Sunday, September 8, 2019

REVIEW: 'On Becoming a God in Central Florida' - Krystal's Illness Hampers Her Ability to Sell in 'Manifest Destinee'

Showtime's On Becoming a God in Central Florida - Episode 1.04 "Manifest Destinee"

Stricken with a bird disease, Krystal goes on an odyssey. A collection of vintage motivational tapes just might change Cody's destiny. Ernie tries recruiting.

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 next episode of Showtime's On Becoming a God in Central Florida.

"Manifest Destinee" was written by Pamela Davis and directed by Rodman Flender

The basic function of this series is to always provide a feeling of dread that comes from the need to keep growing. It's a fine existential fear. Humanity constantly operates with the idea that we need to keep improving as we keep moving forward in our respective lives. Any crushing defeat is then perceived as being absolutely horrifying because it's deemed unacceptable. Krystal feels the need to step up for FAM because she needs to get a strong hold on her own finances. This episode puts a very pointed and poignant question to her. What does she want? For someone like Cody, the answer is simple. He wants the love, admiration and support of Obie Garbeau II. Simply receiving a new tape of his motivation speaking is enough to pull Cody out of his own anxiety. With Krystal though, it's much more complex solely because the show toes the line of whether or not she supports the FAM business. She sees going in deeper as the only way in which she can provide for her daughter. She has bills that need to be paid. She has to ensure that a roof stays over their heads. She can't risk it all like Travis did. He ultimately paid for that with his life. Krystal can't make the same mistakes. She may have been hostile towards FAM at one point. But now, she feels inspired to quickly climb the ladder so that she can get a one-on-one with Obie. She sees it as her opportunity to talk up the benefits of her water aerobics class. She views that as the way she is making legitimate money right now. She isn't seeing any benefits from FAM. It's a system that hasn't changed her life in the slightest. The only money she has gotten from it came from Cody simply because he needed to keep his downline happy. Those two are constantly going back and forth over who actually has control. This episode makes it clear that Krystal does even though she's delusional after contracting some kind of bird flu. That mostly just allows the narrative to be a bit more dreamlike as Krystal struggles to make any of this work out for her. She ends the day with only one new customer who doesn't want to work the system. He just wants the products and to push his theories about how to make the world a better place with the music one listens to when dying. It's all strange. But it's fairly tame as well. It's not the most concerning sequence. Krystal feels the pressure. But even in those moments, she can state eloquently that she is doing all of this for her daughter. That is her priority at the moment. She doesn't care about FAM. She just needs whatever will ensure financial stability for her family. She had that for a moment with her water aerobics class. That was soon shut down because Obie didn't see it as following his teachings. That sent Krystal on this mission to sign up 50 more people. She fails in that endeavor. Ernie succeeds though because he taps into a new market. Everyone in this community has already heard the FAM pitch. They are either in or out. But the immigrant community is completely new to this country and hearing about this business for the very first time. Sure, it's these characters taking advantage of the most vulnerable during their times of need. But it also has the uplifting message of getting Krystal exactly what she wants. She knows how to wield her power as well. It's completely surprising that there is now a sexual component to Krystal and Cody's dynamic. It's a power move for her to force him into submission and accept her full terms. She is in charge now. It no longer matters that she is sick. She is doing this because she has to preserve her family. Cody stood in the way of that. And yet, this episode is also the first that makes it seem like the overall storytelling is repeating itself. Every episode ends on the idea that Krystal is making improvements on her life and climbing the ladder of this business. And then, the next illustrates how that's not true at all. She is still struggling. It's a fine perspective. It just hasn't grown in a substantial way four episodes in which is a little tiresome.