The final three episodes of Alonge Hawes series "Black on Both Sides: Sankofa" were an excellent sendoff. Through dreams and flashbacks, we learned more about Cyrus, and what exactly happened years prior. The writing was on the wall, but it was nice to see some more depth added. We also got to see Anansi get his just deserts at a time that should have been a massive celebration for Cyrus. Not only had he come up with a devious way to make more money for Legacy Wireless, but also secured a deal with Apple for the company. The timing was perfect, and watching the mighty Cyrus fall was a great addition.
As was the initial reaction of Joseph, followed by him standing up to Cyrus itself. We see Sankofa Industries finally make a true and dedicated stand, as well as get a little more of Lilith's character and some closure regarding her and Cyrus. Again, the writing was on the walls, but as episode six began, the cracks were really starting to open up, and by the end, let's just say that her departure from Cyrus was both just and dignified. The final episode of the season, and maybe the series as a whole, was more of a wrap up for the characters, save a final showdown with Anansi and Cyrus. The episode was a great finale, and to think, I was worried about it feeling like an episode of filler. I was wrong.
These final episodes as a whole were much, much more dramatic than I had been expecting. They not only upped the drama, but also the general pride of the characters involved. Episode seven was my favorite and, as a standalone, would have earned an extra half star. But as a whole series, I still feel four stars represent perfectly. As a man who has watched from the very first episode, it becomes hard to single out individual performances because, honestly, you get to know these characters. You begin to expect things a certain way, and in the case of Sankofa, my expectations were met much earlier in the series, and exceeded at the end.
It's worth noting for newcomers that starting from S1 E1 is my recommended way to go. With that statement come warnings, however, because not every episode is going to be great. But as you grow with the show, not only does the show itself get better, but you begin to really fall into things - so minor issues become moot points. Like most shows, they don't start off with amazing episodes but also, like most shows, the episodes get better and better as the characters become fleshed out. I actually cared at the ending. I rejoiced at the new legacy of Legacy Wireless and silently cheered as Cyrus was walked out. I was inspired as Henry Gil Scott Heron finally got to do what he's been wanting to do since day one, and was elated when the justice for John chanting began. All in all? What a great way to end things. Four stars - and you can read my previous episode reviews below.
Finally drawing that proverbial line in the sand is what season two of "Black On Both Sides" screams out. No more pussyfooting around the subject matter; Alonge Hawes and his troupe have something to say. While it is true that season one also spoke loud and clear on certain topics, there was still a highly fictionalized drama involving Anansi Moor and his master plan - using Legacy Wireless as a launching pad. Now, in season two which is titled, "Sankofa" that "plan" is replaced with another plan, but the actual Legacy Wireless storyline takes second stage - being replaced by a story that is not so fictionalized; it's one we know all too well. Racism, and the fact it has been literally built into the system. Again, that's not to write that season one didn't deal with major racial issues, only that season two has really buckled down - changing the dynamic of the show. Is this a bad thing? Clearly not, as you can see by my rating. "Sankofa" has in many ways benefitted from a close-to-home narrative, allowing some really hard questions to be asked and generating some damn fine drama. But I should also add that the subject matter has pushed this series onto a very thin ledge, and I'll get into that briefly below.
Season two begins with an event that sets the pace - and story for the four episodes that follow. The shooting death of John Redding in his home, unarmed, following what is presented as some great news. The shooter? None other than the Atlantic PD. This horrendous event spurs Henry Gil Scott Heron into action using his podcast as a vehicle - and eventually gets Anansi Moor to have to make a big decision. Get his newly formed company politically involved, or leave the bulk of the rallies for someone else to handle. The answer seems simple when written here, but the consequences of involving Moor's company are potentially vast and complicated.
We also have plots dealing with Anansi's punishment for the events of last season, and his newest scheme involving Legacy employees who quit within a short period of time. There are also subplots involving Cyrus' wife Lilith; some more info on Cyrus himself, in the form of his past; and we're reintroduced to two colorful thugs from season one, who play a big role during the season's final episode. "Black On Both Sides: Sankofa" really offers a lot to dig into this season, and rest assured reader... the drama you're hoping for is not absent - and excellently acted out by oodles and oodles of talented cast mates.
I've awarded the season overall, with a four out of five star rating. That's not to say that every episode is golden though. With that said, the intro to the first episode was the hardest to watch for me - which is very concerning considering the first episode intro is what makes people want to continue watching. What is the problem? Audio. It's pretty brutal. And what's more? It could have been/could be remedied with some edits. The impact of what happens to John is felt throughout the season, but as he was going about his day, most of his conversations could have been edited out. The honest truth is that a few shots of him jogging around, followed by a cut straight to his apartment, would have been just as effective, turning the audio issue a non-issue.
The rest of the season is noticeably better, and aside from some video tearing here and there, "Black On Both Sides: Sankofa" holds up pretty well. Perhaps a few of the episodes are a little longer than needed, but not too bad. The audio issues do creep back from time to time, but never as bad as the start. I'm pretty sure some scenes are even overdubbed - and was thankful for that. I will say this though, a few location switches would have really helped with the audio issue. As an example, one scene involved Anansi and Cyrus outside - having a conversation about Cyrus' wife and her upcoming speech. Had the chosen location been inside instead of outside, there would have been no audio issues.
On the whole, I really enjoyed this season. Could it be because I've become used to these characters? Sure, but that's a compliment in itself. Season two of "Black On Both Sides" is a lot more drama intensive, and again, no complaints from me. I can't say the seasons content has surprised me because frankly, anyone with a brain can see what's been going on in the world - and also knows it's nothing new. Hawes and his talented cast and crew bring these racial issues into full-frame and although no secret, these issues need to be addressed. Over and over again. About that thin ledge, I mentioned above? There's no easy way to write this so I'll just get right to it. "Black On Both Sides: Sankofa" deals with racial stereotypes and racial cliches. The fact that Anansi Moor is a huge criminal isn't lost on me. Sure, it allows for an excellent story to be told - but also gives credence to a major racial stereotype. With that said, I'm really looking forward to what comes next. Both in terms of story, and character development. If you've been on the fence about this series as a whole, take the plunge and check it out. It's available on seeka.tv