A new drug-dealer named Derek Sampson is peddling the designer drug Stardust on the streets of Star City. When Wild Dog defies Green Arrow's orders not to go after Sampson directly, the hot-tempered hero inadvertently turns Sampson into a more dangerous enemy. Meanwhile, Thea tries to manage the political fallout of her decision to hire Quentin Lance as Deputy Mayor, John winds up with an unexpected cellmate and Felicity debates whether or not to tell Rory of her role in his family's death.
The Judd Winick run on Green Arrow (set-up of Oliver Queen balancing his life as Green Arrow and Mayor of Star City), the JSA comics of Geoff Johns, James Robinson and David Goyer (character design of Mister Terrific), the Young Justice animated series (costume design for Evelyn Sharpe), the writings of Mark Twain (Sampson quotes his line about "the rumors of his death being greatly exaggerated."), the movie Lethal Weapon (mentioned and copied as Sampson shows off his inability to feel pain) and the origin story of The Joker as seen in various Batman comics (Sampson gets powers after being forced into a chemical vat.)
Given his wife's status as the head of a major Federal agency charged with managing international security and the fact that The President had to be aware of John Diggle's role in helping his wife with averting a nuclear disaster, it's a little unbelievable that John Diggle could be so easily framed.
Thea seems horribly out of character in how foolish she acts in her dealings with Susan Williams, given how generally cynical and savvy she's been portrayed over the past year patrolling the streets and running Oliver's campaign for mayor.
There's not a bad performance in the episode, but the MVP is David Ramsey. Again, Diggle is short-changed by the episode in terms of screen-time but - unlike last week - Ramsey is given ample opportunity to show a side of the usually stalwart Diggle we rarely see. The performance improves on a second viewing, as Ramsey offers some subtle hints in his reactions to the episode's twist ending.
The use of cinematography of the fight between Wild Dog/Evelyn and the drug dealers looks amazing, as does the fight blocking itself. The set for the drug lab has as a good design, too.
Likewise, the fight between Green Arrow and Sampson in the hospital hallway is a fantastic scene, perfectly balancing excellent practical effects and stupendous fight choreography.
These scenes pale, however, compared to the final fight between Team Arrow and Sampson's gang. The editing on the whole long sequence is wonderful as we cut between the various battles and the stunt work is top-notch. It's also well-balanced and gives us a chance to see each member of the team shining.
The script does a masterful job with the fake-out regarding John's cell-mate. Given the changes caused by The Flashpoint Timeline and the fact that Deadshot was able to cheat death once before already, his showing up in John's cell is not the least unlikely thing to happen in the show's history. Which makes it all the more shocking when it turns out he isn't really there...
Cody Rhodes- who plays Derek Sampson - is a professional wrestler better known by the name Stardust. The designer drug Sampson peddles on the show is named in honor of Rhodes' former wrestling persona.
In one of his final storylines with World Wrestling Entertainment, Stardust - who had taken on a super-villain persona - began calling out actor Stephen Amell, who plays Oliver Queen on Arrow. This led to a feud that ended in a tag-team match at SummerSlam 2015, where Amell and the wrestler Neville defeated Stardust and his partner, King Barrett.
TV reporter Susan Williams shares a name with a character from the Green Lantern comics. There, Susan Williams was a reporter for Behind The Scenes magazine who was covering the campaign of lawyer Jack Jordan for District Attorney post in Coast City. During that time, she noticed that Green Lantern kept showing up to protect Jack Jordan from criminals and guessed that Jack's younger brother, Jim Jordan, was the dashing superhero. She began dating Jim and they eventually got married and had kids. Eventually she discovered that it was Jack and Jim's middle-brother, Hal Jordan, who was Green Lantern.
The new District Attorney of Star City - Adrian Chase - makes his first appearance in the flesh. In the comics, Adrian Chase was the second hero to take the name of Vigilante, first appearing in 1983's New Teen Titans Annual #2. A district attorney in New York City who lost his family to mob violence, Chase became The Vigilante to strike against the criminals he could not bring to justice in his day job. Felicity referred to a costumed hero whose costume resembled Adrian Chase's Vigilante (aka Mr. Ski-Goggles) in 501.
The jacket Curtis wears with "FAIR PLAY" on the sleeve ad the T-shaped mask that he wears as part of his costume are modeled on the costume of the second Mister Terrific from the comics.
Curtis says that his jacket was a replica of the one worn by his favorite professional wrestler - Mister Terrific - a.k.a. "Fair Play" Terry Sloan. Sloan reportedly wore clothing with the "Fair Play" slogan on it because he didn't need to cheat to win.
In the comics, Terry Sloan was the secret identity of the original Mister Terrific, who first appeared in Sensation Comics #1 (January 1942). A child prodigy and master of multiple disciplines, Terry Sloan also had a photographic memory and Olympic-level athletic skills. Fearing that he peaked too soon and despairing that life held no challenges for him, Terry contemplated suicide only to jump into action to save a woman he saw jumping off the same bridge. This gave Terry a new purpose in life - helping others as a superhero and philanthropist.. He formed "The Fair Play Club" as a way to fight juvenile delinquency and gang membership and wore the words "Fair Play" on the chest of his costume.
