You know when you see commercials for a show and think, “I should check that out” but never do? That’s how I operate too. I won’t start a new show until I’ve caught up or exhausted everything I’m currently reading or watching. However, this pandemic messed all that up as time became a blur. I remember finding myself with nothing to watch, mad time on my hands, and in the mood for something new. I happened upon a Final Space commercial and decided to finally give it a try. I had seen commercials for this show before but never paid any mind. I figured I’d at least start it to see where the story goes. Little did I know how hard I would go for this show. *walks away from seat for dramatic effect then comes back into to the camera shot* Fam, I thought this shit was going to be a wacky space adventure filled with jokes and cute moments. Nah…. Nahhhhhh man.
Final Space goes from funny to heartbreaking right when you least expect it. It’s one thing for a show to be funny, but the way this show uses humor cuts off the jokes with heavy themes of hurt, loss, consequences, family, neglect, loneliness, and so much more. I honestly believe this show deserves to be looked at through the lens as some of the best storytelling, dialogue, and character growth on television right now. Right the fuck now. Be warned we going have some spoilers ahead for seasons 1 through 3. Please watch the show then come back to this if you haven’t already.
“It’s Back to Back 4 Life”
There’s so much to talk about this with show, but the main thing is the people you gain and the ones you lose. Gary was a Han Solo type smuggler now finishing five years of community service out in space for impersonating an Infinity Guard (trying to impress Quinn Ergon who wound up being the one to arrest him). All mans had is the ship’s A.I. H.U.E., an anti-insanity robot KVN, who he hates, and the random robot ship robots that do maintenance and security. When Gary meets the alien Mooncake then Avacato who was trying to capture Mooncake for the Lord Commander, Gary literally befriends Avacato, even tho he was trying to kill him, in order to get the Lord Commander off their trail. As soon as Gary does the clasp of friendship with Avacato, the Final Space adventure truly begins.
I did not expect to like Gary Goodspeed as much as I do now. A large part of that is having seen what these years of isolation has done to Gary. He instantly trusts Avacato and is willing to help him, and even after not being told a whole truth from Avacato, that the Lord Commander is holding his son hostage, forcing him to do his bidding, which leads to Gary losing an arm, Gary is still willing to help Avacato because they clasped hands which means “It’s back to back for life.”
Avacato being the one that performs the surgery to give Gary his robot arm becomes a first step in just how deep their friendship becomes. Final Space does a great job in writing these male presenting characters as more than just action buddies but friends that love each other. Avacato and Gary’s relationship is one of the best representations of masculinity and emotions in a positive light that’s different from the usual tv tropes. Especially as things get so grave between them as Avacato entrusts his son to Gary as he literally jumps on a bomb to save everyone on board the ship. His last words to Gary are, “take care of my boy.” We see Gary go through having no idea how to honor that as Gary now must take care of his friend’s child who he just met.
We saw Gary and Avacato both grow as characters and men opening up to each other. We now see Gary growing up as an adult and guardian when Quinn tells him he has to step it up as the guardian of this child cause his best is not enough at the moment. So later on, Gary does that and offers the option of adoption to Little Cato for him to be his son not to replace Avacato but to show how serious he is in being there for him. We see them come to love each other. Gary loves Cato so much that when there’s a chance to save his father by pulling a time heist and switching places with him, Gary is the one to do so in the end. He won’t let Little Cato do it as agreed upon because “You don’t just need your Dad, he needs you too.” Oh, and let’s be clear Gary does not stop being Little Cato’s father once Avacato returns. It’s a point Little Cato, makes and Gary makes later on. These three are family now through and through. We’ve seen characters transform from selfish to selfless, but there’s something special about the way it’s portrayed with Gary Goodspeed’s growth due to how much his five-year isolation has him value those around him as well as the people he values putting their life on the line for him as well. Even when death is in front of him and telling him the only thing waiting back for him in the living is a perilous journey of death and loss, Gary goes back because that’s where his people are.
