Grown-ish Season 1 Finale Recap: "Back & Forth"

Well, grown-ish crew, it’s been quite a ride, hasn’t it? Just a few weeks ago, Zoey Johnson (Yara Shahidi) was a college freshman trying (and relatablely more often than not, failing) to juggle school work, new friendships, sex, love, crying parents, and a burgeoning abuse of prescription pills. Now, thirteen episodes later, we’ve officially closed the door on Zoey’s first year at Cal U with “Back & Forth,” and even kicked the Adderall habit.
Considering all the flirty buttons on recent episodes — Luca Hall (Luka Sabbat) dreamily staring at Zoey in the design room; Aaron Jackson (Trevor Jackson) dreamily staring at Zoey in a bar; both of them dreamily declaring their love at the dance — it’s no surprise the finale wrapped up Zoey’s freshman year adventures by forcing her to decide her romantic future.
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Yet, I truly didn’t believe the season-ender would actually finish with such a clear winner among Luca, Aaron, or, eye roll, Cash Mooney (Da’Vinchi), who re-appeared in the final seconds of “Crew Love.” Instead, I assumed grown-ish would throw a curveball into all of this relationship chaos with a prospective Teen Vogue summer gig in New York City or a crossover-friendly Johnson family emergency to send its heroine running back to black-ish. Petty love troubles would pale in comparison to those kinds of life-altering decision predicaments.
But, no, grown-ish season 1 ends with Zoey picking art bae Luca once and for all. Sorry, Aaron and your neck-nape braid. Good riddance for good, Cash, please let the door hit you on the way out. Although Zoey’s final romantic decision is exciting, the real fun of the finale is watching Zoey’s journey toward picking Luca for good.
We kick off “Back & Forth,” which takes place entirely the night after the freshman formal, with Zoey agonising over which attractive man she will choose. Since there’s literally no movement on that front, grown-ish pairs each possible suitor with one of Zoey’s friends. Aaron bumps into Ana (Francia Raisa) in the cafeteria line. Nomi (Emily Arlook) tracks down the aroma of blueberry hornet weed to Luca’s room. Poor Jazz (Chloe Bailey) and Sky Foster (Halle Bailey) are stuck listening to plot device Cash swear his romantic allegiance to Zoey.
With alliances made throughout campus — although freakin’ Cash is the only one who actually sought out his designated Zoey Friend — it’s time to throw all of these ladies together. So, Zoey ends up picking each of them up throughout the dorm until they’re all convened in a campus lounge. Now that everyone is together, it’s time to play Fuck, Marry, Kill, televised bleeps included. Francia recommends sleeping with Cash, wedding Aaron, and killing Luca. Aaron does want to buy Zoey Hamilton tickets.
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Everyone else follows suit. Nomi says to bang Luca, marry Aaron, and kill Cash. For the record, this is also what I think Zoey should do. Yet, Nomi and I don’t agree why this strategy makes sense. In Nomi’s mind, “bang” is the top designation, so she’s giving her marijuana-smoking pal the gold star in this competition. When everyone reminds Nomi you can also have sex with your husband, she is disgusted. Nomi is a perfect person.
But, amid all this confusion, Nomi does share the kernel of wisdom that will eventually lead to Zoey choosing art bae over anyone else: “Do you ever notice that you’re constantly bitching about Cash and Aaron? You haven’t said one bad thing about Luca … He’s the one guy you haven’t had to change yourself for.” This is when Nomi reveals Luca is in his room using pieces of Zoey’s belt to create a stunning portrait of his beloved. Talk about romance.
Finally, the Foster sisters give their judgement: marry Cash. They don’t even play around with the bang or murder games. “He’s a human lottery ticket,” they explain of the athlete, which is true. And he’ll even stay an extra year at Cal U for Zoey.
Although the promise of wealth and likely fame is very appealing, the entire game eventually turns into inevitable chaos. So, Zoey dips out of the arguing to think long and hard about her feelings as Rihanna’s “Love On The Brain” plays in the background. I recommend copying this behavior whenever you have a difficult decision to make. RiRi makes everything better.
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That is how Zoey ends up in front of Luca’s dorm room door to announce her choice. He’s the guy who has won her heart. Our heroine’s decision makes sense, since she made her choice based on who she is now, as opposed to who she was at the start of college. So, it doesn’t matter that woke bae Aaron challenged her a few months ago or that Cash was her first love. Luoey, is the future, y’all.
Extra Credit
- In the time between grown-ish season 1 and season 2, we deserve mini episodes featuring Jazz “That’s The Dumbest Shit I Ever Heard” Foster and Sky “Which Bum Ass Loser Deserves To Die” Foster.
- Ana’s unexpected conservatism pops up once again as she tells Zoey about her so-called sex number, “You know what they say, 'Under seven, straight to heaven.'”
- Let’s all agree it’s cool for Luca to wear whatever kind of eyeshadow he wants.
- Vivek (Jordan Buhat) came back! And he can prove Pablo Escobar is the ultimate lesson in marketing.
- Aaron and Luca’s increasingly nonsensical argument about “cocaine,” which was used as a terrible euphemism for Zoey, in Drone Class was one of the best comedic moments for both characters all season. And, speaking of Drone Class…
This week's Drone Class lesson: Oh my Black Jesus! We were actually allowed to return to Drone Class for one last time this season. Our lesson is: if you want to binge the thrilling final hours of Narcos season 1, make sure Dean Parker isn’t within a mile radius.
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