Ginny almost saves the ‘Ginny & Georgia’ season 2 finale from itself

Although it is widely cited as a country roast The Gilmore Girls with a touch of murder, Ginny and Georgia only wish it was that straightforward. There are moments of genuine excellence in the teen drama’s second season, out now on Netflix; in particular, Antonia Gentry plays the titular Ginny with a well-balanced fusion of teenage self-absorption and raw pathos. As her understanding of her mother’s crimes crystallizes early in Season 2, her own mental health deteriorates, and the self-harm that only got a cursory introduction in Season 1 is explored with much more nuance and insight here. But the show’s efforts to resonate are all too often sidelined in favor of bad voiceover, half-baked love squares, pointless criminal heists and a fundamental imbalance between its title characters.

The Season 2 finale serves as a perfect case study for this problem. “I had to change a lot,” Brianne Howey’s Georgia says in the episode’s opening minutes, via her signature über-twangy narration. “I’ve gotten good at it.” But Georgia has spent most of Season 2 proving that she’s actually not very good at it at all. She constantly justifies her vile actions, even when they put her children in danger. She constantly keeps secrets, even when the lack of transparency only adds to her long list of problems. Worst of all, she constantly centers herself and her own need to identify as a “good mother” even as her children beg to be recognized and understood.

“You guys are fine, right? Not emotionally scarred beyond repair?” she pleads with these children, hours after Ginny and Austin (Diesel La Torraca) witness Austin’s biological father, Gil (Aaron Ashmore), abusing Georgia in the kitchen. Austin – who has clearly picked up some violent instincts from his mother – then shoots his father in the arm.

We later learn, via flashbacks, that Georgia herself once tried to pull a gun on Gil, but he called her bluff and knocked the gun out of her clenched fist. So she embezzled money from his company and blamed the crime on him, an action she justified since a) he had become a danger to her family and b) Gil was already embezzled money and just hadn’t withdrawn enough money to get caught. The $100,000 check was enough to get Georgia and Ginny out of Hell and to put Gil in jail long enough for Georgia to almost forget about him.

The problem is, old enemies have a way of resurfacing in Netflix dramas. Now Ginny not only has her mother’s abusive ex-boyfriend to worry about, but she’s also reeling from a recent breakup with Marcus (Felix Mallard), whose major depressive episode she still doesn’t fully understand. But wait, there’s more: Ginny doesn’t know that no small part of her breakup is thanks to Georgia, who earlier in the season made Marcus promise her he “wouldn’t last” [Ginny] back.” Mom and partner share a smoke in the garage halfway through the season finale, where Georgia admits, “I was a little hard on you. Sorry. You did a lot for my daughter.” To which Marcus replies, “You don’t have to worry. I won’t tell anyone your secret,” and then slips a finger across his neck. Georgia’s face drains of color as she realizes Ginny told him she killed her ex-husband.

Netflix

Meanwhile, after Ginny’s friends, dad and mom try to soothe her heart condition with offers of extension classes and pre-gaming, Georgia snuggles with her daughter and—out of nowhere—brings up the idea of ​​Lake Powell. What a beautiful place to live, isn’t it? It takes Ginny a few more scenes to piece together what Georgia was up to. Her mother hasn’t changed at all; she wants to run again.

So Ginny calls the Mount, where Georgia and her fiancé, Mayor Paul Randolph (Scott Porter), had planned to get married. Sure enough, Georgia has already broken the contract and canceled the wedding. (I shudder to think of the resulting bill, but there’s no time for that in teen-drama-ville!)

Ginny confronts her mother when Georgia returns from her smoke break with Marcus, but Georgia insists that moving to Lake Powell is an attempt to ensure Paul’s safety. “This isn’t about protecting Paul,” Ginny replies. “This is about protecting Georgia.” Finally, Georgia cracks—just a little—and spills her true fears: “I’m a damaged, unlovable killer in the trailer park. I don’t belong here.”

Thanks to the therapist’s intervention, Ginny recommends that Georgia lay it all out to Paul and see what the worst can happen. (Maybe he gets her arrested for stealing money from his office in Season 1, but I’m just brainstorming). Route she wasn’t supposed to tell him about killing her ex-husband, Kenny. That would be a step too far. Reluctantly, Georgia agrees, and her subsequent word-vomiting at Paul’s feet sends him storming out of the house … and straight to his lawyer, with whom he attacks Gil for harassment and custody of Austin. He insists that he is still furious with Georgia for keeping so many secrets, but he agrees to follow through on their wedding.

