Girl Meets World: Who Are You

***WARNING: This post contains spoilers for Girl Meets World episode, 2.12 “Girl Meets Yearbook.”***

Last week’s episode of Girl Meets World dealt with identity. Each of the younger characters were typecast in a role in their yearbooks. This led them to change personalities during the episode minus Lucas who was trying to get his friends to revert back to their former selves.

Farkle is the first to change. He doesn’t want to be known as just Farkle. He wants to be a regular guy. Over the series, Farkle is one who has questioned who he is the most. He has had more than one identity crisis. First with someone making fun of his turtle necks. Then this year he chooses Team Maya when the class gets detention. One reason being because he has a crush on Maya, but the main reason is he is not comfortable with being in a Farkle labeled box. He is still trying to find himself. He is the one who wins the MVP for this episode.

One of the best scenes was between Lucas and Farkle at the table talking to each other. Lucas wants the Farkle he knows back, but Farkle acknowledges while he still wants to take over the world he is changing. Earlier, Farkle hints at Lucas should know about people changing, but Lucas doesn’t get it. He doesn’t get that Farkle is referring to himself having already changed.

The group has only known one Lucas. The one who is alright with everything, but this season has shown Lucas wasn’t always like this. Farkle has observed and made note of the references about the Lucas pre-NYC. The show has given hints Lucas wasn’t always the outstanding guy he is now. He’s changed, and this group of friends has helped make maintain who is now. He maintained his cool when the bully was picking on his best friend, Zay. The closest slip up he had was when he went with Maya’s team during detention. It makes me wonder if one of the reasons why Lucas wants his friends to go back to normal is because he wishes to still be grounded by them.

The part of the show I didn’t enjoy as much was the girls. It appeared the writers were using the girls to push an agenda, and they self-contradicted themselves. The show wants to put Shawn and Katy together, and tried to prove it by Katy not being able to impersonate Shawn because she cares about him.

I would not have taken objection to this scene as much, if Katy warned Maya about this when Maya tries to impersonate Riley. Maya’s friendship with Riley is stronger than whatever Katy feels for Shawn. This leaves me with the question do we take Maya’s observations about Riley with a grain of salt? Maya is extremely close to Riley so it is very possible she may not see straight with Riley. If the writers wanted us to believe both Hart women, then they should have found a better way to express what they wanted without the self-contradiction.

Ant-Man: A New Hope

*Warning: This post contains spoilers to Ant-Man*

I was wary about Ant-Man, when it was announced that Edgar Wright had left the production. What piqued my interest with the film again was announcement of Evangeline Lilly being in the film. A part of my problem was I never really pictured any of the actors in a Marvel film, but I should have learned by now Marvel generally excels at casting. Michael Peña definitely gets the MVP for the film (as well as Paul Rudd’s face which never ages). His character made this film feel like a mix between a heist and superhero film. The whole knowing a guy scenes were a delight with him telling the story.

The film also didn’t hurt with Sam Wilson’s (Falcon) appearance. It joined the movie to modern day Marvel Cinematic Universe. The world needs more Falcon. I would also like to applaud the film with Scott Lang suggesting they call the Avengers to help out. The thing about watching single character films after the first Avengers movie is they generally leave me asking why the character didn’t call up their new buddies to help out?

The one thing that caught my main focus is some Marvel movies can actually give more than one origin story in a film. Captain America had two origin stories. The forefront story was Steve Rogers, but then we also learned about Bucky Barnes who became the Winter Soldier between the first film and Captain America: Winter Soldier.  Ant-Man dealt with Scott Lang’s origin, but it also showed Hope van Dyne’s story. I fell for Hope and believe there was not enough screen time with her character. The mid credits scene appealed to me because Hank Pym was finally giving Hope her own suit. It shows potential with her character.

Sebastian Stan who plays Bucky has a 9 picture deal with Marvel. If Marvel has this deal with him, why can’t they make Hope’s character a bigger player? Yes, Bucky is big in the universe, but so is The Wasp. If Marvel is going with a new direction with her then let Hope become a bigger part. We need more ladies in these films. Captain Marvel is eventually going to come out in theaters, but what about the other characters? Marvel needs to give more screen time for Hope, and they could easily. They don’t need to worry about an origin story. We already got it with Ant-Man.

