Two Names

“You can’t live by two names” ~ Chinese Man (Oliver’s Handler)

The first episode of Arrow season three is quite different than many of the previous episodes.  So much of this episode is peaceful…everything the viewer has been waiting for is happening, the characters are happy, Oliver and Felicity are dating, the bad guy is quickly caught…it really is “The Calm”.  

With this in mind, there was one quote in this episode that I found especially interesting.  On first glance, “You can’t live by two names,” seems to be a proverb that everyone would smile and nod along with it but with some deeper reflection this quote is in fact the theme of the episode (and possibly this season).  It is reflecting on the conflict between Oliver and Arrow, between normal life and complexity, between what is would be like to be a typical person verses the complexity of heroism.

So what does “You can’t live by two names” really mean…I think it can mean many different things…

  1. For Island/Hong Kong Oliver – it means you don’t have a choice.
  2. For Arrow/Oliver facing his fear – it means he recognizes that conflict within himself. His greatest fear is himself (That is a really fascinating greatest fear by the way).  Oliver/Arrow doesn’t know how to be two people.  He is scared of what he could become, what he could do, what he could lose, what he might choose.  He is scared of the two people he is and doesn’t know how to blend them together.  In this case the quote means that in order to truly understand yourself you must understand yourself as a whole…not as two separate entities.
  3. For Arrow being recognized by Officer Lance – He is recognized but still in disguise…this means it’s all romanticized. Would people really accept him if they knew who the Arrow was? It means you can’t be two people, and if you are others are offended that you were hiding things from them, no matter how little they know you.
  4. For Arrow and Felicity – Oliver has lived mostly as The Arrow with Felicity. He wants to be a normal person but that doesn’t blend well with The Arrow.  He will either have to learn to balance his two identities, or, choose one.  It means you can’t live as two separate people.  This is the same type of issue they explored in the new Batman films.  In batman’s case he was unable to balance Bruce Wane and Batman, and it tore him apart…hopefully it will be different for Arrow/Oliver
  5. For Diggle – He is a father now. What is truly going to take priority in his life?  He can go out risking his life every night and be a caring father as well. In this case it means we have to choose a priority.
  6. For Lance – He is transitioning to a new identity now…(Launce) “I’ve been a cop since before you and your sister were born. It’s all I know. If I’m not a cop…what am I?” (Laurel)“You’re my father…and I need you.”  Sometimes you can physically be two things.  In this case the quote means we have physical limitations. (as a side note I think it is cool that Laurel is helping him find a new identity…she is not letting him get lost or be without purpose)
  7. For Felicity – she can’t take the up and down and back and forth. She is either with Oliver or it is NEVER a possibility.  In this case the quote means the up and down, in and out, yes and then no…hurts.

Balance is a pretty interesting theme and certainly a necessary component in becoming a hero.  I look forward to seeing what more they do this season.


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