Seemingly moments later, Georgia and Ginny are driving to City Hall in a carriage pulled by a horse named Milkshake. Most of the wedding guests are there waiting, except for Georgia’s colleague and friend, Nick, who has just found out that his supposed partner, Jesse, is actually a private investigator named Gabriel Cordova, hired to track down Georgia’s history. This realization comes naturally after Nick’s already delivered the juicy tidbit that will finally give Gabriel his winning hand: Georgia was present a few nights ago when her neighbor, Cynthia Fuller, discovered her sick husband was floating. Actually, Georgia was there in the room with him when the monitor went wrong. A coincidence? Gabriel thinks not.

Back at City Hall, Georgia floats to the altar in a confection of exploding periwinkle tulle and dances under the twinkling fairy lights with her new husband, who this time can’t do anything as Gabriel and the police interrupt their first dance to handcuff Georgia. handcuffs. Look, she’s under arrest for the murder of Tom Fuller. Why? Gabriel must have taken Nick’s inside information and ran with it, convincing the police that Georgia’s presence in the Fuller household when Tom died was too suspicious not to investigate further.

As guests pour out of the building to watch the police throw Georgia into their cruiser, Ginny grabs her little brother’s shoulders and he confides a gut-wrenching secret. “I didn’t tell anyone,” Austin reveals as he tears himself free from Ginny’s clutches and runs after his mother.

See, Austin saw it all happen. During a game of hide and seek with Cynthia’s son, he hid in a closet in Tom’s hospice room, from where he watched Georgia waltz in and smother Cynthia’s husband with a pillow. Georgia’s child saw her kill a man. Even if she claims it was an act of mercy, a show of friendship for the long-suffering Cynthia—who was tired of watching her husband fade away in her vegetative state—Austin has no way of understanding it. And even if he did, Austin wanted to know another truth: Ending Tom’s life wasn’t Georgia’s decision to make. Regardless of intent, it was a crime, and one that Georgia committed without considering the impact on those around her. As the police car pulls away from City Hall, Ginny can only watch and breathe as she realizes that she will once again be forced to deal with what her mother has done.

Georgia’s unintended impact on Ginny is one of Season 2’s most poignant recurring themes. In fact, the trauma that passed between them may be the single most interesting issue Ginny and Georgia has to offer, and when the camera zooms in on that dynamic—as it does in some well-written therapy scenes earlier in the season—the show finally balances the scales. Only in these scenes does the relationship between mother and daughter feel less like a caricature and more like something ripped from a slice of life, a la the oft-referenced Gilmore girls. But the weight of this dynamic falls too often on Ginny and, by extension, on Gentry, whose most exciting work is overshadowed by the show’s miscalculated attempts at humor and high stakes. In between her psuedo-Southern platitudes and oversimplifications, Georgia bats her eyelashes and brushes aside Ginny’s attempts at real accounting, as in an exchange when she tries to plant alcohol and porn on Ginny’s teacher’s desk midway through Season 2.

“You can’t go around doing whatever you want all the time,” Ginny tells her mother.

“I’ll do anything for you. You know that,” Georgia says.

“It’s terrible,” Ginny replies in one of the more intelligent line readings of the season. “It’s a terrible thing to inflict on me.”

Ginny – and Gentry – do their best to keep the show on track, to steer the titular mother and daughter towards mutual understanding. Georgia did what she felt she had to do to escape an abusive childhood and adolescence; Ginny must nonetheless deal with the twisted consequences of her actions. The difference is that Ginny’s character is given time and space for evaluation and healing. Despite Howey’s best efforts, Georgia’s self-analysis barely skims the surface. “I don’t belong here” is about as serious as she’s allowed to get.

Ginny and Georgia season 2 is undeniably better than season 1: it’s smarter and richer, plus it’s abandoned somethough not all, of the Gen Z buzzword roulette that got its writers to the early episodes in trouble last season. But too many voiceover clichés (“Betrayal leaves a metallic taste”) and illogical twists (how does Gabriel plan to prove Georgia killed Tom?) contribute to an unbalanced reliance on Ginny’s maturity as a character (and Gentry’s maturity as an actress). The result is an uneven, if enjoyable, second season, one with a lot more unpacking if it hopes to keep Ginny and Georgia together for long.

Main photo by Lauren Puckett-Pope

Associate Editor

Lauren Puckett-Pope is an associate editor at ELLE, where she covers film, television, books and fashion.

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