Jordanian Netflix original AlRawabi School for Girls took the region by storm last week after shedding light on several important issues from a Middle Eastern perspective, primarily bullying.
SPOILERS AHEAD: The below points discuss elements from the show, including the final episode, so stop reading if you haven’t finished it yet!
Created by Shirin Kamal and Tima Shomali, the show’s themes are reminiscent of American counterparts such as 13 Reasons Why and Mean Girls, but its ending shocked viewers from the West as it didn’t shy away from depicting the uglier sides of the patriarchy, such as honor killings and violence against women.
It’s unclear whether the show will get a second season since it was released as a limited series, but there remain a lot of unanswered questions and unaddressed issues in the plot.
1. Who helped Mariam (Andria Tayeh) with that voice note blast?
When Mariam implemented the first step of her revenge plan in episode two by pulling the school’s fire alarm and broadcasting her bullies’ private voice notes for the whole school to hear, the camera shows us the hands of her accomplice, but we never get to see who the accomplice is. All the other students and teachers are in plain sight in the school yard. Judging by the hands (and the fact that it’s an all-girls school), we know the accomplice is a woman. The scene was filmed so ominously that it felt like a setup for a big reveal.
Our closest guess would be that it was the school’s custodian Somaya (Sameera Asir), who was also a victim of the bullies – particularly since the other phone in her hand is a cheap model rather than a smartphone, making the accomplice less likely to be a fellow student. However, if she’d gotten caught she would have risked losing her job. If that was an option, wouldn’t she have stood up to the bullies sooner? Plus, the accomplice was wearing a bracelet, and there is no bracelet on Somaya’s wrist when she appears in the next scene.
2. How were the three girls so sure they’d get Roqayyah (Salsabiela A.) alone at the school’s open day?
During the school’s open day in episode three, Mariam, Noaf (Rakeen Saad), and Dina (Yara Mustafa) proceed with part one of their plan: taking down veiled mean girl Roqayyah. For the plan to work, Roqayyah needed to be separated from her clique: Layan (Noor Taher) and Rania (Joanna Arida). Mariam, Noaf, and Dina already knew that the two other bullies had dates so it was safe to assume that Roqayyah would feel like a fifth wheel, but Laith (Layan’s boyfriend, played by Ahmad Hamdan) brought Roqayyah a blind date, Rakan, who incidentally takes one look at Roqayyah and leaves the event without bothering to even make up an excuse.
Had he stayed, the entire plan would have been compromised. Roqayyah and Rakan would have spent time together and she wouldn’t have bothered checking her phone to message the three girls’ fake alter ego, Tarek.
Rakan’s reasoning for leaving so abruptly and judging her so quickly (less than five seconds) made no sense within the plot and just seemed to occur to make way for the plan to work. This was either a writing issue, or there’s something we missed, because even the rudest person in the world would try to make small talk for five minutes before leaving the other person high and dry, especially since Roqayyah had shown interest in getting to know him.
On another note, it’s suspicious that no one paid any attention to Mariam, Dina, and Noaf: three underage girls snickering and laughing at a laptop screen for several hours should have attracted the attention of fellow classmates or a teacher.
3. Why did we only see Dina’s brother for two minutes?
Dina’s brother, Karim, appears for less than five minutes in episode four, and we’re surprised to discover that he is a charming, handsome young man. It’s hard to tell how old he is, but he seems to be in his early 20s. Dina treats him the way most teenage girls treat their family members, in a “get out of my room!” type of way.
Debuting his character so late in the show gave the impression that he would reappear later on and perhaps play a part in how the plot unfolds, but we never see him again. Perhaps he had appeared in another scene that didn’t make it to the final cut, but that makes the entire scene introducing him completely unnecessary.
4. Why did Mariam believe she was taking down Miss Faten (Nadera Emran) too?
The school’s principal, Miss Faten, was never a crowd favorite because she enabled Layan to continue wreaking havoc in the school due to her father’s connections, but her utter reluctance to contact him and the fact that he only showed up in episode six made viewers believe there would be a much juicier grand reveal. Were they secretly lovers? Business partners? Was there money exchanged under the table?
No, the ‘big deal’ that would ‘take Miss Faten down’ was that Laith, Layan’s beau, turned out to be Miss Faten’s son. Perhaps she was reluctant to contact Layan’s father out of fears that he’d connect the dots and find Laith, but if she knew about the relationship she would have nipped it in the bud since she was never a fan of Layan as a person.
Miss Faten was only ‘taken down’ because of Miss Abeer’s (Reem Saadeh) decision to contact Layan’s father in episode six, who threatened to shut down the entire school if anything happened to his daughter, so it wasn’t really Mariam’s plan that pushed the plot towards that direction.
5. What’s the age gap between Laith and Layan?
Laith’s age is never revealed; he looks young enough to still be in university, but definitely a school graduate since he hung out with Layan during school hours, so perhaps he’s in his early twenties. His character was seemingly set up to look like a bit of a creep, especially since he was so keen on being alone with Layan and tried to kiss her in the school’s supply closet during the open day episode.
However, in episode six he’s understanding when Layan tells him she’s not prepared to take the relationship further while they’re hanging out at his bachelor pad. This was considered a plot twist for many viewers, because setting up a character as a creep usually implies the character will stay true to that term later on, such as the guy who checked out Noaf by the pool before attempting to sexually assault her.
6. Finally, where is the supervision in this school?
After the initial attack on Mariam in the first episode, which left her badly injured, one would assume that the school would take better measures to keep an eye on its students – maybe surveillance cameras, more supervisors, anything, especially considering the school’s seemingly prestigious status.
However, bullying continues to take place at the school. Mean-spirited comments in the hallway are one thing, but for Layan, Roqayyah, and Rania to casually steal the inhaler of Noaf’s younger sister and go completely unnoticed? Or for Layan to print the pages of Mariam’s diary and litter the hallway with its pages – how did this happen without a single teacher taking notice?
The lack of supervision and the severity of these incidents ends up portraying AlRawabi as more of a free-for-all prison yard rather than a school.
If a second season of AlRawabi School for Girls is in the works, we hope the creators can help viewers find some closure!
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