Thank god, no Quantico last night! I was so happy when I checked Hulu this morning and saw there was no new episode! It’s such a horrible way to start the week, struggling to get through a gosh-awful episode of television while blearily trying to braid my hair and brush my teeth after staying up too late on Sunday night.
But this also means nothing to post about this morning. Unless I post about my biggest problems with all the past episodes. Which isn’t hard, because I really just have 3 major issues.
Issue 1: Priyanka, blech! She’s like nails-on-a-chalkboard for me. I used to really like her, actually. In her first few movies, I found her either neutral (Mujhse Shaadi Karoge) or charming (Salaam-E-Ishq). And then somewhere around Don, I started to notice that I had seen everything she was doing before. And then I started to see her public appearances, and I realized I had seen everything she was doing there before too. Because she really just has one character she plays all the time, and it is that same character that she brings out for every interview. Big smile, tossed head laugh, talks fast, but never loud, or shrill, or emotional, never wrinkles her face, never cries, never scratches or blows her nose or does anything human. It is somehow both boring, and terrifying.
Issue 2: No one involved seems to know what to do with a desi main character. There doesn’t seem to be any interest in really exploring what that might mean. Yes, she is American, yes an Indian-American can be confident and intelligent and patriotic and sexual, but wouldn’t they also be other things that are specific to the Indian-American experience? The first shot of the pilot is her “om” symbol bracelet, but that has never been seen again. There has been no mention of her Hinduism as a religious practice, she hasn’t spoken Hindi (even when talking to her mother), and she has been white-washed in a million subtle ways, from her make-up to her jewelry to her accent. Oh, and her name is “Alex Parrish”. Which is a really weird name for a desi to have! I may be wrong about this, but my understanding is that Alex/Alexander/Alexandra are all modifications of “Alexander” as in “the Great”. And in India, his name was Indianized to “Sikander”. Like, there is a biopic of Alexander the Great that is titled “Sikander” and everyone in the movie calls him “Sikander”. It wouldn’t be a huge issue, except that it would be so easy to change and they didn’t and that means they really, really don’t care even a little bit. Why in the world couldn’t they have picked literally any other name for her? Alexander was “the Great” because he was the only historical figure for hundreds of years who was able to impact both European and South Asian culture. Naming her after ANYONE ELSE would have allowed for a legitimate argument that it was a European name with no Indian variant that was meaningful to her parents. Or, you know, just give her an Indian name!
Issue 3: No one seems to know what to do with India either. First, her mother is Indian and married to an FBI agent who was pretending to be a blue-color worker (I think. I am very confused by the timeline of her father’s life). How did they meet? Did he travel to India? Why? If she came to the US, what is her profession? How did she get a Visa? Current immigration rules would mean she was either highly educated and therefore could be sponsored by an institution of higher learning or an employer, or that she had relatives already in America who sponsored her, either of which would make her marriage to a white blue-color worker surprising. I would say the show-runners were ignoring a big hole in their plot, but I suspect it is more that it just didn’t occur to them as an issue because they didn’t know enough about the Indian immigrant community to realize it was unusual.
Second, it was revealed that Alex was sent to live with relatives in Bombay for ten years as a teenager. Which is okay I guess, a little unusual, would have some effect on her schooling and transcripts when she moved back to the US, but not that strange. But then she disappeared for a year and it turned out she was traveling to Pakistan and Iran so she could “see for herself” what was really happening in those countries, and that she had a good friend who was killed by a drone strike and who was a suspected terrorist. Okay, what? Really, WHAT?!? Ignoring everything else, Iran is just not that close to Bombay! And where was she hearing all this anti-Iran propaganda? In India, which has had a defense cooperation agreement with Iran for over ten years? Which, in fact, considers Iran one of its closest diplomatic and trading partners? Pakistan, sure, I guess, you would hear a lot of anti-Pakistani sentiment in India. But in terms of “seeing the truth”, wouldn’t it make a lot more sense to go to Kashmir? Where the truth is a lot harder to parse? And where she would be a lot more likely to meet a “not-really-a-terrorist-but-a-freedom-fighter” type? And where she wouldn’t need a passport to get across the border? And then my biggest problem, the implication that in order to meet a terrorist, she would have needed to leave Bombay. Which is demonstrably false, because Priyanka in real life actually does know terrorists (Sanjay Dutt, for instance (okay, I know Sanju’s situation is complicated, but he is legally a terrorist right now)) and she met them right there in Bombay where they are part of the powerful local criminal underground. So why not have Alex Parrish the character meet her saintly terrorist acquaintance at some local nightclub around the corner from her Aunt’s apartment? Seems a lot more believable then sneaking across the border to visit one of India’s biggest trading partners that she could have just visited legally!
Third, the most recent episode seemed to imply that her mother “Sita” might have been secretly working for Pakistani intelligence. How would that even work? She has enough family support around in India to be able send her daughter there for ten years, but none of them noticed that she was secretly trained by Pakistani intelligence? And, I assume, none of them would have supported it if they did notice, because her name is “Sita” so she is from a Hindu family. Does this go back to the flawed geography? Do they think “Sita” could have bopped over to Pakistan for a weekend, received all her training, and come home before her parents even noticed she was gone? I would say that “Sita” was a cover identity, except that she sent her daughter to live with family in India, so unless there is a whole elaborate family sleeper cell living in Bombay, all pretending to be Hindu but actually Pakistani agents, that doesn’t make sense. But oh my gosh, now I really want it to be true! Can you imagine? Alex rebels by sneaking across the border to Pakistan to find the “truth”, but the boring family she trusted were actually terrorists the whole time?
Oh well, only 13 episodes left. And with any luck, it will end with Priyanka’s death scene, and we can see if actual death is enough to make her smear her mascara.