On My Block: Season 3 Review

Title Card - On My Block
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While the development of Jasmine is ace this season, the other elements of season 3 of “On My Block” are frustrating, inconsistent, or feel like a repeat of the past.


Network Netflix
Creator(s) Lauren Iungerich, Eddie Gonzalez, Jeremy Haft
Aired 3/11/2020
Genre(s) Comedy, Crime, Drama, Mystery, Romance, Young Adult
Noted Cast
Cuchillos aka Stacey Ada Luz Pla-williams
Jamal Brett Gray
Ruby Jason Genao
Monse Sierra Capri
Cesar Diego Tinoco
Oscar Julio Macias
Jasmine Jessica Marie Garcia
Kendra Troy Leigh-Anne Johnson
Ray Ian Casselberry
Rosé Angela Elayne Gibbs
Chivo Emilio Rivera
Abuelita Peggy Blow
Dwayne Eme Ikwuakor
Fran Raushanah Simmons

This content contains pertinent spoilers.

Season Plot Synopsis

In season 3, a new villain, Cuchillos, real name Stacey, kidnaps Jamal, Ruby, Monse, and Cesar to find the founder of the Santos, Lil’ Ricky. Someone who Cuchillos is 100% sure is alive, thanks to her woman’s intuition. But, while finding the Rollerworld money was a challenge, a man who faked his own death? That is a bit much for the kids. Especially as their own lives continue, and there is a lot of issues there.

Some examples: Monse is facing issues in regards to her mother and also her hot and cold relationship to Cesar. And speaking of Cesar, his father, Ray, just got out of prison, and between Cesar and Oscar, both are confront Ray’s absence with their dad, and with each other. Moving onto Ruby, with his medical bills coming in, it puts a strain on his parent’s relationships, and then there is what he has with Jasmine, which gets complicated by him having fantasies of her.

Leaving Jamal. With everyone forced to join him in a mystery, unlike before when they could drop it on a dime, he tries to assert himself as a leader and finds either lack of faith, or conflict with Jasmine, who uses her police connections to help. And with the challenge comes him, once again, questioning his role amongst his friends. But, alongside him dealing with them, there is a girl named Kendra who likes him, he likes her, and he struggles with trying to date her and hold onto what remains of his childhood. That is, his ability to go on these crazy adventures that, somehow, mostly leave him unscathed.

And in the end, what we see happen to most friend groups happen, and while it was long predicted by Monse and shown throughout the series, it is a bit of a shocker.

Review

Highlights

Jasmine – 91

Jasmine listening to Ruby, while he on his BS.

Of all the characters, the only one who showed consistent growth was Jasmine. For after her talk with Ruby in season 2, which exposed her home life, we got to see a different side to the often jubilant, sexual, and odd, Jasmine. Season 3 not only references what Jasmine can be like when she isn’t doing the most, but also allows her to be, on a consistent basis, a more calm, vulnerable, and empathetic young woman.

Thus allowing us to see, as she combats Jamal for the role of leader, her and Monse have a moment as Monse talks about her relationship with her mom, we get to hear about her insecurities when it comes to dating, and then there is her relationship with Ruby. One that has been a long time coming but, rather than the drama we saw with Monse and Cesar, what we get is a storyline that is less contrived and can hit you in the gut.

Making it so, out of all the characters this season, Jasmine is the one who blooms the most and leaves the best impression.

Getting A Taste Of Jamal In A Relationship – 88

Jamal and Kendra after having sex.

Though, for a time, it seemed Jasmine wouldn’t be alone. For with Jamal meeting a girl named Kendra, someone who is homeschooled, hence her never being seen previously, there seemed to be a real trigger that could have led to Jamal maturing. Perhaps even, in a similar fashion to Jasmine, showing a side to himself that was rare before but could have been normalized.

However, while we get a taste of Jamal in a relationship, between Kendra being stuck as this weird female version of Jamal, and never evolving past that, to their relationship not going beyond sex, there is a wasted opportunity. One that, up until the last scene of the season, you hold onto, hoping something will be done but, alas, the ball gets dropped.

What Ray Exposed Us To With Cesar and Oscar – 90

Oscar crying on Ray's shoulder.

While Ray doesn’t stay for the whole season, and pretty much burst onto the scene, had Oscar get in his feelings, Cesar to a certain point as well, and dipped, there is no denying his contribution. Well, contribution to Oscar’s development more so than Cesar. I’d submit Cesar, while he does spend time with Ray, and learns why he went in, their relationship is lukewarm and sweet, but unchallenged.

For Oscar, on the other hand, as he confronts that Ray made him be a father with never getting to be a son, and how Ray set him on a path where he eventually found his life to become stagnant, there is a lot going on there. This includes Ray’s lack of communication which was met with the same from Oscar. And in the back and forth, and in a tear-filled conversation, similar to Jasmine, Oscar got a consistent level of development which, while subtle and in moments previously, we got to see more gradual and done throughout the season.

Thus leaving Oscar in a place where you could imagine him really achieving that dream of a wife, kids, and maybe a real job. Perhaps him getting into cooking, as he once imagined himself doing.

