Arrow 5×03 Roundtable: Discussing 'A Matter of Trust'

A new season of Arrow means a new season of roundtables where Fangirlish writers Alyssa, Lizzie, and Nora discuss the hot topics from every Arrow episode.

In Arrow’s third episode of season 5, Cody Rhodes made a guest appearance as a super-enhanced drug dealer, which presented a rematch between Rhodes and Stephen Amell. The episode also featured a focus on Felicity and Diggle, who each are battling with their own personal guilt that they’ve both tried to outrun but just couldn’t.

What were your overall thoughts on “A Matter of Trust?”

Alyssa: While this season hasn’t been my favorite thus far, I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. There were several elements present that made me fall in love with this show in the first place, including focuses on Felicity and Diggle as individuals, as well as a little bit of Olicity. While there’s been some criticism about the new members of the team this season, I have to admit that I really enjoyed watching them gel as a unit. While I yearn for Original Team Arrow through and through, that’s not where Arrow is anymore. It’s never just going to be Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity working as a team. Team Arrow has grown into something bigger than all of them. The crime in Star City has grown. So the team has to grow. It’s not the same Arrow I’ve come to know, but I have to hope that those elements that made it a success will prevail in the end. While there are certain things about this season that I’m not liking and know I won’t like moving forward, I’m trying to approach each week with somewhat decent expectations so that I’m pleasantly surprised rather than disappointed. I think I’ve done a good job of doing that so far.
Lizzie: I thought it was a bit boring –  a filler episode with some mindless action and some character moments thrown in to get us excited. Honestly, the highlight of the episode, for me, was Diggle and Deadshot, so that probably says a lot about what was happening with the rest of the characters. That being said, I have decided I enjoy Curtis, no matter what he’s doing, I like Rory and I could be swayed about Wild Dog and Evelyn.
Nora: Overall, I really enjoyed this episode. I think it was their strongest so far this season. I loved how well they interweaved Oliver’s storylines in the flashbacks, his life as Green Arrow and his Mayoral duties. Going into the season, I was nervous as to how some of these storylines would play out and if they would get equal screen time, so I think they are doing a good job so far. The stunts this week were also amazing. There were several moments where my jaw was just on the floor and I think it’s just such a testament to the work James Bamford and that stunt team puts in week after week. Also, having Cody Rhodes here just made it all the more amazing. I really enjoyed this episode from the stunt work all the way down to the writing. Very well done.

Felicity was forced to confront her feelings about the Havenrock tragedy this week. What were your thoughts on those feelings and how she handled it thus far?

Alyssa: First off, give me all of the Felicity storylines that don’t involve some kind of romantic plot. Not that I don’t love Olicity, but Felicity is so much more than her relationship with Oliver. I want to see both sides, just like we get to see with Oliver. This Havenrock storyline is finally a Felicity-centric storyline that has already proven to be one filled with immense emotion.
Of course Felicity blames herself for what happened to the people of Havenrock. That’s who Felicity is. She feels with every part of her being and yearns to help those in need. She’s someone we’ve seen that takes responsibility for her actions, even if it’s not always her fault. All Felicity sees with the Havenrock tragedy is that tens of thousands of people died because she diverted the missile there instead of Havenrock. But she saved millions of lives in the process. Not only that, she wasn’t the one who launched the missile: that was Damien Darhk. I loved how Arrow immediately acknowledged that Felicity is in no way responsible for the tragedy. Us sane people understand that, but there are haters that would like to believe it’s her fault.
It took a lot of courage for Felicity to tell Rory the truth about what happened. Felicity knows better than anyone how secrets can hurt and how they always eventually come out. While Felicity was terrified about Rory’s reaction, she knew that she had to tell him. While he was stunned into silence, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he won’t understand. The storyline in this episode was dealt with in a very in your face kind of way, which it needed to be. It allowed for some emotional and sensational acting from Emily Bett Rickards, which reminds audiences that even heroes can fall; that even heroes need someone to pick them up. This storyline is far from over, and I’m hoping that Oliver will be the one that helps lift Felicity back up just like she’s done for him in the past.
Lizzie: I’m glad they’re going there, and I’m glad she decided to be upfront with Rory, but I’m not at all thrilled at HOW the show has handled all of this so far. Felicity’s guilt is somewhat understandable – even if Damien Darhk is to blame for the bombs, even if she really had no choice, even if, logically, she made the rational decision, it’s still heartbreaking and awful and I’m glad she’s getting the chance to feel all of it. Rory also presents an interesting conundrum, as he puts a face to a senseless and horrible tragedy, and that grounds it all, makes Felicity (and us, by extension) care a bit more.
But – she should really be talking to Oliver about it. She should. He knows about Rory, he knows what Felicity did. Why did we have to bring Curtis in to be the one to deliver the speech Felicity needed? Why couldn’t it be Oliver – especially considering Felicity is always there to deliver the speech HE needs. Or, for that matter, why did she need a speech at all? Ah, because she has issues. But what are those issues? It’s been so long since we explored anyone’s issues but Oliver’s that I’ve kind of forgotten about them.
Nora: I said it last week, but this is a storyline I am really excited to be exploring. It gives Felicity her own storyline and her own grief to work through I’m glad it’s such a huge plot point already this season. I think she began to take the first steps to accepting what she had to do with Havenrock by confronting Rory. My favorite part of this was actually Curtis’ role in convincing Felicity to go tell Rory. Felicity is always the voice of reason for basically all the superheroes on The CW. From Barry all the way to Oliver, she’s had to help them find the right path and help them see it. I like that Curtis is essentially Felicity’s “Felicity.” She needed someone to give her that extra push and I’m glad it came from Curtis.
Felicity telling Rory at the end of the episode was so hard to watch just because I hate to see Felicity in any sort of pain. Emily Bett Rickards crushed that scene. I think she did a fantastic job. What I liked about her telling Rory was this definitely wasn’t the end of the storyline, it’s only the beginning. Felicity admitting to Rory what happened is just a whole other launching pad into this story and I’m excited to see where it goes.

