Without Him, Without Him

Roy – “Doing this without him while we’re waiting for him to come back is one thing, but doing this without him, without him?  That’s a whole other situation.”

Diggle – “Well, what do you want me to tell you Roy!  I can only see one inch in front of me and this is the only thing in front of me right now.”

Well said.  Roy is pointing out the difference between doing something with hope in the background and Diggle is point out the only way we keep moving when we have lost hope.It shows how clearly Roy is in the Broken stage, he doesn’t want to move, where as Diggle is in the Survival stage of this crisis, he is moving but without any clear direction…just trying to get by.  The loss of hope is really one of the hardest part of the Broken stage.  Without hope how can we move?  

“Without Him, Without Him” is a great way to put it because I think it reflects our feelings when we experience great loss.  We are not only without the person we lost but we are also without hope, without company (because we often feel alone in our loss even when we are not) and even without God.  Broken people feel very alone. However, as outside viewers we don’t fully feel this abandonment and loss of hope because we have the God Perspective…hope is never fully gone when the whole story is known.

The Essence Of A Superhero

Oliver – Someone once told me that the essence of heroism was to die so that others might live.

Diggle – It’s not that simple Oliver.

Oliver – Yes, it is.  Slade’s whole plan was to take everything from me.  He did.  He wins.  All that’s left is for me to die.

In this scene we see Oliver playing both the role of broken (wanting to die) and hero (wanting to die for others).  Oliver is broken again…still a hero but broken (now in the area of family).  This is a very heroic way to approach death…however, in the context he is doing it in (without “the fight”… not meaning physical fight but rather metaphorical fight.  The fight to help others, the fight for a cause) he is revealing how broken he is.  Oliver is now living in the hero stage in reference to “the island” but he has entered a broken stage in regards to his family and relationships.  To come out of this he will have to decide that he wants to survive yet again…just as he did in the cave on the island in the first season when he chose to try and survive the island.

Our lives are a lot like this too.  We live in multiple stages at once.  We are heroes in some aspects of our lives and still naive “playboys” in others.  When examining the different components of our lives (such as family, finances, health, relationships, occupation, physique, ) we find that we are just surviving or becoming vigilantes with a solid purpose in some parts and completely broken in others.  Being broken is never a desirable place to be however it can lead to becoming a hero.  And for Oliver, now that he is becoming a hero in respect to the island…he will have the chance to become a hero in more than one area of his life (physique, health, occupation…and now family).  As he becomes a hero in more than one area of life he will become a superhero.  We have this option in real life as well.  We can move through the stages, not as literally, but with just as much difficulty.  It’s a process. The process of becoming a superhero. (for more click here)

Worth It

Oliver – “It was the look in Roy’s eyes.  It was…Slade all over again.”

Diggle – “Oliver, what happened with Slade?”

Oliver – “Me. Someone killed Shadow.  Slade loved Shadow and it was my fault.  I wanted to tell him because it would have been better coming from me but I didn’t…

Felicity – “And he found out another way.”

Oliver – “If I had just told him the truth, I could have gotten through to him.”

Diggle – “And that’s why it’s so important to you to get through to Roy.”

Oliver – “I lived a five year nightmare, but if I learned something that can help me reach Roy now…It’ll be worth it.”

There is a lot going on in this scene.   The first thing I noticed is that for the first time Oliver is answering Diggle’s question completely, honestly, and in a way that makes sense.  Oliver has really changed a lot in how he is able to approach his memories of the island.  I think Diggle and Felicity are helping him see how these memories can actually be useful if he can find a way to communicate them.  Diggle and Felicity are exceptional characters because they are giving Oliver the time and support he needs to learn to use and access these memories.

The second thing I noticed is how focused Oliver is on his role/guilt in the situation.  His answer to “what happened” is “Me.”  I think this is a good response and although it may be a little extreme I don’t think it is wrong.  Other people often try to convince us that it was not our fault, however owning up to your role in any situation is part of being a hero.  His admission of what he could have done differently, and how his actions affected Slade, are healthy.  He points out that someone else killed Shadow (he’s not owning this) but that he did have a role in how Slade understood the situation.  His acknowledgement of fault remind us that we are all guilty to some extent and that only God is qualified to judge or forgive.

Thirdly this quote points out an essential component to recovering from trauma.  A book I read a while ago (Trauma: The Pain That Stays) said that people were more likely to recover from a traumatic event if they could find a reason or purpose for it.  That is what Diggle and Oliver are pointing out here.  The island was a nightmare but if it can be used to help others then perhaps it was worth it.  Identifying a purpose to what he went though is part of his recovery.

I also think it is interesting to point out that the big question in this passage is when to reveal who you really are.  Oliver didn’t know how to reveal to Slade what had really happened or how this affected him and now he is unsure when/how to tell Roy the truth.  Knowing when to tell the truth and when to withhold information is very complex.

Finally, I think that in this episode, and you can even see it in this quote, Oliver has finally transitioned completely from a vigilante to a hero.  He is telling his story (to those he trusts) honestly and completely, he saved a man from Roy’s lack of control, and he is pointing out how he can use his pain to reach others.  He has found a way to use the worst parts of his life as a tool…not something that he runs from but something he is strong enough to embrace and start using.  

