Arrow 5×03 Review: Trust Your Team

Trust is the key fundamental in any successful relationship. Without trust, what do you have? What can you accomplish? What is at stake?

In “A Matter of Trust,” Oliver Queen had to confront this issue of trust in terms of his new team members, as well as in the Russia flashbacks. But it was Oliver and his new team’s trust – or lack of trust – that served as an important theme in this episode.

When I think back to where Oliver Queen began his crusade he was a lone wolf trying to cleanse his city of corruption. But he realized that he couldn’t do it alone, which is what the first two episodes of this season has focused on with this new team.

But it wasn’t just having John Diggle and Felicity Smoak on board that made things work. Just agreeing to have them on the team wasn’t going to accomplish anything. Oliver already had some foundation of trust when he revealed his secret to them. But Oliver then began to grow that trust – saw that they trusted him and he in turn began to trust them as they were united in their crusade to protect their city. The trust wasn’t instantaneous. But both sides worked for it, and it evolved into one of my favorite dynamics of this show – Original Team Arrow.

The same applies with Team Arrow 2.0. Merely having the new team members on board wasn’t going to do anything. There needed to be a foundation of trust if any real good or productivity was going to come out of this.

But let’s get one thing straight, Team Arrow 2.0 has got nothing on Original Team Arrow. There’s just no recreating that lightning in a bottle. But it’s enjoyable to see certain parallels as Oliver builds a new team and has to open himself up to new people. We all know how much Oliver hates talking about himself.

While it was clear Oliver didn’t thoroughly trust his new teammates entirely, it wasn’t one-sided. Trust goes both ways. We saw that Wild Dog was having difficulty trusting Oliver, which didn’t help anyone.

“Trust your team.”

As Oliver addressed some concerns about his mayoral cabinet, he used that platform to preach the importance of trusting in your team that be successful. As he spoke about that trust, we got a glimpse of his new team members, and Felicity, watching on proudly and for the first time you got the sense that this new team is starting to gel. Especially when Oliver admitted that he should’ve trusted them from the beginning.

Well, you know Oliver. Actually, Wild Dog, you don’t know him that well yet. But…

Felicity’s Havenrock Guilt

If we’ve learned anything from Arrow it’s that secrets never stay hidden. More than that, secrets always have a way of biting you in the ass. Felicity found herself at the center of that in “Matter of Trust,” where she was sitting on a huge secret involving Havenrock as Rory, aka Ragman, was working as part of this new team.

Perhaps the thing I appreciated most about the handling of this Havenrock storyline thus far was how Arrow made it clear right off the bat that Felicity is not responsible for the tragedy that happened. It was shocking last season to hear that some people actually blamed Felicity for the deaths of those tens of thousands of people when in fact that missile – that was launched by Damien Darhk – was destined to kill people. And not just a few people, potentially millions. Felicity, with the support of her team, made the decision to save millions of lives by redirecting the missile. The missile was never going to be disarmed. It was always going to strike. Felicity saved millions of lives. And yet, she’s been carrying this immense amount of guilt with her for over five months.

Here’s the thing, we – the sane people – know and understand that the Havenrock tragedy was not Felicity’s fault. We know who the villain – the responsible party was. Say it with me if you’re not one of the sane people reading this review, Damien Darhk was responsible for the Havenrock tragedy and the deaths of tens of thousands of people.

But to Felicity, someone we know wears her heart on her sleeve and feels with every part of her being, could only see the part where she diverted the missile from one city to another. All Felicity could see was that tens of thousands of people died because of it. What Felicity couldn’t see was that the very difficult decision she made saved millions of lives. What she couldn’t see was that it is Damien Darhk and Damien Darhk alone who is responsible for the murder of those tens of thousands of people. Sure, she knows that Darhk unleashed the missile, but it’s hard to separate the fact that you were somehow responsible when you make a difficult decision and see the effects.

Arrow really tackled this issue in a way that was very honest, emotional, and in your face. That’s exactly how it has to be handled in order for Felicity to come to terms with what happened – to understand and accept that she is not responsible at all.

One of my favorite scenes happened early on when Curtis realized who Rory was and how it connected to Havenrock. He immediately knew how this was eating Felicity alive. So it took it upon himself to reassure her that this is not her fault. But he also took it upon himself to tell her that she needed to come clean to Rory about what happened. Curtis was the voice of the sane fandom – Rory will be heartbroken and angry, of course, but eventually he’ll understand that it’s not Felicity’s fault.

Circling back to secrets, Felicity knows firsthand how dangerous and devastating secrets can be. So it should come as no surprise that Felicity decided that – after keeping quiet about the truth for a little bit – she needed to come clean to Rory about the truth before the truth revealed itself. After getting word about Rory and the Havenrock connection last week, Felicity has been feeling an overwhelming amount of guilt and fear.

It took a lot of courage for Felicity to stand up and tell Rory the truth in a scene that was absolutely gut-wrenching. Seeing the emotion literally shake Felicity to the core was something that was so beautifully acted and so very real in its emotion. The emotions that Felicity had bottled up finally spilled over as she bared her soul to this stranger that was now a part of this team that she’s called home for the past five years. Emily Bett Rickards was absolutely sensational in her emotional delivery as she bared her soul and her character’s soul for audiences to see.

