***The review below contains spoilers.***
By Tyler Olson
Throughout most of Arrow's episodes, Oliver has been pushing away his friends and family to protect his secrets, making it difficult for anyone to trust him, but this week the other main characters got their turn.
It is only natural that everyone wants to trust their family, the people that they depend on, and those who joined them on a journey filled with blood and tears. Unfortunately, there will always come a point where that trust will be tested, which often leads to misery.
For Thea, that came from the realization that her mother was spending time with Tommy's dad Malcolm, just as she did when Robert disappeared. It is easy for a child, regardless of their age, to be protective of their lone parent after losing the other, and dark thoughts are often the first to arise. Thea's thoughts quickly turned to the thought that Moira was cheating on Walter, and it was easy to figure out why, which caused her to lash out in the worst ways. What a way to ruin an 18th birthday! Not only has she pushed away her mother, she wrecked her present, gave herself a nasty scar, and already damages her new adult record. If this happened due to suspicions of cheating, what will happen when she learns the truth?
Malcolm's interference didn't only hurt Thea, but Tommy too. Tommy and Laurel did their best to reopen their hearts with his father after he dumped him off into the street, and all it did was cause even more heartache. The sad thing is that I don't think that Malcolm even understood what he did wrong. His heart may have been in the right place, but his timing couldn't have been more wrong.
In this one episode, Malcolm has evolved from a secretive villain to a character that we can almost understand. We now know that his wife, Tommy's mother, was murdered by the criminal underbelly of Starling City, and it appears that Malcolm is now striving to punish them, regardless of whoever gets in his way. Sound familiar? The best villains are often the ones that we can sympathize with the most, and from what we now know, that sympathy is maturing nicely.
That is why it pained me so much to still see the same mistake that hurt past villains repeated in Oliver and Diggle's story. Just like the other stories this week, John Diggle and Ted Gaynor's history built a trust that was painfully torn apart, only we didn't get to know enough to actually feel the pain. There was so much hype of Ben Browder's role and we didn't even get to know the guy before his ultimate demise. Sure we can feel the pain Diggle was going through when he learnt the truth and Carly got caught up in the mess, but he wasn't family and we didn't know what they went through to form their trust. Perhaps a flashback to their tour in Afghanistan may have helped build his character more, but instead all we have is just another empty shell.
I was amazed that the writers even figured out how to incorporate the theme of trust into Oliver's flashbacks too. There wasn't much to them, but it was still leaps and bounds more than last week's island adventure. Since Edward Fyers was Oliver's mentor in the comics, I knew that they were going to find a way to bring them together, but what a twist! Is this just part of his training, or is there something else going on behind the scenes?
The character building, action, suspense and laughs all made "Trust but Verify" a near perfect episode, if it wasn't for the cookie-cutter disposable villains. The writers really need to work on those.
Reviewer's Rating: 4/5