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TV Review: The Get Down, Part 2

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Ever since The Get Down first became available on Netflix last summer, the show has split opinions, and left its audience divided, with strong feelings going from either a positive extreme or a negative one. Now that it's back for more, we're glad to report that it doesn’t disappoint.

The ending from Part 1 left the audience with new developments, which pick up their narrative seamlessly in the new episodes, even if technically, within the world of The Get Down, it’s already Autumn 1977.

Zeke’s stunt from the last episode in Part 1 has revealed a natural talent for politics, and now finds him doing an internship, thanks to Papa Fuerte, and preparing for college. Later subplots test his loyalty between the love he holds for his art, and the surety of a future, backed by a Yale degree. The episode where Zeke spends an afternoon at his boss’s Yale alumni club is brutally well-acted, and serves as a reminder of the show's 70s backdrop, where racism runs rampant.  

Meanwhile, Shaolin Fantastic (Shameik Moore) has problems of his own, as he delves deeper and deeper into the drug business, selling angel dust - the worst drug at the time. Mylene’s career continues to blossom, despite all the setbacks presented by literally all of the adults in her life. It’s at the end of the season, when she finally takes her destiny into her own hands, despite all the tragedy in her life, that one can’t help but feel proud of her.

There are other minor problems, of course; Shaolin and Zeke fall out, Zeke and Mylene’s relationship strains under the new weight of popularity, Boo Boo starts to deal drugs... Some of the issues get resolved as fast as they appear, but others stay on characters’ minds and come back at later points in the narrative to make matters even worse.

This season also adds another narrator, with Jaden Smith pretty much playing a version of himself in the 70s, as his character, Dizzy, presents The Get Down Brothers’ adventures in comic book format. The animated parts always feel out of place, and whether that was the intended effect is still up in the air. But it reveals an important truth; Dizzy is an enlightened alien in the animations, a parallel to his own life as an artist and a closeted bisexual man, which is far removed from the status quo of the time.

Along with the animated elements, the video editing of the show seems to lean even more on stock footage, with certain shots reoccurring at least a couple of times. Due to differences in technology, the quality between contemporary shots and stock footage is startling and to deal with that, the image textures change rapidly until the end result is a unique collage of footage. While this seemed awkward and clunky in the first episodes, now it feels more like a staple of the show, partly making The Get Down what it is. Moreover, where the camerawork is allowed to shine, each frame is a visual masterpiece.

However, it is in the last two episodes that the show truly shines. Heavy on the visual metaphors (the cake in the shape of Mylene’s body given away to everyone, the huge pale moon being obstructed by clouds), the finale ties all the plot strings from previous episodes together to bring an explosive finish. Although the ending will probably leave most people itching for Season 2, the journeys that the characters have gone on are more than worth it.

What makes the last two episodes special is the way different scenes with different characters - yet similar emotions - are woven together masterfully to amplify different experiences and emotions, bringing a unique audio-visual experience. The Get Down has always toed the line between a musical and a drama, where music is its very own character, but that definitely comes through in the end.

The Get Down is definitely not a show for those looking for action scenes, drama and adrenaline. It takes its time building the world it is set in, a 70s-era Bronx, which lies forgotten, infested with drugs and crime, at a time of history where New York itself wasn’t faring well.

It is at such a backdrop that the now familiar faces of Ezekiel, Mylene, Shaolin and the rest of the Get Down brothers face their innermost struggles, whilst trying to communicate their love for music with the world. It is very much a piece of art, talking about a couple of young people looking for their place in the creative scene of those times.

The Get Down: Parts I & II are available to watch now on Netflix.

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