It’s the end of an era and the beginning of something new.
A chapter closed on the Core Four’s life, while the series managed to leave things open-ended and relatively hopeful for this group of friends who have been through hell and back together.
It served the purpose as a conclusion, but it also left us wanting for more, and maybe it’s the inevitable result of a coming-of-age series where the conclusion is also when the lives of the characters we’ve grown to love are only just beginning.
It’s natural to want more, some flashforward to give you some inkling of where they landed. You want that sneak-peek into the future to know that while life isn’t perfect or without challenges for its entirety, the kids are alright.
The Final Chapter was sufficient and unmistakable as a conclusion but still felt incomplete. But maybe that was the point — and that’s what Abuelita was getting at with her conversation with Jamal.
However heavy-handed and convoluted that dialogue exchange was regarding hitting home the point, Blow and Gray were freaking incredible during that scene.
In that sense, perhaps that’s why it was Abuelita’s repast that was the setting for the final moments of the season instead of graduation.
The group is graduating from their childhood and a life chapter, and it has nothing to do with schooling. And Abuelita knew that she left these kids with all the unconventional wisdom that she imparted upon them.
I’m going to keep this short and sweet because that’s what my Abuelita called me. To an old broad, who was never really old, who wanted to be celebrated, not mourned, and who showed us all how to live. To Marisol. You will be missed.
But she also slipped in a final gift. It was the gift of an adventure, a new mystery to solve.
Abuelita gave them a final present that ensured that despite heading in different directions, they’ll always have something that binds them together.
The friends will forever have this adventure that leads them back to each other. And she knows it’s not something that they can resist.
In a way, that map that may or may not lead to the missing Rollerworld money is a little slice of childhood and adolescence and Abuelita’s way of preserving that for the group despite them growing up.
You have to love her for it.
It’s a tough pill to swallow that the series and Freeridge lost two of its best OG’s in one season. Ironically, it was the pair who protected the Core Four the most.
It’s their lasting legacy, and to follow Abuelita’s words about life, journeys, and destinations, their purpose.
We can confidently say that the Core Four won’t let Oscar and Abuelita’s lives and deaths be in vain. They’ll carry them and their life lessons forever.
They’ve shaped and molded them into the young men and woman they are today, and that sure as hell counts for something. And given their respective journeys and multiple endangerments, it’s a comfort to know that the teens survived life in their hood — it’s what people do every day.
Jamal: I just don’t know the point of anything anymore.
Abuelita: That’s the point.
Jamal: The mystery? That there is no point?
Abuelita: That you don’t know the mystery. It’s not about the destination, it’s the journey.
Jamal: What if I go on the wrong journey? I need a purpose to help me find the right one that’s what I’m missing. My purpose will help me find the right journey which will lead me to the destination.
Abuelita: No, purpose comes after the destination. Your purpose is the point of the journey, not the motivation for it. Purpose can be a mystery your whole life. Sometimes it isn’t revealed until you’re gone. Like I said. You don’t go looking for your purpose. Your purpose finds you. The way you found me. You and your crazy schemes have given me a reason to live. To keep me fighting in the face of death.
It was a damn good season for Abuelita, and Peggy Blow is the prized jewel of this season. She shares that title, fittingly, with Brett Gray.
You genuinely see the fondness they have for each other and how much they must’ve enjoyed working together during their scenes. Their final teary-eyed exchange, in which a tough Abuelita explained just how much Jamal enriched her life was moving beyond words and one of the finest moments of the series to date.
Jamal consulted Abuelita with all of life’s problems more than anyone else. And she relied on him in ways that she never fully expressed into her final scene with him.
Abuelita always had a special bond with Ruby and favored him more than her other grandkids. And hell, it’s not like we ever see the others anyway, so it makes sense.
Abuelita: I’m sorry my note scared you. Am I still your favorite abuelita?
Jamal: Hmm. Yes. Always. And my other two are dead.
However, her dynamic with Jamal was something different. So under any other circumstances, it would feel bizarre that the most poignant, heartfelt scenes leading up to her death weren’t with her grandson — here, it’s within reason.
It’s not often that series take full advantage of exploring the nuances of an intergenerational friendship. It’s rarely covered at all, but Abuelita and Jamal’s dynamic is one of the greatest.
She was the one to reassure him that no one was after him, and it was hilarious to see him confront her about the scary notes while sneaking her weed into the hospital room.
And where else can you see teenagers blitzing with their grandmothers, pseudo or otherwise?
They’ve always had such an unconventional and candid relationship; it made all of their scenes staples of the series. The series was smart to play to that strength all-season.
So much of the season felt aimless, but they developed Jamal confessing to Abuelita that he missed his old self nicely.
