Wednesday, May 22, 2019

REVIEW: 'Brockmire' - Brockmire's Sobriety is Tested During the Biggest Moment of His Career in 'Opening Day'

IFC's Brockmire - Episode 3.08 "Opening Day"

As Brockmire and Gabby finally get a chance to call their first regular season MLB game for Oakland, they are confronted with unexpected protestors who are disciples of bigot Art Newlie.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the season finale of IFC's Brockmire.

"Opening Day" was written by Joel Church-Cooper & Amanda Sitko and directed by Maurice Marable

Brockmire started this season sober. He miraculously ends the season sober as well. That's a huge accomplishment for him. Granted, he is very much tempted throughout this finale. This entire season has showcased the struggle for him to commit to this new path in life. He wants to be sober in order to improve himself and his relationships with those he cares about. And yet, he has also had to deal with his closest friends moving on with their lives. Jules and Charles had new opportunities that took them far away from Brockmire. They continued to pop in on his life. But their relationship with Brockmire is no longer what it once was. They are now making their own decisions that have absolutely nothing to do with him. It's still heartbreaking to Brockmire when he learns that Jules has gotten engaged. He still views her as the love of his life. She is the one who got away because of his destructive behavior. As such, he immediately tries to put more meaning onto his relationship with Maggie. That bond has been nice and pleasant this season. It has taught him how to be in a relationship with someone without being drunk or high all the time. It has been a steep learning curve for him. He is still constantly making mistakes too. He doesn't even know what Maggie's last name is. Even then, he still wants to make a lasting commitment to her. That rejection is painful for him because it seems like the entire world is conspiring against him. He finally has the chance to call a major league baseball game once more. He and Gabby are the onscreen talent for the opening day game in Tampa. They have such trust and appreciation for what the other did during their times of need this season. They have gotten incredibly close. They are so supportive. Gabby knows how to best tell Brockmire the news about Jules' engagement. It's just ruined because Jean decided to come a day early. Heading into the finale, it seemed like Matt's tragic death would be the thing that could potentially send Brockmire on a downward spiral and consume his grief in drugs and alcohol once more. It's not. It's certainly one of the elements that leads to him feeling tempted. But it's not the only one. He and Gabby are also being protested by supporters of Art Newlie. That retired announcer hasn't been mentioned in a long time. And yet, it's absolutely potent to see him onscreen again knowing the trouble he can stir up. He still feels emboldened to act in his racist and offensive ways. There is still an online community that supports him. It's absolutely horrifying to see this message resonate with a younger audience. They are the ones actually outside the stadium protesting this game. Even the baseball organization has to cancel games and put out an official statement in order to condemn everything that is happening during what should be the happiest time of the year. It's the start of baseball season. It's not a joyous occasion though. Of course, it's so biting to see the baseball organization essentially put out an "All Lives Matter" bland message in the hopes that it can ease some of the tension. Brockmire and Gabby know that it's wrong. That's what makes it so empowering when they step up and share their truths. Their reaction to this news is a culmination of everything they've been through this season and how they have a right to continue thriving in this very specific world.

Brockmire has truly reached out and helped people during moments of crisis in their lives as well. He gave Gabby a place to live after she caught her wife cheating on her. He confessed to Jean that their mother is actually a manipulative monster who is just trying to use her. And now, he helps Shirley when she is going through her own crisis. At his lowest point, he does walk into a bar and order a drink. He has every intention of drinking it too. He just makes the right decision in calling his sponsor first. That could be the only lesson he takes away from this season and it would still be a remarkable journey for him. It's not though. When he sees that Shirley is actually at the bar with him, he immediately reaches out to ensure that her own sobriety isn't compromised too badly despite her new view on the world. She relapses simply because her middle son throws up in her purse and her eldest son is arrested for protesting the baseball game. Those characters have never been seen before this moment. And yet, it shows how everyone who works this program can still have moments where they are fragile and need a helping hand to ensure that their life isn't ruined just because they slip. Shirley needs that support. She gets it from Brockmire. That shows that he has become a decent and honorable person this season. That's so inspiring. She doesn't care about baseball at all. She doesn't wish to convert to the baseball god being her higher power. And yet, that brings clarity to Brockmire as he comes back to work eager to put on a good show despite everything else that happens to be going on in his life at the moment. He maintains his sobriety. That is such a huge moment. It proves that he has changed and become a better influence in the lives of those he cares about. This finale may spend its first half hitting Brockmire while he's down until he is confronted with alcohol for the first time in awhile. But the second half is absolutely rewarding for him and the character journey he has been on this season. He returns to the booth and is surrounded by his new found family. Sure, Maggie and Matt are no longer there to support him. But the protestors are gone. Shirley has stopped her big relapse. Jean is there to give her the helping hand she needs when Brockmire has to perform for the broadcast. And then, it's all about a celebration that comes from the statements he and Gabby make. And then, Brockmire remembers the count. That is a huge victory. He has overcome the yips. It seems like his life is finally getting back on track. Sure, the struggle will continue to be ongoing and real for him. But Gabby also wants him to be the godfather to her son but without the responsibilities that come from that. That too shows just how close and healthy all of this has become this year without losing any of the absurdity.