Netflix’s ‘On My Block’ gives a stellar cast an average season: Review

Brett Gray, Sierra Capri, Jason Genao, and Diego Tinoco in 'On My Block' Season 3.
Brett Gray, Sierra Capri, Jason Genao, and Diego Tinoco in ‘On My Block’ Season 3.

Image: Kevin Estrada / Netflix

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In Season 3 of Netflix’s On My Block, every character has a moment of feeling stuck — stuck in a relationship, a friendship, a pattern, a feeling, and ultimately stuck in a situation that feels like it has no positive outcome.

Bingeing a show can feel the same way sometimes. With months or years between the mere days (or hours) it takes to devour a season, it can feel like it’s taking forever to move forward. On My Block Season 3, while not discernibly better or worse than its predecessor, flounders as it tries to propel the story — but the main cast makes as strong a case as ever for why we keep coming back.

Season 3 picks up moments after the Season 2 cliffhanger (not as stressful as Season 1’s, but still an attack!) which had Monse (Sierra Capri), Ruby (Jason Genao), Jamal (Brett Gray), and Cesar (Diego Tinoco) blindfolded and abducted mere moments after Monse declared she wanted nothing more to do with her best friends. Their kidnapper is revealed to be Cuchillos (Ada Luz Ola) the notorious leader of the Santos and party to hiding the RollerWorld money found in Season 2. Cuchillos tasks the core four with finding her accomplice Lil’ Ricky, who disappeared after hiding the RollerWorld money decades ago.

Jamal might have a stalker in Season 3 of 'On My Block,' but at least it gives us moments like this.

Jamal might have a stalker in Season 3 of ‘On My Block,’ but at least it gives us moments like this.

Image: Kevin Estrada / Netflix

Cuchillos makes a big impression on our heroes. She belongs to the social order that governs Cesar’s world; for Monse, she’s a formidable woman in a position of power. She inspires a slightly sexual thrill of fear in both Ruby and Jamal, particularly igniting the latter’s catastrophic desire for treacherous missions. Though Cuchillos doesn’t get much screen time, these brief encounters drive each character through the season and toward its finale — the boys with their sexuality and adrenaline, and Monse with her burgeoning independence.

It feels like On My Block Season 3 would benefit from a week-to-week episode release rather than the traditional Netflix dump.

In between, though, we get classic On My Block shenanigans. Tensions run high between the main crew not only because of Cuchillos but because of everything that came before — the growing rift of previous seasons and things left unsaid. Monse finds comfort and confidence in her friendship with Jasmine (Jessica Marie Garcia), who remains a g.d. icon for teens and adults alike. She gives Monse the genius advice that “It’s okay to care, and to care too much. Just don’t give yourself away in the process.”

Jasmine and Jamal compete ostentatiously for who will lead the group’s mission, a mission which ends up being a lot less exciting than promised. There are false leads and close calls, but early episodes drag with rehashed Cesar/Monse drama, a bloated subplot about Cesar’s father, and a lot of people talking about Cuchillos’ threat but little evidence of its gravity. With the Prophets mostly neutralized, the more immediate threat is another gang posturing for disputed territory with the Santos… but that’s as hard to care about as ever without immediate effects on the Core Four.

Jessica Maria Garcia as Jasmine in 'On My Block' — a true icon.

Jessica Maria Garcia as Jasmine in ‘On My Block’ — a true icon.

Image: Kevin Estrada / Netflix

To that end, Cesar continues to be the show’s most underwritten and least compelling character, with Tinoco struggling to add layers to his portrayal. The season plays strongly toward Jamal’s manic energy, now with a stalker who Jasmine suggests might like him (“You will really say anything to stop me from leading this group” he spits back), and Jasmine’s brilliant evolution from someone who annoyed the gang to now becoming an essential part of their lives. 

Unfortunately, Cesar, Ruby, and Monse are weighed down by their arcs, given little opportunity to grow and change. As the show’s central couple, Cesar and Monse never quite escape the disadvantage they were given in Season 1, when they started hooking up off-screen within minutes of the pilot. Since we never got to invest in the buildup of their relationship, it’s hard to be affected by the breakdown, or to root that hard for resurgent romance.

More than previous seasons, it feels like On My Block Season 3 would benefit from a week-to-week episode release rather than the traditional Netflix dump. Subplots and b-stories fade in a binge, and enough of them are rendered irrelevant by the end that you’ll forget before Season 4 — and even then won’t suffer for the loss. 

As always, what stays with us after these eight episodes is the friends at the center, with their trauma, their loyalty, their love and their fondness for gnomes. They are the best part of coming back and the hardest to let go of when it’s all over — no matter how it ends.

On My Block Season 3 is now streaming on Netflix.

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