“I don’t want to hurt, or get hurt ever again, and you seem like someone who can teach me how not to.” ~ Thea
There is an interesting scene attached to this quote where Malcom Merlin is pouring scalding water on his (and later Thea’s) hands to prove that he has learned to tolerate pain and that Thea will do the same. It struck me that this is a totally different approach then what shaped Oliver.
“One the island” Oliver went through a lot of very painful events (both physically, emotionally, and mentally) but what is different about the way he learned to become strong verses how Malcom is teaching Thea is that Oliver didn’t CHOOSE to inflict pain so that he could become immune to it. The pain overwhelmed him and damaged him but it also improved him and built up his character. In contrast Thea and Malcom choose pain. They self-inflect pain so that they will no longer react to it. This difference is why, I think, Oliver is still able to care about people (and progress toward becoming a hero) whereas Malcom has become a villain…he only sees his agenda. In dulling himself to the pain Malcom doesn’t “connect” anymore. He didn’t even have to mourn the death of his son. Disconnection is dangerous ground.