Will everything he went through on the island be “worth it?”  I don’t think Oliver will ever say he is glad he was shipwrecked there or glad for everything he lost/gained as a result.  However, I do think it is possible, and that Oliver now understands, how even though these horrific experiences will always be a part of him they can be used in a positive way and hopefully that will give him resolve. 

Your Secret

Diggle – She has a point Oliver. Roy’s a loose cannon.  Now he knows your secret.

Oliver – You’re right, and I wasn’t thinking about the consequences.  I only knew that…I need his strength.  His power.  On the island Sarah told me that love is the most powerful emotion.  Well, the Arrow couldn’t get Roy to think about Thea.  But I could.

 It’s really neat how they use love in this episode as a (super) power.  Love changes people. Oliver has been trying to transform the city through his persona of Arrow.  He is cleaver, dedicated, and willing to fight for others but he has not used the power of love to reach them…until he tries to help Roy.  Helping Roy to focus on love, Oliver gives him the ability to use his strengths for good.  To make a difference, help the city, change lives they must use their physical powers in combination with love.

Oliver has done this in the past.  Slade reprimanded him on the island for caring about people too much and how dangerous that was…but even at that time Oliver declared his love for others as a strength, and it is.  His ability genuinely care about others is what keeps him from being overtaken by his vigilante persona.  Love keeps him grounded.

The disguise, although strong, inspirational, and empowering is incomplete.  Arrow has limits. He changes things through force and fear…the costume is not able to reach others on a level of love…but Oliver can.  For Arrow, everything is anonymous.  He is not known by those he cares about and is willing to protect…Oliver is.  When he sees Roy full of strength but detached from love he recognizes that the cover of Arrow will not be able to complete this disconnection, and so he reveals his secret…he is not just Arrow he is Oliver Queen, a person who understands loss, defense, and love.

His secret, our secret, is that our true identity can connect with others on the level of love.

A Hero Is Born

Diggle – “Oliver I know you’ve taken Roy on, and why, but Roy, Slade, a lot of guys I’ve served with…some people are just broken, man, and nobody can put them back together.

Oliver – “I refuse to believe that.  I’m not letting what happened to Slade happen to Roy.  I’m not.”

 A few weeks ago I suggested to one of my friends that a really good counseling question would be, “What does it take for someone to move from playboy, to broken, to surviving, to vigilante, to hero, to superhero?”  A lot of what I talk about in these quotes is this transition.  This one highlights what it takes to transform from vigilante to hero.

In this scene Oliver is no longer striving to be a hero…he is one.  This quote reveals how Oliver has taken on a lifestyle, a belief, an identity.  He is more than just someone who fights for others…he is now someone who believes in others.  He flat out refuses to see others, their circumstances and redemption, as hopeless.  He is not only going to do everything he can to help them to become something more but he is willing to acknowledge his horrific past as part of his identity, and use it to help others.  He stands up and fights for hope.

This is what I would say it takes for us to move from vigilante to hero in our “real lives”…a willingness to accept our past and live a life that stands for love and hope.  When hope is difficult, or love forces us to face our failings, faults, and traumas of the past, yet we choose to see potential, love, and hope in others despite our/their past or circumstances, a hero can be born.

(find more on what makes a hero here: Horcruxes, Heroes, and Harry Potter)

What Do You Want To Be Called?

Oliver: The city still needs saving. But not by the Hood. Or some vigilante who’s just crossing names off a list. It needs something more.

Diggle: It needs a hero, Oliver.

Felicity: It’s too bad The Hoods kind of ruined your nickname.

Oliver: No, it’s good. I don’t want to be called The Hood anymore.

Diggle: Okay. So what do you want to be called?

Choosing a name, finding an identity, takes time.  A person doesn’t just turn from a playboy to a vigilante because he killed a bird and put some muscle on.  Yes, Oliver kills a chicken (and puts some muscle on), and he learns from these experiences…but Oliver also kills a person out of instinct (at the end of season 1), then Oliver kills out of desperation, fury, anger, and hatred, and he begins killing to survive. He is changing. That is the genius of this show…it shows the that the whole thing is a process, a change in body, mind, soul, focus…everything.    At first Oliver is just learning to survive…he sits on the life raft waiting for dad to solve the problem (that doesn’t work out), he kills a chicken for food and realizes that survival takes sacrifice, he learns to survive under authority (following Slade around), and then on the boat he has to begin stitching up his own wounds. 

Oliver’s process from surviving to vigilante is slow and intertangled with a lot of complicated events/memories.  The process of becoming a hero is even more complex and requires more than just one person, and, to become a superhero, everything has to come together with just the right balance of right and wrong, self-reliance and dependence, fight and flight, reality and dreams.  

What do you want to be called?  A survivor? A vigilante? A hero? A superhero?  You won’t get there over night…it’s a process that takes time, sacrifice, many changes in identity, and a lot of help from others.  It is not easy to go through but it is possible.

Spooked

Diggle – I’ve never seen you spooked like this before.

Oliver – Well, that should tell you something.

 If you notice a change in someone…it means something.  When people are upset, frazzled, frustrated, angry, or “spooked,” as Diggle says here, then something is wrong.   It could be something from their past that is making them uncomfortable.  It could be an anticipation of harm to come.  It could be uncertainty.  But no matter what the cause, there is meaning behind it and I think most often this is linked to fear (more on fear).  Whether we agree with the persons fear or not we should take them seriously and treat them (and their anxiety, fear, frustration) respectfully, because it is real, a part of them, and it can tell us something.