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Oliver is Gone But Never Forgotten, Arrow “Al Sah-Him” 

Sure Oliver looks like Oliver and sounds like Oliver, but in this episode he was clearly no longer Oliver. The spark and emotion 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 came 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.

Arrow -- "Al Sah-Him" -- Image AR321A_0160b -- Pictured: Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen / Arrow -- Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW -- © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Photo Credit: Dean Buscher/The CW

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 connect with the real Oliver.

Diggle: Is that the way it 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.

Oliver: Fight!

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 knows that of everyone 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.

Arrow -- "Al Sah-Him" -- Image AR321A_0003b -- Pictured: David Ramsey as John Diggle -- Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW -- © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Photo Credit: Dean Buscher/The CW

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 insight that goes back to 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…

Oliver: QUIET!

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 be 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 expressing it to Oliver. Let’s just hope that despite the fact that he’s now cold, heart-less Al Sah-Him, this was still able to reach him somewhere deep in his subconscious.

Of course, after this conversation, Diggle & team showed up to turn over Nyssa (aka the future Mrs. Arrow) and save Lyla, but it was the fight that ensued after that felt particularly telling to me. While Lylsa, Nyssa and Laurel fought random thugs, Diggle’s showdown 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 to 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 be about to impale 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 that 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 believe 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 certainly worth fighting for.

Be sure to catch Arrow Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.

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  1. MByerly

    It may not be a human who brings Oliver back, but Starling City.

    After marrying Nyssa, Oliver must use the Hong Kong killer virus on his beloved city which he’s given everything up to save. If that doesn’t turn him around, nothing will.

    On top of that, Maseo lost his son to the same virus so he’ll be extraordinarily conflicted about using it to kill other children so he may be Oliver’s voice of reason where Diggle, as the enemy, can’t be.

    1. Cortney Persiani

      Could be! That’s definitely an interesting idea. Considering how far gone Oliver appears to be, it could easily be a bunch of things – Starling City, Diggle, Maseo, being forced to marry someone he doesn’t love and was nearly just tasked to kill, Felicity, etc.– working together/happening simultaneously that pull him back. And I hope Maseo helps, I need that character to redeem himself and be as strong and moral as he use to be….like Diggle said, his son wouldn’t be proud of who he’s become.

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