In the kind of world where people assume alternate identities to either fight crime or engage in it, trust becomes a commodity that is truly rare. When an individual slaps on a cape, cowl or, in the case of Arrow, a green hood, the unfortunate side effect is that they become something of an example for why the folks they deal with cannot be trusted – as anyone with an alter ego is not exactly operating on the principle of transparency.
As with most Arrow episodes, there is a common theme running through all of the primary characters, and this time, 'Trust But Verify' sees them all wondering if they can truly trust the people they know. Thea (Willa Holland) is turning 18 and although she's getting a new car for her birthday, her primary concern is with her mother's behavior as of late. After Moira (Susanna Thompson) assumed leadership of Queen Consolidated, she's been exhibiting certain emotional highs and lows, which her children correctly assume has to do with the recent disappearance of her husband, Walter Steele (Colin Salmon). Of course, what the Queen children don't yet realize is that Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) – a.k.a. the Dark Archer – is manipulating Moira into doing his bidding. While nearly everyone on the show has secrets, if anyone stands as a model for dishonesty, it's Malcolm.
Added to the mix is a somewhat tepid Tommy (Colin Donnell) subplot, in which his father contacts him under the pretense of making amends, following his cutting Tommy off of his trust fund and apparently calling him a "loser." Tommy reluctantly agrees to dinner with his father and Laurel (Katie Cassidy), only to learn that Malcolm's objective was to get Tommy to sign off on the closure of his late mother's free clinic. While the row between father and son bears little importance to the overall plot of the episode, it does provide some background on Malcolm, suggesting that the murder of his wife may have played some key role in shaping him into the man he is today.
Primarily, though, 'Trust But Verify' sees Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Diggle (David Ramsey) in a dispute over Ted Gaynor (Ben Browder, Farscape) a former military commander of Digg's, who is now heading up a Blackwater-esque security company called Black Hawk, and is suspected of being the mastermind behind a string of armored car robberies. For his part, Diggle refuses to believe a person he once trusted with his life could now be a name on Oliver's list, so he sets out to prove his new partner wrong by keeping close tabs on Gaynor and his crew by joining up with them, after disrupting Arrow's initial confrontation with the man.
For the time being, Ollie and Diggle agree to disagree on Gaynor's involvement in the robberies, and despite his contrary opinion, Oliver steps back so his partner can investigate. While scoping out his former CO, Diggle is introduced to another military acquaintance, Paul Knox (Colin Lawrence), who has clearly earned a not-so-pleasant reputation and Diggle's distrust. Gaynor assures his friend that Knox is on the up-and-up and that he's reformed, giving Diggle the "everyone deserves a second chance" speech – which serves to further confuse the whole situation.
Forgoing the direct approach he normally takes with those suspected of poisoning his city, Oliver heads over to Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards), so that he can gain access to a flash drive he lifted from Gaynor. Oliver gives the unofficial Arrow IT department a typically hackneyed reason for why he's trying to break into a drive with military grade security, but nevertheless, Smoak comes through, giving him access to the group's next planned robbery. After Arrow's intervention, it looks as though Knox is behind the whole thing, and Diggle sets off to gather evidence, only to discover Gaynor was behind it all along.
Gaynor and Knox pull a Point Break on Diggle, forcing him to participate in their last heist by holding his former sister-in-law hostage. The situation plays out pretty much as one would expect: with Gaynor winding up on the business end of an arrow, while Diggle has to deal with the fact that even his judgment in people can sometimes be off.
But what the episode does well is incorporate the overall theme into the sometimes-contrasting action of what transpired on the island. 'Trust But Verify' includes not one, but two fairly large admissions regarding Oliver's time away from Starling City. For one, Oliver provides a somewhat oblique confession that he may not have been on the island for the entire five years. While the audience has probably figured that out by now, hearing Oliver say that to Diggle is a big step in uncovering more of his past. Meanwhile, the episode drops a more significant bombshell in revealing that Oliver's would-be savior, Yao Fei (Byron Mann) is actually in cahoots with Edward Fyres (Sebastian Dunn) – a revelation that will likely open the flashbacks up to more compelling events.
Basically, 'Trust But Verify' deals with the notion of betrayal, and how too much confidence in a person can sometimes become a point of weakness. While Thea mistakenly interprets her mother's interaction with Malcolm as infidelity, she's right in believing something doesn't add up when it comes to Moira Queen. Oliver's inability to recognize the same may prove disastrous for him as the Dark Archer's plans for Starling City begin to coalesce.
- In Arrow Easter egg news: The name Tommy wanted to give to his puppy seems to be a direct reference to Arthur King, the Merlyn from the comic books. Additionally, the name Ted Gaynor and his association with the Blackhawk Squadron will certainly prove to be a treat for comic book fans.
- Having the episode use Thea's drug-induced car wreck as a lead-in to next week's episode featuring Fringe's Seth Gabel, as The Count (Count Vertigo) is a nice, comic book-y touch.
Arrow returns next Wednesday with 'Vertigo' @8pm on The CW. Check out a preview of the episode below: