It’s the season finale for Young Rock, which we now know is not a series finale as it has been granted a second season on NBC. Following the pattern for the series, this final episode delivers a tale from each of its timelines: 2032 as Dwayne Johnson runs for president; 1995 as Dwayne ends his university career and has hopes for himself in the NFL draft; 1988 with Dewey in high school and similarly looking to his future; and 1982 in Hawai’i as young Dewey comes of age with Rocky Johnson embarking on the road.
While most of the episodes have focused on only one timeline, this finale has the same set-up as the opening episode, and yet it doesn’t have the same feeling of overkill in trying to do too much at once. That’s partly because of knowing the characters better, and not feeling like there are too many new names and personalities to learn about. It’s also, however, because the stories are almost all slow-paced and reflective.
The most surprising thing would have to be that the election is not over. Johnson is on the cusp of what he’s starting to feel will be a victory, but the closest we get to a coda is seeing him prepare for a pre-result press conference. In keeping with a term applied to 16-year-old Dewey by his buddy Gabe (played by Taj Cross) in the gym, it’s a ballsy move by the production. Everything about this season finale screams set-up for a second season, so unless they had a strong feeling that such a thing was guaranteed, they were really operating confidently under that presumption.
In other words: working the gimmick.
With a broad storytelling canvas, therefore, each version of Dwayne Johnson gets a little time to shine tonight. The youngest, Adrian Groulx, has done an impressive job all season when playing opposite the most outlandish characters as he has spent much of his time surrounded by the wrestlers. Most of the wrestling cast make a quick appearance: Kevin Makely as Randy Savage; John Tui and Fasitua Amosa as Afa and Sika; Brett Azar as The Iron Sheik, and Matt Willig as André the Giant.
There’s not much to their appearances tonight — it’s more like curtain calls as the season closes out. There’s no way to know, of course, how much they may appear in season two.
Bradley Constant really starts letting his Young Rock swagger show in this episode. His role has been, in essence, that of a middle child between the younger and older versions of himself, but tonight you can see that he’s bridging the gap to the university version of Johnson. It’s a little thing, but shows some focused execution by the production.
Finally, Uli Latukefu, recently pegged to appear along with Johnson in DC’s Black Adam later this year, gets hit the hardest in terms of his future plans and dreams. We watch as he patiently sits through the entire NFL draft without hearing his name. As he leans on Rocky (Joseph Lee Anderson), Ata (Stacey Leilua), and Lia (Ana Tuisila) for support, he does receive an unexpected call.
Johnson gets some love from the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL, and the next moment we see him arrive in the Canadian city. Well, we don’t actually see him at first, because, although this is par for the course from a show that doesn’t mind stretching the truth, Calgary is made out to look more like the Rura Penthe prison colony from Star Trek VI. Not a Trekkie? Don’t worry. Imagine your most stereotypical vision of how much snow would be in your average Canadian city. Now add more.
In any case, that’s where we leave each version of Johnson for now. Also, Lia’s legal troubles with Greg Yao and the FBI continue to worsen, while Rocky is getting closer to his promised success for Vince McMahon in the WWF. If you’re at all sentimental, you’ll be hard-pressed not to love the ending of this episode, which fully blends the real and dramatized versions of Dwayne Johnson’s life into a very sweet final sequence.
Now we wait to see what stories make the cut for season two. It doesn’t seem that there’s any shortage of tales to tell.
- NBC’s Young Rock page
- Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and family story archive
- Slam Wrestling’s Young Rock review and interview archive