I will say it’s a shame that Oliver and Felicity didn’t share a similar conversation to Felicity and Curtis’ if only because their heart-to-hearts have been the cornerstone of their foundation. They’ve always been able to talk to each other about things that they’re not able to talk to others about. But I’d like to think – pray, really – that that conversation is being saved for episode five, which is supposed to be a big episode for Felicity and Olicity.

The beauty of this – not the situation, obviously, but Felicity’s arc – is that this story is far from over. This was the beginning; this was the diving off point. There’s some heavy, emotional stuff coming. How lucky we are to be alive right now.

Diggle’s Guilt

John Diggle might be back in the United States of America, but he’s still too far for our liking as he sits rotting in a jail cell for crimes he didn’t commit. But as Diggle sat in jail framed for those crimes, it allowed him time to think about his own crime and the guilt that has followed him for five months when he shot and killed his brother.

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While Diggle was the one that pulled the trigger and killed his brother, something that Diggle doesn’t quite understand was that it was very much a “him or me” situation that was never going to end well. If Diggle hadn’t killed his brother and he went free, who’s to say that Andy wouldn’t have circled back and killed someone close to Diggle or even Diggle himself? While murder – especially of a family member – is a subject too touchy for me to even consider, this was a matter of right and wrong; a matter of good and evil; a matter of life and death.

Diggle reenlisted in the military as a way to find himself again. But it was also a way to punish himself – to keep him away from his family, his friends, his home, his life. As karma would have it, Diggle found himself the scapegoat in a military conspiracy and jailed for the crimes of others.

As Diggle sat helpless in jail, we soon saw that he wasn’t alone. In fact, an old friend was his cellmate. Floyd Lawton. That’s right, Deadshot was very not dead. Or so we thought. It turns out Deadshot was merely a hallucination. Damn it, Arrow. Just when I thought I had found the one good change because of Flashpoint.

When you think about it, Diggle essentially conjured up the hallucination of Floyd Lawton as a means to paint himself as the picture of guilt. Lawton was the man that set Diggle on his crusade – to find his brother’s killer. Lawton represented everything that Diggle believed was wrong. Lawton was someone who had always managed to get off scot-free for his crimes. If Diggle were to hallucinate anyone, who else would it be?

When Lyla vowed to free Diggle from jail, Diggle declined. He had sentenced himself to a fate that he believed he deserved. While he might not have been responsible for the death of that soldier or the stealing of a dangerous weapon, he was responsible for his brother’s death. But the way that he’s retreating into himself it’s as if he forgets that his brother wasn’t a good man. He was a dangerous man. Diggle made a difficult decision. But it wasn’t necessarily the wrong one. But right now, Diggle needs to come to grips with the reality of the situation. He needs to understand that killing is sometimes necessary.

Thea v. Reporter

While Thea’s arc as Speedy has been one that comic book fans had been waiting for, Thea’s arc that kicked off in “A Matter of Trust” was one that I’ve been patiently waiting for.

Thea Queen is more than just Speedy. Long before she was Speedy, Thea was – and remains – Moira Queen’s daughter. She’s a woman who has experienced immense tragedy and has grown stronger for it. She’s made of steel, and she’s not someone you want to mess with. Reporter Susan Williams saw that up-close-and-personal in this episode as she got a front row seat to the valiant Thea Queen.

This season, Thea’s story isn’t centered around her hero persona at night; it’s focused around her hero persona in the light of day. Let’s be honest, Thea is basically the mayor. While Oliver trains this new team and fights off the scum of Star City, Thea is left to make a lot of important and difficult decisions on behalf of her brother. But even the best of us have bad days.

Thea’s bad day went by the name of Susan Williams, a reporter who Felicity and Thea were both smart enough to dislike almost immediately. There was something off about her. She was too cooperative and generous for a journalist. But Thea, wanting to believe her good intentions, was fooled and it cost Oliver a lot of humiliation so much so that Thea considered resigning from a job that she’s been doing so well for a significant amount of time.

But lest anyone forget that underneath it all that Thea Queen is Moira Queen’s daughter. And damn did she do her mother proud. Moira was a woman who flourished with her combination of confidence, tenacity, and power that was breathtaking to behold. And this episode showcased that Thea is her mother’s daughter. We saw those qualities coming out as she laid it out for the reporter:

I belief this is where you say, “mic drop.”

Thea Queen doesn’t need Speedy to be a hero. Thea Queen has long been and will continue to be a hero.

The Stardust Takeover

This week’s villain of the week was one that fans of Stephen Amell will recognize as Cody Rhodes, aka WWE’s Stardust, guest starred as Derrick Sampson, someone who died and came back as someone who feels no pain and has some killer strength. It was the WWE rematch we’ve been waiting for. Only it was so much better.

The action in this episode was once again exceptional. There were several sequences, involving Amell and Rhodes that were simply breathtaking and had my jaw on the floor. James Bamford continues to slay this season.

But it wasn’t only the action or the Stardust Easter Egg. Rhodes did an exceptional job portraying Sampson, who was a character that was very charismatic in his destruction. He commanded the screen and held his own against Amell’s Green Arrow. It was fantastic.

Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.

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