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    Thursday, April 22, 2021

    Smark TV: FBI! Open Up! In Young Rock's Episode 9

    I've previously written how disappointing it feels that each Young Rock episode goes back and forth between timelines. The sudden shifts feel confusing to me as a viewer because it sometimes feels like the stories aren't interconnected—and even when they're continuing a storyline, by then, you'd have probably forgotten everything that happened previously. It also gives the illusion that each episode is a self-contained plot, thereby limiting the wow factor of each one. While this kind of set-up diminishes the reveal and drama in each episode, sometimes it still feels entertaining to watch.

    Such was the case this week as we get another jump to Dwayne's childhood days. Admittedly so, part of the appeal for the show itself comes from his actual "Young Rock" era. That's because a lot of the interesting characters were present here—Rocky Johnson was still in his wrestling peak, while Lia was still actively working with the legends we know and love. To be honest, without the crazy interactions between the out-of-this-world characters, the show falls flat and ends up becoming just another family drama that feels like a chore to watch.

    Interestingly enough, another big set-up was established as a lead-in from a previous episode. Remember in Episode 7, where Lia mentioned that she returned to the U.S. after living in the streets? Towards the end of this week, we slowly got the reveal of how rival promoter Greg Yao set her up for the FBI to arrest through an extortion sting. While a cliffhanger was yet again left, at least we did get the implication of how things would turn sour for her. I'd have to say this is such a big deal because it probably contributed hugely to the downfall of the Maivia/Johnson family in the world of wrestling.

    Although, it could very well be proper timing because not soon after this time in wrestling history, Vince McMahon ended up buying out many other wrestling territories. While it could be argued that this could've been better for the Maivia/Johnson family in terms of financial status, just imagine what could've happened to Vince and Lia's relationship if they had to go head-to-head. With how much of a tough promoter Lia was, I would figure that they'd have butted heads—though the best guess would be that McMahon would've still won that battle. But hey, imagine if it happened, maybe we wouldn't have gotten The Rock on WWE TV.

    The other plot point that they did resolve was Ata's star search journey. Ata is once again shown to put family first over everything. The chance to actually gain stardom had presented itself to the Johnson matriarch, and she had such a big chance to succeed in it given that she performed an original song that captivated the contest sponsors. However, Rocky started running his big mouth (once again) about how both he and Ata would be shining stars in each of their professions. 

    This opened up a what-if scenario of who'd be taking care of young Dwayne. Ata's maternal instincts kicked in, and she decided that it would be best for her to stay home. The show gives her such an old-fashioned yet lovable take that you, as a viewer, end up loving the character. Truth be told, of all the main characters, I'd say she has the most pull because of how she's portrayed.

    Other than these, there's not a lot else to keep you glued. There's Rocky's toxic masculinity, where he ended up teaching young Dwayne to fight for himself by way of threatening some young bullies with a knife—not very positive, if you ask me. While that part was entertaining to watch, it kind of feels wrong if you look at it from a different perspective. But Rocky Johnson (in real life and as portrayed here) is such a polarizing character that it's expected that you'd see some of his negative characteristics portrayed on the show as well. While we probably won't see the series dig deep into Rocky's controversies, there's a lot of things you're not supposed to like about the Johnson patriarch, even as it's shown humorously.

    This was a better watch than what we had the previous weeks, and there's a lot to dissect moving forward. However, for the third consecutive time, I have to ask. Whatever happened to General Monica Jackson??? For such a big cameo, they really haven't done too much with a character that could bring a lot to the table. I know Young Rock focuses on Dwayne's family and that Jackson is just another side character, but seriously, why did we bring up such a big reveal only to let it be swept to the side? She hasn't even appeared in any of the campaign segments at the start and end of the show that you'd think they forgot about her.

    I'm looking forward to how they treat the connecting stories of Lia's extortion case, Greg Yao's rival promotion, the WWF's rise (along with that of our favorite characters/legends), and much more about Dwayne's transition to professional wrestling, or even how the election arc plays out. The truth is, most (if not all) of the best parts I liked ended up being from Dwayne's childhood. If the show is serious about keeping viewers glued, maybe it's best to keep the timelines tighter and give more spots to the show's zany characters.

    Show Grade: B

    Screencaps taken from Young Rock


    Miguel “The Migz” Llado is your resident Young Rock reviewer here at the Smark Henry offices. A lover of music, wrestling, videogames, and food, he lives his life tweeting his mind off (@the_migz) Instagramming random food items and locations (@tha_migz), and streaming videogames on Twitch (@the_migz) while he pursues his musical career via his YouTube channel (Migz Llado) and courtesy of his band The Mox (TheMoxGarageRock). You can also add him on PSN (MigzLlado) to show your WWE 2K (or any PS4) skills.
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    Item Reviewed: Smark TV: FBI! Open Up! In Young Rock's Episode 9 Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Migz Llado
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