Blood on Your Hands

“The bomber was Kat Su Chang but make no mistake this blood is on your hands.”

There is some really skillful abuse and manipulation going on in this scene.  Look closely at how things play out.  First, Oliver is asked to torture the guy to find out where the bomb is.  He can’t do it.  The bomb goes off and kills a bunch of people.  Oliver feels terrible about it and the ARGUS lady tells him that IT IS HIS FAULT, therefore reinforcing his feelings of uncertainty and guilt.  Then she “give him another chance” and trains him to think that torture is the best option.  Oliver, of course, doesn’t want to feel responsible for the loss of more lives, so he complies.  Then extending things to the present day torture becomes part of his instincts, one of his immediate reactions, part of his survival skills.

It is easy to understand how Oliver would fall into this trap because he feels so bad about the bomb going off and wishes he could do something.  The person training him at the time, the ARGUS lady, says he can do something (get information out of people through torture), so he does.  The key here is that he believes, and is told to believe, that it is his fault and the deaths are on his hands.  But were these deaths really HIS fault?  Certainly not any more than they were her fault and much less than the person who planted the bomb. This is a classic misplacement of blame that often happens in abuse and bad training.  It shows the importance of who we receive our training from because what they teach us often becomes ingrained very deeply.

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?

Quiet Your Mind

“You saw something but your head is too busy.  You need to quite it.” ~ Japanese (wife) girl

This seems to be very applicable to our society today.  We all seem to have way to much going on most of the time…we can’t quite our bodies/minds/thoughts.  I think it is interesting that they put this “quieting of the mind” as part of Oliver’s survival training.  It’s a good metaphor for the “controlling your thoughts” idea, being able to focus your mind and not just run about frantically in survival mode (which is so instinctual).

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.

How to Teach You

“See before you were swinging at your sister’s killer. Don’t train for that, it’s a target you’re never going to hit. Alright, train for yourself.  See, now I know how to teach you.” ~ Laurel’s Coach

When we have a context for what someone is going through it is a lot easier to know how to guide them.  We know this in minor terms in life such as the teacher knowing that what happened at a child’s home affects how their school day will go, or a person sitting in the hospital waiting room is probably on edge…but we seem to forget it in the sense of daily life and in the sense that every person, and every life, is affected by millions of influences.

This quote from the boxing teacher is a good reminder that we don’t know everything about others and we have to be careful about what we say.  It is also a good reminder that the person transitioning into the survival stage is relying heavily on instinctual reactions (Laurel is the perfect example of this instinctual/reactive behavior in this episode and in the one where she attacks the boyfriend of the girl from the AA meeting) AND the person in the survival stage needs training. If they expect to get good training they have to let the trainer in.  Oliver let Slade in, Thea let Malcom in.  It can be hard to trust someone when you are broken and just beginning to learn to survive, however the better our teachers/trainers/guides know us the more they can cater our training.