Felicity – Sarah Lance. Laurels sister. The detective’s other daughter. The one that you took on the Gambit with you even though you were dating Laurel at the time…which we never talk about…
Oliver – Felicity
Felicity – ah, ah…I’m sorry. It’s just…isn’t she…isn’t she dead. You told everyone that she died when the Gambit when down, that she drowned.
Diggle – You lied.
Oliver – …when the Gambit capsized…um…Sarah was pulled under. It was so dark and cold and I thought she drowned…about a year later I saw her.
Diggle – You saw her where? On the island, she drifted to the island too?
Oliver – Not exactly…
Felicity – Why didn’t you tell the Lances that she didn’t die on that boat? Laurel and Mr. Lance they blame you.
Oliver – It was my fault…what happened was my fault.
Diggle – Where has she been all these years Oliver!?
Oliver – I DON’T KNOW! Diggle, I swear to God. I was sure she was dead.
Felicity – Do you have any happy stories?
Diggle – Alright, so just to make sure I understand this correctly, after not drowning when the Gambit went down, Sarah didn’t exactly make it to the island with you, where you would see her die yet again. Feel free to fill in the blanks!
Oliver – Not right now.
Diggle – You mean not ever, don’t you Oliver
Felicity – Don’t you think her family had a right to know she made it to the island too?
Oliver – THESE WERE FIVE YEARS! Five years!…where nothing good happened! And they were better off not knowing.
Diggle – Do they deserve to know now?
Oliver – I need to take care of some business at the office.
Diggle – You know Oliver, somebody once told me that secrets have weight. The more you keep the harder it is to keep moving.
Oliver – You see how hard I work out.
I really like this scene because it shows how incredibly complicated the whole situation is. I mean really, what is Oliver supposed to do…just start telling stories. No way. Not only are the stories too hard for him to tell but they are too complicated as well. Without him adding a whole bunch of “rabbit-hole” stories how could he possibly explain the whole situation. Knowing what we know with The God Perspective (about how Sarah was picked up by the boat and forced into a certain role and about how Oliver thought she was dead, went through a year of hell on the island, killed someone for the first time, lost his only two friends, only to be captured and find out that Sarah was alive and working with the people who captured him)…it is very, very complicated. I don’t think it would be possible for him to explain all this in a way that made sense to others, even if, like Felicity and Diggle are, they were ready for what they would hear from Oliver if he told the whole story.
However, from Diggle’s perspective it is all very frustrating because nothing Oliver is saying makes any sense…in fact it is pretty comical. I love how he says, “Alright, so just to make sure I understand this correctly, after not drowning when the Gambit went down, Sarah didn’t exactly make it to the island with you, where you would see her die yet again. Feel free to fill in the blanks!” It’s funny…because he states all the facts he knows…but when looking at it from his perspective it makes zero sense. The little bit that Oliver is able to get out is so full of holes that it might as well be nothing at all. And Oliver can’t explain anymore…I think because he is too exhausted from what he has already tried to explain. His only response is…”not right now.”
It’s interesting because this scene takes almost the same route that a Harry Potter scene I really like (see essay Romanticizing Adversity). Oliver starts by trying to explain…but he gets practically nothing out in words. Others join in trying to understand but Oliver can’t say any more. And then when pushed he just explodes. With the basic underlying meaning of, “You don’t, and can’t possibly, understand.” They respond again but completely off topic from where he is (they want to tell/help Laurel’s family…Oliver is still thinking about the island), to which Oliver just changes the topic. This is a totally exhausting process for him.
Diggle’s comment in the end is also really great. I like the interchange about the secrets Oliver carries because Diggle is able to point out that they exist and that they are incredibly difficult to carry…but he doesn’t see/know what Oliver points out earlier in that the Lances are “better off not knowing.” They are not yet ready for the whole story. And Oliver points out that he knows he is carrying a lot of weight…he knows these secrets take so much of his time/energy/strength and that they are exhausting him. And he believes that it is worth the cost. He is holding the secrets inside for a reason. Take for example the beginning of this scene when Diggle tells him that he lied. In Oliver’s mind he wasn’t really lying…he was telling the whole story…from what he understood Sarah died. What did it matter how? He knew it would be easier for people (and for him) to just think that she drowned and not have to go into all the details.
What Oliver doesn’t see, and isn’t able to do (yet), is that secrets can be delivered in parts. He doesn’t have to tell the whole story to begin letting go of some of the secrets. This is what he realizes later when he offers to talk to Diggle in the next episode. And what he begins to see when Sarah reveals herself to her dad…but not to Laurel and without telling the whole story. Oliver is learning in these two episodes that the story can be told in parts…and that is ok…and maybe even helpful. He is learning to separate specific events from the entire experience. What a huge thing to learn if he is dealing with flashbacks, emotions, positive and horrific memories.