The film altogether was enjoyable. I don’t think it was absolutely necessary for Scott and Hope to be caught kissing in the end, but it was still an enjoyable film.

*Other observations*

*I was absolutely surprised and excited to see a Hayley Atwell appearance as Peggy Carter, at the beginning of the film.

*Major kudos to giving the girl a train set. It showed a girl does not have to have a room full of dolls.

*I think Kevin Feige is starting to walk a thin line by not exactly including Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Grant Ward is taking over Hydra so it makes me wonder how Mitchell Carson is tied into Hydra with no association with Ward. Yes, I know there can be different subsets, but it is still becoming a fine line.

Mad Pitch: A Review of Pitch Perfect 2 and Mad Max: Fury Road

***Warning: This post contains spoilers for Pitch Perfect 2 and Mad Max: Fury Road***

Last weekend, my drive-in put together Pitch Perfect 2 and Mad Max: Fury Road on the same screen. At first glance, it may seem odd these two were put together. One film is a comedy and the other is action packed, but the main commonality of these two films are ladies dominating the screen time. They show a variety of ladies in these films because not every single woman is going to be the exact same copy of each other. There will always be differences in personality alone. If we only have ladies who take charge and look hot while doing it, then a film becomes a copy of films before it.

Pitch Perfect 2 is all about the ladies. They are facing the the problem of the Barden Bellas becoming a thing a of the past, and the only way for them to survive is winning the World Championship. All through out the movie I kept thinking about Community‘s Christmas episode, “Regional Holiday Music,” where the study group had to become the glee club. I knew the stakes were supposed to be high, but I wasn’t able to be fully invested in it. It was the same plot with the original movie. The Bellas had to win again. They kept talking about the World Championship and met their enemy, but it was a background plot. I didn’t care about who won this time around. I cared about the interactions of the characters.

The film did a good job of making the first part disjointed. It didn’t flow, and it showed the group was no longer together. They had lost who they were as a group. Instead we were getting individual stories of Beca, Amy and the new girl, Emily.

For me, the best part of the film was when they went on the retreat. It is where the synchronization started because they were becoming a group again. Before this happened, the tone of the Bellas had changed (not for the better). Yes, they were a group who was trying to get back to the top, but the heart was gone. It came back when they started to open up and supporting each other.

This movie felt like a sequel. Someone would not be able be able to come into the movie without seeing the first and understand everything that was happening. It is a continuance of the story, but the problem with sequels is the first movies are well loved it is hard for the second film to live up to the first.

A sequel doesn’t always have to be bigger to be better, and Pitch Perfect 2 movie had this example with the Bellas trying to be bigger in order to be better. However, I don’t think the movie necessarily lived up to their own example. They added more characters, but the some of the characters felt typecast. They went for the easy jokes.

Then there is the music. While I don’t hate the majority of songs on the film, it did not make me want to buy the album immediately after I left the theater. The first film had me jumping up and down singing right along with the songs. I got into the film. This time I left the theater questioning the credibility. Why would the majority of groups from all around the world be singing an American song? If it was a national championship, it would be comprehendable for multiple groups singing the same song, but this was a World Championship. I know timing is a factor, but the movie failed for me with this part.

Overall it was interesting to see a film take a reverse stance from several other films. The ladies were the main focus, and the only times the guys were on screen they were playing the love interest for the girls. They were the supportive cheerleaders.

Mad Max: Fury Road didn’t get the guy cheerleaders. What they got was Imperator Furiosa saving the ladies from Immortan Joe. While this movie was the fourth Mad Max film, no one had to see the first three films in order to know what was happening with this film. This film is a simple action flick that will give the audience an adrenaline rush.

There were no long explicative scenes of what was happening. The film didn’t need them. It let the audience know what they needed to know piece by piece. It was fluid this way, and comprehensive. There didn’t need to be any scenes of Joe treating the women as sex slaves. The “We are not things” written on the wall was enough to understand what was happening. There were no scenes of rape happening on the screen because a person does not need to be shown the act actually happening in order to process a person is being raped. They are able to grasp it from what the ladies wrote and then later seeing them cutting off their chastity belts with bolt cutters. We know the ladies were treated as objects, and they were proving to themselves and us they were human beings who were not inferior.

