Trying

Oliver – I was wrong too

Helena – About what

Oliver – I thought I could help you, stop you from being a killer, but…I was just starting, and I was a killer too.

Helena – And what are you now?

Oliver – I’m trying to be better.

 This scene is really cool because Oliver is looking back and looking forward.  There’s a scene when he first meets Helena where he is looking back on how he has changed (at Sara’s grave talking about how much he has changed from the island) but this time he is looking forward as well.  He is starting to see that he has/had limits and that he is developing into a hero/superhero…he isn’t just one because he wants it to be so.  Also, Tommy had told Oliver when he first found out about his “Arrow” persona that he was a killer…and Helena had told him that she and he were the same when it came down to it…and they were right in a way.  At the time Oliver was driven by his purpose alone (he was a vigilante not a hero) but now, Oliver is not only starting to think of others (he even comes to see Helena and try to help her though this tough transition) but he is also thinking about his own progress and how he can continue to improve.  He doesn’t make some grand statement about how far he has come or how much of a hero he is…he only states that he is trying to be better.  He is trying to be something more (for Tommy and others he loves/loved).  He is trying to be a hero.

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The Darkness Inside

“Once you let the darkness inside…it never comes out.” ~Helena (and later Laurel)

 Interesting idea.  It seems to me that Helena is unable to recognize that the dark and the light go together.  She has no sidekicks (Oliver was not ready to help her when he tried before and she rejected the idea of sidekicks) so she became lost in the darkness.  All she sees is her purpose.  And then at the end of this episode, when her purpose is gone, she feels alone and hopeless.  What she doesn’t realize (and hopefully will now begin to see) is that it only takes a little light to negate the darkness. It may feel like the darkness/loss/despair will never leave but one spark can start a huge fire and one lit candle (although the room may still be dark) allows you to begin to see.  I think that is what is happening to Helena at the end when Oliver comes to talk with her.  Oliver, this time, now that he is beginning the hero state, is bringing a small bit of light into the darkness.  Yes, Helena is right in that the past will never change…the darkness/dark memories/things she has done wrong will always be with her (never come out)…but with light she can become something more. 

Maybe this is the hope for those who have entered the Villain stage.  That they will lose their purpose because with the loss of their purpose there is opportunity for light to get in.

I also thought it was interesting that Laurel repeats this quote…what does that say about her?

Start By Letting People Help You

Oliver – I don’t know what to do.  He’s too far ahead.  I mean, he’s spent years planning this.  He knows everything about me.  I can’t, I……I don’t know how to stop him. 

Sarah – Well, you start by letting people help you.

Oliver – But, he’s gonna come after you.  You’re alive…because Shadow isn’t.

Sarah – And when he does do you think it’ll make a difference whether or not we’re together?  Let him come.  I’m not the girl he knew on the island.  I’m not that easy to kill. — Together?

Oliver – Together.

 Ok, so I know it’s really, really girly of me to say this but I was thinking a few episodes ago that one thing they really needed to do with Oliver next was have him show some emotion.  In this scene they pretty much do.  Hum…It’s a great scene because what I see happening is that Oliver is thrust back into survival mode and he’s barely making it…but this time he is tethered to the light.  He is lost in darkness again but he is not floundering…he is attached to Sarah, Diggle, Felicity, and Roy…and because he is attached/tethered to them they can pull him back out of survival mode, into the light, onward toward being a hero again.  Without them Oliver would have to learn to survive again, find a purpose (which is dangerous for him because his purpose right now is really to “get rid of Slade” a purpose that could easily cause him to become vengeful and perhaps even a villain).  However, being tethered to the light Sarah can pull him back up.  She offers him help and he accepts.  This, I think, thrusts him back up to hero status.  He’s not doing it alone.  He is even willing to give up his purpose to work as a team.  

In real life this is all very hard to do.  Asking for help, recognizing when things are out of our control, giving up our own agenda, and allowing others to fight some of our battle are things I would like to do better.

Branded With Your Crimes

“In Roman Times the criminal was branded to identify his crimes to the world and to forever remind him of what he’d done.  Shadow wore this tattoo on her back and now you shall wear it for the rest of your life.” ~Slade

I thought it was really interesting how Oliver gets his first tattoo.  I remember seeing that tattoo on Shadow’s back in the first season and I assumed that later Oliver would become part of Shadow’s gang/family or whatever.  Slade tattooing it on Oliver as a forced reminder of failure is interesting and took me by surprise.  It is a good metaphor for a lot of things.

First, we want others to feel our loss when we are hurt.  Slade is trying to force Oliver to feel his pain.

Second, tragic events are with us forever…like tattoos.  There are both sad and happy memories embedded in the ink and the image/memory may fade but the event itself, how it affects us and changes our life, will always be a part of us.  Oliver’s just happens to be visible to the rest of us.

And Third, Oliver has yet another reminder of his failures.  In this case however…unlike the arrow in his shoulder scar, the scars from being tortured,  or scars from being shot and having to sew himself back together… Shadow’s death was not something that was solely thrust up on him.  He had a role (all-be-it a very small one) in her death…and so he feels guilt as well.  The other scars Oliver has (so far in the flashbacks) are not attached to guilt…this one is.  It is a very difficult thing to have a constant reminder of your failures in your face.  I look back now at the pilot episode where Oliver is looking at himself in the mirror and see even more how much he has to process though just in seeing his own reflection.

