Sure Oliver looks like Oliver and sounds like Oliver, but in this episode he was clearly no longer Oliver. The spark and emotionÂ that once reached his eyes is gone and it felt like we were looking in to the face of a robot. Brainwashed, reprogrammed, whatever you want to call it, this clearly wasn’t the Oliver we know. He kidnapped Lyla and nearly killed Diggle for heaven’s sake! That is not something Ollie would ever do. His loved ones are the most important thing to him and his conscience is too big to ever let harm come to them or those they love. However, Al Sah-Him clearly doesn’t have that problem. While this episode may have been all about how we “lost” Oliver and Oliver lost his soul, when it cameÂ down to it, all I could see was how Oliver is going to be “found” again. Team Arrow doesn’t give up and as they’ve reminded us repeatedly, just because someone is gone, doesn’t mean they’ve been forgotten.
So, as far as getting Oliver back, I have a theory as to who it is that will achieve this. I know that common sense says it will be Felicity. After all, she’s the love of his life and they shared a passionate moment as one of his final acts as Oliver. However, I’m going to go against the grain and say that in the episode — at least to me — all signs point to it being Diggle who brings him back to “life.” We were repeatedly reminded of the bond they share and the importance they have in one another’s lives, starting with the first sequence.
Before we knew Oliver had been drugged up with fancy, mind-bending herbs we saw Maseo & co bring an apparent “intruder” to the feet of Ra’s. After a dramatic hood removal, it was revealed to be Diggle, who claimed to have never been allowed to leave Nanda Parbat. At that point, Oliver was instructed to kill him. Oliver immediately balked, insisting he couldn’t kill an unarmed man. So instead, Diggle was given a sword and before the fight began he made a valiant attempt to connectÂ with the realÂ Oliver.
Diggle: Is that the way itÂ is? You’ve been here for a few weeks and you think you know who you are. Do you remember when you brought me in to your crusade, I told you I would be here to help remind you who Oliver was if you ever become something else. I haven’t given up on that promise.
The fight ended with Oliver sticking a sword straight through Diggle, but it was mere seconds before we learned that it wasn’t actually Diggle, but rather a random man that only appeared to be Diggle thanks to the Demon herbs.
Ra’s: The past three weeks, you’ve been exposed to an herb centuries old. It causes one’s conscience to come to the forefront of their mind so it’s the only thing you see. The herb’s effect is different for everyone, some people see family and loved ones, others encounter trusted friends or teachers, what did you see?
So, if that’s what Oliver’s conscience sees — Diggle trying to remind him of who he is and vowing to never give up on him — then what does that say about Oliver? To me, it says that no matter how much he becomes Al Sah-Him, there is still some Oliver inside of him and no matter how many push-ups he has to do or many times he’s shackled to the floor, that won’t ever truly disappear. His subconscious also knowsÂ that of everyoneÂ in his life, Diggle is the one who won’t ever give up on him. Diggle’s stood by his side, he’s true to his word and will literally fight to remind Oliver of who he is.
Oliver was yet again reminded of his connection with Diggle when he took Lyla hostage. Granted, Lyla pops in and out of this show a lot, but it’s usually Suicide Squad-related and we’ve rarely seen her and Oliver interact. Nevertheless, I particularly loved this scene. Lyla has insight into Diggle that we can’t gain anywhere else, including insightÂ that goes back toÂ before Oliver returned to Starling City.
Lyla: What happened to you? Johnny told me, but how could you become this?
Oliver: Quiet, it’ll be over soon.
Lyla: No, I genuinely want to know, how could the man who stood up at my wedding do this? How could the man who’s been like a brother to…
Lyla: You know, when John’s brother died, a part of him died too. His guilt and the emptiness from the loss outweighed everything, I tried my hardest to help him but no one seemed to be help comfort him or fill that void, until he met you. You gave him hope and purpose again.
I really loved this moment. It speaks VOLUMES about how Diggle feels about Oliver and why he feels the way he does. We never really saw Diggle as lost and empty — he’s always been tough and stoic — so it was eye-opening to hear the impact that Oliver has had on his life. And truth beÂ told, I don’t know that Oliver necessarily even knew this. Don’t get me wrong, he knows that he’s important to Diggle and they’ve had some good heart-to-hearts, but I can’t imagine Diggle acknowledging this or expressingÂ it to Oliver. Let’s just hope that despite the fact thatÂ he’s now cold, heart-less Al Sah-Him, this was still able to reach himÂ somewhere deep in his subconscious.
Of course, after this conversation, Diggle & teamÂ showed up to turn over Nyssa (aka the future Mrs. Arrow) and save Lyla, but it was the fight that ensued afterÂ thatÂ felt particularly telling to me. While Lylsa, Nyssa and Laurel fought random thugs, Diggle’s showdownÂ was with Oliver and only Oliver. And while it was definitely hard to watch these two “brothers” fight one another, I couldn’t help but feel that the Al Sah-Him side of Oliver purposely went after Diggle because he knew that he was the only one who could truly bring Oliver back and thus, he wanted to take him down before he could achieve that. On the flip side, Diggle went after Oliver because he is determined toÂ connect to that sliver of Oliver-ness that still lives inside and help it to fight its way back to the surface. And true to that end, even as Oliver was mindlessly slicing him with a sword, Diggle still believed that Oliver was in there somewhere.
Diggle: You’re still Oliver. I don’t care if the hood is black or green, you’re still you!
Fortunately, just as Oliver appeared to beÂ about to impaleÂ Diggle with a sword, much like in his hallucination, Thea came to the rescue. Oliver immediately stopped, assessed the situation and walked away. Now call me crazy, but I couldn’t help but feel thatÂ some part of him (aka: his inner Oliver) was grateful he had been interrupted. After all, if he really wanted to kill Diggle, Thea and her arrows wouldn’t have stopped him. He’s a trained soldier who both could’ve and would’ve done it anyway.
So, I may be totally off or it may be wishful thinking, but I truly believeÂ that some part of Oliver still lives within Al Sah-Him and if anyone can get him back, it’s Diggle. Diggle’s stood by his side from the beginning and has always been both his physical and emotional side-kick. So, while the Oliver we know and love may be gone, in the eyes of his best friend, he has definitely not been forgotten and is certainlyÂ worth fighting for.
Be sure to catch Arrow Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.
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