Warning – FULL SPOILERS for Tonight’s “A Matter of Trust”:

Just a few quick thoughts on tonight’s Arrow, in light of all the debate chaos and American Horror Story twists run amok, as well as safety in suggesting that Season 5 has only so much ground to cover between its initial episodes and the coming crossover. It’s probably no accident that the season’s third hour features the big “rematch” between Stephen Amell and WWE’s Stardust, either, as while Cody Rhodes offered a serviceable, often thankless physical challenge for the night, the actual Derek Samson character served mostly as payoff for the two stars and wrestling fans, rather than Arrow viewers.

What I said of last week’s “The Recruits” still holds true; I like the idea of Oliver Queen as an exasperated mentor to new heroes, and some of the best “Matter of Trust” moments came from seeing him stumble through important moments like recognizing the value of Wild Dog’s street knowledge, and subsequently semi-apologizing. The final minutes also crafted the notably powerful image of the new recruits humbled by the specter of the old Team Arrow’s costumes, while Felicity and Oliver shared a moment over their young protégés.

The hour’s message itself felt a bit redundant, largely re-cementing the lessons learned about proper teamwork last week, but the first group mission was well-tethered with the idea of Oliver learning to trust his new mayoral team, as well as the Faustian bargain of becoming a Bratva brother. That line from the premiere about Oliver learning most of his political trade from The West Wing feels especially prescient though, if writers believe Star City would forgive Oliver staffing his administration with his own sister, and a disgraced police captain friend who wouldn’t even shave for his own press conference.

Granted, believable grooming has never been an 'Arrow' strongsuit.

Diggle’s side still feels a bit isolated, meanwhile, but it at least worked better to have his incarceration re-framed as a form of atonement for killing Andy, especially after realizing his hatred for Deadshot over the years now washed back onto him. The actual decision to bring back Michael Rowe’s Floyd Lawton was a much stranger one; first seeming like a potential consequence of Flashpoint*, then a walk-back of Deadshot’s explosive end, and finally a cheap hallucination. I get it, Season 5 wants Diggle in a place of pure hopelessness to facilitate Oliver getting involved, but having an imaginary Floyd Lawton crystallize that is an especially lazy way to get there.

*This week’s “Previously On” tipped both the Flashpoint consequence of Sarah Diggle becoming John Jr., as well as Floyd’s return, but good grief, if switching the baby’s gender isn’t still an incredibly bizarre, and meaningless change to keep calling attention to.

Not unrelated.

There were a few other bright spots to the hour, which itself carried a surprising bit of levity between Curtis and Ragman’s exchanges, or the new recruits’ overall snarky commentary on some of the series’ weaker conventions. Josh Segarra’s Adrian Chase certainly made a distinct impression among several generic new law-enforcement characters added in recent weeks, and I appreciated Felicity and Ragman getting their Havenrock history out in the open sooner rather than later. Nothing will change the fact that Felicity killing thousands in a nuclear strike on American soil is a hugely unwieldy concept for any series, let alone Arrow, but the sooner we deal with that baggage, the better.

Next week looks to go a bit more in-depth with strained new team dynamic, but it should at least be said that “A Matter of Trust” had its moments of fun, even in a largely inconsequential hour.

AND ANOTHER THING …

  • Detective Billy Malone showed up for a scene, to talk to Oliver about Prometheus. He’s totally not Prometheus, guys!
  • Curtis repeatedly stumbling to explain his sexuality in multiple episodes is … awkward … but not so much as when Ragman starts needling him about having crushes on other men.
  • Spoilers-spoilers-spoilers, but there’s good reason Josh Segarra was made to leave an impression.
  • Rhodes pulling himself through an arrow, as well as the final fight sequence was pretty cool, but again, more wish fulfillment than anything groundbreaking for the series.
  • I realize Floyd was in Dig’s mind the whole time, but saying Andy “was” alive without any inflection doesn’t really warrant Lawton following up about the past tense.
  • I’m not … an expert on the subject, but I imagine Curtis braiding down his hair probably isn’t the quickest disguise to implement when a mission rolls in.
  • Oliver thinks hockey masks are cool. Hardy-har.

Arrow Season 5 will return October 26 with “Penance,” airing at 8:00 P.M. on The CW.

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