Tuesday, September 15, 2015

#CountdownToArrow: 5 Times Diggle Was the Wisest Person in the Room

One of the things that I really admire about Arrow as a series is that on the team, there are no true sidekicks. Oh, sure, some characters occasionally have less to do than others. Not everyone engages in complex and visually stunning fight scenes each episode. But the show doesn't diminish the impact of characters who aren't Oliver Queen. That's what is so amazing. We talked last week about why Felicity Smoak is an amazing character -- a breath of fresh, bubbly air on a show that is often darker and dingier than the basement beneath Verdant.

But this week, we're going to set aside time to focus on John Diggle, a character who is often overlooked but who has been the person to stand beside Oliver Queen the longest. Diggle protected not just Oliver's secret but Oliver himself in so many ways than just emotionally. This is a man whose training taught him to defend his fellow soldiers like they were his own family. And that's truly a way of life for Diggle -- he always protects the people he cares most about, often from themselves. He physically defends Felicity, he has Oliver's back but also is the one to drag him out of darkness and back into the light. (Hello, remember: "So don't," was Diggle's response to Oliver saying he didn't want to die in the foundry?) Diggle was supportive of Roy and Laurel, too, as they trained to be heroes and vigilantes, encouraging them and supporting them when necessary and also issuing harsh truths to them as well.

If Felicity is the light of Arrow, then Diggle is its rock and foundation. So let's talk about five times where Diggle was the wisest person in the entire room. The writers did an awesome job with this piece and -- unintentionally -- without my contributions! Read what Lizzie, Lynnie, Maddie, and Jen had to say about our wonderful Team Arrow member. :)


5. LIZZIE'S PICK: "Well, it could be worse. My secret identity is his black driver." ("Identity")

Over the noise of Felicity’s more-than-valid complaints about Oliver making her his executive assistant, it’s Diggle who, like always, provides not only amusing commentary (is it just me or does Diggle always have a snarky reply at the ready?), but the sense of perspective the conversation seems to be lacking.

Because, yes, he technically is Oliver’s black driver, a.k.a bodyguard, but in truth Diggle is Oliver’s conscience, partner, brother, friend and role model. And though he’s not saying any of these things aloud in the scene, the look on Felicity’s face proves that she gets it. She’s still mad, but she gets it. Even Oliver looks like he gets Diggle’s point, and this is season two Oliver, who gets... like pretty much nothing.

Arrow is Oliver’s story we’re following -- Oliver’s journey. But none of us move through life alone, and if Felicity has ended up being the light in Oliver’s life, Diggle has been, and is, his constant. And it’s not just because of the snark, but his unparalleled ability to see the truth everyone seems to be ignoring. Diggle just knows stuff. Even when he isn’t saying it.


4. LIZZIE'S PICK: Malcolm shows up in the lair, and Diggle draws his gun. When Malcolm gets sassy, Diggle pulls out his other gun. ("Left Behind")

Diggle is freaking amazing. I don’t know that we’ve established this, but he is. He’s not a sidekick, he’s not a bodyguard -- he’s a full partner in this whole saving-the-city business. And even if the costume is new, Diggle has been kicking butt and taking names for as long as Oliver has.

He also sees much more clearly than Oliver ever could. For Diggle, things are black or they’re white. There are no shades of grey in morality. This approach might be tested in season four, but in season three, when it comes to Malcom Merlyn, Diggle (and Felicity) were always dead-on. Malcom Merlyn is not a friend and he’s not an ally. He’s a dangerous enemy.

A dangerous enemy who probably won’t be defeated with one gun (or two), but trust Diggle to try. To be prepared. To not give an inch. That’s just who he is.

3. LYNNIE'S PICK: "You love her, Oliver." ("The Calm")

It’s not like Oliver hadn’t realized his love for goddess Felicity Smoak before this point in the show. He knew it, Diggle knew it, dead people knew it – everyone but Felicity knew it. The thing with John Diggle is the way in which he approaches his infinite wisdom. He doesn’t waste words; he doesn’t make long-winded speeches about the ups and downs of love. He looks, he sees, and, with a knowing smirk on his beautiful face, he tells you exactly the way it is and why you should be doing something. There is no argument, because he’s already considered everything from every angle and, in this particular case, knew that love would trump self-denial and guilt. He believes in hope, and he encourages Oliver to do the same. Surprisingly, Oliver actually listens and ignores his fear, knowing in his heart that Diggle has lived in the darkness as well and has come to a place of happiness.

You can argue all you want, but when Diggle tells you that you love someone, you can be sure he’s right.

2. MADDIE'S PICK: "Just because Lance is angry and Felicity is momentarily unavailable..." ("The Offer")

This moment is great. May I mention that when Jen did her review of the episode, this was her reaction: “God, I love John Diggle. I’m all for cloning John Diggle. A billion Diggles wouldn’t be enough Diggles.”

