'Arrow' Boss on Shocking Twist: It Drives Everyone to the Brink
Executive producer Andrew Kreisberg sounds off on why he and the other producers decided to bring a major character's arc to a "difficult" close.
[WARNING: Spoilers ahead from Wednesday's episode of Arrow, "Seeing Red"]
Oliver Queen's world has been shattered.
Arrow lost a key member of the Queen family, matriarch Moira (played by veteran actress Susanna Thompson), after she became Slade Wilson's latest victim in his plan for vengeance against Oliver. Moira's cause of death? A sword to the chest.
Things between Moira, Oliver and Thea had been rocky at best, but Moira put family rifts aside by sacrificing her life, after Slade forced Oliver to choose which life to spare, his mother or his sister -- a direct mirror to the dilemma he faced on the island that brought Shado to lose her life. The decision to kill Moira in such dramatic (and traumatic) fashion was "difficult," admitted executive producer Andrew Kreisberg, and wasn't something that had been in the works since Day 1 of the show.
"It wasn't something we were talking about last year. I don't want to give the impression that [it was like] 'Welp! Somebody has to die; let's spin the wheel. And, bad luck, Moira,' " he further explained. "Susanna has been with the show since the beginning, and 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, it wasn't your average superhero show. Like with Colin Donnell [whose character Tommy died in the season-one finale], these last episodes are her pinnacle."
At the end of the day, the decision came down to the finite number of directions Moira's story could go. From the producers' perspectives, it seemed they had exhausted nearly all their options. After all, Moira was a part of the Undertaking, went to jail as punishment, ran for Starling City mayor, kept the identity of Thea's biological father a secret and knew of Oliver's Arrow life. And that's just the half of it. "When we were talking about the future, knowing that it was only going to be powerful if Slade was going to change the game by doing something truly monstrous -- if Moira wins the mayorship, if she makes up with her kids, what is Moira without a giant secret?" Kreisberg said. "If they all forgive her, and then there's some other giant secret, for us it felt like we were becoming a soap opera."
By allowing Moira the opportunity to sacrifice herself for her kids, "she could die a hero's death," he said. Even though she's attempted to turn over a new leaf, just seconds before the car accident, Moira was about to reveal yet another secret. "You can't change her. She literally goes to the grave despite the fact that she sacrifices herself for her children," Kreisberg said, hinting that Moira's final secret plays out "sooner than you think."
Next week's episode, "City of Blood," opens with Moira's funeral -- and Oliver is missing. "There's a line in the next episode where Walter says to Thea, 'Your mother showed you how much she loved you in ways few parents can,' and yet she was still lying," Kreisberg previewed. "Ending it at this time left you with that great feeling of what a great character she was rather then let her become a caricature."
As Oliver and Thea head into the thick of the storm, their personal loss drives them for the rest of the series. "That was the math -- it was horrible math, it was tearful math but her death has a profound impact on everyone on the series," Kreisberg promised. "It's certainly what's going to drive Oliver in these last three episodes. It's going to drive Thea, not only in these last three episodes, but also into [season] three. Sometimes the worst thing you can do personally is the best thing you can do professionally."
But it was Moira's surprising admission that she knew of Oliver's secret life as the vigilante that was eyebrow-raising. "We had always talked about the idea that Moira knew Oliver was the Arrow," Kreisberg said, revealing that there were "a couple of other places" where the producers thought Moira should inform Oliver. But he pointed to a pivotal scene in "Sacrifice," where Oliver essentially talks to his mother as the Arrow amid the Undertaking, as her moment of revelation. "She'd be borderline low IQ if she wasn't like, 'Wait a minute!' We liked that she had never told him, and everything just felt like it came together in this one episode."
Arrow wasn't done with the bombshells. It was revealed in flashbacks that Oliver had fathered a child before his time on the island and that Moira paid the woman $1 million to disappear and lie about losing the baby. "The seeds for season two were planted in season one and again, the best part of the success that 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," Kreisberg said. "This is something that will be paid off in season three."
Five other nuggets for the rest of the season:
- Thea is going to be reunited with her father, Malcolm Merlyn, in the May 7 episode, "Streets of Fire," who offers her something she can't refuse. "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," he hinted. "Malcolm is going to offer her what she doesn't have anymore." It was all part of the equation of killing Moira. "If we were going to send Thea in that direction, she needed to have nothing pulling her back here."
- Sara, after breaking up with Oliver, left at the end of the episode to parts unknown, but it won't be the last we'll see of her. "Sara will be back," Kreisberg said.
- Roy won't be in action for a while. "He's in a coma for a couple of episodes."
- Shado makes a return in the season closer, "Unthinkable," on May 14.
- With Moira's death, Sebastian Blood is that much closer to being the new Starling City mayor. "The politics of Starling City are probably less important than that there are going to be supervillains running around the city. Maybe Slade didn't just kill Moira to piss Oliver off -- and maybe somebody realizes that," Kreisberg said.
- Add Oliver's knee injury, all thanks to a Mirakuru'd Roy, to his long list of obstacles. "His mother is dead, his sister hates him, he blames himself, Sara's gone, his knee hurts, Roy's in a coma," Kreisberg said, rattling of a list of Oliver's latest issues. "We were like, 'How bad can we make this?' And we have. He really is coming from the lowest point that he could come." Not to mention Team Arrow "is in shambles," Queen Consolidated is no longer under his control. "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?"
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.