"A Matter of Trust" - Arrow S05E03 Review

Trust is a major recurring theme in Arrow this season, as Oliver seems to be having a really hard time with the whole trust thing after Team Arrow 1.0 broke up/died/whatever. But clearly, trust isn't only an issue with Ollie. We get a lot more of John Diggle's story in this episode, and it sucks (in a I'm-sad-for-him way).

And maybe I'm reading into it too deeply, but a part of me wonders if the trust issue is maybe also an acknowledgement from the Arrow creators that they've been losing the trust of the fans after a mediocre season 3 and a trainwreck season 4.

Anyway, let's talk about trust.

(spoilers beyond the jump)

Last week, under Felicity's guidance, Oliver granted his new recruits enough trust to tell them his true identity. But apparently that trust only goes so far, because he still doesn't want them out on the field. They have to watch and analyze in a classroom style with Felicity as Oliver interrogates a low level thug. Turns out that there's a new drug being sold on the streets of Star City, called stardust (not a random name), and Oliver is trying to track down the source. It's pretty clear that Wild Dog is the wild card of this team, as he's impatient and ready to burst from the lack of action.

Meanwhile the team is still undergoing physical training in their abandoned warehouse thingie, and this is where we get the background story for Curtis' secret identity. He's modeling himself, apparently, after one of his favorite wrestlers ever, right down to wearing a leather jacket with the words "Fair Play" on the sleeves. And another nickname for this wrestler? Mr. Terrific.

What even is going on here, though?
On the "normal person" front, Oliver is being politically attacked for his "choice" in naming Quentin Lance--an alleged drunk--the Deputy Mayor. Except that, you know, Oliver didn't actually make that decision. Thea did, last week, to give Quentin a reason to clean up his act. Oliver is pretty angry and tells Thea to deal with it. And Thea, who has been phenomenal in her new role as the Mayor's Chief of Staff, makes her first critical mistake.

She approaches the Nancy Grace-wannabe reporter who first criticized Mayor Queen over the Lance decision. The minute Thea told the reporter that Oliver had had nothing to do with the hiring and it had been Thea's decision, I literally cringed. I follow politics and the media enough as an observer to know where this was going. And I was right: Nancy Graceish reports that the absentee Oliver isn't even running the city, his sister is, and that Oliver has no clue what's going on in his own office. Ouch.

Thea offers Oliver her letter of resignation for this mega screw-up. But we'll come back to the politics later.

So this happened:

Mama Felicity and Papa Ollie are going to be SOOO MAD...
Wild Dog wanted to hit the streets he knows so well to find the source of the stardust drug, but Oliver tells him to chill out. Impatient and wanting to do some good, Rene does a thing anyway, and in the process convinces Artemis to join him, "just for recon." Of course it's more than recon, as they end up getting into a fight, and Rene ends up letting Derek Sampson, a street thug played by pro wrestler Cody Rhodes (aka Stardust!), fall into a vat of chemicals.

Comic back fans know what happens when people fall into vats of chemicals...

Anyway, Wild Dog thinks he did good shutting down that particular drug production, but Oliver rips him a new one, because the new DA tells him that undercover cops were set to follow Sampson's operation to the real and larger source of the drugs and funding. Of course, with Sampson and his dudes dead, that operation is now done. Wild Dog is totally incapable of seeing the bigger picture of things, and Mama Felicity is super disappointed in him. Like Thea, Rene done screwed up, big time.

Comic books EMIRITE? Sampson wakes up during his autopsy and discovers he can't feel pain, so he proceeds to kick the crap out of everyone because now he's like a supervillain or whatever (not really, as we'll see later).

Well, this can't be good...
The freak-of-the-week storyline ends with Oliver taking his team, even Wild Dog, back to the place Sampson was dumped in a vat, because Sampson's "master" plan is to recreate the chemicals and make super soldiers (kinda?) out of other street thugs. During this fight, the team works seamlessly to deal with all the thugs, and we finally get Curtis in the prototype of his new super suit.

This may be comic-book accurate, but I personally think it looks incredibly silly on Curtis... IMHO
As Oliver demonstrates in his final fight with Sampson, the guy is still a thug that can't see the bigger picture (like someone else, I suppose?): just because he can't feel the pain is Oliver slices into him, doesn't mean he can function without ligaments. This dude was hardly a super soldier.

Oliver appears to have learned a lesson about being a leader and accountability. His response to Wild Dog's fuck-up was to go deal with the problem his underling created, and in the process he trusted his team to do what needed doing. And on the mayoral front, Oliver publicly states that Thea's decision was on him, he did not accept her resignation, and that he completely agreed with naming Quentin Lance the Deputy Mayor.

We didn't see much of Quentin in this episode... but he sure cleans up good, doesn't he?
Team Arrow 2.0 finally gets introduced to the Arrowcave, and they are properly in awe of the place. Maybe Oliver can stop treating them like his errant children that need to be properly educated, and instead can be his actual vigilante trainees. No more Momma Felicity and Papa Ollie? Please?

Felicity finally admits to Ragman that she was the one that made the choice to send the nuke to Havenrock instead of Monument Point, and the Bratva flashbacks this week were about trusting Ollie's Bratva brothers and also trusting Anatoly's leadership. Whatever, let's talk about John. BECAUSE OMG.


That sound you're hearing is me squeeing, because I LOVE this version of Deadshot...
John's in some serious hot water (and thusly, in federal prison), and he tries to kinda sorta explain to Lilah what the hell happened. After his visit, he is escorted back to his cell and he immediately yells that he can't be left alone with this guy. Floyd Lawton is BACK! If you recall, he done gone blowed up with a building the last time we saw the Arrow Suicide Squad in action.

But now he's randomly in prison, and he and John have a serious heart-to-heart about things, including the fate of John's brother Andy (who Lawton was supposed to have killed years ago, and that John himself killed last season).

What's goddamn creepy is that the show had me honestly believe that he was alive, even as weird as the situation was. Maybe because in my heart of hearts, I never actually believed Lawton died that day when the building exploded. There wasn't a body, after all! Kudos to the writers and directors for the way these scenes were done and shot, because I kind of think they were the best thing about this episode. There was, to me, an almost dreamlike quality to the camera here, but John's guilt over Andy seemed painfully real, and huge kudos to David Ramsey.

When Lilah comes to visit John in his cell, Lawton isn't there (much to John's confusion when he turns around to find an empty cell and all the pictures of Lawton's daughter gone). John is so consumed by his guilt over Andy, that he imagined Lawton's presence just so he would have someone to confess to. Maybe he felt Lawton was the only person out there who might possibly be able to understand him? I don't know, but it was really powerful. And it's sad to see John's shoulders bowed with so much guilt, as he tells Lilah to not fight for him, because he feels he is a murderer and he needs to pay for what he did.

But Lilah be all like, "Eff that noise!" because at the end of the episode, she shows up at the Arrowcave to ask Oliver's help in breaking John out of prison.

We didn't get anything new this week on Barry's screwed-up timeline. Maybe we'll get to meet John Diggle Jr. next week!

What did you think of "A Matter of Trust"? Sound off in the comments below!

Ivonne Martin is a writer, gamer, and avid consumer of all things geek—and is probably entirely too verbose for her own good.