The women held so much power in this film. Max and Nux had to become accepted by them, or they would not have been able to join forces with them. They wouldn’t have earned one of the few motorcycles because they would not have deserved them.

It was a “lovely day” when I watched this film. Joe and his brothers had made everyone inferior to them, but this film showed the ones considered inferior were in fact superior. The most beautiful part was Max and Furiosa not falling into the concept of the guy and girl hating each other at first, and then falling in love by the end of the film. They were comrades in arms, both of them seeking redemption.

The film didn’t give deep depth or draw out the characters, but it didn’t need to. It gave a good adrenaline rush. It succeeded my expectations, and was very tactful. The film is rated R and George Miller could have gone all Game of Thrones with graphics, but he kept it tasteful. After all, the film is mainly for the car chases with drummers and a guitarist with a flame thrower guitar thrown in.

The most beautiful thing about these two films is they would not have been better if the genders have been reversed. They proved women can be a major factor of a film without always being sexualized. They can be equals. They can be the ones in the driver’s seat with the guy in the passenger’s seat supporting them.

This is Your Sword

**This post contains spoilers for episode 3.22 of Arrow, “This is Your Sword”**

I never thought I’d see the day when Thea Queen was the only one making any sense on this show, but this is that day. And I’m mostly glad that the one person everyone tries to protect and coddle is the only person not pulling her punches, so to speak. She never asked Oliver to sacrifice himself, and I’m glad she finally said it out loud. You go, Thea!

This episode of Arrow started with a particularly inelegant reveal that Oliver is not truly brainwashed — I am so surprised that six weeks of… starvation? waterboarding? didn’t make him completely forget his friends and family — by having him visibly react to the news that Maseo is the one who supplied R’as al Ghul with the same deadly virus that killed his son, Akio. I want to reiterate one more time that it does not matter that Oliver isn’t brainwashed. He’s still killing innocent people and he still endangered Lyla’s life, for the greater good doesn’t cut it anymore.

I think this show made a mistake when they tried to trend away from the gritty on-the-streets vigilantism that put them on the map. They’ve been trying to go Bigger Picture by introducing the League and getting R’as al Ghul interested in Oliver on a personal level (which still makes no sense) so that now Oliver is making decisions for everyone. He’s not Superman, and he was never supposed to be. He’s supposed to be a localized vigilante, the protector of his own city, who only gambles his own life for the greater good. We can’t even count on one hand the other lives he’s gambled this season, and for what? The characters barely mention Sara anymore, I can’t even remember the last time Oliver talked about her. Isn’t that where this all started? With Sara’s death? By Malcolm’s hand? But no one’s thinking about Sara anymore (Laurel is, of course, I know she is, so don’t attack me, Laurel fans!) and no one except Thea is holding Malcolm accountable for bringing this mess to their doorsteps.

Speaking of Malcolm, he’s the one who is sneaking to Nanda Parbat, which I guess is next door to Starling City based on how quickly everyone always gets there, to help Oliver with his infiltration of the League. Of COURSE the faux-brainwashing was Malcolm’s idea. Oliver gets the bright idea to send Tatsu, a woman none of his friends have ever met, to convince his team to come to Nanda Parbat and destroy the virus. Tatsu, who is amazing, talented, passionate, and smart… takes time out of her busy day to tell Felicity that she was Oliver’s last thought on the mountain. More and more, this is feeling like fanservice and not like authentic character moments.

I have to say that part of the reason this show is such a slog now is that Felicity is constantly. crying. She used to be the light of the show, but now the show has taken that concept in a more literal direction and they’re using her as the Optimistic Beacon of Hope that Oliver is still out there. Laurel accuses Felicity of being sanguine when really, Felicity is just telling herself that the Oliver she loves is dead now. This show was better when there was balance, when there were light moments of humor and banter in between the darkness of death and revenge, and Felicity was often the source of that sort of light. Now it’s all just constant doom and gloom all the time, much like my reviews.