Jen speaks the truth. The thing that is so spot-on about Diggle’s wisdom is that he can always tell what is going on beneath the surface and get to the heart of the issue. Oliver is his brother and he knows him. Thus, Diggle immediately knows something is up with Oliver and as soon as they are alone together, he demands to know what it wrong. At this point in the season, Oliver is deep in his existential crisis and Ra’s Al Ghul’s offer to for Oliver to take over the League of Assassins has only exacerbated Oliver’s confusion over who he is. He’s lost enough in the storm that Ra’s’ offer actual looks tempting.

However John Diggle knows better. He knows Ra’s got into his head, and he sees that Lance’s anger and Felicity’s relationship with Ray are getting to Oliver more than he’d ever let on. But Dig also knows that any consideration of becoming the Demon’s Head is a rash reaction to those problems and the chaos they are bringing to Oliver’s life. Diggle is steady. He sees the whole picture for what it is, and this episode is one example of many in which that grounded, level-headedness is a rock for Oliver. Diggle’s brotherly bond with Oliver helps him choose the precise words that Oliver needs to hear in order to direct him on the right path. This is only confirmed when Diggle brings Felicity up to speed on the situation so that she can drive the point home to our brooding hero. It was moments like these -- when Oliver was most lost -- that he needed the wisdom of John Diggle the most (served with a huge mug of truth tea.)

1. JEN'S PICK: The "something to live for" speech ("Burned")

Seldom can a television series be summed up in one speech, but John Diggle’s “something to live for” from season one does exactly that for Arrow. If Arrow was simply about Oliver Queen’s ascension to The Green Arrow, we could have stopped watching at the pilot. He had all the moves. The scary voice. The laser-like intensity and focus. Not to mention, he also had some wicked awesome aim. But this show is about so much more than a man’s evolution into a superhero. It’s about saving a man’s soul.

On the front lines of that battle is John Diggle. He is Oliver’s best friend and comrade in arms, but more importantly he’s Oliver’s moral compass. Diggle is as intent on saving Oliver as Oliver is on saving the city. And why? Because the hole Oliver is in, the one the island created, is one Diggle has been in. What’s more, Diggle knows the way out.

Oliver doesn’t fear death. It’s basically his superpower. But after Merlyn almost kills him in the first season's mid-season finale, Oliver is afraid. Not of death, but of the people he’d leave behind. In response, Diggle delivered this EPIC pearl of wisdom:

“You think the people you let in are taking your edge. I think it gives you one. Maybe a stronger one. You can stare down death with something to live for or not. Something to live for is better.”

Oliver Queen isn’t unemotional because he feels too little. It’s because he feels too much. It became too painful to feel during those five years of hell on the island. So, Oliver emotionally shut down in order to survive. But life is about so much more than survival. It’s about living. And while his survival instincts are honed, Oliver has no clue how to live.

Which is Diggle’s point. Without Oliver Queen, there is no Green Arrow. Allowing himself to love, to feel, and to open himself up to the joy and pain that comes with those emotions will mold Oliver into the hero he is destined to become. LOVE is what is going to save Oliver Queen’s soul. But until Oliver finds something, or someone, to live for he’ll only be fighting for survival. Which means he’ll lose in the end. Diggle understands Oliver so fundamentally that he presents embracing life as survival. He puts it in terms Oliver can understand. Diggle tells Oliver love isn’t something to be feared, but in the end, will make him a stronger fighter. Therefore, living life becomes equatable to surviving it. Diggle appeals to Oliver’s basic instincts in order to open up his heart.

And THIS is the journey we, the audience, are watching. We are watching as Oliver Queen discovers his very own "something to live for." The people he lets in. The people that make life worth living again. The ones who give him an edge. We watch as the weapon and the man mold into one unstoppable hero... The Green Arrow.

One speech. 

There’s a reason why John Diggle is Yoda.

There you have it, friends! Diggle is insanely wise and these are only a few examples of the times he's given amazing advice or proven he's the most intelligent and observant person in the room. What are some of your favorite Diggle-related moments? Hit up the comments below and be sure to follow our #CountdownToArrow hashtag on Twitter until the show premieres -- we'll be having more special events and posts (and Tumblr contests) debuting. :)


  1. Great choices for Diggle's wisdom. I like a lot the "black driver" moment.

    I've been enjoying so very much this #DiggleAppreciationDay :)


  2. If I could I would marry John Diggle. . . Anyway, I love the scene when Diggle signs up to join Oliver's Crusade. I enjoy how he explains to Oliver that he not signing up to be a sidekick. I cannot express enough how much I enjoy Diggle's character, hopefully the writers will do the character justice this season as oppose to last season. :)

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. great article! Diggle is an amazing character!