Kill Them First

“Now you face people who want to kill you.  To prevent that you must kill them first.” ~ Merlin

Spoken like someone who is controlled by fear.  I’ve been thinking more about how someone in the Vigilante stage becomes “Island Bound” meaning the identity they reconstruct IS their island rather than learning to use their island to help others.  They can’t seem to manage to put together a new vision of who they are so they become “island bound.”  Merlin is a good example of this.  His wife’s death broke him and he learned to survive this tragedy, but instead of using his experiences to help others he has become trapped in this identity.  I wonder what it would take for him to be free again?

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)

Between Grief and Guilt

“The line between grief and guilt is a thin one.  Sometimes death is preferable to the agony of life.” ~Tatsu

True.  This quote speaks to many different stages all at once and we have to be careful to recognize what she is really saying here.  This is not a promotion of suicide but rather a statement of fact regrading the difficulty of life and an identity that has not reformed.  Maseo is stuck.  He is fluctuating continuously between Broken, Surviving and Vigilante and making no progress to move forward.  Although he has the experience and training to be a hero he is not because he as no reason to live (stuck in Broken), a purpose that is not his own (stuck in Surviving), and no sidekicks (stuck in Vigilante).  He has become stuck because he has developed an identity that IS his trauma.   The reconstruction of an identity is very important to growth and moving through the stages.  With an identity that is “island bound,” he is unable to use the broken part of his past as a tool. He doesn’t know who he is apart from the horrific event.  He is still capable of amazingly good acts, and intensely gruesome undertakings.  For those in similar states this is dangerous ground and very similar to becoming a villain. (for more on this subject check out Failure Redeemed)

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.

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?

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.

Refusing to be Broken

Boyfriend: All I’m doing is unleashing the true potential of what you made.
Felicity: Why, this isn’t who you are.
Boyfriend: 5 years for the NSA, you learn a lot about how the world works. How we can’t be saved or salvaged.  How it is every man for himself.  You also learn that when a city bank goes under a, say, significant cyber attack, the mayor will reach out to the treasury department.

First, this is very classic abusive, trying to turn the ill-will and actions of yourself off onto the other person as if they are responsible. Obviously not a good guy at heart.

Secondly, what phase is he in?  Playboy? Broken?  I don’t think he is surviving.  He isn’t really trained.  Looking more closely I’d say he is still in the playboy phase and is refusing to be broken, kinda like Laurel was in the beginning of season 2.  He is totally unaware of so much (what he is up against, who can stop him, or even that Felicity’s mother has a watch with wifi), he can’t do anything on his own (I mean he has to kidnap Felicity), even his goal is very small, uncreative, and has little heart or passion behind it.  It’s like he was immediately removed from jail to work for the NSA and so he never had to face the reality of what he did.  He never broke…but he is resentful and now he is more of a puppet.  A true villain like Slade) could use him as a pawn but on his own he is kinda pitiful (even Felicity could take him out).  This is the danger of not allowing yourself to be broken.  Laurel was there (with the alcohol and pain killers) but she eventually allowed herself to feel, it broke her…but now it has allowed her to move into survival, and hopefully on to much more.  Noone likes to be broken but if we avoid this phase we can never move past it.  The extent to which we are broken is the extent of a hero we can become.