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Arrow Conversations: What You’ll Do for the Ones You Love in “Seeing Red” 

Sacrifice- The act of giving up something that you want to keep, especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone. In this week’s Arrow, there was no shortage of sacrifices. Moira nearly sacrificed her campaign to focus on her family, Sara sacrificed her own happiness for Ollie, Cyn attempted to sacrifice herself to save Roy, Oliver’s former fling sacrificed her life with Oliver to be able to provide for her child and in the end, Moira made the ultimate sacrifice to save her kids.

Photo Credit: Katie Yu/The CW
Photo Credit: Katie Yu/The CW

All can be seen as potentially noble acts, but there are two in particular that I think deserve a deeper look. First and foremost, Sara. Don’t get me wrong, it’s perfectly normal for someone to freak out when their significant other wants to take the next step and move in together (after all, Oliver did just that in a previous flashback with Laurel), but the way Sara throws herself on the sword seems a little rash. Granted, I thinks she truly believes in what she is saying, she is not using it as an excuse, but after her obvious hesitation at the idea of moving in together, I can’t help but feel that part of her impulsive reaction stems from their relationship moving to the next step. Deep down she fears she’s not good enough for Oliver and as soon as her fears are possibly confirmed, she runs under the guise of protecting him.

Photo Credit: Cate Cameron/The CW
Photo Credit: Cate Cameron/The CW

Regardless, after she convinces herself that the only way to stop Roy is to kill him (which doesn’t seem all that crazy in my opinion), she nearly does so before Oliver interferes by sedating him instead. But it’s the fact that she was so willing to kill him that leads her to believe that Oliver deserves someone better.

Sara: I would’ve killed him. I was ready to. He’d be dead right now if you hadn’t stopped me.
Oliver: He’s not. That all that matters.
Sara: 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 in to the eyes of the devil and I gave him my soul.
Oliver: Let me help you get it back
Sara: You know, you deserve someone better. Someone who can harness that light that’s still inside of you. But I’m not that person and I never will be.
Oliver: Sara, don’t
Sara: I’m sorry. I just care about you too much to be with you.

I was really liking these two together and am sorry to see them split. However, over the past two seasons, we’ve seen Oliver grow and come to terms with who he was and who he wants to be, so I can only hope this is Sara’s foray on a similar personal journey and that it will eventually lead her back.

Now to the ultimate sacrifice. While I can’t say that this came as a total surprise after all the meaningful discussions and heartfelt Moira-moments, it was still emotional to watch. Both Thea and Ollie were reminded that despite her many short-comings, Moira’s love for her children has always been constant. Thea received this gentle nudge first from Diggle.

Diggle: You know your mother isn’t perfect…but there is one thing she’s consistent about, she loves you and Oliver.
Thea: And that should buy her what in your mind?
Diggle: Hell, I don’t know, Thea, but she is your mother. That should buy her something. A second chance, maybe?

Followed by Oliver’s opportunity to witness it first-hand with Moira.

Oliver; Mark says you’re dropping out of the race.
Moira: The truth is I should’ve done it weeks ago, after Thea was abducted. My complete focus needs to be on repairing our relationship.
Oliver: Mom, what’s happening between you and Thea isn’t because you aren’t spending enough time with her.
Moira: Well, maybe not, but I have to do something and I’m not sure what else to do.
Oliver: Thea needs you right now because of the things that you’ve done. Terrible things. So let her see you do something good. As mayor. Mom, I know a little something about sacrificing the people closest to me for the good of this city. That’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, 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.

I absolutely love that Moira has known Oliver’s secret all season long. And even more so, I love that Oliver had the chance to discover this before it was too late. This almost makes me want to go watch past episodes to see if there are any suggestions that Moira is on to Oliver. Nevertheless, Moira’s response to this is exactly what Oliver needed (although he didn’t yet know what lay ahead). Ultimately, he stopped Moira’s season one plan, but in doing so, he also saved her and gave her the opportunity to reclaim both her name and her dignity before it was too late.

Photo Credit: Katie Yu/The CW
Photo Credit: Katie Yu/The CW

And all it took was a well-placed car accident for that time to arrive because when Slade has a plan, there is no stopping him. And I can imagine nothing more fitting than recreating the moment that haunts him (literally) and sent him on this path of revenge. As Oliver is forced to choose between saving Moira and saving Thea, it is heart-wrenching to watch as these three let go of their bitterness and resentment and are left with only their love for one another. Just as before, Oliver cannot decide between the two women, but this time, he doesn’t have to. Moira stands up and sacrifices herself to save her children. As a woman who was willing to go to prison to protect her daughter from the truth, it’s clear Moira will do anything for her kids.

What I also particularly appreciated in this moment is that it turned what was originally a kind of underhanded and amoral flashback in to one of poignancy and sentiment. Earlier in the episode, Moira attempts to pay off Oliver’s future child’s mother (who I’m guessing will resurface before the season ends), but ends her less-than-honorable deed with the following bit of wisdom, which will ring true as we watch Moira meet her end.

Moira: Can I offer you some advice, one mother to another? When it comes to your children, there is no action that is
inconceivable, there is no decision that is impossible, you do what you must to provide the life that they need.

This moment was one of many that convinced me that Moira’s time was nearing an end, but it also gave her final moments an added sense of nobility and compassion. For someone who killed her husband, had her second husband kidnapped and nearly blew up an entire city in the first season, Moira has in many ways been redeemed this season and I think her willingness to own her part in this chaos and sacrifice herself for her children gives her the chance to exit as a true queen.

Be sure to watch Arrow at 8/7c on The CW.

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