Warning: Heavy spoilers ahead for Netflix's On My Block. Read at your own risk.
Somewhere in the middle of On My Block's triumphant first season, the show diverged into two stories. One was a dramedy about high school freshman. The other was a version of The Da Vinci Code, except with nursery rhymes instead of biblical verses. What seemed like a throwaway line in the pilot — "No, we'll pull in the honeys by finding the RollerWorld money." — became the sole mission of Jamal (Brett Gray), one of the show's more wayward principal characters. Jamal is characterized by his obsession with the RollerWorld money. He's Nicolas Cage in National Treasure, or a composite of all the kids in The Goonies. (In a sweet meta-moment, the show deliberately calls out The Goonies as inspiration.) While the other characters explore romance and sexuality, Jamal explores desperation, getting increasingly crazed by the episode. By the finale, Jamal is covered in dirt and screaming at the heavens, "I'm done!"
Except he's not done. Jamal finds the money. In the cruelest twist, Jamal finds the RollerWorld money moments after Latrell (Jahking Guillory) shoots Ruby (Jason Genao). Touché, On My Block. Touché.
After giddily bingeing the show — which, if you have a heart, is how you'll watch the show — you may find yourself confused as to how this happened. Wasn't the money kind of... not real? For most of the show? At what point did it become clear Jamal would find it? And, more importantly, was Lil Ricky fucking with Jamal the whole time? Allow me to try (try) to explain.
So, how much was the money in the end?
According to Ruby's abuelita (Peggy Blow), the full sum is $250,000, although the myth — the one Jamal digested and stored in his mind — placed it at $50,000. No word on how much Jamal found in the football field, though.
What was the original myth in the first place?
Though it's never told in full, the original story seems to be that two men stole a large sum of money from RollerWorld in 1981. Benito and Frankie — both members of Los Santos — robbed RollerWorld, which was actually a money laundering scheme for the Prophets, another California-based gang. Benito and Frankie were both arrested for the robbery, but they hid the money before they were arrested. Then, they both died in prison, taking the secret of the RollerWorld money with them.
So then who is Lil Ricky?
Wait — you mean Big Ricky's son or Tiny Ricky's dad?
I mean the Lil Ricky involved in the robbery.
Ah! Yes. Per Rosé (Angela Elayne Gibbs), Lil Ricky is the third Santos involved in the RollerWorld heist. He didn't get arrested, and is therefore the key to finding the money. Unfortunately, he's dead, just as dead as Benito and Frankie. He died 19 months after the original arrest. Frankie, by the way, was Rosé's boyfriend in the '80s. And Benito's family owned a smoke shop. Those are details that will come up later.
Then who the hell is Chivo (Emilio Rivera)?!
Jamal finds Chivo via a gnome sitting atop Ricky's grave. The gnome belongs to Chivo, a gnome collector (?) who loves puzzles. Okay, this is where things get frustrating. Chivo, in an effort to "have fun," sends Jamal on an elaborate quest to find the money. The quest is complicated. It involves revelations from all members of the crew — "Degrees!" Monse (Sierra Capri) says, realizing that the numbers on the paper are coordinates. Good catch, Monse! Later, Jamal utilizes his knowledge of the Dewey decimal system. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle gets involved, as does an amatuer theater troupe and Ruby's abuelita. Episode nine effectively serves as On My Block's version of The Goonies, only it comes to a twisted, rooted-in-reality ending. The money turns out to be gelt, and Chivo reveals himself to be a riddle master.
"Wasn't it fun?" he asks a livid Jamal. Well, it sort of was, for us. For the characters? Not so much. Jamal's obsession finally led the friends to the worst place they could imagine: a big, honking fight, probably the first earnest one the friends have had.
What makes Jamal decide to keep looking?
A couple of things. First, there's a big sign in the hospital elevator that says "Never Give Up Hope." Jamal, after having given up home, groans and relaunches his obsession. He still has the paper that Chivo called a "map." It is a map, is the thing. It just wasn't the map Chivo made it out to be. The nursery on the paper reads:
Ring around the rosie
Pocket full of posies
We all fall down.
Pocket full of posies
We all fall down.
After revisiting the rhyme, Jamal realizes that the rhyme is a map that only the original three men can decode. 'Ring around the Rosie' refers to Rosé, Frankie's girlfriend. And 'pocket full of posies' refers to Lil Ricky, who loved to garden, apparently. Finally, 'ashes to ashes' refers to Benito. 'We all fall down,' somewhat inexplicably, refers to the football field where all three won a championship in high school. Thus, the threesome buried the money in a football field.
Isn't that a little... basic?
Maybe! But the other plot was way too complex. Don't you think if you had to make a "map" to some money you'd buried, it would also be a little dumb? And Jamal's point is important. This map wasn't for anyone else to see. Benito, Frankie, and Lil Ricky didn't think anyone would ever be searching for this money, and they certainly didn't want anyone to find it.
Why did Jamal stop and stare at his hands?
This moment could have been clearer. While digging in the football field, Jamal's shovel breaks. Frustrated, he yells, "I'm done!" He says he won't dig with his hands. And then, he looks at his hands. The point is, he's going to dig with his hands. The thesis of this quest has been "keep going" and digging without a shovel is part of that philosophy.
Now that he has the money, what is he going to do with it?
Buy Ruby a new lung, please! But actually, Jamal did say that he wants to buy a new metal detector and potentially invest in solar. First things first, though, he should probably check in with his friends. While he was digging through a football field, someone got shot, and we're not sure he's alive.
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