Review of Nice Jacket

Season 2: Weird, crazy, awesome character arcs
11 April 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Season 2 was as weird, crazy, and awesome as Season 1. The season starts with an overview of the situations of the characters we know and love from season 1 and introduces the new settings Bergsberg, Wendimoor and Blackwing with its new characters, setting up the new mystery. There are again a number of different storylines, but this season is much easier to follow as we already know a lot of the characters and storylines intersect relatively soon, with Panto meeting Dirk &Co and Amanda getting involved in Wendimoor.

Season 2 sets up a whole new genre, while there are still elements of Science Fiction, it's mostly fantasy. Max Landis clearly had a lot of fun with this genre, as he thought up crazy things. Pink haired people and scissor-swords sound insane but it really works. Landis also plays with the genre as the fantasy world of Wendimoor is disrupted by things like machine guns and cars. The mystery was again puzzling and weird, with both the viewers and the characters left clueless, though it was a bit more transparent than in season 1. Plot-wise I also had a bit of an issue with the Deus Ex Machina moment of Francis, whose god-like powers make me uncomfortable as he can basically do anything in Wendimoor.

But what I love most about this series and what makes it so terrific are the characters. We are introduced a few new interesting characters who are immediately compelling: Susie Borton - much like Todd last season - functions as POV character, whose normal, somewhat lacking life is interrupted by the weird and supernatural. Just like Todd, we are at first on her side, perceiving her as one of the good if unlucky guys, only to discover her problems are of her own making. But unlike Todd she doesn't realize her own failings and turns not to the better but the worse. It is fun watching her turn into a crazy, evil witch.

Hobbs and Tina are the best fictional law enforcement characters ever. They are just both so likeable and awesome! With nothing much to do in Bergsberg, they hilariously jump at the opportunity to solve the mystery together with Dirk. Standing out are their interactions with Farah, who has her own complicated relationship to law enforcement and is clearly discomforted by their unprofessionalism, creating both funny and touching scenes.

But the best is the character development of the characters established in season 1: We've already seen Todd develop throughout season 1, as he finally confessed his lies to Amanda. Now that he has pararibulitis and both Amanda and Dirk are missing, Todd copes by following Dirk's belief of the universe and after being reunited Todd is very much the driving force behind Dirk. But this is not entirely unselfish: Todd needs to belief Dirk because Dirk is the only shot he has at finding Amanda and making things up to her. What Max Landis has beautifully realized in his writing of Todd is that humans are intrinsically flawed and that they don't change overnight. Todd is clearly a better person than before, but he is not completely changed.

Dirk on the other hand has a crisis of faith. Traumatized by his time in Blackwing and discouraged in the face of the bad things that happened to him and his friends, he spents a lot of time running away from the case. If season 1 was about Dirk's longing for friends, season 2 is about what it means for him to have friends. Struggling with what he is, Dirk is afraid of losing his friends to the danger he always finds himself in. Ultimately he can only overcome his fears by accepting who he is and confronting his past. Dirk's storyline is very poignant and Samuel Barnett does a terrific job, managing to be both funny and tragic at the same time.

Farah's storyline this season is all about accepting herself. Realizing she is one of the freaks is a defining moment for Farah this season and the way she realized this was done so well, as her relationship with Todd does in no way define her but helps her realize this about herself. Through Hobbs and Tina she also gets to actually be a member of law enforcement, what she always had wanted, which makes for some very touching moments.

Amanda's storyline is very much one of empowerment as we see her turn her pain into magic. Initially introduced as a very vulnerable character it is great to see her becoming a magic badass, leading the Rowdy 3. Also, her fractured relationship with Todd is being explored in an engaging way.

But the most unexpected and brilliant character arcs are those of Friedkin and Ken, who at the end have completely switched roles. The season starts with an overwhelmed Friedkin who doesn't quite know what to do with the subjects and a powerless Ken who tries to tell Friedkin that confining them won't work. But when Friedkin asks Ken for help, giving him all the files, Ken begins to get more power, working himself up in Blackwing until he takes it completely over, now unwilling to let anyone go, while Friedkin has realized the error of his ways.

Bart has plotwise not much to do, spending most of the time imprisoned, but she has an interesting character arc. Missing Ken, who was her only friend, she refuses to do the universe's bidding. She develops a wonderful, heartwarming friendship with Panto, but tragically ends up at Blackwing again, perceiving herself as too dangerous. With Ken no longer on her side, Bart is completely alone as it is shown in her last heartbreaking scene.

The season ends quite conclusively, with all major storylines being concluded. Still, there are some open questions and suggestions that were supposed to be pursued in season 3. Sadly, Dirk Gently got cancelled, but at least these two seasons can be enjoyed.
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