‘Arrow’ Review: “Trust But Verify”
‘Arrow’ lets loose another episode with its eleventh outing of the series “Trust But Verify,” as Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) finds himself at odds with Diggle over his former commanding officer-turned armored car robber Ted Gaynor (Ben Browder), while Thea suspects her mother of having an affair with Malcolm Merlyn.
Last week’s ‘Arrow’ episode “Burned” saw Oliver shaken after his confrontation with the Dark Archer, and hesitant to take up the mantle when Laurel begins investigating the mysterious deaths of several firefighters, while Thea attempted to console her mother over Walter’s disappearance. So, what does the eleventh episode of ‘Arrow’ bring? Does it hit the same bulls-eye as the first ten episodes?
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Arrow’s latest episode, “Trust But Verify!”
Late one night, two men drive an armored car down an empty street before being halted by a man with a grenade launcher. The figure shoots a smoke grenade into the vehicle, as other men pull up to take out the guards, and remove its haul from the back. The next day, Oliver sees a report on the news of the third robbery in a string, while Thea begs her mother for a car for her upcoming birthday.
At his “Arrow Cave,” Oliver shows Diggle that the robberies have all taken place in a manner suspiciously similar to a military swarming tactic that matches one of the names of his list, that of Ted Gaynor. Taken aback, Diggle reveals that Gaynor was his commanding officer in Afghanistan, and had months ago asked him to join the Blackhawk Security firm. Oliver insists that his presence on the list implies his guilt, and that he’ll be meeting him that night to find out.
Back in Oliver’s island past, the younger survivor loads up his recovered gear and sets out through the woods, eventually stumbling into an enemy camp. Oliver manages to blend in long enough to secure a plate of food, but makes the mistake of claiming to be a prisoner transport for the captured Yao Fei. A fellow soldier leads him to a jeep bound for the east camp, one which Edward Fyers (Sebastian Dunn) boards headed toward the same location!
Back in the present, Tommy continues ordering construction around before he’s interrupted by a call from his father. Malcolm apologizes for his prior behavior, and invites his son to dinner along with Laurel, that they might repair their relationship. Elsewhere, Oliver infiltrates the Blackhawk building and confronts Ted Gaynor, but Diggle interrupts the meeting, gun in hand. Oliver quickly retreats from the scenario, grabbing a thumb drive Ted had been using in the process. After the chaos, Gaynor offers Diggle a job.
Back at the cave Oliver vents his fury at Diggle for getting involved, while Diggle doesn’t understand how Oliver could be so certain about the list. Oliver reveals that he found a pre-recorded message from his father in the past verifying the list, though not exactly on the island as believed. Tensions high, Diggle demands the chance to prove Ted’s innocence. Oliver again flashes back to his ride with Fyers, who nearly trips him up asking questions about security protocol.
Thea and Moira enjoy a day of shopping, which Moira is forced to leave early after a call from Malcolm Merlyn. She meets with him at the Queen offices, where Malcolm explains that their associate Carl Ballard has deviated from the master plans by gentrifying the Glades, to which he tasks Moira with fixing. In exchange, Moira demands proof of Walter’s survival, while unknown to them Thea observes their meeting, seeming alarmed.
Gaynor and Diggle reminisce at Big Belly Burger, before Gaynor introduces his employee Paul Knox, another disgraced military man. Diggle seems untrusting of the man, while elsewhere Oliver attempts to break into the encrypted thumb drive. Thea interrupts him claiming that their mother is having an affair with Malcolm Merlyn, a similar behavior she displayed before Oliver’s disappearance.
Oliver takes the accusation to his mother, who reveals that it was his father Robert doing the cheating back then, but nothing suspicious has happened between her and Malcolm. Meanwhile in the past, Fyers leads Oliver to the prison cages, before knocking him out and unmasking him.
Oliver pays a visit to Felicity Smoak, providing his usual excuses in procuring her help breaking through the thumb drive encryption. Elsewhere, Tommy and Laurel share a relatively pleasant dinner with Malcolm, until at the meal’s end Malcolm asks for Tommy’s signature in shutting down his mother’s free health clinic, who was murdered some years ago. Tommy storms out, but Malcolm insists to Laurel that his mother’s death should have taught Tommy a lesson.
While Ted shows Diggle the ropes at Blackhawk, Felicity calls Oliver to report that the contents of the drive included plans for robbing armored cars, including an upcoming heist. Oliver manages to intercept the next heist, unmasking the lead perpetrator as a random thug, while putting an arrow through another.
Later that night at Thea’s birthday celebration, Oliver and Diggle confirm that Ted doesn’t seem to have been involved, but Knox may have been. Diggle elects to search the Blackhawk vans on his own, but Oliver places a tracker on him for safety. Meanwhile, Thea again catches her mother and Malcolm conferring about Walter, and the misunderstanding drives Thea to take a new drug her friends covertly offered her called “Vertigo.”
Over at Blackhawk, Diggle indeed finds blood in one of the vans, but is quickly apprehended by Knox and brought before…who else, but Ted? Ted explains his petty reasoning for thieving, before demanding that Diggle take the downed man' place. When he refuses, Gaynor brings out Diggle’s captive sister-in-law Carly as incentive, and Diggle cooperates. Listening in from the party, Oliver rushes to his aid.
Out on the road Diggle prepares to hit the next truck with a grenade launcher, but relents. As Gaynor and his men prepare to kill Carly, Diggle uses his grenade launcher and chases after Gaynor in the fray. He finally tracks him down, but with Diggle unable to pull the trigger, Oliver puts an arrow through Gaynor’s chest. Diggle reveals that he knew Oliver was tracking him, before Oliver flees the police.
Elsewhere, Thea crashes her car under the influence of Vertigo, awakening in the hospital. Oliver and Moira rush to her side, but Thea sends her mother away. Meanwhile, Laurel attempts to convince Tommy to answer his father’s calls, though Tommy remains blinded by how cold his father became after his mother’s death. While he says this, we see Malcolm in his lair of Dark Archer gear, tenderly examining a photo of his family.
Down in the lair, both Diggle and Oliver make up for not trusting one another, and Oliver allows Diggle to be the one to cross Gaynor off the list. Later, Oliver leads Thea out of the hospital, but a police officer takes Thea away after her tox-screen revealed the presence of drugs in her system.
Back in his flashback, Fyers taunts Oliver in his cage, explaining that his men wear balaclavas to highlight the truth in their eyes. Pointing out that Oliver’s trust has been misplaced, he reveals the masked man to his right as Yao Fei himself, working for Fyers. Roll credits.
Where last week's winter premiere felt like something of a misstep, "Trust But Verify" wisely avoids leaning too hard on its villain and instead puts the bond between Oliver and Diggle to the test. The story plays out somewhat predictably, but does make for some worthwhile character development forging the bond between the two men. Elsewhere, we like how 'Arrow' continually develops more of a serialized feel, here introducing both "Vertigo" and "The Glades," two plot points we know will soon bring Seth Gabel's "The Count" and Colton Haynes' Roy Harper into the mix. Not to mention, color us intrigued to see where Oliver's island story goes after Yao Fei's apparent heelturn.
What say you? Did you feel that ‘Arrow’ hit the mark with its eleventh episode? What did you like about “Trust But Verify?” Join us next week for another all-new ‘Arrow’ episode recap of “Vertigo” on The CW!