In Three Words: Guilt, Growth, Trauma
So the much anticipated 2nd season of Netflix' Coming-of-Age Dramedy "On My Block is finally here! For those that haven't seen Season 1, why are you reading this? For those that have seen Season 1 but HAVEN'T read my review on it. You're forgiven, honest mistake. GO READ IT. I kept my S1 review relatively short, simply because I did it in anticipation of S2. I had the knowledge that the show was continuing, so I didn't want to go super in depth until I peeped the continuation.
Because that is what S2 truly is, a continuation of S1. Even the episode names continue being numbered. Where S1 ended on "Chapter Ten", S2 doesn't start again, instead, it's "Chapter Eleven". Both Seasons are clustered into it's own visual book. With that said, let's do a quick story recap in the lenses of the protagonist's individual stories.
Jamal found the "Roller World" money. (RWM from now on) A cool $200,000. Ruby (Spoiler alert) IS ALIVE after being shot by the guy Cesar was told to kill but didn't. Unfortunately, despite Ruby's best efforts to shield Olivia from the shooting, she didn't make it. Monse & Cesar are officially together and aren't hiding it anymore, which is great because Cesar is now without his brother, his gang and pretty much everybody else that isn't the core four.
The first couple of episodes deal with the shock-waves left from the night of the S1 finale. One thing I really love about this show from a technical standpoint is how the actions the characters have can either save them or hurt them in the long run. To name a couple examples. When Jamal, Monse & Cesar get taken to a Police station due to fighting over the RWM, it turns out that the Police Officer was the same one that gave Cesar relationship advice earlier in S1. In turn, the three teenagers give him relationship advice.
There are also several instances of this for Jamal such as having to basically work for the School Football Coach because the cameras caught him digging up the field. And more evident throughout the Season, the gnomes... The gnomes are sending for my boy Jamal!!! All because he jacked a (what I can only describe as) "stripper gnome".
I was waiting to see when they would get to Monse and her mother (who left her when she was three) and how that would develop. We don't have to wait long, the curtain drawer for "Chapter Thirteen" was very nicely done. Fun fact about Sierra Capri who plays Monse. This show is her first acting role! I'm not an actor myself so I don't want to get too technical about her performance. But I really love her authenticity! Especially in "Chapter Fourteen" where Cesar (with an elite level douche move) threatens to end the relationship if she chose to live with her now-cool-with mother. She plays the role very well. Big ups there. One more note on "Chapter Fourteen". The competition that Jasmine created to find Ruby a date. Boy that was some commentary on things that I would not like to get in right now. But I'm sure once you watch you'll know exactly what it is. Monse dives right in if you struggle figuring it out.
The second half of the season is where it truly gets juicy. Monse gains a valuable lesson in walking her own path, something that she has to get reminded of several times. The first comes from her temporarily moving in with her mother. I will admit, I found the whole thing a bit odd. I get how the mother seeks redemption but how does she explain Monse to her husband & children? "Oh yea, I had a family and left them but my daughter tracked me down and now she's coming to live with us!" Don't want to be too literal but I couldn't help thinking about that.
Anyway, back to the life lesson. Monse gains knowledge of her mother's fakery, admitting that she made the excuse that Monse's pops physically abused her. That wouldn't have happened if she didn't make the decision to live with her. Big up pops for allowing her to find out on her own.
And on the subject of that episode and every time a white girl came into contact with the gang in fact. WOW they're white... Just... Wow. You can put Mario's pregnant girl in the same boat. The cringe is too much. But in a good comedic way.
The story does well to dip in and out between the group and the people around them trying to get back to normal but something is always bringing them back into the dark. A very notable moment was during the School dance (Imagine living this life and trying to do normal School stuff! Impossible.) and Ruby has a complete breakdown once hearing the song that was on when he got shot. (Dej Loaf's "Changes". Boss song if you haven't heard it.) Which brings me to my next plaudit.
Jasmine (Jessica Marie Garcia) is an absolute star in this Season. Jasmine really came through to be a valuable asset to this show. Her constant roasting of Monse, alleviating the tension and especially being the best of friends to Ruby in a time where he needed a rock was one of the highlights of this Season. The moments between those two felt so genuine and I loved those scenes. It's what makes the show so great for me. The fun moments are fun but the writers are cognisant that these are supposed to be teenagers and they act as such.
But with that said, this isn't just a regular Teen/YA show. Even though they're teenagers, they're highly intelligent. I enjoy the moments where Ruby is the GOD planner, from heading up the Baby Shower to organising the Santos' party table. I like that OCD attitude that him & Jamal have laced in their character.
The last few episodes come thick and fast with the group rushing to help Cesar. Jamal has to give up Juanita the "Stripper Gnome". Once I knew we were done with the Gnomes, I didn't feel like the payoff was there. Jamal's reactions to thinking he's being haunted by them was funny but overall I didn't rate that specific theme that highly. But regardless if I liked it or not, it was relevant to the story. Ruby & Jamal take the money (including Monse's cut) and gives it to Spooky in hopes that he'll take his brother back. They leave with the doughnuts they brought. (because you can't be a guest empty handed. Love the small, unnecessary concessions these guys do.)
I won't get into the climax in detail for the sake of blabbering on, but it was very enjoyable. The plan was smart, the rewind was perfect. But the last scene of this series. I don't know. With the climax of "Chapter Nineteen", the majority of the final episode was a bit of a wet blanket for me. I was low-key disappointed with the Season cliffhanger. It definitely wasn't on par with S1. Maybe once S3 (HOPEFULLY) comes I'll like it more but my knee-jerk reaction to seeing the credits was a "Was that it?". Unfortunate, but not the worst finale ever.
Overall, this Season is a great continuation from the first. Jasmine really came out this Season which was a big plus for me. I said it in the S1 review and I'll say it again. I love these characters and love their progression. Especially Monse who seems to have come out of the Season truly wanting to change. (until she gets abducted along with the other three...) I did have small qualms here and there but overall this show is a gleaming example of Netflix investing in great content.
ANNOUNCE SEASON 3 AND BRING BACK THE GET DOWN PLEASE.