I am old enough to have watched the first "Best Man" movie as an adult. I was excited to see us (black people) on the screen as successful, college educated, young adults as opposed to what was common at the time. Sure, bad decisions were being made by the characters, and there was high drama. But this was a super-memorable movie and Malcolm Lee deserved all the accolades he received. I also watched the Best Man Holiday. One-time. Not that it wasn't an amazing movie, it was. It was just extremely sad and an emotional roller-coaster that I prefer not to ride again.
That brings us to the limited series on Peacock, 'The Final Chapters'. It was an eight episode look at the lives, changes, and development of the characters. Well, excluding Mia because she passed away in the second installment. Instead of breaking down scenes, I'll just give my take on it, main character by main character (I'm not doing secondary characters, we'll be here all day).
I'll begin with Lance, the big dog, the one who had the highest hill to climb. Lance grew quite a bit. Initially, I thought they were going to use his lack of being over losing his wife and not knowing what to do with himself as the comedy relief for the entire series. Because let's face it. It was pretty hilarious. When he answered the door in that open robe, I hollered...loudly. But as the episodes continued, I saw that he needed to get some counseling quickly and would self-destruct very soon if he continued down the path he was traveling. I was a bit disappointed in him when LJ 'came out' to him. But then I had to take a step back because I have literally been in his shoes. Only my disappointment returned because he went a bit overboard in his response instead of just talking to his child. It was almost like his daughter was begging for his attention after that because he was so focused on keeping his son from being non-binary that he was neglecting his daughter. It was really sad to see. However, the inevitable happened and LJ went missing. This forced Lance to take a good hard look at himself and his faulty expectations for his children. Life got better once he learned a lesson or two, but I still feel like his daughter was all but ignored. The love interest was not that big of a deal to me because you could see that coming a mile away (even though it was a good thing).
Next up is, Jordan. She has had the same types of experiences that black women who make it to the top of their fields have. Lack of self-care. This woman takes care of everyone except herself. I will say that she was always a very good friend and has grown into an even better one. I think losing Mia affected her in a different way because she was closer to her than the other women and being the Godmother to her children played a role in her maturing afterwards. Now I will say, regarding Robin, Jordan tried to be her friend, but the elephant would always be in the room for them. I appreciate how she operated being in the middle of the LJ "coming out as non-binary" drama. While making sure to encourage LJ, Jordan did not infringe on Lance's role as a parent (all the while not betraying LJ's trust). Even though she disagreed with how he handled it.
The stuff with Harper was an inevitable event that was coming the second she let her guard down too much. Don't get me wrong, Jordan is selfish as well, but she acknowledges her stuff and you can tell she has made peace with it (the drive, all work, staying busy with work, etc...). Her last thing to learn and be honest with herself about was really to be present in her own self-care and managing her health. She was definitely going to let her job kill her (or at least go blind) and realizing that, made an enormous change that not many of us have to courage to do. I applaud her character for that. No one feels that single black women have a need to be present for self over everyone else, and that feeds the "superwoman" syndrome that some of us seem to get caught up in. Oh, I almost forgot about Demetrius. That dude was the same and Jordan tried but has standards and beliefs that she chose to remain loyal to. Allowing Demetrius to talk around her reasoning for walking away could have happened, but Jordan would not have been able to live with it. All in all, Jordan grew.
Harper. Dear Harper. Bless his selfish little heart. I'm not saying selfish is bad. I'm saying, you have to understand when your actions are selfish and how they affect other people and also when people are sacrificing their wants and needs for your own. It should be a reciprocal thing and with Harper, it usually wasn't. I saw this storyline coming in the first couple of episodes. There was something about how he rightly questions Q's impending wedding to this woman that no one has met. But Harper never went directly to Q, he talked about it to everyone else. Also, while he had nothing to do with being chosen as the best man, he could have had a real conversation with Mertz about it. Yes, Mertz should have let it go. It was childish and silly to carry on as he did. But Harper could have negated all that with a simple conversation to say, "Look, I get it. I really do, but this was not my doing. Stop pushing the issue and talk to the man that made the decision." This would have ended all that silliness.
