In a season finale that feels like a series finale, Dwayne Johnson seeks a political win in Gjelgjiughm in 2033, lands a major acting gig in 2000, is evicted along with his parents from their apartment in 1986, and makes a vow to himself in 1985 to take care of his parents when he’s older. Whew. There’s a lot going on in this episode, titled “False Ceilings” so let’s break it down.
As I’ve noted before, there are a couple of good reasons to presume that the third season of Young Rock will be its last. Firstly, although the age of constant content and anytime availability has changed the landscape of traditional TV time slots, the “Friday Night Death Slot” has been a very real thing for a long time. The term implies that a show being moved to Friday nights, as Young Rock was for this season, is its last chance before an almost certain cancellation.
Secondly, after three years there doesn’t seem to be a lot story left to tell. This is not to say that Johnson’s life isn’t rich and filled with entertaining stories, but in the context of the show there’s really only his whole Hollywood story left on the table, and for a series that has focused on three alternating timelines to tell tales from the different ages of Johnson’s life, it seems unlikely that they’ll get into a fourth season where it’s really just about one of them.
So, with all of that in mind, it makes the ending of this week’s episode surprisingly bittersweet. It seemed like the show wasn’t going to give up the idea of a fourth season but, just in case, played it very much like a series finale.
First up, in 2033, Dwayne and Randall Park await the decision of Prime Minister Angela Honig regarding the elusive coffee trade deal that has dogged Johnson all season long. Still, it’s nothing, as he says to Randall, compared to some of the challenging situations he’s faced over his life — cue the Dwayne Johnson flashback for the final time? See — I’m getting all emotional here.
We flip back to 2000, right after Johnson has finished hosting SNL. He’d love to know what his wrestling buddies thought of his performance, but all Vince McMahon sees are big numbers, all Mick Foley sees are free grapes, and all Triple H feels is sour grapes. And Big Show? Well, he’s just not here. Johnson then impresses his family at home by name-dropping Chris Kattan (though it would have landed better if Lia knew who that was).
As Dwayne basks in the success of a breakout SNL performance ahead of headlining WrestleMania, he brings his parents Rocky (Joseph Lee Anderson) and Ata (Stacey Leilua) to a new home, showing it off before revealing that he bought the house for them. He is fulfilling a promise he’d made several times over, using clips from over the past three seasons of Johnson played by Uli Latukefu, Bradley Constant, and Adrian Groulx to drive it home. Well, plus one new clip of a not-so-young Groulx as Dewey in 1985, making the vow to get his parents a house for the first time. I’m pretty sure they had him shoot all his dialogue sitting down to at least hide his height.
This leads to Rocky, Ata, Lia (Ana Tuisila), and Dwayne all reminiscing about the highs and lows over their lives which, again, at this point means looking back at the three seasons of the show. It’s another moment that feels an awful lot like tying this series up with a bow. There’s still a hint at more stories to tell as Dwayne, in voice-over, says that the story of how Lia regained legal entry into the United States after deportation is one for another time, but we’ll see.
There’s a house party at Rocky and Ata’s place featuring “episode one originals” like The Iron Sheik (Brett Azar) and Randy Savage (Kevin Makely), along with newer blood like Pat Patterson, Tony Atlas, and Hulk Hogan — and it’s nice to see them include a contentious exchange between Sheiky Baby and Hogan, like a Twitter war long before its time.
Hogan and Dwayne talk about Hollywood, with Hulk acknowledging his less-than-stellar portfolio (but more importantly acknowledging that he “crushed it” in Gremlins 2, which he did!), inspiring Dwayne to be ready to make that jump to acting because what may seem like the top in one profession could be the floor of another. That’s the false ceiling from the title. Dwayne took it to heart and when he’s delivered a script for The Mummy Returns with a featured role as The Scorpion King, he knew it was time to go for something else.
Back in 2033, Honig finally agrees to Johnson’s coffee deal proposal, which should send Dwayne back to America feeling fulfilled. What if though, he wonders, this is another false ceiling? What if he is ready for something bigger? Park asks if he’s going to run for president again, to which Johnson replies, straight-faced, that he’s going to start his own country.
And, as a potential last line for a series that more often than not found a nice balance between truth and fiction, subtlety and sublime silliness, “Start my own country” fits just fine. Time will tell, of course, whether this is the end for this uniquely self-effacing, semi-autobiographical sitcom. When there’s news to be told, you’ll read it on SlamWrestling.net! In the meantime, do your own time-travelling by journeying back through our Young Rock reviews, story, and interviews archive through the links below.
- Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and family story archive
- Slam Wrestling’s Young Rock review and interview archive
- NBC’s Young Rock page