Nanda Parbat, Sex Club

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Note: Apologies for not posting a recap last week, I had every intention and then I fell ill. 

**This post contains spoilers for 3.20 of Arrow, “The Fallen.”**

There have been rumors floating around my Twitter feed that season 3 is just one giant alternate timeline gambit, and that thanks to The Flash and his ability to time-travel, we will be hitting the reset button and reliving the entire season in a newer, brighter, League-less fashion. I don’t believe that theory, honestly, but I want to believe it, especially after this week’s episode.

When you find yourself at a crossroads in your life, you should always consult a reliable, trustworthy person to advise you and guide you in your time of need. Say you’re considering a move to a new city, or you’re choosing between your dream job and the love of your life, or you work up the nerve to tell your hairdresser, “I want blunt bangs!” You need someone there whose sage advice will help you make the right decision, to guide you through the process, or to put a comforting hand on your shoulder and say “Oh honey, no, you don’t have the face for blunt bangs.” This person will ideally be:

– 100+ years old
– a ruthless murderer
– a relentless bully
– an absentee father
– creepy
– unable to pronounce his own name
– owner of a fountain of youth
– questionable at interior decorating
– incapable of being in a long-term romantic relationship

If you think this is a ridiculous set of criteria for a wise advisor, well, you must think you’re SO MUCH SMARTER than Felicity Smoak, who is a certified genius. Surely if such a person is good enough for Felicity, he would be good enough for you! So next time your life partner decides to go head up a team of ruthless killers, just hop on over to Nanda Parbat, confront “Race” al Ghul, then stand there all silent and defiant as he doles out some unsolicited advice about love, life, and the perks of the one night stand! Nothing can go wrong!

And hey, don’t forget to drug your partner against his express wishes after the awkward sex, so that you can determine what is best for him.

Honestly, the promotion for this episode was 30% Thea getting healed and then leaping out of the Lazarus Pit, and 70% “OLICITY SEX!” with blinky lights and glitter bombs. And as a metaphor for the entire season, BOTH storylines fell flat in an almost spectacular fashion. Thea was momentarily confused, then disoriented, then sad. Malcolm was there. It was hot. A lonely gray couch. “Oh look!” cried Ned. And the kingdom was his forever, the end. (Sorry if you don’t get that reference… I’m a little punchy.)

So naturally, even though Thea deserved to be the main focus of her own death episode (Oliver got three episodes dedicated to his death and resurrection!) production saw fit to just wring out every last vestige of characterization from Felicity and Oliver. Her reasons for going to him were twisted and felt gross, since it was on dubious advice, and the scene itself was stilted and… A friend described it as almost “wholesome” which is not exactly a word you want to ascribe to a steamy sex scene. There was a distinct lack of passion, and it was one of the few times that the viewer can feel themselves watching actors portray characters instead of watching characters be themselves. This is not the Oliver and Felicity of seasons 1 and 2. This is awkwardness, or discomfort, or phoning it in. Maybe it’s on purpose. Maybe the reset button people were right.

And honestly, fandom should be more upset about Felicity drugging Oliver against his will. If the roles were reversed and he had drugged her, that’s all anyone would be talking about this week. As it is, if they were going to the extreme of having Felicity do something so out of character, they should’ve at least used the opportunity to have Oliver rethink his actions in the past. If he didn’t like having someone else try to dictate what was best for him, maybe he would stop trying so hard to “protect” his sister, or Diggle, or Laurel, or Felicity. But of course Oliver, Professional Agency Stealer, immediately forgives Felicity once he quickly and miraculously comes to at the right time, because her heart was in the right place. They’re just baiting me now.

Felicity goes and cries on Laurel’s shoulder, which actually feels like a more meaningful moment for Laurel than anyone else, until you consider the fact that Laurel deserved to be part of the proceedings as well. Why did she have to stay home while the team trooped to Nanda Parbat? Is she part of the team or not?

I can’t believe that a year ago, we were deeply mired in the Mirakuru plot. Episode 2.20 was when Moira was killed, and that was an amazing and tragic episode. Everything after that was full throttle, and we knew we were heading for an epic showdown. What are we aiming for here, exactly? Who is Oliver’s enemy? It should be Malcolm Merlyn, or “Race” al Ghul, but he’s teamed up with both of them right now. What is the endgame? What are we hoping for? Because everything I hoped for is gone — there is nothing left of the characters I once loved, the characters I once wanted to defend to death. There’s no good story to tell when your characters have been compromised in unchangeable ways.

Besides John Diggle running around being all amazing all the time, there’s literally nothing else to talk about from this episode. Oliver is officially becoming the next R’as, and we’re supposed to be excited about that. I will say that the stunts were better in this episode, don’t say I can’t find a silver lining!

I can’t wait for this season to limp into the hiatus. I hope they spend that time getting their act together.

Bonus: Tumblr has a sense of humor about it.

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2 thoughts on “Nanda Parbat, Sex Club

  1. Great review! After such a disappointing season, I had so many hopes pinned on this episode making up for all of the lazy, uneven characterization this season. I was waiting for the arcs of this season to take a turn, to become clear, for anyone to learn something and for that lesson to put much of the terrible characterization that had come before it into some kind of satisfying perspective. In retrospect, that was unrealistically optimistic, but this episode didn’t even come close to doing any of that. These characters haven’t been on arcs this season; they’ve just been on these flat, redundant lines. By the end of last season, this show had built up so much good will in my book that it literally took 20 (mostly) disappointing episodes this season for me to stop defending it. 😦 Totally behind your hope that the show uses this hiatus to reflect and rethink. Maybe the promotion of a co-showrunner (who is a woman — yay!) might help? Then again, she did write this episode, so…

  2. Great review! I agree with most of it but I have point out a flaw in your tirade. When you say that Ra’s can’t pronounce his own name (yes, it’s hilarious but..) it’s not necessarily true. In the early Arabic dialect the ‘ah’ sound was pronounced ‘eh’, and the ‘sss’ sound was pronounced ‘shh’. So Ra’s becomes Reh-sh.

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