This week’s episode of Arrow, “Trust But Verify” brings us… well, more of what last week brought us, for the most part. The bad-guy-of-the-week this time around happens to be an old army buddy of Diggle’s, which makes things a little more complicated for the crime-fighting team. Diggle tries to work things out for himself, investigating instead of just letting Oliver put an arrow in the guy, but in the end it just reverts to the standard way of dealing with the problem and scratch one more name from Arrow’s master list.
As Arrow does his job, the rest of the world moves steadily onward. Malcolm Merlyn becomes a bit more prominent in the plot once more, making contact with both momma Queen and his own son. He continues his manipulative efforts to get Moira to do things his way, but through happenstance, little Thea Queen stumbles upon them chatting not once, but twice, leading her to suspect that they’re having an affair. While it may seem a silly little addition to the plot, it does give reason for Oliver to become suspect and will likely lead to the revelation of Walter’s unfortunate condition and Malcolm’s role in it all. As far as Malcolm and son Tommy go, a dinner date leads to some revelations about the elder Merlyn and gives us a bit of a look into his origins as the bad-ass archer he is and the connections to his dead wife.
Meanwhile, in the past, Oliver escapes from the bad guys on the island, at least for a time. He tries to infiltrate them, however, and gets himself caught again. By the time the minimal two-minutes of back-story is over with, we’re presented with one more mystery, but still little in the way of explanation.
Lots of little subplots are going around now, but to me they feel forced. I wonder if they’re just shoehorning in a few things to set up a finale this season or whether they’re looking at fleshing out these characters for eventual expansion in hopes of a second season. If they do wish to continue, expanded side-characters will be a necessity. Still, I do wish they’d spend more time fleshing out Arrow’s past instead of just feeding us two-minute bites.
Aside from the promise that they’ll be delving into Malcolm Merlyn’s origins, this week had little to offer that was new. With any luck, they’ll expand beyond the confines of the weekly bad-guy routine and create a more fleshed out story. Until then, I expect more of the same each week. Hopefully, they’ll surprise me, because it feels like the story has stalled and is in danger of running in circles.