‘Arrow’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 5, Episode 3: ‘A Matter Of Trust’
It’s time for another installment of Pointed Commentary, the feature where returning Arrow watcher Chris Haley and newcomer Emma Lawson dig into the details of Team Arrow as they clean up the filthy, crime-ridden streets of Star City.
This week’s episode, “A Matter of Trust,” finds Oliver continuing his quest to save Star City both as mayor and as the Green Arrow --- but will his new team ever learn to listen? Will a news anchor make Thea’s life a living nightmare? Will Cody Rhodes make an absolutely dashing new villain? Gregory Smith directed the episode from a script by Ben Sokolowski and Emilio Ortega Aldrich.
Chris: There’s an awful lot to talk about this week, and I can’t tell if it’s the sleep deprivation talking, but I think I actually really enjoyed this episode. For you Arrowheads that were reading Pointed Commentary along with last season, I’m sure I just heard your jaws hit the floor. We can get into all of the everything about it, but first things first, welcome back to North America, Emma! How are you doing and what did you think of this week’s show?
Emma: I am incredibly jet lagged but I know I loved this week’s episode! That first fight scene set the tone for an awesome episode. Green Arrow stringing up the bad guy and just punching him backward? So rad. I’m still not loving Dig’s storyline, but the rest had me wiggling in my seat with excitement.
Chris: I didn’t have quite that effect on me, but the fact that I wasn’t actively trying to crawl out of my own skin while I was watching is a huge improvement. And it’s a change I can welcome, because, like I’ve always said, I’d much rather enjoy these shows than complain about them!
I think I can pin down a few of the things that have me feeling more positive about this episode, but I’m curious to see if our conversation today will lead me to any new revelations about why I’m having an easier time with this show lately. So, where would you like to start?
Emma: Mr. Terrific Mr. Terrific Mr. Terrific! Curtis finally gets to go out in the field, but even before that we get to see him in his vigilante swag in the training room. Evelyn makes fun of it, but Curtis’s “Fair Play” leather jacket is glorious. His inspiration for the jacket is Terry Sloane, a wrestler, aka Mr. Terrific. His sweet jacket said Fair Play on it because Mr. Terrific was just so good, he didn’t need to cheat to win. I loved it!
Chris: I was begging for them to hurry up and make him Mr. Terrific last season, and even though it seems like his competence took a little bit of a step back since then for the story’s sake, I was so excited to finally see him all decked out. The fact that part of his outfit’s origin was also tied to wrestling just made it even better for me.
And speaking of pro-wrestling, this was definitely the pro-wrestling episode with the addition of Cody Rhodes (billed as Cody Runnels so as to escape any possible legal hassle with the WWE now that’s he’s left the company) as drug dealer turned impervious-to-pain metahuman Derek Sampson. Seeing Cody finally show up on Arrow to continue his battle with Stephen Amell/the Green Arrow was also something I’d been begging for since last season, and I hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of him either. How’d you think he did?
Emma: I liked him! And we didn’t see him actually die, just stuck in an exploding building, so chances are he’ll be coming back. I did have an issue with his inability to feel pain making him basically unkillable --- because that’s a real, rare condition, and people with it actually get injured constantly, because they don’t have their body telling them, “This is a bad thing, don't do that.” Ollie addressed my issue by slicing his tendons later on and rendering him incapable of moving, so thanks for that, buddy!
Chris: Yeah, I that was all I could think about too. I think they tried to do a little hand-waving about saying that it also gave him enhanced strength, and I guess maybe they wanted to imply that it also made his internal organs stronger when he’s getting shot so he doesn’t just bleed out or die of organ failure. I guess we shouldn’t stress over it too much on a show where a guy made an Iron Man suit that can make him shrink.
Emma: I thought it was cute that Wild Dog thought he killed Derek Sampson when he tossed him into the vat of chemicals. He still has so much to learn!
Chris: Yup, if you’re a nocturnal vigilante, knocking a bad guy into a vat of chemicals is pretty much the last thing you want to do in a fight. I’m sure there’s a statistician out there who’s got the numbers on how often that’s lead to the creation of a supervillain from a mere crook.
Emma: I do agree with you about Curtis. He’s got a ton of skills, but the show this season seems to want to just make him a cute newbie and show him trying to punch stuff and getting his butt kicked by the other recruits. He mentioned his biochemistry background this episode, but nothing really came of it. Let Curtis be as terrific as we know him to be!
Chris: Couldn’t agree more! Last season we were dying to see him hurry up and get that T on his face because he was obviously already so good at some many things, but in the first episode of this season, he gets beat up by two street toughs?!
Emma: Okay, that T mask. I know it’s from the comics, but it does not look good. It’s actually kind of terrifying. Maybe that’s what the T stands for?
Chris: Haha, I really like it! Firstly, because I had no idea how they were going to pull it off, and then they did it and it looks exactly like the comics and is so delightfully weird looking, but secondly because it’s not just another domino mask.
Emma: Sure, I get that. But it looks like maybe he belongs in a sex club. And how does it stay on? Does Curtis have to spend 10 minutes gluing that thing to his face before heading out to fight crime? Is it just spirit gum? Inquiring minds want to know.
Chris: Well, do you want a real, practical special effects answer, or an in-universe answer, because he’s standing next to a guy wearing a costume made out of magic rags, so...
Emma: In-universe, obviously. The magic rags make sense, Chris, they’re magic.
Chris: Well, if the guy can make T-Spheres, I’m sure it’s not too much of a problem to make some kind of high-tech flexible pseudo-latex polymer that adheres to his face without suffocating him and is then removable with some kind of non-toxic spray dissolvent.
Emma: This is why I like working with you, Chris.
