Arrow S5: E3 – 'A Matter of Trust'

Photo Credit: Warner Brothers Television

Like The Flash, Arrow established a new world order in what amounted to a two-part season premiere, and is now planting its roots into that world with the third episode of the season. To that end, Oliver relearns his usual lessons about A Matter of Trust over and over again in the past and present, only with a new team going through those ropes as members of the old one go through fresh new PTSD spirals of their own.


Oliver was dragged into forming a new team last week with Wild Dog/Renee, Evelyn/Artemis, Curtis/the now official dubbed Mr. Terrific, and Ragman/Rory. But despite accepting them into the fold, he is still keeping them cooped up and is going out into the field alone, even after an entire episode supposedly beat those ideas out of him last week. Still, he can clearly handle himself against a dealer of a new drug even more powerful than Vertigo, all as his lines between killing and not killing keep getting blurred further.

Finding the supplier is another matter, which Wild Dog is all too eager to do against Oliver's objections. Through three episodes, boxing in Wild Dog as the hot head always butting heads with Oliver's teachings has threatened to be pretty limiting, for Rick Gonzalez and the character. However, Renee has gotten to show some real smarts and instincts when not clashing with Oliver, as he does track down the supplier but makes the mistake of going in too soon with only Evelyn's help.

Renee clearly has the more set in stone lethal methods on the new team, as he even seems to take out the target early. But with 40 minutes still left in the episode, and with guest star and Stephen Amell's frequent WWE opponent Cody Rhodes not having fought Oliver to that point, Sampson just has to emerge as the superhuman Stardust. So in a season that’s supposed to be more grounded and a step back from magic and metas, we have a man with super powerful rags and a superman who can’t feel pain within the first three episodes.

The fight that creates Stardust is almost reminiscent of how Batman created the Joker, only the Joker merely had his skin change after falling into a vat, instead of becoming immune to pain. In any case, Stardust's resurrection leads to Oliver bringing the "You have failed this city" line out of mothballs before getting beaten, and leads to Oliver bringing his trust issues out of even fresher mothballs too.

The repetition stretches into two timelines, as the flashbacks continue their longer than usual winning streak of actually tying into the present. This time, Oliver's struggles to trust the Bratva and their brutal methods of training make him the Wild Dog of five years ago. But Anatoli does wind up painting a seductive picture of brotherhood and of a unit built on trust, leaving aside how it's destined to end so badly that Oliver fights against all teamwork for much of the next five years afterwards.

Since that is a losing battle in the present this year, the show has gotten much more crowded as a result. This week even brings the official inclusion of Ragman, who now seems less mystical and more of a straight man outsider to the crazy trends of his new team. But of course, the true purpose of the last living soul of Havenrock is to trigger Felicity's Havenrock PTSD, for at least the next two episodes.

Marc Guggenheim painted a sad picture in an interview before A Matter of Trust, saying they were "taken aback" that "there was so much outrage over Felicity’s actions" about Havenrock, and that they decided to have fun in articulating "the anti-Felicity point of the view and the pro-Felicity point of view" through Ragman. Since there was no good reason in the slightest to have Felicity destroy Havenrock in the first place, just like there was no legitimate reason to do everything else they did to her in Season 4B, the real reason to be taken aback is that these fans apparently can't see well enough to blame the writers and Guggenheim for all of it instead of Felicity. As such, people like that probably shouldn't be taken that seriously, and yet here we are.

These are the same people who will likely say Felicity is getting what she deserves, is the world's biggest hypocrite or both when Curtis tells her keeping secrets doesn't work. They'll probably likely crow over Felicity being the one advising Evelyn not to date other vigilantes too, whether over Olicity or over her still secret boyfriend. Even if Guggenheim and company are making it easier for the anti-Felicity people to have a voice only to shoot them down later, it still doesn't erase that they never needed to give them all these excuses to fuel their voice, and that they are now bogged down cleaning up that mess with Havenrock and more if they are even cleaning it up at all.

While that plot line will take up Ragman's immediate focus, Curtis now officially has a costume, hero name and some sure-to-be eyeball rolling relationship trouble lying ahead, Renee has a bit more trust, and Evelyn is still just standing there for the most part. But while these new heroes establish themselves, even more new characters are getting ready to crowd things up further.

Out of all the new actors, it is telling that only Josh Segarra is credited among the main cast. He makes his debut this week as new DA and Mayor Queen's potential ally/thorn Adrien Chase, but he will become the fifth new mask of the season in a few more weeks time. On the other end of the political spectrum, a new female reporter plays Thea like a fiddle after the controversial hiring of new Deputy Mayor Lance, in a development that threatens to regress Thea's clear skill at her new job just to make it easier to force her into a mask again.

Yet they avoid that fate for at least this week, as Thea winds up laying the hammer down on her new nemesis. Still, it should only make it more awkward if suspicions are correct about Oliver eventually dating her. But speaking of questionable post-Olicity moves, Oliver does get through the Arrow's first meeting with Detective Malone as he alerts him about Prometheus, albeit about two-three weeks before he also finds out about Malone's love life.

As the new names keep piling up, however, there is still room for one old and presumed dead one.

Thinking of the Joker during Stardust's creation isn't the only way that A Matter of Trust brings up something Suicide Squad related. Michael Rowe's version of Deadshot was supposed to be killed off to clear the way for Will Smith's on the big screen, yet there is the original Deadshot in an imprisoned Diggle's cell.

The notion that Deadshot could be revived over all the other Squad related Arrow characters cleared out before the movie, like Amanda Waller, is worth questioning for a while. Yet it turns out they find a way around that, as Felicity isn't the only OTA member spiraling even further over a murder they committed in late Season 4B. Diggle is now going full blown Oliver as a result, right down to shutting Lyla out and insisting on punishment for his sins, which demands an episode-long wake-up call and mission next week.

That will likely set off more fireworks than A Matter of Time did this week, as it loses itself in a theme restated 20 more times than necessary, in trying to get out of some of its own self-inflicted wounds, in twisting a few characters for the sake of plot, and in killing time as a set up for bigger things. There are some fireworks in Amell and Rhodes’s brawls, although wrapping the action up with a slow-mo “walk away from explosions” shot is fairly cheesy.

A Matter of Time ultimately only adds up to a score of 5.5, which is still up from the official 5 on the scale.