Now onto the most discussed story line of the series. His marriage to Robin, and it ending. I am team 'there has to be give and take in marriage or it won't survive'. Neither team Harper, nor Team Robin. Harper knew that woman had hopes and dreams of her own when he got with her and embarrassed her in front of all his friends in the first movie. Robin stayed. While he appeared to be a good father, nothing else seems to have changed in his approach to life or his marriage. It seems that Robin was the primary caretaker of their daughter. Simultaneously doing what she did for a living and also supporting her husband in ALL his endeavors. Some of those activities included the woman he once had a thing with/for/whatever it was. There are women who I've seen say, "I would never have my man meeting her for drinks, dinner, etc...". The truth is how was she going to stop it? You can say all day long what you don't want a person to do but they are adults. Harper was not going to not be Jordan's friend. His wife trusted him to be loyal and faithful to her and that's all she could do. If he wanted to have dinner with Jordan and his wife would rather he not, Harper, being the selfish person that he is, was going to do it anyway. It is what it is, and it is the truth.
Harper was oblivious to how his selfishness (and Robin allowing it and not putting her foot down) ended their marriage. I don't only blame Harper; I blame them both. But this man is responsible for his stuff and never really owned it. Harper was even going to fight her for their daughter. A writer with disposable income and was told that he can see their child whenever he wanted. He traveled to wherever he wanted for whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted to for everything else. He can do that for his child. I don't really believe Harper grew but was let off the hook so that he could grow.
Moving on to Robin. Robin was the light, airy, loving member of the cast that was destined to be hurt because she was supportive to a flaw. Robin largely went along to get along because she believed that Harper would eventually see her and the growth that was happening with her. Every couple goes through a period where the individuals change and grow. The hard part is for the individuals to remain rooted in their love and understanding of each other and adjust. They never adjusted. Their communication was trash because Robin never spoke up for herself regularly and her needs being pushed aside left the door open for an attraction to the produce guy to develop. Even though it didn't go anywhere, it was an open door. This open door probably began the pile of straw being built because now every slight was magnified. I don't think the Africa thing was the last straw, the real one that broke their marriage was the shop she wanted to buy (oh, and the heat not working). What Robin wanted was not to buy it on the spot, what she wanted was for Harper to help her and PARTICIPATE by running the comps so they would have a better view of what things were.
Yes, Robin is impulsive, but it is usually for good. Robin overall grew to be a better human being but was feeling stifled in her growth by her husband who rarely supported her endeavors while she supported all of his. The divorce was inevitable. You cannot maintain a situation of give, give, give without there being resentment which breeds other things. Robin even came to help when LJ went missing and didn't make a scene when the situation between Harper and Jordan became obvious. She just wanted out, and there would be no fixing things without explicit action. Heck, the woman even sent the baby girl home to see her dad because she knew he needed it in that moment. She is better than me. Robin grew but had to go in order to come full circle.
On to the less problematic, but always entertaining Mertz. I love the actor who plays him because he gives me freakishly smart in real life and I have a thing for smart guys. Mertz is an amazingly supportive husband and overall good supportive friend was not feeling the love and support gives being reciprocated. He was also a go along to get along type of guy. He knew that the guys saw him as less a man than them, when in reality, he was more of a stand-up person than all of them. Mertz was the least judgmental and the most supportive (in my opinion). Even I would not have let that lady have that cab. Especially after my daughter was sitting in it. And the police would have had to do their job of interviewing everyone there. Because no.
However, I also understand that being a black man in that situation, he doesn't win. So I get it. But that event took him on a journey that ended with him needing to feel seen and appreciated for who he is. A man. He took care of his children while his wife completed her doctoral studies, was a friend to his friends when they needed him and kept his professional commitments. I admire his character a lot. The MMA fighting thing, was amazing. He needed an outlet. Like Jordan, Mertz neglected his own self-care while taking care of everyone else. This move just showed that there is more than one way of neglecting yourself. Once he was comfortable in occupying his space in the room, he was more comfortable in airing his grievances. I also love who they paired him with the air them. Because believe it or not, I think it needed to be Q because no one else would have handled it correctly. After being told that his wife's dissertation advisor was inappropriate with her his newly found ego almost took over and made a mess of the situation when all Candice needed was for him to be there for her (to listen and understant). I'm glad it was written that way because for him to go all alpha male would have ruined his character and negated all the growth he experienced.
