Never

Roy – “Don’t abandon me”

Oliver – “Never”

 Good job Roy.  I like how he gets right to the point…right to his fear.  Too often do we abandon those around us.  Playboys need parents, the Broken need those who provide hope, Survivors need consistency in their training,  Vigilantes need sidekicks, really firends; Heroes can’t do it alone.  No matter where we are at we all need someone. For many of us abandonment is likely one of our greatest fears and rightfully so.

Nothing Left but “The Arrow”

Oliver – To do what I do Berry, it takes conviction, but more often than not it’s the will to do what’s ugly.  Every time I do that I’m…I’m trading away little pieces of myself. So you asked what’s wrong with me…that’s what’s wrong.  The part that I’m trading away is Oliver Queen.  And lately I’ve been feeling like there’s nothing left except The Arrow.

Barry – I think you’re full of crap.  Look you’ve convinced yourself that everything you went through took away your humanity, but I think it’s because of your humanity that you made it through.  You wouldn’t have survived, much less come out the other end a hero, somebody who wants to do good, if you didn’t have a light inside of you.

 I like this quote and I think they are both right.  Oliver is giving away pieces of himself when he “has the will to do what’s ugly.”  And that is most certainly how it feels to him. If he continues on this path for too long and without people to ground him (like Diggle) he would end up as purely “The Arrow.”  This is what he has been cautioned about all through this season (that he will die alone, that he bottles things up (like Sara’s death), that he doesn’t allow himself to be a blend of Oliver and Arrow).  Pushing the “Oliver” part of him out will not do him any good…but neither will pushing the “Arrow” part out.  

Barry is also right though.  Arrow/Oliver has convinced himself that he “has become something else” in a bad way.  He hasn’t found the balance.  He hasn’t realized that it is the Oliver part of him that has offered light all these years and the “Arrow” part that has helped him make it through.  Oliver is not gone…the playboy is…but Oliver Queen the hero is the light that is pushing him to become something more.  Finding balance is key in becoming a Hero.

I Know Two Things

“I honestly don’t know if I’m a killer anymore…but I do know two things.” ~ Oliver

This, and the statements that follow are identity statements.  Oliver is (for one of the first times) able to make “I am” statements, statements about himself and how he defines himself.  This is a key part of our lives.  We all have parts of us that we choose as our identity.  These parts are the hardest to let go of when we are broken and the most difficult to rebuild as we become heroes, but when we do find these components of ourselves and are able to make “I am ___” statements it says a lot.  At this point Oliver chooses his Brotherhood to Thea and his love for Felicity as parts of his identity, parts of what makes him who he is.  What “I am ___” statements do you make?  What defines you?

A Fraction of what Happened

Oliver – “Why didn’t you tell me about any of this?”

Felicity – “Do we even know a fraction of what happened to you during the 5 years on that island?”

Woah, Touche!  Good Job Felicity…a good reminder of many things…

First off, That everyone opens up in their own time.

Secondly, WE don’t know what others have in their past and we may be better teachers and better role models as well as more willing to open up ourselves if we remember that others have scars too.

Thirdly, our scars are a part of us whether they are seen or not.  Oliver has scars all over his body…we don’t see them nearly as much anymore but they are still there (yes, that sentence is both literal and metaphorical), Felicity, Diggle, Laurel, all of the other characters have scars too…they may not be visible but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

Finally, this quote is a good reminder of “if we don’t ask, they won’t say.” (especially when talking about heroes).   I don’t think true heroes go around spouting off their experiences…most heroes have been through too much, lost too much, and seen too much to consider what they are/do to be heroic or even a good idea to talk about.  When someone stays quite, shuns recognition, it is probably a big sign that they are a hero or at the very least that they have been through something that has made them see the complexity of the world.

Felicity is right, they don’t know even a fraction of what Oliver went through on the island, and Oliver knows even less about Felicity’s past.  I think someone in Oliver’s situation, with Oliver’s experiences understands the impact of scars and experiences very deeply…so if even he can forget why someone wouldn’t open up and talk about them freely…how much more must we forget to think of others and what they are NOT saying.

You Learn Not to Judge

Felicity: Turns out he is not as dead as I thought.
Oliver: I’ve had some experience with that. You learn not to judge.

This is something I’ve liked from the beginning about Oliver’s character. His experiences on the island and beyond humbled him and made him realize his own potential for good and evil and seemed to reconcile him with others’ as well. He doesn’t judge others readily.

They Shaped the Person You Are Today

“Felicity, I want you to know that whatever experiences you had to go through I’m glad that you did because they shaped the person you are today.  And you know how I feel about her.” ~ Oliver

At first glance this quote appears to be a little bit cheesy, however if you look beneath the obvious reminder of affection Oliver is saying something much bigger than the cheesy “I like who you are.” (which when recovering from hardship usually a helpful reminder) He is saying something about himself.  Do you remember last season when Oliver is insistent on helping Roy? Here is the quote in case you don’t…

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.”

This quote has the same idea is less aware and more instinctually reactive.  the current episode, with the more recent quote, shows that Oliver is able now to recognize that his island experiences are an IMPORTANT part of him.  They don’t just make “Arrow,” amazing training, or the ability to dodge bullets…they make HIM.  And even more importantly, which I think he says subconsciously and doesn’t fully realize yet, He loves Felicity BECAUSE of her scars/past…just like we love Oliver BECAUSE of his scars.  These “shameful/damaging things from the past” are part of us and with the right kind of person they make us love the other more. 

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)

Examples…

  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.”