Sitting down to watch On My Block Season 3 was akin to seeing an old friend, one who’s been gone for a year, but whose return is a sight for sore eyes. The Netflix series is back in full force. The writing is sharper, the pacing is tighter, and the storyline as equally as heartbreaking as it is filled with shoulder-shaking bursts of comedy. In short, the latest season of On My Block is the best it’s ever been and that ending? Well, it was gut-wrenchingly brutal in so many tragic and unexpected ways.
Season 3 begins immediately after the Season 2 finale, which saw the Freeridge crew — Monse (Sierra Capri), Cesar (Diego Tinoco), Jamal (Brett Gray), and Ruby (Jason Genao) — kidnapped by unknown assailants. The opening scene clearly sets up the plot of the entire season. Cuchillos (Ada Luz Pla), the formerly elusive leader of the Santos, wants them to find Lil’ Ricky so they can reunite. If they do find him, she’ll return the RollerWorld money. Sounds fairly simple, except there’s a twist (because there always is): Lil’ Ricky is presumably dead and Cuchillos isn’t interested in reuniting, which is implied. These poor kids can’t catch a break.
Season 3 introduces several new obstacles the kids must contend with, most of which happen seamlessly and work to add another layer to each character. Cesar meets his dad, Ray (Ian Casselberry), for the very first time, 12 years in prison having prevented them from having a relationship. Oscar (Julio Macias), on the other hand, is older and remembers how Ray wasn’t there for either of them. While the love between brothers is still there, resentment, anger, and an overall lack of communication creates a distance between them, often getting in the way of better understanding one another. While all of the actors have really stepped up their game, it’s Julio Macias’ portrayal of Oscar that’s truly electrifying and utterly heartbreaking, his anger and bitterness making way for a bone-tired weariness that settles and colors the differences in his approach.
Jamal, who’s usually hyper-focused on whatever mission they have to accomplish, gets a sort-of-but-not-really girlfriend in Kendra (Troy Leigh-Anne Johnson), the home-schooled, socially awkward, hands-on young woman who takes notes about her “homework.” It’s a hilarious subplot that offers Jamal a ton of character development outside of his daily obsessions and allows him the space to explore whether he wants to just have sex or if he thinks it’ll be better if he loves the person. He doesn’t come to any concrete conclusions, but it’s satisfying to watch as he figures out that he can strike a balance.
Perhaps one of the more grounded moments in all of Season 3 is when Monse admits that she doesn’t feel sad that her mother is dead. Rather, she is relieved because she’ll no longer have to face crushing disappointment. At the same time, she’s scared that not feeling the “normal” feelings after a loss will make her desensitized to everything. It’s such a heart-wrenchingly honest moment that it’s hard to watch, heavy in its implications, but powerful in its ability to give voice to something that’s often too difficult or embarrassing to convey with words. Sierra Capri crushes this scene and is able to so thoughtfully and authentically portray the depth of Monse’s complicated feelings.
One of the greatest treasures of the show continues to be Jessica Marie Garcia’s portrayal of Jasmine. On My Block more fully incorporates her into the season’s plot and it’s one of the best decisions the writers ever made. What’s even better is that she finally gets to develop a true friendship with Monse. The two have had an antagonistic relationship for two seasons, but they finally get to be real friends in Season 3 and it is easily one of the highlights. Plus, having the two of them on the same side means that there are two practical minds working to put a stop to some of the nonsense in the group. And, at long last, Jasmine and Ruby get to explore their feelings for each other that comes full circle in an open, honest, and comedic way.
On My Block has always been able to balance the teens’ daily life with a season-long mystery waiting to be solved. However, amidst the trips to the pool, outlandish schemes to find Lil’ Ricky, and family drama, the series is quick to remind us that everything is tinged with the very real life situations — gang wars, PTSD, and death, among other things — that shape and affect every facet of their everyday lives. It’s a balancing act that the show pulls off quite well, weaving in and out of comedic situations and into dramatic moments with relative ease. Filled with heart, humor, and a huge dose of reality, On My Block Season 3 firing on all cylinders and thriving.
Header Image Source: Netflix