In another part of the county, Diggle sat in a jail cell for a crime he didn’t commit. But Diggle decided not to fight the charges. What were your thoughts on Diggle’s guilt over Andy’s death and the cameo from Deadshot?

Alyssa: Thinking back on what happened with Diggle in this episode, this situation was handled in a very brilliant way. Bringing back Deadshot at a time when Diggle is at his worst as he wallows in the guilt of killing his villainous brother was brilliantly executed. Of course it was disappointing once we realized that Deadshot was in fact still dead. But it basically showed us how Diggle conjured this hallucination of Floyd Lawton as a means to paint himself as a picture of guilt. Lawton is the person that Diggle had channeled all of his anger into for killing his brother. So it made sense that Diggle would turn to Lawton as a way to focus that guilt on himself. At this point, Diggle has essentially sentenced himself to a fate he believes he deserves. He wasn’t responsible for the crimes that put him in prison, but he looks at it like the universe is trying to punish him; and he doesn’t believe it’s wrong to do so. This episode proved more than anything how even running back to the Army did nothing to ease his guilt. All it did was distract him from the guilt. You can’t run away from your problems, as we’ve seen. Diggle, whenever he returns to Star City, is going to have to face this guilt head-on, just like Felicity is.
Lizzie: I liked the cameo from Deadshot – it felt earned. I didn’t love Diggle giving up, but I think the way it was framed wasn’t bad. I didn’t love it, but I believed it, and that was enough. In a way, I’m kinda glad they’re not brushing Diggle’s guilt under the rug. It’s one thing to think/believe that you did the right thing, or that you did the only thing you could possibly do, in the heat of the moment, it’s another entirely to have some time to mull it over and decide you are fine with killing your brother. So, this is a good sign – it means Diggle is probably going to get more of a chance at complex emotions than Felicity got last year when she was paralyzed.
Nora: That cameo from Deadshot gave me life! I was so happy to see Michael Rowe back at it this week. Honestly, when he first showed up I wasn’t sure if he actually made it or he was a product of Barry messing up the timeline on The Flash. Then as the episode progressed I slowly started to put the pieces together that he could be a hallucination and it made it all the more heartbreaking. The amount of guilt Diggle is feeling is something I wasn’t really expecting. Last season, he killed Andy but seemed to have more guilt over getting Laurel killed so I didn’t think Andy would be affecting him this much. That being said, I think it’s a really interesting storyline to explore. Diggle has always been the moral benchmark for Team Arrow and now to see him in this dark place is very interesting. Oliver’s going to have to go save him and convince him staying in jail isn’t an option and that’s just going to be amazing to watch. Oliver has to be there for Diggle the way that Diggle has been there for Oliver time and time again. I’m very interested to see where his storyline goes.

Trust is obviously an important thing when it comes to being part of a team – and in leading a team. This week Oliver learned a thing or two about what it takes to be a leader. How do you think he did?

