Life is about making choices, and all the little ones can lead you down unexpected paths that change your future.
It's official; On My Block Season 3 outdid itself. A mystery was at the beginning of the season, but it abandoned it. However, On My Block Season 3 Episode 7 set things up well for On My Block Season 3 Episode 8, which served as both a haunting end of a chapter and the beginning of a new one.
We don't know if Netflix has renewed the series. The final installment could easily serve as a series finale, but God, it's a painful one.
I sincerely hope the series returns, so our core four gets justice, and Cesar remembers that he used to be the boy with too much heart for his own good. It turns out the season didn't need to end with the death of someone we loved to break our hearts. It did well with Cesar's fate.
The final hour of the season had the gang fractured. Small fissure lines have cracked the core four for some time, but as the stress increased, it made things worse.
Monse: Promise me nothing is going to change.
Everyone: Nothing is going to change.
All the good, bad, and ugly of their friendship was on full display. Friendships, like most relationships, are complicated. It comes a time when we outgrow some of them, and everyone faces crossroads.
It's hard to imagine the core four never being friends again. They grew up together, and they're the embodiment of "cradle to the grave." The things they have endured should solidify their bond forever, but if they were all destined to go down different paths, then what does that mean for their friendship?
In hindsight, the series did a marvelous job of building to their inevitable split. Cesar's arc is the most arresting.
He's a good kid, and he always has been, but adults decided who he was before he had a chance to himself. Because of his associating with the Santos, to everyone else, he was always going to be another gangbanger.
Cesar: We're going to deal with this before if hits them.
Monse: Wait, what do you mean we're going to deal with this?
Cesar: She needs to go.
Jamal: That's not who we are.
Cesar: You're right. That's not who you are. Which is why I'm going to do it.
It didn't matter if he fought against it, or he wasn't trying to be part of that life. The street world came for him when he wasn't looking for it, and it's been chasing him ever since. It didn't stop until it had him in its grasp.
And at some point, for someone young, with their hope dwindling, it's probably easier to give in and become the same thing everyone else ascribes to you.
Cesar probably reached a point where he didn't see the use of fighting anymore. No matter what he did, it seemed as though he was bound to Santos life, and escape seemed impossible.
Ray looked at his son and someone hopeful -- someone he aspired to be because when he saw Cesar, he saw a kid who had a future ahead of him.
For a long time, I didn't think I had a choice. But after shit didn't add up about Ray, I started asking around. Found out what really happened between him and the Santos. They turned on him. She turned on him for no reason. Our family ain't sacrificing for her no more.Oscar
I wonder what Ray has to say about his son now. It has to break his heart, Oscar's, too.
As the season progressed, Cesar grew more jaded, and the turning point had to be when he suggested they kill Cuchillos. He wanted to protect his family and friends.
And maybe it would have been a fleeting thought, but then Cuchillos set Oscar up, and Cesar had to go days without knowing whether or not his brother was alive.
It changed him; it was like something clicked -- a switch turned off, and he embraced everything that he tried to avoid as much as possible.
Monse: Are you sure? We're talking about taking a life here.
Oscar: Or yours. Mines. Everyone's.
Monse: And yet you work for her.
Oscar: Worked. Past tense. She's out of control. She's never been this bad before, and it's all for nothing. putting you kids in the middle of her crazy vendetta? Shit must stop. She doesn't give a damn. She doesn't give a shit about no one. Even those most loyal to her. Like our dad. She made him take the fall back in the day, but her time is up. She's going to a meeting she ain't walking out of.
Cuchillos was the reason Ray was in prison. She was responsible for upending the Diaz boys' lives, and they couldn't reconcile with that.
But then it appeared as though Cuchillos took Oscar out too, and all the blood family Cesar had known was gone from his life, and all he could see was vengeance.
Cesar made a choice, and for the first time, he was firm in it. The hour had so much foreshadowing that it made the season finale suspenseful and nervewracking.
You couldn't fight that feeling in your gut that even if the core four made it out alive, all would not be well. Everything had changed.
Spooky, don't start without me.Cuchillos
Cesar charged to the Santos hangout spot, demanding that they get looking for his brother. He was asserting a form of authority he never embraced before, and it was disconcerting. Some of the other members recognized it, though, and responded.