While she has not been identified by a codename yet, Evelyn Sharpe's costume resembles that of the heroine Artemis from the Young Justice animated series - with a dark green top and matching mask - with the addition of a black leather jacket.
Evelyn asks what kind of vigilante wears a hockey mask, prompting Ollie to say that he thinks Wild Dog's mask is cool. This is a reference to how Stephen Amell played Casey Jones - a vigilante who wears a hockey mask - in the second of Michael Bay's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies.
Oliver makes use of a bola arrow to bind a drug dealer's hands and string him up over a pipe.
The coroner examining Derek Sampson determines that the chemicals he was found in were non-acidic, based on the lack of epidermis erosion.
The chemicals Derek Sampson was dropped in gave him some degree of enhanced strength and deaden his nerves so he no longer feels pain. As Oliver proves, however, his body can still be damaged and while he may be more durable, he can still be hamstrung.
Derek Sampson steals a molecular transmodality processor - a device which replicates chemicals based on their molecular structure. With it, he can can recreate the formula that gave him his powers and use it to build an army of similarly powered criminals.
Bratva is the Russian word for brotherhood.
(To the drug dealer he has tied up over a one-story drop.)
Green Arrow: I won't kill you. But I can't guarantee you'll walk away from this.
(Green Arrow throws a knife, cutting the rope and sending the drug dealer falling to the ground.)
(To the new Team Arrow, watching the video of Ollie taking down the drug dealer.)
Felicity: So... what did we learn?
Curtis: Don't piss Oliver off.
Thea: What are you doing here? You're not supposed to be here until nine.
Oliver: Our meeting was scheduled for eight.
(As Evelyn and Wild Dog spy on the Stardust brewing operation, Wild Dog holds up his mask.)
Wild Dog: It's better to ask forgiveness than permission.
Evelyn: You brought that?! What happened to this just being recon?
Wild Dog: We did the recon part.
(Oliver is in his office, talking to the widow of Lt. Conahan.)
Oliver: Trust me - we will get justice for your husband.
Adrian: (entering Oliver's office) I thought that was my job?
Oliver: Goodbye. (hangs up the phone) I'm sorry. You are-?
Adrian: Pissed. Royally. Off.
Oliver: I'm getting that. What I don't understand is who you are and what you're doing in my office.
Adrian: Adrian Chase. (offers his hand) Your new District Attorney.
Oliver: (taking the hand and shaking it) I'm sorry that we haven't met-
Adrian: I'm buried up to my eyeballs in motion practice and indictments with a staff who has barely made it past three rounds of budget cuts, so how about we save the pleasantries for the next fundraiser and get down to why I'm-
Oliver: - you're so pissed off.
Adrian: Royally! Remember Vertigo?
Oliver: Believe it or not, I tried to buy some once.
Adrian: Yeah, I believe it. Well, what's hitting the streets is a million times worse.
Oliver: Stardust. I'm not as out-of-touch as most people think. But I do have some work to get done, Mr. Chase, so why don't we get to the bottom of why you're so pissed off?
Adrian: I've been building a case against the dealer, Derek Sampson. I was going to flip him, but last night somebody killed him.
Oliver: A rival dealer?
Adrian: A vigilante.
Oliver: That doesn't sound like The Green Arrow.
Adrian: Not him. Some idiot in a hockey mask.
Oliver: ...I'm sorry. Did you say a hockey mask?
(Cut to Oliver throwing Wild Dog against a wall in their training space.)
Wild Dog: Everything okay, boss?
Oliver: A Stardust dealer was killed last night by a vigilante.
Wild Dog: Lots running around the city these days...
Oliver: Wearing a hockey mask?!
Wild Dog: Hey, short fry was there too!
Evelyn: Thanks, Rene.
Curtis: Rory and I didn't know. Just for the record.
(After Oliver and Felicity both chew out Wild Dog)
Rory: Is this normal behavior around here?
Curtis: More than I like to admit.
Curtis: Does he know? Rory, I mean?
Felicity: Know that I destroyed his hometown with a nuclear missile five months ago? No. It hasn't come up.
Curtis: You didn't destroy anything, Felicity. That was Damien Darhk.
Felicity: Darhk... sent the missile to Monument Point. I sent the missile to Havenrock. I killed tens of thousands of people.
Curtis: To save millions!
Felicity: Tell that to Rory's family.
(After Diggle threatens to kill him for not shutting up.)
Deadshot: Woo! There's that temper. Good thing your kid won't have to grow up with that like your brother did, huh?
John: What did you say to me?
Deadshot: How's all that going, anyway? You ever find that group that paid me to off him?
John: (quietly)They didn't...
Deadshot: What's that now?
John: They didn't want him dead. He was alive.
Deadshot: (snickers) Like I said - Hell of a world, ain't it. I mean.... wait. Why did you say "was alive" just now? Hmm? Hello? John? Anybody home?
