Are you ready for one final ride around the block?
The Freeridge crew are back and more fractured than ever. They’re also missing a crucial member when we settle into the two-year time jump on On My Block Season 4 Episode 1, with a noticeable rift among all of our favorite characters.
And while On My Block Season 4 Episode 2 took a micro-step in the right direction toward mending some relationships, with two installments under the belt, viewers are left to wonder where the heck is Monse?
You could feel Monse’s absence. Excluding that brief blink-and-you-miss glimpse of her when she ignored Cesar’s collect call, we don’t see her or know what has happened to her after two years at all.
And it’s disappointing that Jamal, likely because of a misunderstanding while eavesdropping, expresses zero interest in her.
Ruby didn’t mention her, and Cesar, hardened by heartache and two years of running the Santos, would sooner erase her from his memory than speak of her again.
In many ways, Monse was always the glue that held the boys together and kept them in check, and without her, they crumbled due to taking different paths and poor and hurtful communication.
And with Monse’s absence and all of this discord among our favorite characters, the first two installments felt a tad underwhelming.
We were dropped into their lives two years later and only got the barest of attempts to expound on what caused everyone to fall apart.
Ruby: Someone needs to tell Monse.
Jamal: It won’t be me. I don’t give a shit about her.
It left viewers scrambling to fill in the blanks a bit, particularly when characters like Jamal were such a stark contrast from who we knew and loved.
Sure, they’ll likely rectify this in due time, and I trust that the series can find its footing and get back into that groove in no time at all, but it doesn’t change that the first hour or so of the final season was rough.
We also had characters added with no real introduction and events that likely took place in the off-time.
So much of the first two installments revolved around a reformed Oscar, but it took too long to get a feel for his fiancée.
She’s this whole new person with an established life with him, and in some ways playing catch up was a bit daunting.
Don’t do this! I saw a side of you I never wanted to see again. I want Oscar, not Spooky. Goddammit you’re holding onto someone who isn’t there, but you know who is? Tu hija!
Apparently, she’s a nurse, and she’s privy to the strained relationship between Oscar and Cesar. A conversation with her at the end of the second episode is how we learn that she patched Oscar up when he got jumped out of the Santos.
And we learn that she was a supportive advocate of Oscar mending his relationship with Cesar until Cesar attacked their home.
And now, as quickly as she was the advocate for reconciliation, she’s the one telling Oscar that he cannot save his brother, who doesn’t seem to want it, and essentially that Cesar is dead to them because of his antics.
We can chalk it up to an emotional response from a pregnant woman who is tired of seeing her love hurting, but it gave you whiplash all the same.
Oscar: Cesar, this is not who you are.
Cesar: You don’t know who I am. You’re no longer a Santo. This isn’t your world anymore.
Oscar: Yeah, I’m getting that message loud and clear.
She’s otherwise a lovely enough woman, and Macias has proven that he can have chemistry with a wet towel, so it’ll click no matter what.
Oscar’s in a hell of a position right now. He’s on the verge of relocating and getting a fresh start in another state.
He has a sweet baby girl due any moment and a loving fiancee. It should be enough for him, and he deserves this time to bask in the beauty of his life right now.
But he’s determined to save Cesar.
Cesar showed up tonight, but you didn’t!
A lot of Oscar’s identity intertwines with his brother and everything he’s done over the years to take care of him. It’s hard for him to let that go, fight that urge, leave his brother behind.
He doesn’t want to consider that his brother is some lost cause, and he’s determined to save Cesar, even if it means he’s rescuing him from himself.
And that’s a battle that we can get behind.
Cesar is too deep into the gang life, and there aren’t too many options for him if he continues down this path, the primary ones being prison or death.
It’s what Oscar dreamed about when his mind made him the shooter against his brother. Cesar getting arrested beating up that rogue person slinging dope to kids was worrisome because of the unknown factors.
Who was that dealer? Where did he get the drugs? Does he have other people challenging Cesar and the Santos?
But if that wasn’t bad enough, the police have discovered Cuchillos’ body, and it’s only a matter of time before the news breaks that she’s dead.
They were still behaving as if she was the one calling orders, so when the rest of the Santos learns that Cesar lied to them and likely assumes that he killed her, he’ll lose them as well.
For the first two installments, Cesar felt inaccessible. We couldn’t get a read on how he felt deep down about the Cuchillos news or if he’s as afraid as he should be about what’ll happen when the Santos find out.
Cesar: I already told you, I don’t have it and neither does my brother.
Jamal: I’m done.
Cesar: Compa, please you gotta believe me.
Ruby: We don’t.
