Arrow S1 Ep11 "Trust But Verify" Directed By Nick Copus Written By Gabrielle Stanton
A squad of men have been robbing armored trucks in Starling City. Using military tactics leading Oliver to suspect the private security company Blackhawk. The prime suspect working at Blackhawk is Ted Gaynor, the man who saved Diggles life in Afghanistan during his first tour. This leads to tensions between the pair.
Diggle says Oliver trusts his fathers book too much. He is wrong, Oliver doesn't have trust in that list of names. Trust is a two-way street that builds over time between two beings ex. Oliver and Diggle. What Oliver has is faith. Faith is a one-way street between Oliver and his book. Faith is a hard thing to break which is why the drama between him and Diggle works so well.
Diggle believes his former CO, Ted Gaynor, doesn't deserve to be on the list. For starters Gaynor isn’t a rich CEO. So it must be a mistake, how could the man who saved his life also fail Starling City? Faith is greater than trust and Oliver might not like it but Gaynor is on the list, he can’t question it only act. Oliver doesn't trust many people, cemented in the flashbacks, but he does trust Diggle enough to verify things first. Unfortunately for Diggle he verifies that Gaynor is behind these robberies.
The opening heist is one of the best action set pieces Arrow has filmed. Sometimes with these other villains things get a bit superheroic on too cheap a budget and things just look cheap. Those heist scene felt like they fit perfectly within the world of Arrow and managed to be stylish on a small budget. The action direction can still be a bit muddy but when they give scenes a longshot they look fine.
Discounting all the crazy stuff on that happened on the island, it wouldn’t be surprising that Oliver had trust issues. He could only trust himself for 5 years on an island that wants to just kill him every second of everyday. Oliver wasn’t alone on that island he had a friend, Yao-Fei, at least he thought he did. The reveal that Yao-Fei was working with the mercenaries this entire time felt like something Vince Russo (WCW head booker look him up) cooked up just to swerve viewers. My reaction wasn’t “O man that makes perfect sense!” It was “That makes no sense whatsoever”.
Oliver and Diggle weren't the only ones up to stuff this episode. Tommy and Laurel got to have dinner with Malcolm Merlyn. It was melodramatic but worked. It certainly made the segments devoted only to Tommy and Laurel more interesting. It was also Thea’s 18th birthday party, which was extravagant in all the ways CW imagines the idle rich to be. That party though introduced an upcoming villain and at the very least was a fun nod to a character.
With the list Arrow is able to largely get away with segmented but serialized content. Writer Gabrielle Stanton is able to link this and the next episode “Vertigo” by introducing the drug of the same name in the final act. Count Vertigo in some form will be making an appearance next week, something I’m interested in. How do you translate an European nobel that can cause vertigo like symptoms without getting a little cheesy? It’s these little things that push this episode over the top for me.
A - I didn’t expect to like “Trust But Verify” this much. It hit all the right moves tonight and created a new standard to judge the show by. Will it consistently live up to these expectations? Probably not.