“You cannot die until you have suffered the same way I have suffered. Until you have known complete despair. And you will—I promise.” Slade Wilson to Oliver Jonas Queen
In the world of superheroes and super villains, friends and enemies seem interchangeable. In the CW’s Arrow, Slade Wilson and Oliver Queen went from mentor and student, to friends who had each other’s back on a mysterious island where a whole host of baddies showed up to do battle.
Seasons One and Two they battled overwhelming odds and lost a comrade, Yao Fei. His daughter Shadow joined the trio. Her father was brutally killed in front of them.
Shadow and Oliver became more than friends. All the time, unknown to them, Slade Wilson carried a suppressed love for the young woman.
Sometimes, friends allow their feelings to be suspended so their friend can thrive, especially in love. Slade dealt with his pain hidden behind his Australian heritage—stoic and heroic.
The affairs of the heart were complicated when Oliver was captured by Dr. Anthony Ivo and his henchmen. Oliver discovered that Sara Lance, who he believed perished with the sinking of the Queen’s Gambit, was alive and the paramour of Ivo. Sara was the sister of Laurel Lance, to whom Oliver had pledged his unwavering love, but he had had Sara come on board before they sailed.
Ivo was searching for a Japanese World War II submarine and a mysterious substance called mirakuru. He believed Oliver held the key. Oliver was tossed into a cell in the tanker cargo hold with a number of other prisoners who Ivo had used as lab rats for his experiments. Ivo resembled H. G. Wells’ Doctor Moreau or Mary Shelley’s Doctor Frankenstein as he sought a cure for an insidious disease that ended in death.
Ivo went hunting for Slade and Shadow. Slade was badly wounded. Oliver escaped from Ivo. Shadow, Sara, Slade and Oliver found the submarine and the mirakuru. When Slade neared death, Oliver injected him with the drug. To all appearances, Slade died.
Ivo recaptured the trio and offered Oliver a choice of who to save—Sara or Shadow. Oliver chose Sara, and Ivo killed Shadow.
Meanwhile on the submarine Slade revived, but he was not himself. He had a rage building within him caused by the drug.
When he found Oliver and Sara, they realized his true feelings for Shadow. He was consumed with revenge.
Oliver attempted to help Slade to control his rage, but when Slade overheard Ivo blaming Oliver for Shadow’s death, the friendship is washed overboard as Oliver becomes the target of Slade’s quest for vengeance. Oliver had lost his father, Yao Fei, Shadow and now Slade.
It is Oliver’s choices which have brought about the series of events. His betrayal of Laurel with her sister Sara; saving Sara over Shadow and giving Slade the mirakuru are a powerful triad story arch. These three choices still haunt Oliver in the present.
Somehow Slade has managed to keep his rage in control as he plots the destruction of Oliver, his family and allies. Oliver faces his old friend who is now his most powerful enemy.
The thin line between friend and enemy is not always clearcut in the superhero world. In many ways it is like our reality where friends can become foes.
As the Second Season of Arrow counts down to May with Slade becoming the awesome Deathstroke, a host of heroes and villains will join the epic fray between the Arrow and Deathstroke. The Suicide Squad and the Birds of Prey teams will be making an appearance.
One has to wonder if Barry Allen (The Flash) will wake from his coma in Century City in time to race to Starling City to help the Arrow and his team. Of course, the DC Universe is filled with stars waiting for their chance at the gate.
Since Malcolm Merlyn is still alive and has a vested interest in the Queen Family, his alter-ego the Dark Archer would not be a surprise return. It would be a welcome treat, especially if he and Slade do battle to the death over Oliver. Since Slade says he wants the privilege and pleasure of killing his young pupil, he is not going to allow anyone else to do the deed, especially the Dark Archer.
It would not be out of the question if a certain reporter from a great metropolitan newspaper made a guest appearance at some future juncture to check out what is going on in Starling City. A vigilante in a hood turned hero is always good fodder for a news story.
In many ways Arrow is about Oliver Queen seeking redemption for the tragic decisions and mistakes made by him and his family. Redemption is a powerful element in the real world as well.
The longer we live on this planet traversing the cosmos, the more mistakes and regrets we accumulate. Fortunately most of us do not have a Slade Wilson in our lives who wants to drive us toward complete despair. Some of us do a great job of doing that to ourselves.
Will Oliver find redemption? Can he save his old friend Slade and retrieve him from the darkness? Can he protect his mother, sister and team? Are there new allies and foes waiting in the shadows? Can both Oliver and Slade find peace at last?
In the weeks to come, stay tuned to the CW to see whether these questions have answers. The season finale should be epic.
G. D. Williams © 2014
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