Cesar: Fuck you!
Cesar: Don’t ever talk to me ever again.
Cesar had glimmers of moments, like when he learned Isabelle was having a girl or when the only number that he remembered was Monse, and it looked as if he had hoped she’d answer.
But so far, the Cesar we know appears gone or at least buried deep down, and it’ll take a lot to get him back. You could see something shift in him during the flashback when Ruby led the charge with Jamal, confronting Cesar about him (and Oscar) stealing the Rollerworld money.
Interestingly, Ruby and Oscar are still close enough to one another in the present, so at some point, Ruby realized Oscar and Cesar didn’t take the money, but his friendship with Cesar was too far gone to matter.
Cesar was on edge before that when he got angry at the others for not caring about Oscar and always wanting help from the Santos while looking down on them. And it was a natural progression to Cesar cussing his best friends out and telling them he doesn’t want to talk to them again.
But all of it hurts. And after two years, if anything brings these kids — hell, young adults now, back together again, it’s figuring out their next steps after Cuchillos.
Of course, where does Jasmine factor into this? If we’re basing things on her behavior in the first two installments, she’ll only be in the way.
Jasmine felt like a regression with her overwhelming presence with Ruby. It’s a bit disappointing. She had so many moments when you wanted to swat her away.
Ruby and Jamal probably could’ve worked through their differences much sooner if Jasmine reined it in a bit.
I didn’t think I’d lose the me in we.
Jasmine is a force, and that’s one of the best things about her, but there are times when it comes with its drawbacks. She took over Ruby’s student president campaign, and she had no idea how much she was undercutting him throughout the process.
If Ruby was running for a position of power in high school with a judgmental brood of students, he needed the respect of his peers, and Jasmine emasculating him, unintentional or not, didn’t work to his advantage.
A newly cool Jamal had more of an edge, so the second it was evident he was campaigning against his former best friend for a position he didn’t even want was a gut punch.
Jamal’s ascent to popularity was decent when you consider how he was this weird kid who could only dream of that before. However, he forgot his roots and became such an asshole.
A driving force of that was Jamal feeling like he didn’t have any friends left, and he had to reinvent himself.
Cesar was done with them. He likely misunderstood a butt dial with Monse and assumed the worst, and Ruby got lost in his relationship with Jasmine.
The latter made all the sense in the world when Jamal got around to expressing why he and Ruby fell out. It’s hard when your best friend is in a relationship, and suddenly you become the third wheel.
The falling out shifts things for everyone, too. It was hilarious when Jamal’s father was so thrilled to see Ruby and expressed how much he missed him and how his son used to be.
Has this leader ever said “Bitches be bonkers?” Hell yeah because we can all be bitches. Even I have been a bitch at times.
And when have Jamal and Abuelita not been one of the best things about this whole damn show?
Abuelita wasn’t letting Jamal off the hook at all, and I love that their reconciliation required him to work for it.
Sure, Abuelita is Ruby’s grandmother, not Jamal’s, but she was right — when has she ever taken Ruby’s side over Jamal? She’s unapologetic about her favoritism.
This version of Jamal will be interesting moving forward, as he’s still a cool kid who knows how to spin things to his advantage (his bitches be bonkers response video was brilliant), but he has recognized parts of himself that have changed too much that he doesn’t like.
Abuelita: Why didn’t you tell me this?
Jamal: I assumed you would take Ruby’s side.
Abuelita: Jamal, when have I ever taken Ruby’s side?
And he’s willing to work on that and work on the critical balance, and he can do it better now that he and Ruby are friends again. They fell into their old rhythm with ease, but doubtfully it won’t be that way for the others.
As frustrating as Jasmine was during the premiere, especially knowing how much some of us wanted Jasmine and Ruby’s endgame, it still sucks that Ruby dumped her.
It’s like she had to become the antagonist in order for him to rekindle things with Jamal instead of Ruby finding a proper balance. Of course, that could still happen. Therefore I won’t gripe on that just yet.
Jasmine Flores is no one’s antagonist after all.
Jamal’s not woke enough to be fluid.
It’s so many endgames to root for right now.
We want Oscar and Cesar to repair their relationship and brotherhood. We need all of the friends to find their way to one another again, and Cesar and Monse have to at least talk to each other again!
Something tells me the key to all of the above is the latter — Cesar is at the center of these broken bonds, and Monse is the missing key to getting everything on track.
Over to you, On My Block Fanatics.
Where is Monse, and when will they reach her? How do you feel about this version of Cesar and his fractured relationships? Is it odd to see Oscar living a normal life?
Hit the comments below!
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.