You could see these two versions of himself battling it out and at times in conflict with one another all season, and then lovable, weird Jamal prevailed.
It also made sense that Jamal was struggling with how simple and easy things were. Do you think that was also a statement about the season as a whole?
Jamal didn’t know what to do with a life where things came easy to him; there were no adventures or mysteries, nor threats to his life. The relative normalcy felt foreign to him.
But at least he nurtured his weirdness.
Chivo left a Spooky gnome for him. It was a nice callback to the “catch a ghost” fun between Oscar and Jamal. And it at least found a home with Cesar, who could appreciate it.
And we discovered that Kendra was in that Escalade following him (that’s a relief because the anxiety of watching Jamal book it down alleyways in a Black Lives Matter shirt through Freeridge was too much).
Jamal will forgo college to join an incubator program with his hero, and that’s good for him.
He got his answer to his adventure after all.
But all of that discussion also served as commentary about this final season. We were supposed to respect the journey.
I guess that’s why the mysterious Rollerworld money disappearance didn’t have a conclusion. And we don’t know who shot Oscar because sometimes shit happens, and there is no justice.
We’ll never know who the 187 gang is, and perhaps it’s to show how that part of life never goes away or dies. The cyles keep going no matter what changes around them.
Maybe the increase in Prophet$ trickling out of jail means they and the Santos will be at war again, but the group no longer is involved in that, so it doesn’t matter.
And Latrelle aside, the series never did right itself from the Black versus Brown tangled web of implications from that particular storyline among the gangs that always plagued the series and garnered examination and criticism.
Apparently, Big Foot was the perfect alibi, Cuchillos’ murder is unsolved, and her men have no interest in vengeance.
Instead, whether it was Jamal’s prom planning or Ruby’s obsession with having one day of teenage basicness, the teens got to be just that, teens.
The montage of the others helping Cesar raise his grades so that he could graduate made you smile. Thanks to everyone, Monse in particular, he succeeded.
And he’s headed to a community college in Portland, and he’ll stay with Isabel and his niece Lydia. Although the heat around Cesar seemingly vanquished after the drive-by with Oscar, there’s comfort in knowing that he’ll get the hell out of that house in Freeridge and get a fresh start.
It’s what Oscar wanted for him, and the scene of Oscar helping Cesar with his tie was such a beautiful touch. Oscar promised to be there for Cesar por vida, and he is. Again, Macias and Tinoco have done such an incredible job depicting this brotherhood and eliciting all the damn tears!
Oscar: Hey, you got this, mano. Don’t overthink it. It’s over, under, pull. Come on. Over. Under. Hey, none of that shit. Focus.
Cesar: Oscar, everything you tried to tell me. I heard. I listened. I’m going to be somebody. I’m gonna make you proud.
Oscar: You already have.
It’s hard to say what happened with Cesar and Vero. It seemed like their relationship was over, but prom gave the impression she was attempting to date him again.
Cesar expressed that he needed time to be single, and despite Monse’s claims, she got hung up on Cesar again. The two didn’t get to go to prom together, but they had a few special moments that imply that there’s an opening for their journey to continue.
They left the prospect of these two getting back together open-ended and hopeful.
Monse’s personal arc outside of Cesar never took off or amounted to much. She read Julia’s book, only to conclude that her mother was a contradictory, messy, flawed woman who was both versions of what Monty and Bryan knew.
The entire thing with Julia was offputting, only to get this unsatisfactory response to a woman who wasn’t worth any of this focus in the first place.
Cesar: Everything okay?
Monse: Yeah, I just never thought I’d be at prom like this.
Cesar: I never thought I’d be here at all. I could never really envision my life that far ahead.
Monse: And now?
Cesar: I see a future.
Monse: Am I in it?
Cesar: If I’m lucky.
Monse: If we both are.
She never answered for any of her issues or the pain she inflicted on Monse, and nothing profound came from this book that she wrote, so why were we expected to care?
It resulted in Monse proposing they form a family of their own with Bryan and the kids and her father and his wife and new child, and it felt empty and unnecessary.
And Monse went from the girl who encouraged Jasmine to opt for co-ed dorms over a women’s only one — to the girl who plans to attend an all-girl college after she takes a year to write her memoir.
The memoir portion suits Monse, and she’s right about having lived a lifetime in such a short period. Given Monse’s status as the group writer, all of this serving as chapters in her life, and the effort they went to title every episode as if it were a novel, I thought the final episode would end with us finding out this WAS her memoir.
Jasmine: So should I do dicks or chicks?
Monse: For Prom?
Jasmine: No, for dorms! Should I do single-sex or co-ed dorms?
