Arrow episode 11 review: Trust But Verify

Arrow delivers an action-packed episode featuring Stargate's Ben Browder. Here's Caroline's review...

This review contains spoilers.

1.11 Trust But Verify

After last week’s slightly disappointing return for Arrow, Trust But Verify gets us back to the morally troubling and action-packed aspects of Oliver’s mission. This week he clashes with Diggle when an old army comrade pops up in Starling City and just happens to be on his father’s list. Obviously, our resident sidekick/partner isn’t so happy with this twist in the tale, and we’re treated to the couple’s first big spat.

The character in question is played by Farscape’s Ben Browder, who seems to have settled into his new job as professional guest star since Stargate ended a few years ago. He gives good Browder here, even if the role is a lot more limited than fans of the actor would have liked, but is also just another villain who seems to have been (spoiler) killed off before his full potential could be reached. Seriously, Arrow is in real danger of running out of comic-book villains before its second season at this rate.

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That said, it’s entertaining to see the week’s adventure tie in so closely to the relationships between our main characters, and the episode is much more about Diggle and Oliver than it is about Ted Gaynor. Feeling like he and his fellow veterans are given short shrift once they’ve returned home, Gaynor is on his own mission of revenge, taking what he believes he deserves. He might have done bad things in his search for just rewards, but did he really deserve to die? I get that Oliver was trying to save his friend’s life, but it seems a little extreme when shooting him in the leg could have reached the same end.

The reliability of Oliver’s book of targets is also called into question by Diggle this week, as we’re all encouraged to question where the names have actually come from. It’s proven that Ted’s name was on the list for good reason, but how many of the people that Oliver targets will turn out to be undeserving? Considering that he so often deals out the ultimate punishment for these people’s crimes, I can’t believe that we’ll get much further without Oliver making some sort of big mistake. Will we see our hero kill an innocent person at some point? Or lose too many civilians in the process?

We’re teased about a posthumous letter Ollie’s father left for him, explaining the importance of the list, but nothing else is revealed at this point. Diggle asks how it would be possible while Oliver was living on the island and he taunts us by saying he might not have found it there. This could mean that Oliver spent some time away from there before his rescue in the pilot, so we can look forward to the flashbacks getting a little more exciting. This week we just see that his friend, Yao-Fei, has actually double-crossed him and got his locked up by Fyers and the other mercenaries.

Back in present day, we learn a little more about Tommy and Malcolm’s fraught relationship. Tommy’s mother was shot and killed when he was eight, and for two years afterwards Malcolm went missing. This explains why the father/son relationship is so strained today, and could also point to a super-villain training program that Malcolm entered a decade ago. More realistically, we might learn that Malcolm went on a revenge bender similar to Oliver’s current one and, no matter what, I predict that Tommy will be taking over the Dark Archer hood sooner rather than later.

Moira asks Malcolm to prove her husband isn’t already dead and buried, and a non-descript photo of him somehow puts her mind at ease. Despite her erratic behaviour and secret meetings with daddy Merlyn, Oliver has absolutely no clue about her true allegiances and Thea’s only reaction is to act out. The end of the episode sees her deservedly arrested for driving under the influence after taking drugs and crashing the family Ferrari in a fit of rebellion. Colton Haynes (who will be joining the show as Roy Harper aka Speedy) can’t get here soon enough, because my patience with this character is seriously waning.

Next week we’ll see Oliver go after the dealer for new designer drug, Vertigo, and Thea finds herself in the middle of a media storm after her arrest scandal. See you there.

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Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Burned, here.

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