REVIEW: ‘The Great Pretender,’ Season 2

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The Great Pretender Season 2
The Great Pretender Season 2 is an adventure comedy streaming exclusively on Netflix. After wrapping their scams from last season, Edamura decides he wants to return to Japan to get a regular job and settle down. However, Laurent has other plans for the accomplished con man. And since the last thing anyone cares about is what Edamura actually wants, he is soon pulled into a scam that may cost the entire team their lives, as well as drag up some painful moments from Edamura’s past.

Elements of fiction have always made light of things that shouldn’t be fun. Huge battles highlighted by big explosions are designed to elicit hoots and hollers from crowds, despite the fact that people would be dying during such sequences. While these epic sequences have some questionable concepts behind them they generally get away with it because we never see any of the unwanted elements. The pain and tragedy of these moments are lost in its special effects and snappy one-liners. However, when a piece of fiction focuses its narrative on a character who is consistently manipulated, lied to, and subsequently put into harm’s way over and over purely for the benefit of someone else, the suspension of morality, at least for me, becomes too much to ask. This suspension of morality was my biggest problem with The Great Pretender Season 2.

From the word go every decision Edamura makes is in some way subtly manipulated by others. Generally Laurent. When he goes to work at an import/export firm, he quickly realizes they are part of a triad that participates in the human trafficking of children. Edamura is completely appalled, but any thought of leaving is quickly squashed as Laurent’s plans require he be where he is.

For the remainder of the series nine episodes everyone does whatever they feel and whatever their manipulations may cost Edamura in emotional strain, or mental anguish is never really cared about. The one time I can recall a character actually addressing the troubling manipulations Edamura is put through, their concerns are basically dismissed simply because if he knew, he’d probably ruin it. Yeah, because that justifies someone to the point of endangering their life. At least it does when you are Laurent.

The Great Pretender Season 2 seems to desperately want me to like Laurent. He is played up as suave and freewheeling. Like some wild daredevil who is bold and charming. I think he’s an asshole myself. He cares nothing for anyone and will use and abuse anyone he wishes. That the show expects me to care about his motives or past, as if they justify the shitty person he is, makes my eyes roll.

While the show’s premise pushes me to accept the characters, the big finale is just as much of a struggle to accept. The grand finale to the season-long scam goes beyond my ability to accept. The scale is unbelievable, and far too many of the elements feel like they are implemented simply to trick the audience into believing something is happening that isn’t. I simply cannot believe that people would invest as much as the team does into this con simply to leave so much to chance in the end. It feels like they break their own story simply to show that they can con the audience as simply as the characters. Which, given the fact that they control all the information I have about the scenario, I would hope they could con me.

While the story is a frustrating tale of people using each other that I can’t get behind, the visuals of The Great Pretender Season 2 are gorgeous. The animation is fluid and smooth, and the setting are colorful and bright. Some of the color pallets the series utilizes infuse the setting with a visual look that falls nothing short of breathtaking.

When all is said and done, The Great Pretender Season 2 delivers a visually stunning look, while celebrating manipulative characters who abuse Edamura for their own cause. Whether you can set aside who awful these characters are for the sake of the plot will greatly determine how much you can enjoy this show. If you are like me, the ask will be too much, and you will spend the roughly four hours wishing someone would tell Laurent just because he spouts his manipulative lies with a smirk and swagger doesn’t make him any less an asshole.

The Great Pretender Season 2 is streaming now exclusively on Netflix.

The Great Pretender Season 2

TL;DR

When all is said and done, The Great Pretender Season 2 delivers a visually stunning look, while celebrating manipulative characters who abuse Edamura for their own cause. Whether you can set aside who awful these characters are for the sake of the plot will greatly determine how much you can enjoy this show. If you are like me, the ask will be too much, and you will spend the roughly four hours wishing someone would tell Laurent just because he spouts his manipulative lies with a smirk and swagger doesn’t make him any less an asshole.