The Complicated Relationship Between Monse & Julia – 89

But it isn’t just Oscar dealing with issues of a parent who wants the title without the work. Julia, who isn’t physically seen, reaches out to Monse and, for reasons not made concrete, appears to kill herself towards the end of the season. With that comes a different take from Oscar’s approach to Ray in that Monse finds some form of relief.

Something that is, yes, an odd idea, but considering the rejection that Monse felt, she truly does tap into the idea that Julia was dead to her, and the confirmation of her death brings a feeling of peace. If not, better said, relief from Julia being a constant disappointment in the form of not rectifying what happened in the past and not trying to build a bridge for a better future.

The Gang Life Penetrating Jamal’s Family Cocoon – 80

Dwayne chastising Jamal.

For nearly the entire series, Jamal’s brush with urban life came from his interactions with Cesar and the drama of his life, alongside the Rollerworld investigation. However, with the power vacuum caused by the Prophet$ demise, and this rambunctious bunch known as the 19th street looking for a come up, so comes Dwayne being faced with what his home and family didn’t have to deal with for 15 years.

And it is with seeing that you are reminded how privileged Jamal is compared to his friends. Monse’s dad has to go trucking across the country to make a living, Ruby’s parents struggle with money throughout the season, if not series, and Cesar’s dad just got out of jail and Oscar is a gang banger. However, Dwayne and Fran had a business that was a success, hired locally, and allowed them for a house we may not have seen much of, but I bet was two stories.

So to see Jamal and his family not visiting the hood or simply working in it, but having to deal with the struggles everyone else did, it was an interesting change of pace. At least for the episode or two when it was focused on.

Low Points

The Lil’ Ricky Investigation Goes Unsolved & Other Inconsistencies – 60

When it comes to Netflix, most shows don’t make it past season 3, and for many reasons, it seems “On My Block” wasn’t necessarily fighting hard for that renewal. Perhaps one of the big reasons being, the Lil’ Ricky mystery is never solved. On top of that, for many of the topics it could have dug deeper into, like Jasmine’s home life since her dad needs assistance, how Dwayne’s operated under Santos protection, amongst other storylines, they get dropped. Thus causing a lot of situations that could have made more people clamor for an additional season go to the wayside.

Heck, even Kendra, and meeting her people, could have been something to see. Yet, Jamal’s relationship with her gets kicked to the curb, and even after the time jump, we’re not sure what is going on between them. Not to forget, Chivo, the key to Lil’ Ricky, wasn’t used hardly at all. Also, with Julia dead, there is the question of whether Monse’s younger half-siblings asked for her, about her, and what happened to that relationship? After all, she did live with them for weeks, if not months. So her sudden absence surely would have an affect on them.

Cuchillos and 19th Street Were Lukewarm Villains – 61

Cuchillos (Ada Luz Pla) in her home, talking to the kids.
Cuchillos (Ada Luz Pla)

Cuchillos was barely on screen and more so presented herself through threats. With this, any panache that could have been brought to this role didn’t go beyond the character description. And when you add in how we don’t really get to know any member of the 19th street gang well, beyond learning their leader was only 15, it required a shift in thinking.

The reason we say that is previous seasons had the Prophet$ or some other life or death threat which was active and real. But even with Cuchillos making it so everyone was involved and their life on the line, the basis of her getting them involved was too silly to wrap your head around. After all, if she is the head of the Santos, why is she relying on four teenagers to find a man who is old enough to be their father? Granted, Jamal found the Rollerworld money, but let’s not forget Chivo, Abuelita, and so many others helped to guide him. I mean, there were clues everywhere! For Lil’ Ricky, Chivo was nowhere to be found, Rosé didn’t give any information, so what was really supposed to happen?

And when you consider that and the 19th street were threatening only Oscar and Dwayne, it made it so there never was a real push to be scared for anyone about anything. Especially since we didn’t see a single named character hurt by Cuchillos and her behind, despite being so rich and powerful, ended up being the one killed.

On The Fence

The Time Jump – 75

The show jumps 2 years into the future, and while a part of me thinks it was necessary, since we’ve roughly been, from season 1 to season 3, within a year of time, it also presented the type of situation that would make a good epilogue. We saw Cesar succumb to the Santos; Monse do well, as she has done before, with preppy white girls; Jamal is now back with the jocks, and Ruby and Jasmine are dating and seemingly going strong. All of which Monse, repeatedly, has predicted. So with her foreshadowing coming to past, what’s next? Monse coming home and getting the band back together, like when she came home from camp? Granted, that could really bring a full circle moment but, do we need to repeat what we already saw?

Overall

Trajectory: Plateau

Rating: Mixed (Stick Around)

Monty and Monse as Monty cries on his daughter's lap.

Where season 3 of “On My Block” went wrong was venturing further and further beyond what could realistically happen to these teens. For with Cuchillos tasking them to find Lil’ Ricky, it seemed to not only break the show but create a time waster. Add in Cuchillos was never the threat she needed to be, and it only added onto the frustration of so many characters and storylines touched upon, but never given their fair due. Thus creating a season that had a few shining moments, but outside of Jasmine, largely was lackluster and felt like a swan song.

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