Everything has a Price in Final Space
I love a show where nothing comes easy for the characters in it. When Olan rogers was writing this show, my man truly made hope the brass ring in the series. For this crew every time they try to save someone, it comes with a cost. Each time a member is to be saved it costs the entire crew. Failure is a theme that runs rampant within Final Space, and there’s something oddly beautiful about that. We are constantly reminded of all it took for this crew to make it this far. This is a story taking place across a multiverse as well. Each time Gary goes in to close the breach to Final Space, he dies and the story starts all over again. Things are different on this earth because Quinn closed the breach. The crew did everything in their power to get into Final Space to rescue Quinn.
They met that goal but are also now met with all the billions of Gary’s that died across the multiverse trying to close breach. Those Garys are all being controlled by Invictus. Fam, this crew cannot catch a single fucking break at all… as much as I hate to see it, I fucking love it. Final Space is a show with stakes that keeps reminding us that not all of these characters are going to make it out of this alive. Fam, the tagline for season 3 is “Survive.” That’s it. We done seen Earth taken into Final Space, the crew now stuck in Final Space where things are crazier than they have ever been, and that’s legit not even half of it. That tagline is not just there for show. These muthafuckas legit trying to survive out here, and it is not looking good for your faves.
Quinn, You was Who You was Before You got Here
When I see a Black character on a show, the question becomes while watching, “Okay, are there here to tick a representation box or are they here with a story of their own?”. Man, Olan Rogers said, “Bay-bay, Quinn got her own story and all the space for it to be told”. Yo, Final Space makes shit so deep with characters storylines that you can’t even call them side storylines, because it’s all connected. Quinn’s transformation to an alternate future version of herself brings up the question of not only fate but identity. We get the space to see who both these characters are and come to find out they are similar but still opposites. Even their back stories are different. Nightfall was engaged to her Gary before he died closing the breach to Final Space. The Gary of our timeline can only offer her friendship as she is a Quinn but not his Quinn. Nightfall knows this and says, they’re “destined to be together but always apart.” We see that friendship take place en route to rescue Quinn from Final Space. We come to find out that the five keys needed to unlock Bolo (the titan helping the crew, who will take them to Final Space) there is one more key needed, a key of life. Gary was big mad at this but in the midst of a battle with Invictus, Nightfall gives her life to unlock Bolo so the crew can get Quinn back.
A friend (who I kept bothering to watch the show) pointed out that it’s the battle torn Black woman who dies to bring back the desired one. This wasn’t lost on me, and I thought about that as well. However, as I said before, everything in this show has a price. Each time they try to rescue someone, oftentimes someone else pays the price. The universe is not fair in the least bit in this show at all, and any kindness it does show, still comes with a cost. Nightfall made the choice to give her life to save her own life in the Quinn we know. We would love to have them both, but the universe be operating on Highlander rules. “There can be only one.” However, upon getting into Final Space to save Quinn we see the cost of her time being in Final Space. She’s been poisoned, and the only way to save her is to create a Selenium chip on her forehead that’ll absorb the poison. The exact same one that Nightfall had. This fucking show, yo. Everything keeps coming around full fucking circle. The coldest shit is while the team is out trying to get the resources needed to save Quinn, we then get a glimpse into Quinn’s upbringing through a fever dream from the poisoning.
This look into Quinn’s past gets presented to us as a parallel to Gary’s. Gary’s an only child whose father dies in Infinity Guard closing the beach to Final Space (as Gary was brought to his dad’s final moments via Bolo), his mother neglected and abandoned him wishing he never been born, which led Gary to burn his home down and get into the smuggling game.
