Mark Watches ‘Slings & Arrows’: S03E03 – That Way Madness Lies

In the third episode of the third season of Slings & Arrows, Geoffrey’s promise is complicated, Ellen considers other options, Paul makes his move, and Richard stands up to Darren. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Slings & Arrows. 

Trigger Warning: For discussion of substance abuse, mental illness

Holy shit, this was a LOT. 


There’s not a single plot in this episode I didn’t find fascinating. I know that some subplots haven’t exactly wowed me over the course of the show, but lord, “That Way Madness Lies” knocks it out of the park over and over again. I wanted to start with Ellen because I actually felt slightly prepared for this turn of events. I’d theorized before that Barbara’s presence in Ellen’s life might push her away from New Burbage, and now we’re seeing the next step in that. Barbara might be irritating at times, but she’s not wrong about Ellen being unable to promote herself. Actua

lly, it goes further than that. Ellen is so comfortable in New Burbage that she hasn’t even tied her misery to being stuck in a small town. She’s always aspired for more, but she won’t chase after it.

I’m worried. I think she might actually leave.

Paul and Megan

Honestly, it’s quite Shakespearean that two people from opposite sides of a longstanding feud are now bridging that divide because of love. Well, they seem to be the only two willing to do that, but I do believe that there’s something more to these two productions than just the contrast. I’ll talk more about that later when I get to Charles, but Paul, like Sophie, also found the musical theater actors to be aggravating… right up until he fell for one of them. Now, he openly admits to Sophie that he’s probably biased because he’s attracted to Megan, but “That Way Madness Lies” does a lot to show the audience that these two productions suffer from a lot of the same problems. Staging. Frustrating directors. Short schedules. Artistic interpretation. Maybe if the two groups spent less time fighting, they might understand one another. I DON’T KNOW, JUST THINKING ALOUD. 


You know, he’s still a douche a lot of the time, but purely from a personal level, it was satisfying to see him learn how stories work. That’s something I’m still learning to this day, and it’s basically been my job for a decade. I also admit that it’s satisfying to see Darren Nichols proved wrong. Actually, not just that: he’s shown not to even understand basic story structure! SO MUCH FOR ALL THAT KNOWLEDGE, YOU WEIRDO. 

With Richard’s change, the musical seems to have finally found what it needed, and the reception to opening night was pretty good! I don’t know what that means for Richard or the other story lines, but I’m suspicious of the fact that this happened so early in the season. Richard got what he wanted… so now what? He didn’t deal with success well the first time around, so will he deal with it better this time?

Charles and Geoffrey

There’s been a lot of great television in the last years, and I’m so pleased the medium has given us so many mind-blowing stories and scenes. I know that if I ever end this whole Mark Watches project, the scene where Charles asks Geoffrey to inject him with heroin will probably be one of the top scenes I’ve ever seen. It is such a raw, vulnerable moment, one that is both shocking and deeply heartbreaking. This character is just… I’ve never really seen anything like this before. Slings & Arrows is dealing with mortality headfirst, and it pulls no punches. That makes for a deeply uncomfortable experience as Geoffrey tries to keep Charles under control and then fails to do so.

It doesn’t help that, as has been the case each season, Geoffrey’s life is falling apart. Ellen won’t ask Barbara to find her own place, despite that SHE CLEARLY HAS A LOT OF MONEY, and it means that even if Geoffrey tries to escape work at home, he can’t! So, while living on a couch in Charles’s apartment, he discovers just how far he’ll have to go to enable Charle’s final wish. It’s not just making sure Charles is taking his medication or keeping his cruelty in check. It’s everything that comes with an aging body. Is Geoffrey ready for that? And even if he is, is that fair? Is it fair for him to keep Charles in the production at this point? And now, Maria knows part of the truth, so how much longer can he keep up this charade?

I continue to be utterly entranced by all the therapy scenes, by the way. McTeague is PERFECT for Geoffrey, and through those, we get a lot more of Oliver and insight into how Geoffrey came to be. I loved that notion that every artist has a private audience, that they create to that audience. I don’t know that mine’s a single person, but I certainly hold myself to specific standards because I also want to impress others. Oliver looks to be that person for Geoffrey, but what about all that stuff about his father? We know virtually nothing about Geoffrey’s family. He doesn’t talk about them. So is the show going to delve into that?


The video for “That Way Madness Lies” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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