“A Change is Gonna Come” brilliantly shows off why Final Space Just so Swell and why it desperately needs less Tribore

With Quinn close to death because of her Final Space poisoning, the crew of the Galaxy 2 go on a dangerous mission to save her. Meanwhile, Ash comes face to face with Invictus and learns something horrifying that could change things forever.

I’ve often said that Final Space is one of the most criminally underrated animated series on television today, but “A Change is Gonna Come” really illustrates the quality of the series and what makes it great. I know I sound like I’m on repeat when I say this, but animation today seems to thrive on cynicism and nihilism, showing bad people making bad decisions for the sake of comedy and drama. Final Space doesn’t do that… everyone on the show from Gary to Quinn, Avacato to Little Cato, Ash, Hue, Sheryl, Fox… all of them are good people trying to do good things. They struggle, they fail, they may not have even started off as good people, but each of them grow into someone better than they were before and, what’s more, there is friendship and camaraderie there. These characters genuinely care about each other to the point that they are willing to risk their lives unquestionably to jump onto a fast-moving disintegrating comet to save one of their own.

Let’s be honest, if this was Rick, he would make a snarky comment and then basically have to be blackmailed into doing it.

While I am a fan of Rick and Morty, I enjoy watching stories about heroes… about good people trying. That is why I love Final Space and always will.

What I like about episodes like “A Change is Gonna Come” is that almost every character gets a moment to grow (except Fox, but I think I’m giving up hope he’ll ever be given attention on this show). Hue learns to ask for help, the Catos show how much they’ve come by accepting a mission to save a friend, Cheryl, more and more, accepts her shortcomings in the past but embraces a better future, and Gary makes a genuine sacrifice for a woman that he loves. Heck, even Quinn unknowingly closes a circle of her own and ties herself back to Nightfall. Every character (except Fox) shines, every character (except Fox) has something to do, and every character (except Fox) has a moment in the sun.

Even Invictus is given more attention, going from a giant flaming devil skull to something grand, cosmic, and even more mysterious. This is another thing I love about Final Space is that it embraces true Lovecraftian cosmic horror in a way that I have never seen American animation do with the possible exception of The Transformers Movie. Usually, at this point in a series with a mysterious villain pulling strings from behind a curtain, I get bored but Invictus is keeping my attention simply because s/he becomes more interesting with every appearance.

What’s more is that Invictus is proving that s/he is more than just a giant, powerful entity, s/he is showing undeniable intelligence by craftily turning members of the team squad against each other. Invictus’ manipulation of Ash, planting doubt and then giving her the world, is a move so dastardly and so ingenious that I am honestly afraid of what’s going to happen to our girl or, more specifically, what she’s going to do to her friends.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the very touching scene where Gary took Quinn’s pain during the surgery and I do appreciate the writers for not turning it into a comedic moment which would have been so easy to do. No, this scene hurt… it was painful to watch and the show sold every excruciating moment of it which is the primary reason why Quinn’s recovery didn’t feel like a last-minute save: This was a life that was earned through trial, torture, and suffering. It was right and it was earned.

Now here’s what didn’t work.

I hate to say this, but the Tribore segments were so incredibly misplaced and tonally ajar from the rest of the episode that they only got more and more annoying as the half-hour went on. Usually, I’m a fan of the guy in small doses when applied correctly but, the problem is, neither one of those conditions were met as they were not small doses and they were applied in the worst possible way. I would have rather seen Tribore’s entire storyline in this episode jettisoned just to smooth out the narrative’s wrinkles.

And there were wrinkles and I lay the blame for that right at the feet of the Tribore B-plot. There were a few weird edits and cuts that could only be chalked up to a lack of time. Avacato and Little Cato getting trapped on the comet, for example, was such a weird edit, I wondered for a moment if I had a micro-seizure and blacked out for a moment.

There were a few other instances as well.

Honestly, the Tribore segments kept this episode from being truly great. The story and drama from the Quinn story kept getting interrupted by Tribore’s antics and, if I may be so bold to make a put, those antics were a Tri-bore.

I would have much rather seen more time devoted to the main plot which was already doing to much for the time allotted. Without Tribore, I think that the dents could have been hammered out and the story would have been improved so much more.

Still, even with the flaws, this was a great episode. Funny, heartbreaking, and dramatic with a terrific score, voice acting, and so many lingering plot threads to contemplate. There is so much primed to explode in our animated friend’s faces that it’s almost giving me anxiety.

I hope it lasts.

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