Friday, January 3, 2020

REVIEW: 'Spinning Out' - Kat Spirals Out of Control While Jenn, Mandy and Serena Receive Troubling News in 'Hell Is Real'

Netflix's Spinning Out - Episode 1.08 "Hell Is Real"

Kat's mental health crisis reaches a breaking point, triggering widespread damage. Mandy has an emergency, and Serena slips into loneliness. 

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 Netflix's Spinning Out.

"Hell Is Real" was written by Paul Keables & Elizabeth Peterson and directed by Jon Amiel

This episode unloads a lot of tragedy unto the characters. It really does feel overbearing at times. Yes, there is the joy from Dasha's surgery being a success and the levity that comes from her ignorance about the internet. However, the majority of the ensemble is thrown through the ringer just to ensure they have their own devastating plot beats as the season ramps up to its conclusion. This is most obvious with Kat as she peaks in her mania before ending in an extremely depressed state. However, she is hardly the only character going through a difficult time. Mandy has to have a C-section at 24 weeks. Serena learns once more that her father is a deadbeat abandoning her again. Marcus is arrested just for trying to help Kat out of her dire situation. And Jenn learns that she will never skate again. Again, it's a lot happening in the same episode. Yes, sometimes these plot developments converge and are able to benefit one another. It's because Dasha has gone through this experience with her eyes that she is able to offer a unique perspective to Jenn about what life may have in store for her. Her family tried to do that to no avail. It just took a wise stranger to essentially put things into context about this not necessary being the end for her life and everything she hoped to accomplish. Life is full of vast discoveries just waiting to be explored. Meanwhile, Justin and Marcus are along for the ride as Kat spirals out of control. This is the extreme consequence to her going off her medication. She made that decision in order to help her better perform. That ultimately worked out for her and Justin in the competition. But there are far-reaching consequences beyond what happens on the ice. She has a full and complicated life. This decision has an impact on all of that. It's easier for her to get distracted by all the shiny objects that the world has to offer. She is placing herself and her loved ones in harm's way. Jenn's tragic accident wasn't enough for her to hit rock bottom. Instead, that moment comes at the end of this hour when everyone essentially gets the opportunity to see her out of control in this way. They all get to walk away from this experience knowing just how manic she can get. This isn't the best version of her. In fact, it's the most toxic form because she is so destructive. Justin finally got to a good place with his father. And now, this ruins all of that hard work because James has to bail his son out of prison. Marcus saw the benefit of talking about the racial dynamic on the ski team. He was ready to be a role model who could hopefully change the world. Instead, he is yet another black man condemned to a night in prison simply for the way he looks and the condemnation that he's not where he belongs. That is a sickening feeling that he knows all too well. He saw his father endure it firsthand. And now, he has to as well. The world hasn't changed no matter how grand his ambitions have become. He was still willing to help Kat in her time of need. He wasn't going to abandon her despite how crazed and erratic she has acted towards him for a long time. She still has friends who are willing to support and love her. They can't always forgive her though for what she puts them through. Alana can properly explain to Justin and Marcus what is going on. She knows what all of this proves. That shows that this is much more common than people would like to admit. But again, it's mostly the narrative pointing out just how manic and destructive Kat can be at her absolute worst. It felt the burden to show this to the audience to make the argument that it's never good for her to stop taking her medication. It can't all play out through the context of what it means for the next competition in a week either. It has to play on a personal level. That makes this episode seem like everyone is simply reacting to Kat as she no longer presents as herself. That is dangerous because it forces the lead character into acting one way without any assurances that this will be costly moving forward. Yes, she hits that low. It's important for this particular story. But it's also a wild extreme with the likelihood that she could return to being stable just as easily as she fell off this particular wagon. That creates a whiplash feeling that probably isn't good or healthy for anyone especially if they're all focused on the competition. They can have their own personal drama. That's fine. It's just a little too much going on at the same exact time which doesn't help it feel natural in the grand scheme of things.