Jumping over to Mertz's wife Candice. I'm glad her character was given the treatment it was because there were people that could not get past the fact that she stripped to pay for undergrad. Believe it or not, I know quite a few folks who did the same thing. In all, honesty, it's not what you do but how you do it. But that's another topic for a different discussion. Candice was laser focused on this, the dissertation portion of her studies. The support was necessary. Some think she was neglectful. I refute that by asking if the roles were reversed, would the same be said?
While the kids have anxiety issues, they made sure to be on the lookout for and resolve them on the spot. I think her dissertation topic was a good one and reflective of her life. This made her sincere and her sincerity gave zeal to her approach. I absolutely love that they let the kids stay home because of their not wanting to be around the other kids because of "how they make fun of them". That kind of pressure was not good and for them to allow them to opt out made me a happy watcher. Some parents would have forced it and then had to handle a larger issue when they returned home. Candice handled her dissertation advisor with grace and made sure that her voice was heard when she saw that she needed to make what he did to her known. There are so many of us who would have said nothing in an effort to not mess up "all that we worked so hard to achieve", and it took bravery. Candice was brave and I loved it.
Q. How did one of the characters that you never thought would grow end up being one of your favorites? I'll tell you. They let that man be himself. Q was a good dude. He was an admitted asshole, yes. But he was not unaware of that fact. He was his honest self and that is admirable. Did he always do the right thing? No. But he usually admitted his wrongs. I was almost tricked into thinking they were going to have him marry that girl (Nicle Ari Parker's character. Her screen name escapes me). I was one of the folks that didn't believe that he loved Shelby. I thought it was a lust thing, but I guess over all those years it did take a turn to real feelings that neither one of them actually addressed. Q also realized that the first girl he was to marry wasn't about the love, she was about the opportunity, and it pleased his father. In pleasing his father and doing what was best for the business, he almost ruined his life. I'm glad that Shelby kept coming. Now don't get me wrong, if I was that other girl...Shelby deserved a beat down for sure. But I digress. It ended up being the best move for him. Because it begs the question, would that other woman have been so focused and adept at knowing what Q needed (as opposed to what she wanted for him) and also been willing to take care of his father? I believe the answer is no.
Q, stubborn as he is, was also there for his friends. He was understanding of the whole Mertz situation. He tried to help Harper. Even though he was tickled by the shenanigans, he was there for Lance. He got to develop his relationship with his daughter and end up in a loving relationship with his wife. Q grew but still got to remain that dude.
Now, I saved my favorite character in this series for last. Shelby was the most hated character in the first Best Man movie. I get why, because I didn't like her either. But in the second movie, her character started peeling back layers a little and it was a good thing. By the series, Shelby was the funniest, most real character in the movie. She didn't want to lose Q, so she went after him and got him. This woman loved being married to him. They actually were the most in sync couple in the movie, even though they were both as crazy as road lizards.
When Shelby realized the Jordan/Harper situation, she was real with her friend and told her, "I like being married and I like Robin. So, take that shit to your grave." I respect her for that. She didn't just bust her friend but kept it more real than most people would have. When Jordan was neglecting her physical health, she rode her like a horse and made sure it was taken care of and went further when her husband had his stroke. She even told Harper about himself when it all went down between he and his wife. This was not so much growth but was more about her gaining wisdom. Many of us pray and wish for growth and maturity when what we need is wisdom. I will say that Q and Shelby ended up being the wisest (in terms of their marriage and relationship interactions) of the whole friend group.
While I did enjoy the series and I'll probably watch it again before my vacation is over, I'm glad that Malcolm Lee is adamant that this is the end for them. He told quite the story and gave us literally three movies in the form of a limited series. I applaud this offering and would like to see more like it.
If you have gotten this far, I appreciate you entertaining my ramblings and want to let you know that I am thinking about reviewing the series "Riches" carried by Amazon Prime. It is hands-down, the best Nollywood ANYTHING that I have watched (and I have an obsession with films and series by continental Africans).