My review of the season finale of the fourth season of The Game after the jump. Reviews of every Season 4 episode can be found here.
Interestingly enough, I think The Game Season 4 ended exactly the way it began: with way too much drama that comes more from writers's desire than character. This episode plays very much the way the premiere did with scene after scene of nearly everyone acting wildly out of character.
Melanie and Derwin spent the bulk of the first half of the season dealing with drama related to Derwin's child with Janay and then basically receded into the background. So it is jarring that this episode focused almost exclusively on the lesser developed fact that Derwin is now the Sabers franchise player and that reality has gone to both of their heads.
There have been some hints that Derwin feels like Malik is past the point of being helped, but his behavior in this episode just felt like it came out of nowhere. It makes total sense for him to be concerned about a conflict of interest if Tasha manages Malik again, but for him to be so unconcerned with Malik as a person just felt out of character. Other than the Episode 4 where Derwin doesn't come to Malik's press conference, Derwin has been mostly concerned about Malik – and usually helpful. So for him to be so cavalier with his disregard for Malik didn't work for me at all. And asking Melanie to handle it with Tasha is just a punk move.
Similarly, the fight between Melanie and Tasha was pure spectacle, though very well-acted. It was not rooted in anything real. I didn't buy for a second that Melanie would be so callous about Malik right to Tasha's face and so the way the scene escalated was just contrived. Melanie's behavior is particularly egregious given how much help that we know Malik and Tasha have given her in the past.
I needed Tasha to do more than just tell Melanie off in that scene. I needed Tasha to really to address more forcefully just how brand new Melanie and Derwin are. It is just another example of the neutering of Tasha Mack as the voice of reason on the show (even as her ghetto fabulous characteristics have been overemphasized.)
But truthfully, the show has simply just not earned this new heartless, materialistic Melanie and Derwin. Such a tremendous shift in character has to be shown, not told. Melanie and Derwin are the center of the show. They grounded the show through their desire not to get lost in this professional football world. But now, presumably, they are caught up. They are no longer the characters they were 5 years ago. Ok. Cool. But how did they get there? We do not know. And we need to.
The Game simply becomes a different show if Melanie and Derwin are essentially Kelly and Jason now. Such a profound shift has to be earned, but just sort of picking up 2 years later and expecting us to just adjust to the loss of the show's heart is a lot to ask. The writers had all season to help us understand more fully why these two characters have made such dramatic shifts. They failed to do that.
That said, I like that the show is taking seriously the consequences of Malik's season-long melodrama. Given how much time has been spent on the story, I'm glad that the show didn't find some contrived reason for the Sabers to keep him around. He really did have to be replaced.
But I still don't buy that Malik loves Model Jenna as much as the writers want us to believe. And it makes no sense that him setting up a fake modeling job would send her careening off the wagon. Was it her first job since getting out of rehab? How badly did she mess up her career? We don't know, so we don't care that she's humiliated. It's just all poorly conceived and plotted.
Season 4 has been a season in which we've watched the writers destroy all of the relationships between the six main characters and then try to build a new telenovela-like show around storylines for all six characters separately. Where the original show was tons of fun and incredibly well written and performed, this new show is not enjoyable and is poorly developed and executed
More importantly, this new show is not what any of The Game fans wanted.
The Sabers are the institution that brought these six characters together, but the relationships that were built over the first three seasons were sufficiently strong enough that the show could have existed in some form even if Malik and Jason are no longer Sabers and Kelly is no longer a Sunbeam. But as it stands now, there is no real reason for these six people to ever speak to each other again.
I don't know, dramatically, what purpose has been served by putting these characters through what they've been through this season. But I do know that makes it very hard to care at all about what might happen in Season 5.
Some final thoughts:
- The scene with Jason, Derwin and the new quarterback was comedy gold. Coby Bell is a comedic genius. He is remarkable at playing the humor of Jason's ego. So many great jokes in that scene, but my favorite was definitely "top five Jason Pitts moments. Go!" His absence this season has been felt. We need Bell back in every episode next season.
- It is unconscionable that Brittany Daniel wasn't in the finale. It feels at this point like Kelly Pitts has been written off the show. But the unceremonious way that the character has been dispensed (if indeed she's been written off, which is not really clear) is just terrible. I'm willing to bet that the treatment of Kelly Pitts this season is why Daniel did very little of the promotion prior to the start of the season. Brittany Daniel deserves so much better than what she got this season.
- Mario Van Peebles played Tasha? Boo. and. Hiss.
- I really need the show to not make the "Dr. Melanie Barnett Davis" thing a running joke if the writers aren't going to take more seriously the fact that Melanie isn't practicing. Or maybe the show should just explain to us why she's not practicing. It makes Melanie look really awful that she needs to be called by this title even though she so cavalierly threw away her career for her husband.
- Melanie had an abortion? What the fuck?
What did you guys think of the finale? Do you want a Season 5 and if so what should the writers do better next season?