To Be More

Slade – Where am I?

Oliver – As far away from the world as I could get you.  Where you can’t hurt anyone ever again.

Slade – That’s your weakness kid.  You don’t have the guts to kill me.

Oliver – No, I have the strength to let you live.

Slade – Oh, you’re a killer. I know.  I created you.  You’ve killed plenty

Oliver – Yes, I have.  You helped turn me into a killer when I needed to be one.  And I’m alive today because of you.  I made it home because of you.  And I got to see my family again.  But over the past year I’ve needed to be more.  And I faltered.  But then I stopped you, without killing.  You helped me become a hero, Slade.  Thank you.

Slade – You don’t think I can get out of here.  You don’t think I’ll come after you.

Oliver – No, because you’re in purgatory.

 This was a good speech from Oliver.  It not only really shows how far he has come but it shows how necessary each of the steps he went through to get to this point were.  Being broken, learning the skills he has now to survive, even being a killer were necessary phases for him to go through.  Just as these steps are necessary for Oliver, I think they are necessary for us as well.  Not that we need to become killers, but we do need to work through the stages of becoming a hero.  Those in a stage that is not favorably looked upon by general society (such as Surviving, or Vigilante) should not be discounted.  They are in a place of transformation towards heroism just as Oliver was.  And now, he is now on his way to becoming a superhero. 

Secondly, the last line  is a great play on words too.  Obviously because Slade is actually on Lian Yu (the island named purgatory) but also because Slade has a choice right now.  He can change.  The drug is out of his system and if he wants he can become something else.  He probably won’t, because he is so far lost in villain hood…but he could.  This is his time of paying for his choices, and, his time to consider something new.

Island Bound

Oliver – It was five years ago.

Slade – IT WAS YESTERDAY!  Oh I tried to let go of the island, but it’s still got a hold on me.  And if that hood that you wear every night is any indication…it’s still got a hold on you.

Interesting how time seems different to Oliver and to Slade.  Oliver moved on from Shadow pretty quickly…probably because he was still in survival mode and he had to move on to survive.  Shadow wasn’t such a big part of his life.  For Slade on the other hand, Shadow was what he was holding on to…in a way i think keeping Shadow safe, happy, and helping her get off the island was Slade’s purpose as a vigilante on the island.  After Shadow was taken from him and then revenge was taken from him Slade “lost it.”  Without a purpose and without help…he became a villain.  And it sticks with him because it was EVERYTHING to him.  Yanking a purpose away from someone in the vigilante stage is a very dangerous thing to do…it will almost always be interpreted as deep betrayal.

In addition, Slade does have a point…The “islands” we have been through in life will always have a hold on us.  They will impact our lives and who we are or are becoming.  It is the type of hold we allow them to have, the purpose our “island” experience gives us, and the sidekicks/help we accept (or do not accept) along the way that will determine the type of power these experiences can give us.  Will we be tied up, bound, by our island or will we be headed, bound, for something greater because of our island.

Branded With Your Crimes

“In Roman Times the criminal was branded to identify his crimes to the world and to forever remind him of what he’d done.  Shadow wore this tattoo on her back and now you shall wear it for the rest of your life.” ~Slade

I thought it was really interesting how Oliver gets his first tattoo.  I remember seeing that tattoo on Shadow’s back in the first season and I assumed that later Oliver would become part of Shadow’s gang/family or whatever.  Slade tattooing it on Oliver as a forced reminder of failure is interesting and took me by surprise.  It is a good metaphor for a lot of things.

First, we want others to feel our loss when we are hurt.  Slade is trying to force Oliver to feel his pain.

Second, tragic events are with us forever…like tattoos.  There are both sad and happy memories embedded in the ink and the image/memory may fade but the event itself, how it affects us and changes our life, will always be a part of us.  Oliver’s just happens to be visible to the rest of us.

And Third, Oliver has yet another reminder of his failures.  In this case however…unlike the arrow in his shoulder scar, the scars from being tortured,  or scars from being shot and having to sew himself back together… Shadow’s death was not something that was solely thrust up on him.  He had a role (all-be-it a very small one) in her death…and so he feels guilt as well.  The other scars Oliver has (so far in the flashbacks) are not attached to guilt…this one is.  It is a very difficult thing to have a constant reminder of your failures in your face.  I look back now at the pilot episode where Oliver is looking at himself in the mirror and see even more how much he has to process though just in seeing his own reflection.

What Is Happening!?

Slade – “What is happening to me?

Oliver – “I don’t know, but I’m not going to let you go through it on your own.”

It’s really hard to recognize that things are changing within you and not know what is going on or what to do about it.  Oliver’s response is perfect.  What Slade needs is not some long, biochemical, or physical explanation for the changes that are happening, but rather someone who will stick with him through the changes and through the fear.  I wish we could say/do this for each other more often in real life.  Practically, however, it is a very difficult thing to do.  Maybe attempting to stick with Slade was part of Oliver’s strength building that was required for him to become a hero.

Talk To Him

Slade – I’ve seen many more with that look I their eyes.

Shadow – What look?

Slade – The one that says he’s split into someone else.  Someone he doesn’t even recognize.  If someone doesn’t talk to him it’ll tear him up.

It is very admirable what Slade is able to see in this scene that I think many of us could have overlooked.  Slade points out in this passage that Oliver is on the verge of a mental collapse.  Oliver has just beaten the guy to death to save Shadow.  He has killed for the first time out of rage, desperation, anger, and loss of control and now he is facing a huge upheaval in identity.  Someone has to grab him, and grab him now…tether him to the light or he really will collapse completely.  Someone has to remind him that he is more than just one act.  The fact that Slade recognizes this is a huge strength of his.