The second they uttered the term "Lil' Spooky," it made your heart sink. Cesar's path was falling into place in this turbulent time of uneasiness with the power changes and coups.
He loaded that gun with a hardened determination that belied the loss of the remnants of innocence that remained. Tinoco was the powerhouse of the hour.
It was a disquieting moment when Monse asked him if this was just a one-time thing, and he never actually responded. Her intuition was sending off warning bells, and deep down, she knew that something in Cesar shifted.
Hey, this is just a one-time thing, right?Monse
The group of friends is willing to die for each other. Regardless of their fights, they always stand shoulder to shoulder when times are tough. They were in all of this mess together.
The 19th Street gang were wild cards, so while it was promising when Oscar went into negotiation mode for his life, it wouldn't have been uncharacteristic for them to kill him.
Yet, when they rolled up on Cesar and gave him the phone and where to meet up, it felt like Cuchillos was the one who was dead.
But where was Oscar?
The long trek through the woods had the core four airing out everything that had been troubling them. The tension was at the highest it has ever been for them.
Jamal: I found the money to help save Cesar. What did you do?
Ruby: I took a bullet for him.
Cesar: Hey, I didn't ask for help. Then or now. I can't believe how selfish you all are being when my brother, who was trying to protect all of us, is now probably dead because of us. You know what? Just go home. I'd rather do this by myself.
Everyone was terrified; their lives were on the line again, and they had parted ways with their families thinking it was the last they'd see of them.
Cesar was preparing himself for seeing his brother's dead body, and while they weren't saying it, the others were scared for Oscar too.
And everyone was right about everything they said.
Cesar wasn't wrong when he called them out on always speaking ill of Oscar and the Santos but also seeking their help all of the time.
Nah, you know what's not fair? It's that you guys complain about my brother and the gang, but as soon as you need him, you come begging. Well, I'm not sitting on my ass while Oscar's out there saving all of ours.Cesar
As much as they disapproved of Oscar, he always protected them and looked out for them as best as he could, and it's something they relied on when they needed it.
And Cesar was at a loss for words that his brother could've died protecting them again, and they weren't grateful for it. But he also was wrestling with the final words he said to his brother. He came across like an ungrateful brat, too.
But Lil' Spooky had slowly started taking over, and he was treating his friends like his subordinates.
Because Ruby and Jamal were terrified too, and as hurtful as it was to say, being friends with Cesar has cost them a lot. It made them tied to all of the gang mess by association.
Ruby: You're acting like you're the only one who ever lost anything or anyone. You're not the only one who almost died or watched the love of their life choke on her own blood. Or who took months to feel semi-normal because being normal is something I'll never get to be. This isn't about just you, Cesar.
Jamal: Some of us are collateral damage in your shit.
Cesar: I don't need your disrespect.
Jamal: Whoa. You don't even get it. Just being your friend is a liability. Then don't be.
Monse: Oh. Hey let's not go there.
Ruby: But we're there. Look in the mirror and remember who you are. Cause we don't work for you. We aren't the Santos. There is no hierarchy in our friendship where we work for your respect. You want respect, go hang out with those dudes on your front porch. But real friends call you on your shit.
Cesar: Leave. I release you. I don't want to be anybody's liability.
It's the reason Jamal's harmless Roller World quest took a messy, scary turn, and he had to use it to save Cesar. Beef with the Prophet$ is the reason Ruby was a victim of an errant bullet, and Olivia is dead.
All of it came rushing back, and the arguing among the kids was heartwrenching. As usual, Monse was trying to be the glue to keep everyone together, and it worked long enough for them to make it to the grave.
Cuchillos was dead, not Oscar, and I imagine the 19th Street gang wanted the core four there to see that it was official as they torched her body.
But how do you expect kids to recover from something like that? Cesar wanted to stay with Monse, and the others went home to decompress.
Cesar: it's a good plan.
Ruby: It's the only plan.
Cesar: You sure about this, compa?
Ruby: Ride or die.
They almost killed someone. It rattled them to their core when they processed it.
And Oscar had a beautiful moment with one of the core four's other best allies, Abuelita. Abuelita has crazy stories, and you know she was part of some shit back in the day.
She was right there to sew Oscar up. He must have been on the receiving end of Cuchillos' knives before she died.
