“This has a different kind of cliffhanger than we’ve had in the previous two seasons. This one’s really going to mess y’all up,” On My Block showrunner/co-creator Lauren Iungerich says from an office on the Los Angles set of her Netflix comedy. It is late September 2019, and Block will wrap production of its third season tomorrow, the first day of October.
“But that’s why you tune in. I’m gonna get all those tweets. But that’s the fun of it,” Iungerich, who directs the final episodes of the new season, continues.
At the time, it was nearly impossible to know what kind of emotional reckoning the writer/director and the rest of Block crew was plotting. But, now that Netflix has released season 3’s eight episodes, we’re all in on the secret. The teen series’ 2020 finale, “Chapter Twenty-Eight,” ends with a cliffhanger time jump that signals On My Block’s core four — or is it core five now, out of respect for Jasmine? — has splintered forever.
However, there is still a shred of hope that Freeridge’s most enterprising teens can be pulled back together come a possible season 4.
Initially, it appears “Chapter Twenty-Eight” will end with Monse Finney (Sierra Capri) getting out of her fictional inner-L.A. neighborhood of Freeridge in favour of the East Coast boarding school everyone has been talking about for two seasons. She kisses on-again, off-again boyfriend Cesar Diaz (Diego Tinoco), and the rest of her friends pledge they will all remain as close as ever.
Then, the words “2 years later” pop up on the screen. Monse is now comfortably settled into her boarding school dorm. Her hair is long and styled with a chic headband. She is surrounded by other laughing girls and Monse's framed picture of her Block friends has ended up pushed to the very back of her desk. Back at Freeridge High, Jamal Turner (Brett Gray) has wound up back in with the football crowd and Ruby Martinez (Jason Genao) and Jasmine (Jessica Marie Garcia) are in a lovebird bubble. Jamal and Ruby share a loaded glance, but don’t speak. It is obvious this distance is their norm now.
Finally, we get to Cesar, who now has a buzzed head and a gigantic Santos tattoo on his back. He presides over what appears to be a jump-in beating of a new Santos member. After the hell of the last three seasons of On My Block, Cesar is the leader of the gang he tried so hard to outrun.
This is how senior year begins for the core five. As Jessica Marie Garcia, who plays fan favourite Jasmine, says on set, “The biggest part of On My Block is learning about children losing their innocence. In every respect of that word.” There is no greater loss of innocence than this scene.
However the On My Block cast and crew seems hopeful for the future of Freeridge’s best young sleuths — not dejected.
“Season 1 was like a Freeridge ending, just because of the violence of the world we live in. Season 3 is the ending for any high school,” Jason Genao, who portrays fast-talking genius Ruby, says a few feet from the set of Monse’s boarding school dorm room. “[This could be] any friend group,” Genao's co-star Brett Gray — aka the hyper-prepared Jamal — adds, nodding in agreement.
Since this could be any group of pals, the general rules of longtime friendship apply.
“Most friend groups are like, Oh my God, this person got a boyfriend,” Genao begins. “But we’re like, Oh my God, he’s in a gang and I found money and I laundered money,” Gray continues, with Genao adding that his character also got shot. Then, the season 3 finale adds the added pressure of the teens nearly taking someone's life (Ada Luz Pla's season 3 villain Cuchillos), getting terrorized in the woods by an unpredictable gang, and believing Cesar’s brother Oscar (Julio Macias) was murdered.
“Like, I need a minute,” Gray jokes about the exhaustion his character must feel. The two-year disintegration of the group’s high-pressure friendship is narratively that minute.
Yet, Genao and Gray still sound optimistic about their character’s chances at remaining friends. “No crew is ever friends for life definitively. But the core four is the core four, you know,” Genao predicts. “Season 3 does bring little riffs, but nothing that I would say definitely takes us away [from each other].”
With the core four living totally separate lives, it seems likely another Freeridge mystery could drag them back together for one last adventure before high school graduation. No one ever did track down Lil' Ricky, now did they?