As a television series, Bel-Air has always centered around black upper-class excellence and who gets left behind because of it. This theme is profoundly true for the show’s season finale, “Where To.” In the last episode of the season, we focus on Vivian getting a chance to finally showcase her art her way. Philip is still deciding his next career path now that he has removed himself from the running for District Attorney. Hillary is working with Ivy (Karrueche Tran) to takedown the YouTuber’s influencer house. Most importantly, Will finally gets the chance to interact with his dad and figure out why he was abandoned all those years ago. At the same time, he’s trying to repair his relationship with Lisa.
There is a lot here in such a big story, but understanding the motivations is the best way to look at it. Will and his issues with his father were almost as profoundly moving and troubling as the scenes that played out in the original series. The casting of Lou was going to be critical, and I’m so glad they gave the job to Marlon Wayans, a deeply underrated actor mostly known for comedic work. He was absolutely able to go toe to toe with the entire cast of Bel-Air. He had great chemistry with Phillip, and the discussions about Lou’s past and the resolution regarding who he blames for Will not being a part of his life were crucial.
The most exciting thing in the episode wasn’t even the showdown between Will and his father. I found the team-up between Ivy and Hillary absolutely fascinating. Hillary is basically on the downswing in terms of her social media popularity, so it made sense that she would team up with Ivy to try and take over the social media house. I’m very curious to see where in the world that storyline is going to go next season.
On the other hand, the biggest travesty of the episode had to be any and all scenes involving Ashley. It hasn’t helped to have a 16-year-old actress playing a 12-year-old. Because of that juxtaposition, I’m not sure the writers know what to do with her, and because of that, she had very little to work with this season, despite the exploration she’s begun in regards to her sexuality, along with coming out to Hilary (while her mother remains suspicious of something). They need more for Ashley to do in the second season.
I thought this finale was a powerful ending for a solid first season of television. Jabari Banks continues to knock it out of the park, and I know that his star will rise even though Will Smith’s may fall, given his negative press at the Oscars. We will have to see what the fallout is and whether he is involved creatively with the second season. Regardless, I can’t wait to see what happens with Will and the rest of the Banks family next year.