Nyssa continues to treat her impending nuptials as if it’s her execution, and things only get worse when R’as decrees that she will bear Oliver’s child. *shudders* The League is so gross, and R’as is the grossest of the gross. He continues to threaten Nyssa with torture and pain if she doesn’t go through with the wedding, so really, he and Malcolm are probably in the running for the Father of the Year award on this show.

There’s a pretty good fight sequence in the field where the team successfully takes down the plane that supposedly bears the virus, but it turns out R’as still has the virus and they’re all taken into custody, where Malcolm promptly tries to turn on everyone. In a way, it’s pretty amazing. But mostly awful.

The most hilariously tone-deaf aspect of this episode — of the entire season — is how the drama hinges on Felicity finding out about Oliver’s upcoming wedding. She is crushed. Just devastated. The music swells, she looks thunderstruck and heartbroken, and you’re made to believe that this is it, this is truly the worst thing that’s ever happened to Felicity Smoak.

A wedding. A sham wedding. She’s devastated by a sham wedding, when Oliver’s been threatening and kidnapping and killing for the last few weeks. Those things are just sad, but a wedding, whoa boy, THAT is the true tragedy. (She’s gonna be hysterical when she finds out about Oliver’s secret Central City kid.)

Things get even more tone-deaf when Oliver pulls Diggle aside to try to talk to him and Diggle rips him a new one about trust and respect, and how Oliver has lost both of those things as well as his friendship. I really, truly hope Oliver’s actions from last week are long-reaching, as David Ramsey has hinted, because I’ve just about had it with everyone forgiving Oliver for these “morally grey” decisions.

And then the whole Al Sah-Him contrivance unravels even more when R’as, after Malcolm’s betrayal, finally considers the possibility that Oliver might not be totally loyal to him and the League. You know. After he spent a year bullying and torturing Oliver into joining the League. R’as makes Oliver unleash the virus on his friends, and they all cry and scream at him as he seals the room.

They all fall asleep very slowly and dramatically as Oliver weds Nyssa. We are genuinely supposed to believe they are dead, and then it’s totally ruined by the promos for the next episode, where everyone is very much alive — and angry.

There was nothing really wrong with this episode (aside from the tone-deaf scenes, which at this point are just part and parcel of the storyline) except that it’s a pretty lame climax to a very lame season-long story arc. We’re supposed to care about Malcolm’s motivations, but we don’t. We’re supposed to be cheering for Oliver, but we’re not. Felicity, the “normal” point of view for the viewer, is too wrapped up in dramatics and hysterics to really follow, and Laurel was pretty much sidelined emotionally, again, even if she did have more screentime in this episode. Digg is the only one we can really relate to, but we’re probably not, as the viewers, supposed to be so angry with Oliver.

Other notes:

– RIP Maseo Yamashiro, who was killed by Tatsu. He thanked her for freeing him from his prison. I feel terribly for Tatsu, but I could watch an entire episode of Katana fighting bad guys.

– Ray secretly transferred ownership of his company to Felicity. I’m not willing to suspend my disbelief long enough to buy that Felicity would sign documents without reading them, and I still distrust Ray enough that I feel like these are for nefarious reasons, even though the writers insist he’s a Nice Guy.

– Nyssa tries to stab Oliver during the vows, which makes her my new hero.

– Despite Laurel being kind of relegated to a backseat role, Katie Cassidy really held her own in this episode.

– There was a cute Felicity scene during the big battle where she tossed her broken tablet at a bad guy and momentarily grinned when she thought it worked to stop him — until he turned to reveal an arrow in the back from Malcolm Merlyn. Felicity: “Oh. That makes more sense.”

– Yes, Oliver and Nyssa are officially married, and yes, Oliver took time out of his honeymoon to go to Central City last night and help Barry with his Reverse Flash problem. I can only imagine the Flash writers sitting down to write this episode with a couple of Arrow writers and being like “Wait… WHAT did you to do your own show? How are we supposed to work with this?”

