Note from the writer. The review of the first four episodes can be found by clicking here, episode five review can be found by clicking here -six can be found here.
I finally got to wrap up season one of Alonge Hawes series, "Black On Both Sides" with episodes seven and eight. Both were engaging with the final episode really developing Anansi's back story. I assumed there was some kind of tragic event, especially with all the flashbacks, but didn't expect what came to be. As it turns out, Cyrus and Anansi have a history and it plays out beautifully as a vehicle for the why of the show. Perhaps beautifully is the wrong word considering the nature of their history, but in terms of storytelling... it just fits.
Chapter seven focuses on Anansi reaching his goal and earning the trust of Cyrus. The final straw is accomplished at a dinner party where Anansi has invited Nefertiti as his plus one, where she is expected to play the role of the whitewashed wife to the whitewashed man. Save the bickering and comedic gagging faces she makes throughout the party, it's a success and paves the way for the endgame that becomes the final episode. Said final episode was pretty decent as well, with the flashbacks being the real highlights of the episode. The coming together of Anansi's plan works well, but did feel a little quick for my tastes. "Black On Both Sides" is a low budget production, so Hawes and his crew did what they could. It does all makes perfect sense, but it's mostly executed as exposition. As written above, the real gem was the history - and for whatever reason, the very ending turned out to be more powerful than I would have thought. Sometimes, less flash equals more punch. There are numerous threads that could be elaborated on later if Hawes decides to go for a season two - but what there is right now, does wrap things up nicely. Mostly.
As mentioned above, reviews for past episodes can be found in the links - and that includes the individual technical aspects. These final two episodes are more of the same, some uneven audio and shaky cam here and there. But I've said it before and it especially applies to these final episodes, the acting and writing are top-notch. It's probably true that after following along for the entire season, I've become accustomed to some of the less than perfect production aspects and now simply focus on writing and acting. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that and in truth, the fact that I even care is a tribute to the talent involved in the creation and execution of this show. So long as a person knows what to expect going in, there's real gold here. No question.
The overarching themes of Hawes series are pretty self-explanatory - even the title gives them away. Yet this is not a typical black and white story. There's racism yes, just as there is in real life - but more often than not it's in the background and perhaps even unintentional. Save a few instances, especially during these final episodes, the racism is veiled and often times maybe even considered unconscious. That's the real draw of the series. Even Anansi's boss probably doesn't consider himself racist to us viewers - again, until the end of the show that is. But everything is handled realistically. You're not going to find episode after episode of skinheads yelling the N-word - instead, a more realistic approach is taken, oppression just under the guise of normality. "Black On Both Sides" is a great revenge story no doubt, but its the smaller things you will really appreciate.
The bottom line is this. Season one was entertaining and even a little educational. I will however, leave the educational part for viewers to figure out for themselves. Without question, this is a series geared towards a black audience - man, I really hate the way that sounds - but it's true. However, folks of any ethnic background will find something here to enjoy, appreciate, or think about. Alonge Hawes and his troupe know how to get the gears turning. Is this a fiction? Yes, it is. Can something be gleaned and stored in the mind? You bet. Of these final two episodes, the last was my favorite but as a series overall, including all the ups and downs, I believe four stars feel about right. Not bad for a low budget series. Not bad at all.