REVIEW: The ‘Kamikaze’ Finale Has a Rough Landing

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Kamikaze Finale - But Why Tho

Kamikaze is a Dutch-language HBO Max original drama starring Marie Reuther as Julie, a newly minted 18-year-old whose family dies in a plane crash, leaving her alone and eventually leading to her own attempted suicide by plane crash. The Kamikaze finale concludes Julie’s story, binding her fate and her inner monologue to something greater than herself alone.

When Kamikaze began, I really wasn’t sure where it was going. The show took on two, three, sometimes even more timelines at a time, chiefly presenting brief moments after her plane crash, an ongoing story of what happened between her family’s death and her crash, and a myriad of flashbacks to earlier points in Julie’s life. The two continuous storylines were vastly different in tone, and so was every single flashback. But all the while, the show weaved together an interesting style and a difficult look at somebody who received no real support in the wake of something unfathomable. I was intrigued first simply by its drama, but by its conclusion, Kamikaze proves to be about a lot more than just a globetrotting suicide mission and survival tale.

What the Kamikaze finale veers into after a whole season of sex, drugs, lies, and suicidal ideations is pure proselytizing. Let’s get that straight from the onset. In the episodes prior to the finale, it is revealed that Julie is pregnant. After six episodes of assuming that her newfound will to live after crashing was built on regret or a suddenly new appreciation for life, the entire tone of the show is reconfigured to accommodate this new revelation. Julie isn’t surviving for her own sake anymore. She’s surviving for the sake of her unborn child. It frustrates me not just because it makes the entire previous episode dedicated to showcasing the grit Julie learned from her father feel moot. It frustrates me because it feels like the entire show was building up to something empowering and personal to Julie, only to reduce her existence to motherhood and wifehood.

Obviously, motherhood and love can be completely and totally empowering. But in Kamikaze, it feels like a sudden deus ex machina completely disconnected from any of the emotional journeys that Julie endeavored over the previous episodes. Her driving emotions were emptiness, loneliness, feeling like a disappointment, and feeling unsupported. Suddenly choosing to live for the baby’s sake, only after crashing, just doesn’t feel like a fitting end for Julie’s journey; it feels like (even if unintentionally) a political message about the purpose of womanhood and the essentiality of motherhood and reproduction. Again, it’s not that this circumstance, in a bottle, can’t be empowering or life-saving; if separated from the rest of the show, it absolutely lands. But, in the context of the show as a whole, directed by and based on a book by men, I cannot help but be put off by this direction for the conclusion. To say the remedy for a life of sin is the be changed by the glory of motherhood simply does not land well for me.

Beyond my consternation, though, in the world, as it is, the ending is good. The emotional beats are struck hard, and the various plotlines’ conclusion has just enough believability that they work. But what truly makes the whole series worth watching is simply Reuther’s acting. She is impeccable. Every last scene she acts in is beyond impressive. Julie’s constantly changing emotional state is expertly demonstrated from scene to scene. It’s hard to believe that a single actor plays every one of Julie’s experiences because they are so varied in physicality and emotion. The way she can switch between confidence, sincerity, and naivete is remarkable. I truly hope she wins awards and finds herself in equally challenging roles in the future. Watch Kamikaze for her performance alone, and you will not be disappointed.

Kamikaze is a show that’s purpose is hard to track from episode to episode, although each on its own is emotionally rich and textually interesting. I do not at all appreciate the final revelation and how it impacts the conclusion to Julie’s character arc, but the Kamikaze finale on its own is still a strong set of episodes graced with an incredible performance by Reuther all series long.

Kamikaze is streaming now on HBO Max.


Kamikaze Finale
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    Rating - 7/10
7/10

TL;DR

Kamikaze is a show that’s purpose is hard to track from episode to episode, although each on its own is emotionally rich and textually interesting. I do not at all appreciate the final revelation and how it impacts the conclusion to Julie’s character arc, but the Kamikaze finale on its own is still a strong set of episodes graced with an incredible performance by Reuther all series long.