I Need This To Stop

Sarah – It’s just me.  What’s going on Olli?  Hey!  Talk to me.

Oliver – Now is not the time.

Sarah – Then when is the time?  The Bratva Olli? You’re losing your grip. Ok, Slade is getting in your head.

Oliver – I need this to stop!  And for it to stop, I need to find him!

Sarah – Yeah, and until then how long do you think you can keep this up for?  You’re not eating, you’re barely sleeping and when you do you have nightmares.  They’re about her, aren’t they. Hey, look at me.  You did what you had to do, ok?  Ivo was going to shoot Shadow, or me, or both of us.  It was an impossible choice.

Oliver –I made it anyway.

Sarah – But if you had chosen differently it would be me haunting you at night.

Oliver – It still could be Sarah. (great voice change!) That’s why we have to stop.

Sarah – What are you saying?

Oliver – He’s going to use you to hurt me. Or he’s going to hurt you… (another voice change) Stay away from me.

This conversation is interesting to me because Oliver is speaking more honestly with Sarah than any “superhero” ever does with his girl…however, he is being more dishonest with himself then he has been in a long time.  I think it’s really cool how the writers of this episode have Oliver (and Diggle) say and do everything we as the audience want them to do…and yet it doesn’t resolve all the problems.  In superhero movies there is always the plot line of “I can’t tell her because if she knew she’d be in danger” and “I can’t do that because I care too much.”  This episode shows how these plot lines do not have to be followed to keep the show interesting and suspenseful. There doesn’t have to be that “if they only knew” factor.   Diggle rescues Deadshot and stays with his ex-wife but things are complicated…his wife wasn’t making very good choices and Deadshot is going to have another bomb put into his head.  Oliver (especially in this scene) is telling Sarah how much he cares and how hard the situation with Slade is for him…and he is telling her point blank that he can’t handle her being in danger.  I really appreciate that about this show.

Also,  you can see in this scene how Oliver is still in survival mode (his body stance, not making eye contact, fear, fight and flight) but he is trying to force himself into Vigilante mode (putting himself in danger (i.e. with the Bratva, trying to face fear), forcing a purpose upon himself).  He has forced the purpose upon himself to “get rid of Slade” and he can’t do it.  Slade is too far ahead of him.

Oliver is struggling with a fluctuation in the level he is at (surviving/vigilante) and the level he wants to be at (hero).  He is also struggling with guilt (from Shadow’s death), fear (of losing Sara and others he loves), and pride (wanting to fix it on his own), not to mention the actual threat itself.  This is a lot to take on alone…to make it through he’s going to have to accept help.

Words

The Reverend Prisoner – “Have faith my friend. God will Protect you.”

The Gambling Prisoner – “There is no God, and if there was, He’s not on this ship.”

 Good quote!  Oh, how I wish I could explain to people the damage they do when saying things like “God will protect you.”  You’ve got to be kidding me.  What is the Russian/gambling prisoner supposed to think about God in this circumstance…he is about to be tortured and if he was tortured, or if he had died, does that mean God didn’t protect him!?  If it does it would lead any logical person to conclude that God doesn’t care about them.  We really have to watch what is implied behind the “Christian words”  we speak and stop to consider what message we really intend to send the person and what message is communicated beneath the surface of our words.

(for more on this subject check out Room in the Church and Failure Redeemed)

Why We Lie

Why is it so hard for everyone just to tell the truth? ~Thea

 I’ve often observed when reading stories or watching film/tv how frequently the problems presented in the plot are due to characters who do not tell the whole story.  As viewers we catch ourselves repeatedly thinking, “if they only knew (fill in the blank).”  Yet the characters don’t tell the whole story and we (in real life) don’t tell our whole story either.  We keep things to ourselves and this probably complicates our lives just as the plot thickens in a fictional story when other characters are deprived information.  Why do we lie or stay silent?  I think it comes down to four main reasons…

  1. Fear of Rejection – We all know this and we all keep quite at times for fear that the other person/people will not still accept us if they knew (fill in the blank).
  2. Fear of Broadcast – If we tell someone something then we cannot control what they do with that information.  They can spread it around and they can use it against us.
  3. The Scandal – Why do people really want to know?  If you tell them are they just listening for “the scandal” of the story or are they really going to be with you as you are working through this story?
  4. No One to Tell – Difficult stories are difficult to tell…it can be challenging to find a person who is willing to listen to the whole story…the good, the bad, and the ugly.
  5. Preventing Harm – People who have been through life changing events have gained an understanding that what they need or want to share might actually harm the person they are sharing with.  For example, Thea probably couldn’t handle knowing about Oliver being tortured, and Laurel would have a hard time dealing with the details of what her sister or Oliver truly went through on the island.  Some details we keep to ourselves because it’s not good for others to know.

 So silence continues.  Thea knows nothing about what’s really going on.  Laurel doesn’t know she is talking to her sister.  We don’t know the life’s details for those around us. (for more on this check out a Harry Potter essay – The Silent Champion)