Quinn grew up with a younger sibling constantly trying to surpass her. Her mom also in Infinity Guard and took responsibility so seriously that when Quinn’s little sister almost drowned Quinn was locked into a room with dead soldiers so that she could see this Infinity Guard shit ain’t a game. Lives are on the line. Fam, cold shit. Through this, we got a glimpse into why it was so hard for Quinn to trust anyone back in season one, why she’s constantly on alert, and why she was the one to figure out the breach issue of Final Space. We see the childhood price paid for Quinn being the top of the Infinity Guard.
There’s something I actually appreciated when the selenium chip made for her. Quinn’s body was too weak for the surgery, and any chemicals present would interfere with the fusion of the chip which literally required H.U.E. to drill into Quinn’s head. The only option present was to connect Gary’s pain receptions to Quinn’s in order to split the pain. There’s something to be said about the portrayal of Black pain in media. We’re seeing Quinn take a drill to the head with no anesthesia for a surgery she needs in order to live. This is very different from the painless surgery Gary got from Avacato for his robot arm. So, Gary stepping in to decrease that pain for Quinn is one thing, I’m like alright cool. Fam, Gary said that’s not enough and kept telling H.U.E. to raise the pain on his end. My man had a fucking cardiac arrest, Avacato had to use a defibrillator on Gary to bring him back, Gary woke up and said, “Fuck a heart attack, RAISE IT AGAIN H.U.E!” to the point where he was bleeding out of his eyes and nose.
This wasn’t solely a gesture done from a romantic angle of love. This was a gesture done of care for a friend’s well-being as H.U.E. is telling Gary is too much and Gary shouts back, “She’d do it for me.” We know that’s real rap raw because when Earth was taken into Final Space by a Titan, Quinn said I couldn’t save Earth… but I can save you” right before closing the breach to Final Space. Gary knows this pain is the least he can do for all that she did. All of which is to say, Quinn is that fucking chick. We see the importance of Quinn to the mission of closing the breach and how important it was that even the chance of her surviving in Final Space was enough for her crew to come after her. No questions asked. Three seasons in and we are still learning more about Quinn Ergon’s back story, Journey, and parallels with Nightfall. Even seeing Quinn get Nightfall’s Selenium chip to complete the similarities in appearance, through all the foreshadowing, it’s still a shocking scene.
“Counting Down a Clock, That Nobody Sees”
Before I close this out, I need to talk about the music on this show. Yo, Shelby Merry songs on the score for season one and two of Final Space, my god. I ain’t ever seen a composer for an animated show choose not violence, but a gut punch for every single fucking time. The strings just accompany the scenery of space so well and the moments where we are all watching someone die or sacrifice themselves. Shelby has an incredible ability to just capture the tone of the scene so well with the lyrics. She really said, “I’m going to fuck everybody’s feels up watching this show and there ain’t a damn thing they can do about it.” Jake Sidwell and Andrew Goodwin are doing the composing for season 3 (Jake was there for season one, Andrew was there for season 2 too) and apparently he’s on the same shit. He’s like they ain’t even getting lyrics, yall going to have to ride out how heavy this shit gets with just the beat. I’m with it. I’m with all of it.
Listen, Olan Rogers been writing his ass off for three seasons of heat with no misses. This whole crew really feels like family, which makes it all the more heart-wrenching seeing them just to squeak out a win. There’s so much else to mention that I can’t possibly even try to fit into this write-up. Everything has a price in Final Space but even when it’s paid there are still consequences. This show does not stop punching you in the heart with hurt and humor. From Fox’s backstory to how he got in the way, Gary being accountable for a loss that wasn’t his fault but he’s choosing to take responsibility for, and Avacato confessing to Gary secret he’s been living with that’s tearing him up inside, Ash’s journey, and more. I’m telling you this series is doing space adventure unlike any other cartoon in the game.
Olan Rogers is playing the long game with the storytelling, and I’m here for all of it. Each episode will have you holding yourself saying, “Fuck, how much worse can it get?” before seeing the worse come to fruition. However, the humor and moments of reprieve amongst the chaos, loss, and hurt makes you appreciate these beautiful little moments of light when the night is long.