Alyssa: Say what you will about the addition of the newbies on Team Arrow, but I’m really enjoying that storyline because it’s showing us some deep character growth for Oliver as a progression. In the first episode, the challenge was getting Oliver to agree to accept new members. In the second episode, the challenge was getting Oliver to be open to having these new members. And in this third episode, the challenge was Oliver learning what it takes to be a leader, which means that you are responsible for your team. Oliver was very quick to jump on Wild Dog for being irresponsible but not very quick to admit that part of that was his fault. Not only do the newbies need to trust Oliver, but Oliver needs to be able to trust the newbies. I thought is handled very well. We saw how nervous Oliver was throughout this process, but when he did begin to open up – including bringing the newbies to the official Arrow lair – we saw how much Oliver is trying to be better. And I couldn’t be prouder.
Lizzie: I liked the message, I did, and the way Oliver learned it was totally Oliver. I just don’t love that he has to keep learning this lesson. It’s been five years, Oliver. You’d think some things would have penetrated that thick head of yours. And yet the mistakes feel repetitive, the lessons feel repetitive. And I understand these are different people, there was always going to be some growing pains. I just wanted them to be different growing pains than we’ve seen before.
Nora: I really like that as an audience we are learning to trust Team Arrow 2.0 alongside Oliver. I think it’s making this storyline all the more interesting. It’s been a slow build of trust and I think it’s been great to see. Oliver and Wild Dog’s bond is something I am excited to see moving forward and I think maintaining the level of trust he ends up giving him by episode’s end will be a plot point that will drive Team Arrow 2.0’s development. Oliver has really come into his own as a leader. Although skeptical about the new team at first, Oliver has truly become a great teacher and leader, especially in this episode. You can tell what is driving him forward is his want to not lose anyone again, like he lost Laurel. I think he’s doing a great job at training this new team and I’m excited to see them in the field together again. We saw a glimpse of it this week, but I only think they’ll get stronger and I’m pumped.

Thea has developed a rivalry of her own with a reporter that played her in order to get a story. We got to see a little bit of Moira Queen in her at the end. What are your thoughts about Thea this season?

Alyssa: Something that I’ve always believed was that Thea never needed to be Speedy to be a superhero. Thea Queen is a badass queen who has Moira Queen’s blood running through her veins. She doesn’t need a costume to be a badass. This week, an encounter with a reporter, in which she was played, ignited that fire within Thea. You could see the queen within. I’m loving how this season is about Thea owning her power as a strong, empowered woman outside of a costume. It once again proves how you don’t need to be wearing a costume to be a hero or to instill fear within your opponents. I’m really enjoying Thea’s story this season. I just want to see more of it.
Lizzie: Please let Thea be a badass without being on the field. Also, let her be happy. Can we have happy Thea? I’m desperate to see her smile. It feels like she’s gotten a raw deal in life – not that any of our characters have had it easy, but Thea’s moments of reprieve have been few and far between.
As for the reporter, go Thea. Bring out the Moira in you. I can’t wait to see how you take her down.
Nora: I really like that Thea has been given her own storyline this season. Similar to Felicity, Thea’s storylines have often been attached to Oliver, Malcolm or even Roy, so to give her a new storyline for herself is great. Honestly, Thea’s storyline was the one weak spot for me this week. I felt like it was thrown in as filler for the episode. I just didn’t find it that compelling in the grand scheme of the episode. That being said, I’m hoping this rivalry will end up being a very great storyline for Thea. I’m interested to see how it escalates. I love Thea in the Mayoral role and I think it’s great to see her essentially running Star City, I just hope it doesn’t get lost in the background.

Cody Rhodes, aka Stardust, made a guest appearance as a super enhanced drug dealer that Oliver squared off with. What were your thoughts on Rhodes’ appearance?

Alyssa: I actually really enjoyed Cody’s performance in this episode. Obviously it was touted as being this rematch between Rhodes and Stephen Amell following their WWE “feud.” And I have to say, if Stardust was as intimating as Rhodes was on Arrow he might’ve made it a tad closer to defeating Stephen. But he wouldn’t have defeated Stephen, obviously. The stunts really shone during this episode as it allowed two athletes to really go at it. The wrestling move was a nice touch. One of the better improvements this season has been how the stunt sequence are being executed. Returning to this street fighting kind of action is everything I could’ve asked for and more.
Lizzie: As someone who didn’t particularly love or hate Cody before, I have to say I enjoyed his appearance, in the kind of mindless way I enjoy most action films/sequences. It was fun, not very deep, and visually impressive. Not saying this is a character I want more of, but I’m saying it didn’t really seem out of place.
Nora: I think Cody Rhodes did a great job! You can tell he had a lot of fun creating this character and for his first real acting experience on TV he nailed it. Like I said above, his stunt work with Stephen Amell and the entire stunt team this week was amazing. It just elevated that storyline even more! Like Rhodes said in a Facebook post, Derek Sampson was “apprehended” not dead, so I would LOVE to see him come back like a Count Vertigo type of character. I really enjoyed him in this episode and hope he returns!

Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW. Stay tuned for another Arrow Roundtable next Tuesday!

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