Last week on Arrow, we saw Oliver trying to get a decent team up and running so that he’d stop having to do everything solo. He managed to pick up some promising recruits, including a dude with mystical powers, but none of them were up to par when it came to working as a unit. Meanwhile, Diggle was getting framed by his own men and the bad guys were out doing bad guys things. The season is starting up strong, though where it takes the conflict still remains to be seen. This week, ‘A Matter of Trust’ presents a villain-of-the-week scenario while developing events and relationships that will likely become important throughout the rest of the season.
The episode begins with a little lesson on how to be a proper Arrow team member. Oliver is out messing up a drug dealer while his trainees look on and see how it’s all done. Of course, a few of the new kids aren’t quite as patient as they need to be. When Wild Dog figures out that he knows where the drug suppliers are located, he takes matters into his own hands (with the help of little Canary) and tries to bust up the baddies himself. Unfortunately, he just creates more headaches for Oliver, including the accidental formation of yet another super-powered villain, Sampson.
Arrow heads out to take Samson down, but the guy is seemingly unkillable. Worse still, he’s getting his old gang back together so that he can use some technological device to transfer his zombie-like powers over to them. So it’s up to Team Arrow to stop the army of zombies before they have a chance to form. They do their job well and in return get an official visit to the Arrow Cave and inclusion in Ollie’s group as full-time heroes.
On the side, Oliver’s mayor life isn’t going the best it could either. Bringing Lance into the fold is causing some media flak and Thea’s attempts to patch the holes in that sinking ship only make matters worse. Naturally, Oliver jumps into the fray to both protect his position and keep Lance as one of his closest allies.
Over on Diggle’s end of things, he’s still dealing with being framed and put into jail. Things get worse when it turns out he’s sharing a cell with his favorite assassin, Deadshot. When Diggle finally decides that he’s going to give up and give in, his wife runs off to talk to Oliver about forming a plan to free his former teammate.
And, in the past, Oliver is learning what it takes to become part of the Russian mob. He’s also learning that things aren’t always what they seem. But to get to his target, he has to do whatever it takes, including working with those he may not necessarily trust or even like.
All-in-all, this was a pretty good episode. The new team is fun and, even if we don’t know all that much about them quite yet, the chemistry between the various members is becoming obvious. They also feel a lot more balanced as a proper team than the former punch-and-kick line-up that we’ve seen in all the other seasons. Oliver finally has a group with diversified skills. They may not be able to kick as much ass as Canary, Diggle and Speedy, but they give off the impression that they’ll be a lot more adaptable.
I’m also enjoying Oliver more this season. One of the things that bugged me about his character during seasons 3 and 4 was the eternal moping and brooding. Nowadays, he’s vicious and angry, though still controlled enough to get the job done. Whether this is an intentional maturing of the character or just an attempt to escape a portrayal of The Green Arrow that was, quite literally, becoming laughable isn’t clear. But it is working and makes the character of Oliver more interesting and tolerable overall.
Even though this was, for the most part, a villain-of-the-week episode, Sampson was a more compelling villain than Tobias Church. It’s a sad thing when a guy who has 10 minutes of screen time is better than the villain who’s supposed to be a primary character. Maybe they’ll make Tobias into someone we actually feel is formidable? I hope so.
And then there are the action sequences. Again, I would say that season 5 has already surpassed any of the series’ previous attempts to create visually interesting combat scenes. The choreographers are doing their job well and it appears that after 4 seasons they finally have the formula for making Arrow look bad-ass. Here’s to hoping they keep it up.
In the end, this was my favorite episode of season 5 thus far. There wasn’t too much to digest, though they managed to get in enough development to keep the main story arcs running. I am eager to see how the writers handle things when they’re finally addressing the more important arcs of the season.