Abuelita didn't have to say anything else beyond her "thank you," and it didn't make the moment any less emotional. She knows that Oscar has been out there protecting her grandson and his friends and that he's behind ensuring that the neighborhood is safe.
Abuelita: Thank you.
Oscar: For what.
Abuelita: You know what.
Oscar stole the season, and I cannot sing Julio Macias' praises enough.
Oscar was tired of gang life. It's not something he wanted. And he used Cuchillos' death to finally get out. As much as he reacted poorly to Ray's words, he knew his father was right, and he didn't want to give any more to a life that has only caused them pain.
He saw how destructive it was. Cuchillos' death meant he could take over and do things the right way.
They couldn't eradicate crime and illicit activities, but he knew the people needed change, and he wanted things to be as peaceful as possible.
Oscar: These are your territories. As long as you stay in your territories, there's nothing to worry about. You have my word. We've had our head on a swivel too long. No más. We work together to clip problems before they become problems. You good?
19th Street gang member: Yeah. I want to make it to my 16th birthday.
It hit him most when he struck his deal with the 19th Street gang. He gave them territory, and he made them agree that they wouldn't solve things with guns, and everything would be safer for everyone.
And then the gang member said something that shattered you. He was willing to agree to all of these terms despite spending all of this time being a menace. Why? Because he wanted to make it to his 16th birthday.
They looked young, but bloody hell. He was only a kid like Cesar was one, and Oscar probably was when he started. He was no different than they were, doing what he felt he needed to survive. It's such a simple hope. All he wanted was to see 16 years of age without dying.
Oscar: Hermano, it's a new day. I don't need this shit. I want adult problems. Maybe have a wife, a kid. All I have right now is resentment and missed opportunities. I don't want that shit no more. It's time to give it away and start a new chapter.
Cesar: What if someone takes your power?
Oscar: Let 'em. You taught me the real power is all up here.
If that didn't put things into perspective, then what does?
It confirmed for Oscar that he was doing the right thing. He didn't want to perpetuate this life and carry on this cycle. It's also interesting to note that Oscar became the new Lil' Ricky.
We never found out what happened to Lil' Ricky, and while it does feel like they dropped the storyline for no good reason, maybe this was the point.
Lil' Ricky got into the life hoping to make things better for their hood, and he got out to save himself for a fresh start. Wherever he is, he never wanted to be found. He wanted to be happy.
Oscar did the same. He listened to his father, and Cesar's optimism inspired him to make the change and pursue what he always wanted.
Oscar broke free from the chains of that life that bound him. Sadly, Cesar thought he was a fool for what he did. He thought his brother was soft.
A hardened Cesar lost the visages of hope he had. He's the catalyst for Ray and Oscar making these changes, and then he fell into the same trap. They hoped he would be the one to break their cycle, and he got sucked into it.
The two-year time jump was good for Oscar. Your heart soars when you realize he got everything he wanted.
Cesar: Just go out there and find him!
Santos: Hey, we got you lil' Spooky.
A fuzzy Oscar standing at a grill, his passion was always cooking. And he had a pregnant wife. He gets the family and life he wanted, and you can't ask for anything more for him.
But the same can't be said for Cesar. His jaded response to Oscar's plan spoke volumes.
He has become the new Spooky. He has lost his way, and maybe, hopefully, he'll find it again.
Monte's cutting words to Monse about snatching up opportunities when they come and not giving her life up for a gangbanger was harsh.
Monte: Don't waste this opportunity on some gangbanger. His life isn't going anywhere, but yours can.
Cesar: Your dad's right.
Monte: I'm sorry.
Cesar: Don't be. She needs to go.
Monte: Feel free to convince her. I need a break and a drink.
However, it's the type of thing you'd expect from a father. And he wanted the best for Monte.
But how much did Monte's words affect Cesar? It's fascinating how there are always people who talk about how others should've gotten out of the gang life and made better decisions, but then they say things like that.
Monte thought his daughter's whole life was ahead of her, but he assumed Cesar was going nowhere. How do you give up on a kid before they even become of age?
It's that type of hopelessness -- like one's life is set in stone no matter what you do, that contributes to this mentality that there is no way out.
Just because you're from the streets doesn't mean you need to stay there.Monte
Monte could be grateful for Cesar, he always had Monse's best interest at heart, always protected her, and she never would've left if he didn't encourage her.
