This Arrow review contains spoilers.
Arrow Season 5 Episode 3
There was a time when one could say he or she was strictly an Arrow fan or a Flash fan. Then the CW added Legends of Tomorrow by scooping up the best secondary heroes before bending over backwards to get Supergirl and her mythos into the fold. Rather than walk back on the connectedness of this universe now that it’s got so many moving parts, the latest episode of the DC TV universe’s flagship series, titled “It’s a Matter of Trust,” doubled down.
Recently, The Flash has been playing around with timelines and the consequences of messing with them. Through very limited explanation, unless you’ve been watching both shows, John Diggle (David Ramsey) now has a son. I’m interested in the idea that the network is unapologetically forcing its audience to either buy in or be left behind. It won’t scare me off, because I’m a damn professional, but it will be interesting to see how long this can last for the average viewer.
Fortunately, the episode wasn’t really hanging a lantern on this new plot point, although presumably it will come up later. Instead, tonight was all about one thing, reestablishing stakes for the series.
John Diggle, after murdering his brother Andy (Eugene Byrd), hasn’t been quite right. Sure it’d be really hard for any of us to argue that the sociopath needed to be put down, but it turns out the former Spartan vigilante is going a little crazy beating himself up about it… Literally.
After failing to foil a plot from a rogue U.S. Army general to steal WMDs, Diggle finds himself in jail for espionage and various other crimes. His wife, and A.R.G.U.S. leader Lyla Michaels (Audrey Marie Anderson), says she’ll work on getting him out, but when he gets thrown into his cell, he’s got a rather unlikely roommate… Like, for real unlikely in any kind of civilized society.
Deadshot (Michael Rowe), the man who Diggle spent years tracking back when he thought his brother had been assassinated (long story) is now his bunk buddy. He was previously believed dead, but here he was standing in a cell with Diggle. Eventually, the two make small talk and the truth about Andy comes out. This leads Diggle to tell Lyla that he wants to stay in jail rather than fight the treason charges. He believes he deserves to be punished for what he did. If that sounds crazy, just take a breath. When he turns to reveal who his cellmate ended up being *queue dramatic reveal music* it turns out that Deadshot was a figment of his imagination the entire time.
Alright, listen, I know that The 6th Sense’s, “he was a ghost the whole time,” trope is hack at this point. However, when it works it works, and it worked here. It really seemed like Diggle’s big struggle was going to be that he feels bad about killing his brother. Arrow is a show that’s gotten a bit too much mileage out of putting its “dark” characters through emotional journeys that really just boil down to it being really hard to be a good person. Honestly, how many times has Oliver gone to a dark place because he feels bad for not doing more? This twist ended up giving a character that’s been around since Season 1 some real, high-stakes drama to deal with.
Meanwhile, back in Star City, Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) was learning that being the leader of a group of young ruffians is more difficult than it looks. With a new super drug called stardust making its way to the streets, Green Arrow is putting the shakedown on local hoods to try and find a supplier. He’s questioning whether or not it’s cool to murder people for the greater good these days. As a result, when he threatens to throw someone off a roof for information, even the viewer isn’t sure what to think. It’s been a long time since there was this kind of grittiness and tension on Arrow, which is an important aspect for a show with this tone to have.
The hero gets some intel, but his newest recruit Wild Dog (Rick Gonzalez) doesn’t want to wait to figure out who the real kingpin here is. He even mocks 1 percenter Mayor Queen for being the DC TV universe’s street-level hero that’s woefully out of touch with the streets. This disagreement led Wild Dog and Evelyn Sharp (Madison McLaughlin) to hit the streets personally. They track down Derek Sampson (Cody Rhodes) and, in a wonderful moment of comic-book awesomeness, drop his ass into a vat of chemicals. Obviously, this gives the drug lord superpowers. With his heightened strength and inability to feel pain walking the streets, Oliver is livid that he cannot control or trust his team.
I said last week that I fully enjoy the idea of showing how Oliver became the man he is by training a bunch of new people. However, these growing pains could really get old quite fast. If I have to see people whining about the proper course of action for a superteam to take, my vote is always with the person advocating to show me one of this show’s incredible fight scenes, which were more than on point this week by the way.
The team eventually corners Sampson as he’s setting up a way to douse the rest of his men with this super chemical as well. It’s weird to me that his men seem into the idea of mutating their bodies like that, but let’s just all agree that drug dealing thugs in comic book properties aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer. This time, Oliver trusted his men to handle the henchmen while he squared off personally with Sampson.
I’m a big child, and I don’t know about you, but I got chills the moment Green Arrow set down his bow and went toe-to-toe with a super-strong man that can’t feel his blows. Even the way he took him down was thrilling. The hero savagely cut his tendons and walked away from an explosion while he flapped around on the ground like a fish out of water.
Overall, this was a pretty cool and self-contained episode of Arrow. The show has been lacking with overarching plots in the past two seasons, so these set-building episodes are both refreshing and important. It’s more akin to what the show originally did well in its earlier iterations. And it ended on a doozy of a cliffhanger too.
As Oliver and the team celebrate their latest win, Lyla returns from the B-storyline to tell him that Diggle is in trouble. Just before the credits, Oliver learns that his next mission is to break his brother in arms out of jail…