Romanticizing the Mask

Laurel – Is everything ok?

Felicity – I came to ask you the same thing…Cannery

Laurel – I guess you came here to talk some sense into me.

Felicity – Seems like you could use some

Laurel – I’m not sure you’re going to have to bother…Brick he…he killed someone tonight, in front of me.  I thought that being Sarah would make it hurt less.  But instead it caused more pain, and not just for me.  So you don’t have to worry.  I’m not going to be putting on that mask again.

I like this scene because I think it speaks a lot to the naivety of those who have not experienced “fill in the blank.”  For Laurel she thought becoming a Vigilante, becoming Sarah, would fix things…but she doesn’t know what that really entails.  The Brokenness that comes with it.  Laurel is still Surviving, still being trained.  Just as Sarah, Diggle, Roy, and Oliver had to learn during their Survival phases, fighting for a cause is not without losses. 

I think we often admire those who are in these positions because of the strength we see in their perseverance.  What they have been through seems heroic, and it is in a way because it is part of the process of becoming a Hero.  But do we REALLY want to fight a dragon, have to shoot a gun, or experience a trauma…probably not.  There is strength to be gain, and a Hero being made, in any brokenness but let us not romanticize the experiences others go through and instead treat them with the sincerity these events deserve.

(For more on this subject check out Romanticizing Adversity)


The Importance of Training

Laurel – “I tried to do good, it didn’t work out.”

Oliver – “Laurel”

Laurel – “I know that it probably sounds insane, it probably is but…Sarah, she gave me this and when I wear it, it makes me want to help people like she did, like she’s alive again.”

Oliver – “I get it…Sarah had training, she had years.”

Laurel – “Oliver I know. Which is why I need to start, and I need your help.”

In relation to the “Stages in Becoming a Hero” Laurel has never really been able to get out of the survival stage.  For two seasons now (witch covers 7 years) she has been flipping back and forth between “Playboy” and “Broken.”  She has never been “trained” and therefore is not “surviving” and consequently unable to progress to vigilante and hero. (click here to see the Stages in Becoming a Hero)


  1. When Sarah and Oliver were ship wrecked she was broken (we saw that in the Laurel flashbacks of Season 2 episode 12)…did she ever learn to survive this?
  2. Tommy’s death…Laurel is broken again. Was she trained to survive it?  Nope, she turned to drugs and alcohol.
  3. Being kidnapped by the dollmaker and almost killed. No one helped her learn to survive this either…again alcohol and drugs.
  4. Sarah’s reappearance…Laurel’s world shattered again. This time she has her mom and dad to encourage her to go to AA meetings which are “Training her” to a certain extent but she doesn’t have the skills to fight on her own yet…just acknowledge the coping skill problem (or her incorrect “training”)
  5. Sarah’s death, another brokenness, and now…she wants…she needs to be trained.

Thea is a lot like this too…broken many times, turning to the wrong thing because there is no one there to train her in how to survive and then now in episode 3 she has turned to someone to be trained and that someone (Malcom) will have an ENORMOUS impact on her life.  Better be careful.

In real life I think the importance of the above characters (or the flipping back and forth between playboy an broken) shows how incredibly important “Training” is.  People don’t “just know” how to recover from a life shattering event.  They need to be guided by someone who has survived themselves and the person they choose as a guide/trainer has a huge influence.  In real life we get this training from our family, counselors, support groups (like “Divorce Care, AA, Recovery groups), the government (mandated community service and such), and organizations (such as food banks, half-way houses, and churches).  Each of these offers us different “Training” not all of which is beneficial, except for the fact that it is training.

It is good that Laurel is seeking to be trained and unfortunate that Oliver wont train her.  The person/people who train us are incredibly important…Thea is going 90 miles an out down a dead end street because she is going through her “survival” stage with the wrong person.

Training is essential to progress through the “Survival” stage.  The survival stage, and the training that comes with it, is very, very important and yet I think it is the stage that we most often expect people to skip (that and the vigilante stage).  We expect people to be broken and then “figure it out” but we don’t usually offer direct training while allowing them to “just survive” (and we certainly don’t accept the fact that they may be purpose driven (self focused) during the vigilante stage).  We seem to expect people to jump from broken straight to hero.  The Survival stage is one of reactions, instinct, and learning.  Without training on what to do with these reactions, how to cope with our feelings of brokenness, and and understanding of our fears and instincts we cannot choose a defined purpose or progress to the “Vigilante Stage.”

Yes You Can!

Laurel – No. No.  You can’t commit suicide Ollie.  You won’t do that to me, or to Sarah, or to your friends, or to Thea.  Oliver she just lost her mother.  Loosing you would destroy her.

Oliver – She’ll be alive.

Laurel – I don’t know anything about hoods and masks, or human weapons, or any of this, but I know you.  I know you like I know my own name.  And I realize it may sound crazy, in light of your secret, but I know who you are in your bones Oliver!  And that person, that person doesn’t give up.  That person he always finds a way.

Oliver – Not this time.

Laurel – You’re wrong.  You want to protect the people who you love then the only way to do that is to stop Slade Wilson.


Laurel – YES YOU CAN!

 Good job Laurel! (and those who wrote this script) 

 It’s interesting that Laurel points out here that in sacrificing himself Oliver will be hurting those he loves.  Oliver is broken again and not wanting to survive and therefor he doesn’t see the impact his death would have on those  he is trying to protect.  Sarah is right, Oliver’s death would destroy Thea (and probably others as well).  There are a lot of things out there that are worse than death.  Oliver knows this (that is why he is craving death, and end to all his pain) but he can’t see how it impacts others right now because “the broken phase” is a phase of blurred or vision.  The pain is blinding him.  So, although he is still a hero in many aspects of his life…he is unable to see how fragile others are as well.

 In our lives I think we experience this as well.  When things are so hard that we know death would be a release it is a time when we can’t see truth clearly.  Laurel yells at Oliver to keep going, keep trying, be a survivor…but he can’t see it yet.  Oliver needs Laurel, just as we need others in our lives during this time. Someone who will list off the people we HAVE TO live for, see what we can become, push us to survive.  Not everyone makes it out of the broken phase…we have to fight to survive.

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?