– Celebrate! The one great thing that came out of this episode is that Thea is now Arsenal! I’m gonna cling to this morsel with the hope that next season will be better than this one.

Al Sah-Him

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**This post contains spoilers for episode 3.21 of Arrow, “Al Sah-Him”**

I have great news! I didn’t hate every single aspect of this episode! It’s refreshing, really, because I know these reviews have gotten very doom-and-gloom of late, and the silver lining is that we are almost at the end of the line. Our long national nightmare known as the R’as al Ghul storyline will hopefully be a distant memory. (That’s me being optimistic.)

How great were Nyssa and Laurel? And I’m not even saying it in a “Nyssa was great, and Laurel was there!” kind of way, I mean I genuinely liked both of them in this episode. I think for a long time what Laurel really lacked was a good dynamic to bring a new dimension to her. All we see is her dealing with grief and fallout from other people’s actions (Oliver, Tommy, Quentin, the list goes on and on and it’s filled with men) and reacting accordingly. I didn’t always agree with her reactions, and eventually it got redundant because she never got new material. It felt like every time Katie Cassidy got a new script, it basically said “grief and anger” and that’s about it. She got a reprieve for a while when she got to actually be a sister when Sara was around, but then Sara was tragically taken from us and Laurel amplified her grief and anger. Even her short-lived arc with Ted Grant (why did he leave?) was fueled by vengeance.

But as we saw on The Flash a couple weeks ago, it IS possible for Laurel to smile, to banter, to talk about something other than all of the injustices of the world, even if it’s just for a minute. Cisco Ramon has that effect on people. And thankfully, someone got the message because we got to see Laurel palling around with Nyssa, eating fast food and sipping milkshakes and just chatting like normal friends. It really demonstrated that when Laurel isn’t written just to frame Oliver’s story, she’s capable of being dynamic and interesting.

It doesn’t hurt that it was fun to see Nyssa out of her comfort zone, dipping a fry in a milkshake and making an amazing face of intrigue and slight disgust before she tasted it.

Even when it all went downhill, and Laurel finally broke the news of Oliver’s ascension to the League Throne, we got to see the best aspects of both characters as the events played out. Laurel stayed fiercely loyal and protective, searching for alternatives and refusing to back down, while Nyssa bravely accepted her fate and went off to battle like the warrior we know and love. Laurel’s refusal to trade Nyssa was endlessly endearing, and I’m pleased to say that the only good side effect of this whole R’as al Ghul fiasco is that I’ve softened my opinion on the Black Canary.

So that was the great news. Unfortunately… that’s the extent of it.

When an episode starts with Oliver stabbing a hallucination-version of Diggle through the heart, that doesn’t make me think “Oh, thank God, it was just a hallucination!” It makes me certain that Oliver is capable of killing his best friend and brother. They did this to raise the stakes for the showdown later in the episode, but after a weak 30-second montage of Oliver getting tortured and laying sideways in a cell, it’s just awful. I find it hard to believe that someone who survived on an island for two years (at least) was so easily breakable — that it was so easy to make him stare blankly at his friends and family.

He’s instructed to remove his rival heir to the throne without mercy, and Nyssa warns Diggle and Felicity before going to face the fight. They’re all horrified when Oliver shows up on a rooftop and doesn’t seem to recognize Diggle and Laurel.

The hard part about watching Felicity and Diggle’s steadfast faith in Oliver’s ability to withstand brainwashing is how wrong they end up being. Either Oliver really isn’t as strong as they think he is, or he is only pretending to be brainwashed; if it’s the latter, then he still abducted the mother of his godchild and almost fatally stabbed Diggle in the ensuing gun-and-swordfight. Either scenario is likely, because let’s face it, this wouldn’t be the first time Oliver endangered loved ones For The Greater Good.

But the long-reaching consequences of his brainwashing are damaging to the structure of the show, because Oliver is a powerful weapon in his own right. If he’s capable of being manipulated and brainwashed into a killing machine (sort of like Roy when he was on Mirakuru) then that means he’s innately vulnerable for the rest of the series. The conceit of the show up to this point was that Oliver’s heart was his biggest asset as a hero. If that can be taken away by a few weeks of vague “reprogramming techniques” then what do we even have to hold onto as viewers? So really, either scenario is terrible in my mind.