Speaking of magic rags, though, I loved Curtis and Rory’s little chat about the Ragman outfit changing his voice. Too cute!
Chris: Basically everything Rory did this week was too cute. He’s probably my favorite person on this show at this point, because he reacts to a lot of what happens like a normal person would, but not in the over-the-top “comedy” way other characters have been known to. When his response to something is incredulity, but he’s not doing a spit-take or a wisecrack about it… that’s something I can appreciate.
Emma: Yes! “Is this normal behavior around here?” Yes, Rory, unfortunately.
Chris: Speaking of, he and Curtis had a couple of interesting interactions this week, to say nothing of his conversation with Felicity. What was your take on those?
Emma: I really disliked their “no homo” conversation, it was completely unnecessary. It seemed like the show was trying to make it a cute, jokey moment, but we basically know nothing about Rory except that his whole town died. This is the character information you choose to give us? In this way? No.
I liked Curtis’s chat with Felicity, though. Seeing her jump anytime anyone mentioned Havenrock was starting to get on my nerves, and someone needed to tell her to talk to Rory about it. It’s not her fault, and she needs to deal with that guilt. What did you think?
Chris: Well, with Felicity I liked how they handled all of that this week because it was something that she was forced to take seriously, which meant she didn’t bother me at all this week. Unfortunately, that meant that a lot of the “joke” budget for the episode got dropped on Curtis, and it proved that my problem with Felicity isn’t Felicity, it’s the way they write her. Because writing jokes is hard. Trust me.
I had a slightly different read on that Curtis/Rory interaction, though. Maybe it was just because I was in a good mood or something, but I gave them the benefit of the doubt and thought they were trying to have Rory be so unconcerned with what people think about his sexuality because he’s a young person that doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with being gay? So instead of saying, “Whoa, I’m not gay! Don’t think that! I am straight!” he was just like, “Eh, you’re not my type.” and then Curtis was the one who jumped at asking him more. I think I totally get where you’re coming from, but that take didn’t even occur to me at the time. Does that make sense?
Emma: It just seemed totally unnecessary to me from a story standpoint, a character standpoint, and a joke standpoint. And I do want to know more about Rory! How did his family have magical rags? What was he doing in Havenrock before the bomb? Is he still living there now, with the town destroyed? What’s his favorite color? Does he wish he had a domino mask like everybody else? I really like Rory, in case you can’t tell.
Chris: Yeah, I’m kinda curious to know what all of these kids are doing when they aren’t punching each other or shooting at bad guys. Speaking of, it still really weirds me out every time one of the good guys uses a gun on this show.
Emma: Same. When Wild Dog and Evelyn (who needs a codename! Get on this, Team Arrow) are off investigating the Stardust warehouse, it made me feel weird to see them shoot people so easily. Even if they weren’t aiming to kill. They both seem to be uncomfortable with killing people, so the choice of a gun as a weapon seems off.
Chris: A commenter on last week’s recap mentioned that the show runners have either said or implied that Evelyn is going to become “Artemis”, which I can see working. As to the guns, I could kinda let it slide when it was Dig doing it because he’s from a military background, but watching these actual, literal babies shooting guns just makes me nervous.
Speaking of Dig, what did you think of his time in prison with the apparently not dead(?) Deadshot?
Emma: I still am super bored by Dig’s storyline. Even his interactions with Deadshot were unexciting. Instead of fighting or anything, Dig mopes and Deadshot plays solitaire? The reveal that Deadshot was just a hallucination did nothing for me. What about you?
Chris: I was more surprised at how terrible the guy playing Deadshot was. This was the first time I’ve seen him on the show, and I remember hearing rumors that Warner Bros. had made the showrunners kill off all the Suicide Squad characters to make way for the movie versions, but I’d say it was more likely they saw how awful this guy was and thought, “We can’t have people thinking this is what we’re making a movie of.”
Is this just me? I don’t know if I’ve seen anyone on this show that seemed more like a stuntman turned actor, because I’m sure he and Ollie had some cool fight scenes, but yikes.
Oh, and we’ve barely mentioned Oliver this week! I think both the character and Stephen Amell as an actor are benefiting from having to step into a more grown up, leadership role. It really seems like he’s able to play both roles with a little more weight and gravitas when he’s surrounded by people that are younger than him who are clearly looking to him for guidance, instead of people who are more direct peers.
Emma: I loved watching Ollie step up and take some responsibility. Even at the beginning of the episode, before his whole trust epiphany, he was finally showing up at work and trying to get things done. Unheard of! Oliver and Rene’s slowly building trust gave me the Feels, and I adored Oliver’s approach to handling the deputy mayor fiasco.
If the team fails, whether it’s his team in city hall or his team at the Arrow Cave, it’s not because his team members suck, but because he failed to trust and support them. And similarly, when his team succeeds, it’s his success too. I feel like folks have been trying to tell Oliver this for ages, and he’s finally starting to understand. (Many bosses out there could stand to learn this lesson too…)
Chris: I’d agree. Also, I think this episode was the first time someone said that “_____, you have failed this city” line and I liked it.
And, you know what? I’ll go even further than that. When Ollie said it this week as his opening line to Derek Sampson, it actually got me psyched up for what was about to happen. He sounded like Darkwing Duck busting in saying, “I am the terror that flaps in the night,” and I loved it.
Emma: Yes! Every fight in this episode was awesome, they did well with choosing a wrestler to play Sampson.
We also haven’t talked about Detective Malone yet, who faked a police dispatch to get Green Arrow to meet him. He’s definitely a smart one, and not going to be fooled by Felicity or Oliver for very long.
Chris: Those Ritter kids are sharp!
Alright, Arrowheads, let us know what you thought of this week’s show in the comments and we’ll see you back here next week!