s the MacGuffin this week, an unrelenting force for Team Arrow to track down before he can cause any serious damage on top of the very serious personal issues he’s dealing with that the episode presents.
I can’t believe how easily the writers handle multiple characters and shifting storylines in this show. While we have the Roy story going on, we are also witnessing more fallout between Thea, Moira, and Oliver, as well as relationship developments with Oliver and Sara, on top of a rather intriguing and completely surprising set of flashbacks. Peppered in are the show’s trademark character moments, fuelled by some serious punches to the gut, a few small action pieces, and an absolutely shocking twist that completely changes the game moving forward.
With Roy on a Mirakuru-fuelled rampage, Oliver and Sara clash on how to best handle the situation. Sara seems intent on killing him, letting her assassin instincts take over, and reminding Oliver that if they had taken care of Slade five years ago when this happened to him, none of the episode’s events would be happening. I knew that the writers would shake up their relationship sooner or later, and this seemed like a good way to do it. Sara and Oliver may have ended up in the same place, but they traveled very different roads on their journey there. Oliver spent most of his time alone on “a hellish island,” while Sara went off and joined the League of Assassins. Oliver has had time to reconcile his past with his present, while she’s still figuring out who she is now that she’s back in the real world.