Monday, November 2, 2015

REVIEW: 'Faking It' - The Student Body Unites to Stop Hester from Being Shut Down in 'School's Out'

MTV's Faking It - Episode 2.20 "School's Out"

Hester's future lies in the balance. Amy makes an important decision.

The fallout of Karma kissing Amy is on everyone's minds throughout the second season finale of Faking It. What exactly did it mean? She went in for that kiss while she was pretty drunk. But the entire party also saw it happen. That meant that the two of them would have to deal with the fallout of this emotional moment in a very public way. Everyone is pressing for answers. Of course, everyone else soon gets distracted by the threat of Principal Turner shutting down Hester forever. But that doesn't distract Karma and Amy from having to deal with these emotions. It's heartbreaking to the two of them when they finally have that conversation. It also creates a future filled with many interesting possibilities.

In order to focus on Amy and Karma though, the show has to quickly get rid of Amy's relationship with Felix. That's a bit of a downer considering how much time this season spent on building up that dynamic as something the audience should be invested in. Here, Felix is written out with the big excuse that he is an alcoholic. That has never really been on display with his character until this moment. The hesitation he exhibited at the party last week was due to the whole school thinking he would be a narc just like Theo simply because he was the Principal's son. That was a very effective moment. Plus, the consequences of that party still impacted the narrative in many interesting ways since Turner used that in order to prop up his agenda of shutting the school down for good. The finale casting Felix aside so quickly felt like the show getting rid of him and his importance simply to deal with the more important story of Amy and Karma's feelings for each other.

However, the Amy and Karma stuff is so great when the finale focuses on the two of them dealing with the kiss. Some stalling tactics happen during the first part of the episode with Karma not being able to remember that it happened, the big school protest and Amy seeking solace from Reagan instead. But when the two of them finally do talk about it, it is one of the most emotionally dynamic moments of this half-season. In the past, Amy has tried to deal with her feelings for Karma by redirecting her attention to someone else. She didn't want to be alone and have to deal with those feelings for someone who doesn't feel the same way. Karma very well might be into Amy in that way - as Felix suggests - but she's just not willing to admit that to herself yet. That's what's so painful to Amy right now. It feels like she's going around in a circle. She's always hitting the same emotions and getting hurt in the same way. She needs to do something about it if she's going to be able to move forward with the grand plan they have for their lives.

Running away from Karma and her problems may not be the best answer to Amy's feelings. But it is something different. It's a new opportunity that she will be able to experience as just herself. Her life won't be dictated by a relationship or her friendship to anyone at Hester. She is going on the road with Reagan's band in the hopes of finding something new and exploring the world around her. Reagan's not going so that won't have any influence on her. Amy is just trying to figure some things out so she can return to Karma with some clarity about herself. It will be a very painful experience for both of them. They have never been apart for this long. They will both need to find themselves. More importantly, what they find could dramatically impact their relationship. Clarity can either make things better or worse. No matter what the outcome will be, it will be different. That's what both of them need right now - even though Amy needs to push Karma into seeing that. Let's just hope that Karma doesn't become self-destructive again now that her heart has been broken by her even bigger love.

The finale also deals with the friction within the Shane-Liam dynamic. It's a somewhat rushed story because as much as they fight they still have to reunite by episode's end. Neither one of them really addresses the problems in their lives either. Shane definitely is a bad person. He's always willing to blackmail people in order to get what he wants. He's very good at it too as Tommy points out during the big meeting of all the clubs. And yet, Liam still apologizes to Shane by saying he's not a bad person. And so does Shane when he says that Liam isn't a Booker in the way that the insult was meant. That's less important than Shane's problems. But it still hints at a potentially troublesome problem for the future. Shane should realize how destructive his ways are capable of being. It's almost as if the show is afraid of having him admit that right now. If he sees himself as a bad person who only harms other people for his own selfish gain, then the show loses the appeal of the character. But Shane has toyed with that thought from time to time and it has afforded him plenty of great material. Sure, him also hitting that realization in this episode would have made it more crowded than it already was. But something more should still have happened.

The power of character evolution and maturation was also wonderfully on display with the conclusion of the Hester closing story. The story was purposefully designed as a threat for the finale. Something to unite the school against one common enemy. It was a moment earned by the season preceding it. Though it never really felt like a genuine threat that anyone should worry about. It simply provided a great moment for Lauren to address just how much Hester has made her a better person because she goes to school there. She's the only character who could perfectly describe why Hester is important. She's been the outsider who joined the school at the start of the series. Her journey has been just as compelling as Amy, Karma, Liam and Shane's. Her speaking up on Hester's behalf is such a phenomenal moment because it shows just how far she has come as a character since those early days standing in opposition to everything that Hester stood for. She has clarity about herself and what she wants in her life. She is intersex and no longer afraid to say that. Hester gave her that courage. So even though she'll never be the typical Hester student, she's still very grateful for the important lessons that only this school could have taught her. It's a fantastic moment that works so well for the show as it closes its second season.

Of course, "School's Out" also suggests what these characters' immediate futures are going to be. Lauren is still Lauren. She's ordering around her two friends who will do anything for her. But her staying at Hester could be complicated considering Farrah and Bruce have decided to get divorced. Amy's road trip with the tour could also allow her to process her emotions regarding that as well. Meanwhile, Liam has decided to actually look for his father to see if he is a better person than the rest of the family that Liam knows. Plus, the show had so much fun pairing Karma and Shane together over the past few episodes that now they are going to be lifeguards together as well. That could lead to a summer of hijinks or a summer of getting to know each other better. Either way it sounds like a lot of fun. Something that Faking It still does so strongly on top of all the big emotions it hits every week. This finale wasn't as good as the few episodes leading up to it. But it was still a fine way to close out this season.

Some more thoughts:
  • "School's Out" was written by Carrie Rosen & George Northy and directed by Jeff Melman.
  • After Shane kicked Liam out of his house, he decided to crash at Zita's place. She's the one who sends him on this journey to find his father. That journey could be very easy too considering Zita's family has their own personal private investigator.
  • Lauren's friends from her old school were horrible. Everything that Lauren used to be but isn't anymore. She really has come to embrace and celebrate people who are different.
  • It seemed very reasonable for the school board to want to limit the amount of time the student body could speak. The student's response shows that the school can be immature at times.
  • Faking It has been renewed for a third season already. I can't wait to see more episodes and where the creative team plans on taking these characters next. Hopefully it won't be as long of a wait as it was for Season 2B. Is it too much to ask for the show to come back in the spring?