“I got wrapped up in my own suffering and forgot that some other people might be suffering too.”
It takes an extremely strong person to see and say this. Most people are suffering in one way or another (whether very small or very large.) Yet here, Oliver is able to step away from his own problems (which are quite huge), to see others’ perspectives and the fact that they are going through hardships too. Seeing and acknowledging this, and doing it without judgement, is one of his his greatest strengths. He is aware of the “The God Perspective” as I call it. The idea that just as he (Oliver) has a lot he is not saying and incredibly hard things he is processing through…so do others.
“If you ever need to tell someone about your day, you can tell me.”
We all want someone to be there for us when we need to talk, but supporting someone else in their time of need is not always easy. We say, “call me any time” or “I’m always here for you” but do we really mean it? Who would you call if you were stuck on the side of the road, had a stranger show up at your house, or if you had such a bad day that you just really needed to talk? Who would you sit with if they called you? We want to be there for others but the reality is (just as it was for Oliver) we often don’t see when another person is calling out to us for help and there are social protocols to follow. If a friend calls at 2 in the morning would our phone be on and would we answer with frustration or empathy? The fact that Oliver is able to come back to Felicity at the end of this episode and tell her, “you can tell me” is a great gift. The challenge is to actually be there if she does need to talk, no matter the time, place, or circumstance.
Oliver – I just feel like this island is…turning me into something terrible.
Shadow – No island, no place can make you something you’re not.”
Oliver – So I’ve always been a killer.
Shadow – Everyone has a demon inside them. The Dao De Jing recognizes the yin and the yang. The opposing forces inside all of us. The darkness. The light. The killer and the hero.
This quote highlights the conflict/turmoil that is faced by so many of the characters in Arrow as well as the conflict we ourselves face. Every character in the show (Oliver especially), and every person here on earth, is trying to maintain a balance between the light and dark, the killer and hero inside of them. One of Oliver’s great strengths is that he knows this is part of his battle. He became aware of the constant struggle between hero and killer during his time on the island and how muddled that distinction can be. He realizes that in so many situations both good and evil raise their heads. After all, if he had not attacked the man in this scene Shadow would have been severely harmed or even killed…however in attacking him Oliver kills, with violent rage, for thei frist time. Which was, “the right thing” to do….??? (an essay on this Impossible Decisions)
Everyone has a story, and everyone also has the opposing forces warring inside of them. Some let the darkness come out even when they’ve had things go pretty well. Others suffer terrible things and chose the light. It’s an ongoing battle most of us will struggle through our entire lives.
Slade – I’ve seen many more with that look I their eyes.
Shadow – What look?
Slade – The one that says he’s split into someone else. Someone he doesn’t even recognize. If someone doesn’t talk to him it’ll tear him up.
It is very admirable what Slade is able to see in this scene that I think many of us could have overlooked. Slade points out in this passage that Oliver is on the verge of a mental collapse. Oliver has just beaten the guy to death to save Shadow. He has killed for the first time out of rage, desperation, anger, and loss of control and now he is facing a huge upheaval in identity. Someone has to grab him, and grab him now…tether him to the light or he really will collapse completely. Someone has to remind him that he is more than just one act. The fact that Slade recognizes this is a huge strength of his.
“The day I went missing was the day I died.” ~ Oliver
After my own return from overseas when I was diagnosed with PTSD, I visited with a variety of counselors. They told me time and time again at the end of our sessions, “Well, don’t forget, that at least you survived.” The point is, the point they do not see, the point Oliver makes in this quote…is that I/he didn’t survive. My body did yes. But my soul, my person, is different. The old me is gone, dead, and whether this be for good or for bad…I am different. Oliver has drastically changed from who he was before. He has gained some things and he has lost some things, he is still sorting out a lot…but no matter what stance you take on how he has changed that fact is he has changed. The day he went missing was the day the old Oliver died. That Oliver will never return. The difficulty he faces now (and many of us face) is discovering and deciding who the new Oliver is and will be.
(an essay on this type of life shattering identity change: Romanticizing Adversity)
“The Oliver you lost might not be the one they found.” ~The Doctor, Episode 1:1
Have you ever reunited with someone to find that they were completely different then what you expected? We are always hearing that people never change…but there are times when people do change…and when we find ourselves facing one of these situations we have the opportunity to get to know someone from the beginning. What an exciting, and difficult, opportunity this can be.