Monse: Wait, you are seriously asking me this question?
Jasmine: You’re right, you’re right. Dicks. It’s always dicks.
Monse: See, there’s my girl!
Couldn’t you have imagined a final scene of an adult Monse turning the final page of her published memoir fondly as the camera pans out to her with her own family or with adult versions of the boys? Even if it was a scene of Ruby closing Monse’s memoir, it would center him as the show’s lead.
We could’ve also got Monse looking up and smiling at the group who attended a reading of her novel — or a group of young faces not unlike her and the boys who realized at that moment that they weren’t alone?
And Jasmine’s story was a bit heartbreaking. She became an example of how life can keep people from escaping.
Jasmine deserved to go to Berkeley. She earned it, and her excitement over it made her face light up and the viewer smile.
Lupe: La primera to get into college. I’m so proud of you.
Jasmine: Tia, what’s wrong?
Lupe: Beto and his husband are moving to Dallas. He got a huge job.
Jasmine: Oh no, we’re all leaving you. I’m so sorry but itll be okay we’ll all be back. I promise.
Lupe: Mija Beto’s not coming back.
Jasmine: Of course he is, you’re his mom.
Lupe: He’s not coming back because I’m going with him. I’m going to Dallas.
Jasmine: But who’s going to take care of dad?
It’s devastating to think that she had to give that up to stay home and take care of her father. Family is everything, so it aligns with her values but still.
Aunt Lupe went from expressing pride over Jasmine’s status as the first in their family to get accepted into college, and in the same breath, confirmed she as an adult wouldn’t do everything in her power to ensure that Jasmine actually got to go.
Lupe moving away to be with her adult son and his husband meant that Jasmine couldn’t leave her father in Lupe’s care. I guess taking him with her wasn’t an option either.
The alternative could’ve been a long-term facility, but it’s not what Jasmine would want for her father.
Monse: God, when am I ever going to catch a break?
Jasmine: Never. We’re not the girls who catch breaks. We’re the girls who don’t break. We’re resilient and strong because we don’t let experiences define us. We definite our experiences.
So instead, unless they slipped in a throwaway line that suggested otherwise, she’s forgoing Berkeley to take care of her father. And thus, the entire arc about self-care for this young caretaker feels pointless.
Even Jasmine’s commentary in the bathroom to Monse about their strength and resilience felt in conflict with the initial message of self-care.
It’s a bleak take that these two women of color have to accept that “they aren’t the girls who get breaks, they’re the ones who don’t break.”
That’s the societal and self-imposed type of sentiment that perpetuates the myth that Black and Brown girls must always be strong and strips them of vulnerability and care. They’re freaking kids.
They shouldn’t have to be strong all of the time and roll with the punches or hold up and consistently prioritize the men of their lives ahead of themselves.
They shouldn’t have to always self-sacrifice.
On the surface, it sounds like a positive rallying call to uplift and serves as inspiration and aspiration. It’s the opposite with girls always expected to be strong and endure ahead of dream and aspire.
For the central character of the series, Ruby didn’t have much of an ending.
I’m the king! I’m the mother fucking king!
We know he got accepted into college, probably, but he mentioned serving as Jamal’s business manager instead.
And his future got usurped by honoring Abuelita.
His speech to his grandmother was perfect. And her repast was the celebration she always said she wanted.
At this rate, the adults and teens getting high and drinking the hard stuff in her honor align with this series.
But he was the one to notice the young teens peering over the fence and spying on them the way that they used to do with others years ago.
It was a full-circle moment, with this mysterious foursome of one guy and three girls flipped from Monse and the boys.
Now that we know Netflix ordered an On My Block spinoff, the moment seemed like a way of acknowledging that and the new stories that could come.
In an ideal world, we would revisit this Core Four for a movie special in the future. Of course, that’s assuming the cast would be down for it. Just throwing that out there!
Cesar: Thank you, compa.
Jamal: For what?
Cesar: Believing in the unbelievable when no one else would. Finding Rolleworld, which led us to Lil’ Ricky. Without you, I wouldn’t be here. So thank you.
But for many OMB fans, there’s comfort in knowing that Netflix intends to tell new stories in a similar universe and manner.
It’s these characters, this cast, their chemistry, among other things that I fell in love with, so a spinoff will have its work cut out trying to capture that same magic. And it doesn’t change the fact that I’m not ready to let go.
Alas, at least we got the chance to say goodbye and sign-off with this series, which is more than most get these days. And that counts for something, right?
Over to you, OMB Fanatics!
What are your thoughts on this sendoff? Was it satisfactory? Where would you like to imagine the Core Four in the future? Are you thrilled about the spinoff?