John: Because I killed him!
(John flashes back to killing Andy Diggle.)
Deadshot: So all that hate you poured into me for killing your brother... you really should have been pouring into yourself.
Curtis: If the past four years have taught you anything, it should be that keeping secrets never works out!
Felicity: I don't even know, Rory! And what I do know about him is that he has several-thousand-year-old rags that he can use to mystically strangle me!
John: Stop digging. I'm not going to fight these charges.
Lyla: Johnny, that's insane!
John: Actually, it's the first thing that's made sense to me in a long while... ever since I killed Andy,
Lyla: ... you think you need to be punished.
John: I know I do. Lyla, I didn't have to pull that trigger. But I did. Something's wrong with me, baby.
Lyla: Then let me help you! We will figure this out. Together.
John: When I thought Lawton killed Andy, all I wanted to do was bring his murderer to justice. I still do.
Lyla: Floyd Lawton was an assassin for hire.You are a good man. And you're alive. Floyd Lawton is long dead.
John: No, Lyla, He's not. He's...
(John turns to the spare cot in his cell... and realizes there's no one there. No pictures of Lawton's daughter on the wall. He's been alone all this time.)
Lyla: Johnny? Johnny?
John: (turning back to Lyla) Stop fighting for me, Lyla. I have.
(After Ragman saves Curtis from one of Sampson's men.)
Mister Terrific: You are a freaky kind of scary.
Ragman: (his voice a raspy echo) It's the whispers,right? It just does that. I have no idea how. Your mask looks cool, by the way.
Mister Terrific: Thank you. Actually, it still feels a little weird on my face.
(Green Arrow forces Sampson to the ground in a wrestling hold. We hear the sounds of bones breaking but Sampson doesn't react.)
Sampson: Thought we'd been over this - you can't hurt me!
(Green Arrow grabs an arrow and slashes at Sampson's arm. He then gets up and begins strategically cutting Sampson at the wrist and ankle with the arrowhead's edge before driving the arrow through his other ankle. Sampson flails about, unable to move his arms or legs.)
Green Arrow: Just because you can't feel your tendons being sliced, doesn't mean you don't need them!
Evelyn: What kind of vigilante wears a hockey mask?
Ollie: I think it's cool.
Stardust is a new designer drug. Adrian Chase describes it as being worse than Vertigo (first seen in 112) and Wild Dog describes it as making PCP look like children's aspirin.
Rory Regan has a deep hatred of drug dealers and gang members, due to what they did to his hometown before it was destroyed.
Detective Billy Malone informs Green Arrow about a costumed man killing Lt. Conahan (501) and the same man threatening to kill Tobias Church if he moved against Green Arrow (502).
John Diggle is officially charged with Espionage, Murder and Conduct Unbecoming And Officer And A Gentlemen.
Deadshot is seen for the first time since 317. Despite a suggestion that he survived the incident that seemed to have killed him in that episode or may have been restored to life by Flashpoint, he is revealed near the end of the episode to be a hallucination caused by John Diggle's guilt over killing his own brother.
Thea is officially identified as Oliver's Chief of Staff.
Oliver refers to the events of 112 and how he once tried to purchase some Vertigo.
Rory Regan is not homosexual.
Felicity refers to the events of 421 and how - by saving Monument Point - she destroyed Rory Regan's hometown.
Curtis Holt was a biochemistry major in college.
John flashes back to 420 and his killing his brother Andy.
12 years earlier, Oliver picked up Adrian Chase's girlfriend.
Adrian Chase claims not to hold grudges.
Oliver officially appoints Quentin as his Deputy Mayor and refuses to accept Thea's resignation.
At the end of the episode, Evelyn, Rory and Rene are allowed into The Bunker/Arrow Cave for the first time.
Curtis refers to the events of 417 and how he had the flu when he first saw The Bunker.
Felicity tells Rory that she was responsible for redirecting the missile to Havenrock. He responds but just walking away from her in shock.
At the end of the episode, Lyla asks Oliver for help in breaking John out of prison.
In the flashback, Anatoly shows Oliver that the one of the men who he killed by proxy in his first test to join the Bratva was a killer and takes Oliver with him to inform the mother of another Bratva member that his death by the killer was avenged. This sets up Oliver's second test - standing idle and trusting that a group of Bratva members with knives will only cut his back without killing him.
John Diggle is being held in the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, Langham Penitentiary.
The Bottom Line
Much like Magenta - The Flash episode that aired one day before it - A Matter Of Trust's weakest link is its villain-of-the-week subplot. Unfortunately, Derek Sampson is nowhere near as interesting a villain as Magenta, so the episode stumbles in that regard. However, where the episode excels is in establishing the personalities of the new Team Arrow and developing the relationships between them. The friendship between Curtis and Rory is perhaps the best example of this but all of the subplots have their moments, with the exception of Thea's sudden stupidity in dealing with the press. Still, the fake-out with Deadshot and an amazing performance by David Ramsey make this episode one of the most effective bits of drama in the show's history.