How many times are we going to have to hear “Oliver, this isn’t you!” before they accept that this is who he is now. And I don’t mean this expressionless, wooden R’as al Oliver from this episode, I mean the Oliver we’ve been dealing with ever since Sara died. He’s lied and manipulated and treated his friends and loved ones like crap, because he’s been convinced all along that he knows what’s best for everyone. When Felicity extends this plea to Oliver in that warehouse, she’s wrong. He’s standing there facing off with his friends in a R’as al Ghul costume because that is who he is. There was no cosmic force of events that led him to being in that place at that time — it was all choices he made on his own, aided and abetted by Malcolm Merlyn.

Increasingly, Felicity’s insistence of Oliver’s steadfastness and strength of character began to ring false as the episode wore on, and not because she didn’t believe it, but because we were tired of hearing it. We are tired of hearing the excuses, even from Diggle, for Oliver’s actions over this season. At this point, I can’t think of an endgame or resolution that will make me okay with anything that’s happened.

If things weren’t whisky-tango-foxtrot enough as it was, the episode ends with R’as sparing Nyssa her life at the last minute (for the head of an assassin organization, he sure is sparing a lot of lives lately) and then demanding that Oliver marry Nyssa to “unite our families.” Nyssa, of course, would rather die, and I don’t totally blame her. She definitely got the crappy end of that deal.

Lastly, the family scene with Thea, Felicity, and the Diggle family was admittedly cute. It’s really important that the show is finally having Thea and Felicity communicate closely. It’s also important to note that Thea is in infinitely more pain than any of the rest of them. Oliver was the last vestige of her family, he was her champion and ultimately her hero, and the only reason she doesn’t feel alone in the world right now is because of John and Lyla thoughtfully taking her in. This is something that I absolutely want to continue seeing, no matter what happens with Oliver in the future, because I am sick and tired of seeing Thea be treated as an afterthought or a pawn by these writers.

Other notes:

– The Canary Cry was a letdown. Sorry.

– Did anyone else notice the weird blocking in this episode? A lot of staring off in weird directions, walking across rooms pointlessly, turning away from other characters at odd beats… it was all very awkward.

– R’as mentioned Damien Darhk, which has caused the internet to predict that we finally know the identity of Felicity’s long-lost father. More importantly, he’s presumably the leader of H.I.V.E., thus he’s likely the Big Bad for season 4. Here’s hoping they cast this villain correctly.

“What is a black and white milkshake?”

“I will not cower in the shadows, waiting for death.”

– In the flashbacks, they manage to take down an attempt to release a virus, but unfortunately it’s already taken hold in Hong Kong. The episode ends with Akio falling ill.

– Lyla was a total badass during the fight scene.

– I love that Thea was the one to stop Oliver in the end.

– Oliver is killing now, by the way. Ultimately, Tommy’s death meant nothing after all.

– Felicity finally breaks the news to Thea that Roy is alive, and she gives Thea his contact info and the choice to move away and start fresh, or to stay in Starling City and continue grieving.

– And, surprise! R’as wants Oliver to unleash the exact same virus from the flashbacks on Starling City! Because apparently Starling City is a modern-day Alexandria! Time truly is a flat circle.

Tomorrow night: going to the chapel and we’re gonna get maaaaaarried! It’s funny to me because I actually imagine it going a lot like any of those KGB spy marriages. Or, like, Oliver and Nyssa sitting in marriage counseling. C’mon. If you don’t laugh, it’s just tragic.

“You didn’t see that coming?”

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**This post contains spoilers for Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” under the cut. Proceed at your own risk.**

Believe it or not, I don’t ask a lot of my superhero shows and movies. Pretty much all I want is character consistency. Since I come from a place of mostly ignorance regarding the original comics, I have no expectations for big character moments or backstories outside of what I’ve already seen in previous episodes or movies. At the end of the day, I am the easiest fan to win over. The banter and action sequences and sweeping shots are just bonuses to me — just keep the characters true to themselves, and give them room to evolve as people. It’s really an easy task, right?

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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.