Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Power shifts constantly in On Becoming A God In Central Florida's dark finale

TV ReviewsAll of our TV reviews in one convenient place.

On Becoming A God In Central Florida’s own version of Chekov’s gun goes like this: Put a gun in Cody’s hands, and that thing is bound to go off...in a stupid accident. I’ve been on edge about Cody’s gun since the moment he got it. He’s too genuinely sweet to actually use it except as a threat to make himself feel tough. But he’s also too much of a dumbass to think about things like putting the safety on. Someone was bound to get hurt. And when the gun does finally go off, it’s in a way that feels very specific to this show, a strange and borderline disorienting jump from comedy to horror to comedy to horror again.

Krystal’s confrontation with Roger artfully shifts the power between each of them. Just when it seems like Krystal has the upper hand, Roger reveals his pocketful of shells. The thing that gave Krystal her power has been taken away. Cody claims that power again with a gun to Roger’s head, but it’s not necessary. Roger is trying to explain that he and Krystal don’t have to be on opposite sides. Now, since his proposition is cut a bit short by Cody’s gun, we’ll never know for sure how truthful Roger was being about wanting to help Krystal, but given what we do know about the character, it does seem likely that he is only interested in serving people who have clear motives. Obie has gotten messy, and despite his aversion to shoes, Roger doesn’t seem like someone who wants to get messy.

Advertisement

On Becoming A God In Central Florida digs into the mess. And in particular in this finale, it looks at the messiness of relationships and love. Bets kicks Ernie out of the house, finally over the way he has been over-appreciating FAM and under-appreciating her. Her monologue to him, through a cracked door, about what love looks like, what her love looks like, is one of the strongest parts of the episode. Obie, meanwhile, speaks as passionately about his business model, spewing blatant lies meant to invigorate his followers. He sells a false love, and he sells it really fucking well.

And Krystal redefines love and relationships too in her bathtub scene with Cody. She’s sick of lying and admits she doesn’t love him anymore. But she needs him, because she needs someone. Classism and sexism ensure that Krystal is constantly taken advantage of and trampled on as a single mother. “I’m really tired of being alone,” she says. “People treat me like crap because they can and I don’t know how to stop them.” And it wouldn’t be fair to read this as the show suggesting that Krystal needs a man for protection. She needs a partner. She needs someone to get through the shit with. What she describes might technically take romance out of the equation, but it still sounds like a relationship: a contract between two people to take care of each other. Krystal and Cody’s relationship is strange and complex, but it’s every bit as compelling as a romantic one—maybe even more so.

Throughout the finale, the same thought I kept having throughout the pilot kept popping back up: Kirsten Dunst is a force. The finale is more off-the-rails than this show tends to go. But if there’s one clear grounding force at play, it’s Dunst. All the violence and blackmail and heightening of stakes coils tightly around Krystal Stubbs. She does what she always does: she fights. She snaps into action when Cody panics. She snaps into action when he calmly explains to her that he has no clear way out of their mess—no friends, no family. Krystal and Cody only have each other now, but she gets exactly what she wants: her own business. A theme park of their own.

Advertisement

There are, of course, sinister undertones to this victory. The billboard for the park says FAM right on it. Krystal has the upperhand for now, but she’s still tied up in FAM, and this show proves over and over that the power dynamic can shift at the drop of a hat. Power in the context of capitalism depends on instability and inequity. Krystal, Cody, and Destinee look like a happy successful family for now, like they could be a photo ripped right from a FAM catalogue. But we know all too well that those catalogues don’t even begin to tell the full story. There’s still a sense that Krystal has broken bad, that she is using the exact same weapons that have been used against her to get what she wants.

Krystal continues to be a fascinating antihero, one who, like Roger says, does have a clear motive for now. She wants what’s best for her daughter. Again, Dunst harnesses Krystal’s intensity but also her vulnerability in equally compelling measure. She’s strong, but she isn’t invincible. Krystal and Bets throwing the toilet paper rolls is cathartic, but it’s also a funny little moment. These characters are obviously getting a lot out of the gesture, but the dark reality is that it doesn’t change much. FAM has infected their lives to the extent that even though Ernie makes his sweet peacock gesture and even though Krystal gets her park, they aren’t free from the infection. I mean, they’re throwing toilet paper at a house that has a dead body in it. The contrasts and use of juxtaposition in this show are striking.

Advertisement

Obie’s final threat at episode’s end gets at the heart of this show’s exploration of money, power, and greed. When talking about Krystal’s family, Louise asks him what he plans to do: “I want to make them rich.” Obie knows the power that money has, and he knows its power to poison, too. On this show, the villain doesn’t threaten death, he threatens what has always been the greatest danger on this show: wealth. Obie is a cartoonish depiction of the corruption of capitalism and selfish pursuit of success. But On Becoming A God In Central Florida’s extremities are a fun and useful part of the show, which often has a dark modern fairytale vibe—where capitalism is the ultimate force of evil.


Stray observations

  • Thanks for reading my coverage this season! I’m excited to see where season two goes. Krystal and Cody as a Florida crime couple is honestly something I’d be very into?
  • Dunst will surely get awards attention, but Mel Rodriguez and Beth Ditto deserve it, too. And Théodore Pellerin as well!
  • The direction of this finale is fantastic. Shoutout to Charlie McDowell.
Advertisement

Share This Story