She was too afraid of what would happen if she did. If she left, then the group would fall apart, and she knew she was the glue that kept the core four together.
Her farewell scene was full of promises. Cesar promised to never forget about her and always love her, and he reciprocated.
They promised that they would always be friends, and they wouldn't drift apart. It's easy to make all of those agreements when you don't know what the future holds.
Monse: If I leave you're going to forget about me.
Cesar: Me? Forget about you? Never. We're not going to forget about each other. We can never really leave each other. You know why? Because we made each other who we are. We are burned into each other's DNA, and it doesn't matter where you are, or what you do. When your heart beats, mine beats with it.
Monse: I can't leave you.
Cesar: You can't stay for me either. I swear to you I will be here when you come back, no matter how long it takes.
Monse's future is bright at her private school. Two years later, she's having the time of her life with her new friends. The photo Jasmine gave her was in the back behind others of her new friends, Monte, and her half-siblings.
If Oscar became Lil' Ricky, and Cesar became Lil' Spooky, then Monse became a happier Selena/Julia. She turned her back on her old hood and never looked back.
She didn't understand how her mother could do it before, but it's easier than one thinks when life gets in the way. It's not wrong to move on, and people change. Life changes and people follow different paths.
And something tells me she hasn't thought about Cesar in a long time. She became the type of girl she used to criticize, but you also can't fault her for this. It was her shot to get out, and she's a smart girl with so much potential.
Cesar: Thank you.
Cesar: Tú eres mi vida.
She shouldn't have turned down an opportunity of a lifetime that everyone in the neighborhood would have taken in a second. Whenever you find a way out of the hood, you take it.
But she broke Cesar's heart if his broken heart-shaped skull tattoo is an indication. He also has the Santos tattoo on his back and his official street name "Lil' Spooky" on his arm.
A hardened, gang leader Cesar was a punch to the gut. No one wanted this for him. Once upon a time, he didn't want it.
And you know he's no longer friends with Ruby, Jamal, and Jasmine.
Ruby, I can't imagine my life without your father, without any of you. Families fight. But you have to fight for family. You never quit on them.Geny
Jamal must have lost his quirks. Maybe the foreshadowing for that was his reaction to quirky Kendra. She was strange -- weirder than him.
He became the jock that his father always wanted. It was surprising to see him sitting at the athlete table laughing with new friends.
And it broke your heart when he and Ruby exchanged a look but didn't acknowledge each other. If anyone would've survived as best friends, you would think they would.
But the good news is, two years later, Ruby is still with Jasmine. He has a new look, he and Jasmine both do. He isn't as formal with his bowties and dress shirts, and she isn't as flashy.
Ruby: Kissing you is not like kissing my abuelita. I was trying to--
Jasmine: Crush me?
Jasmine: Stab me in the heart?
Jasmine: Cut my soul in half and then pee on it?
Ruby: .No! I was just trying to protect you.
Their relationship has been a highlight of the season. Ruby's willingness to do anything to protect Jasmine, including breaking her heart and convincing her he didn't love her, was a sign of how far they have progressed in their relationship.
Their feelings for each other are real.
It was gratifying when he made up with her. Jasmine has so much confidence, but she deserved to hear how much someone loved and valued her.
They're such a cute couple, and I may have squealed when they made out in a more official capacity.
My girl crush on Jessica Maria Garcia continues. Jasmine has been absolute Sunshine all season long, and she and Ruby's union was a long time coming.
Ruby: Life is fleeting. I have had more than one moment to know what that means. I don't have time to waste. I have to go with my gut. And my gut is telling me that I have to do what feels right. And what feels right is you.
Jasmine: So you got to do me?
Ruby: Hopefully, at some point.
Jasmine: I don't know. That's really forward of you, Ruby.
Ruby: I think you can handle it.
Jasmine: I-I don't know if I can. But I'm willing to try.
We have Ruby and Jasmine. Monse and Cesar are no more, but we have Jasmine and Ruby, dammit.
Of course, if there is ever hope of saving Cesar from life and himself, then the group needs to come together. They're family, and no matter what, you don't bail on them.
It's been a hell of a season, with a shocking ending. Please, tell me all of your thoughts and reactions in the comments to below.
There is so much to discuss, so hit the comments!
Also, petition to renew the series!
You can watch On My Block online here via TV Fanatic.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.