We never thought the pace of Black Monday could get quicker than its typical rapid speed, but the season finale proves us wrong. Within the first seven minutes, Mo reveals how he and Dawn can prevent Blair from running the Georgina Play himself, Keith and Mike’s relationship ends, and a man returns from the dead. After all this, a twist that upends the entire expected trajectory of the series is revealed. And there’s still an entire second half of the episode left.
This week’s pacing feels intentional to not only convey how chaotic this day is but to also allow the Black Monday showrunner to fit every easter egg explanation, flashback, emotional tug-of-war, and character death into 30 minutes. Blair’s beat up Honda and Keith’s former colleague, Ty, from the first few episodes, make returns in surprisingly pivotal manners. These little caveats reward fans who stuck around for the wild first season, and the stars of the show didn’t disappoint either.
The season finale is where Don Cheadle, Regina Hall, Paul Scheer, and Andrew Rannells show off the complete range of their acting abilities. Paul Scheer vacillates between uncomfortably awkward, depressingly suicidal and soberingly empathetic in a matter of minutes. Regina Hall and Andrew Rannells’ comedic chemistry is comparable to Hall’s chemistry with Cheadle, carrying the sadistic capitalism we’ve all grown to love from the show. This last go-round, Cheadle delivers one of his most captivating performances and the best blending of dramedy.
Having all of the best qualities of Black Monday in one episode is thrilling and central to what makes the episode enjoyable on one level. But as the conclusive episode to a 10-week easter egg hunt of clues, the mystery of Black Monday‘s season finale doesn’t stick the landing perfectly.
All Risk, Little Reward
The central appeal of Black Monday may be its humor but what made it stand out from all the other raunchy comedies was this pseudo-murder mystery, encouraging fans to try and figure it out from the very first scene of the series. If you spent hours piecing together those clues, trying to figure out what and who caused the stock market, the season finale ends up feeling flat.
Mo mentions the crash’s effect on average Americans for a few minutes and we have moments inside the chaotic scene on the trading floor. But for a show named after a stock market crash, with all of its episodes named after the days left until the crash — and an early investment in leaving visual clues as to the cause of it — the show’s actual crash felt like a plot device rather than a core part of the entire season’s narrative.
The twist that the show was conning the viewers the whole time (without showing key moments throughout the season) is a clever choice given how the show is predicated on misdirection. But the writers jump the shark a bit. Unbeknownst to us, the Lehman Brothers allowed Blair’s algorithm to be in charge of their entire portfolio and then Blair reengineered the algorithm to sell all of Lehman Brothers’ shares as soon as the Georgina Play was completed. All of this involved an algorithm, initially inextricable of Blair’s character, that was all but abandoned for the vast majority of the season.
The other reveals in the season finale have the benefit of being connected to episodes viewers were able to watch, making the misdirection feel authentic. Blair bringing back his algorithm and infecting the stock market all occurred in the two months that spanned in the Black Monday universe between Tiffany’s kidnapping in episode “7042” and the couple’s wedding on episode “2.” There were no episodes in between to contextualize this twist, hurting its believability. Black Monday has struggled in the past with maintaining verisimilitude of its world while also speeding through its timeline in between episodes; Blair’s algorithm helped that problem rear its ugly head at the worst time.
The Black Monday crash may have been handled suboptimally but it’s not the most intriguing crash of the episode.
The Mo Crash
In one blistering scene, Mo’s entire reality comes crashing down as he finds out he’s nothing more than a long-term investment. As funny as Mo saying he’s having an “out of money experience” after finding out he’s not getting any of the money from the Georgina Play, the quote points to a deeper analysis of duality: Mo is a facade predicated on money, so once the money is gone, Roland appears.
Mo’s facade crashes to the point that the man who called “needing” someone the “N-word” in episode “364” says “I love you” to two people in less than five minutes. Mo doesn’t even make an obvious ejaculation joke when he says he wants to get off the emotional roller coaster he and Dawn have been on for years. This happens before he tells Dawn “I’m all out of jokes,” another impactful line with a deeper layer of profundity. Mo is a carefully constructed image and his incendiary jokes are his costume, keeping people from ever getting a hint at the humanity Roland possesses. Mo being all out of jokes is tantamount to Roland taking the Mo mask off.
He’s also key to the future of Black Monday in more ways than one.
“I think the jumpoff is Black Monday, and the show is still going to be about the stock market, Wall Street,” Cheadle said in his VIBE interview. “That one day was just what started a lot of stuff. Things kept going on from then and are still going on.”