The following article contains spoilers for season three of Netflix’s On My Block.
In a show that centers one of the most unique (and underrated) friendships currently on television, Netflix’s coming-of-age comedy On My Block delivered one of the most devastating blows during its season-three finale. After enduring a wild goose chase and failing to locate legendary (and alive, allegedly) Santos leader Lil’ Ricky, Monse (Sierra Capri)—who sees herself as the glue that holds the Core-Four-Plus-Jasmine (Jessica Marie Garcia) together—prepares to head off to boarding school and escape the intense environment of Freeridge, California. After she departs, her worst fears are realized: A two-year time jump reveals that the crew has indeed drifted apart. What’s more, Oscar’s (Julio Macias) fortuitous retirement from gang life has left a void in leadership that his little brother Cesar (Diego Tinoco) has unfortunately filled.
When it comes to Cesar and Oscar’s fates, co-creator and showrunner Lauren Iungerich shares that the creative team had a particularly lengthy discussion leading up to the final product, ultimately deciding that some stories are just tougher to tell: “We had an idea of doing a time jump and what that last visual would be. It was actually something that we hemmed and hawed on. It was one of our writers, Adam Stark, who [said], ‘these things are hard.’ We went back and we just started making sure we were threading that needle carefully with the storytelling to get to that place. We feel very hopeful that we are not ending on this very bittersweet moments for these characters.”
The final shot zooms in on one of his tattoos, which is, apropos of the situation at hand, a broken heart. Iungerich is particularly proud of that unscripted moment.
“[Co-creators Eddie Gonzalez and Jeremy Haft] had so perfectly picked the tattoos that were going to be on Cesar,” Iungerich said to The A.V. Club. “When I was shooting it, I was like, ‘Ooh, let’s pan down and make sure we get that tattoo.’ That would leave a little bit of a cliffhanger: We’re seeing he’s hardened, he’s a leader of the Santos, and then on top of it, holy shit, why is his heart broken?”
Hearing the word “cliffhanger”—usually a source of frustration for particularly insatiable viewers—come from the showrunner in this context may actually serve up a bit of relief for fans, some of whom (including us) felt that the breathtaking ending came dangerously close to doubling as a series finale. Iungerich and her fellow creators Gonzalez and Haft see it differently.
“We didn’t see this as a series finale at all,” said Gonzalez. “We saw it as more as an emotional cliffhanger, in a way. Hopefully a majority of our audience will say, ‘No way! How the hell did they get to that point?’ That’s the question to answer if there’s a season four: I want to know what happened in those two years that broke these people apart.”
So while fans might have felt a bit concerned by the time jump, the creative team insists that they have, as Gonzalez puts it, “so many other stories to tell.” Iungerich agrees, and sees the jump in time as an opportunity to tread new ground: “I feel like this is a great way to kind of reset so that we’re conquering new ground and saying new things about these characters, getting to know them even more. We did not do [that ending] as any safety mechanism [anticipating] getting canceled. We were very comfortable ending this knowing that we had a really good shot of getting a season four just because of how much Netflix was loving the cuts. It will all come down to how many people tune in and watch.”
The creators also agree that a little more buzz surrounding the show wouldn’t exactly hurt their chances of renewal either. Iungerich and Haft have noted that On My Block doesn’t generate much media coverage, despite its very vocal fan base. While the fact doesn’t make them bitter, they do find it perplexing. “We’re sort of baffled as to why we don’t get more coverage,” Iungerich shared. “When you’re making content like this and having all the pieces come together, it’s like lightning in a bottle.”
Haft adds: “I am always at a loss and shocked when we are not mentioned with other shows of color, or other shows, period.”
Still, the trio is hopeful for a fourth season, especially if it gives them a chance to dig into certain storylines a little further. “The Cesar-Spooky fracture is something that is very personal to me,” Gonzalez shared. Haft says that while they are all heavily invested in each character’s story, this particular development is also his favorite story: “How did they get there? Why did they get there? That’s what everyone needs to know. Tune in!”
Season three of On My Block is currently streaming on Netflix.