Naomi: Who Am I?

I don’t know guys, the help wanted section for “teen” actors looks kinda thin this week.

The first, and only, season of Naomi has been a very strange ride. Someone first discovering their powers isn’t a new story at this point; the comic book industry started way back in 1938 when Action Comics 1 introduced the world to Superman, and the superhero genre was born. Naomi has gone from a geeky, Superman-loving teen to someone with powers of her own, a weighty destiny on her shoulders, and a series of mysteries about her life and origins to unravel. We get some answers, and at least no really major cliffhangers, as Naomi wonders “Who Am I?” Sadly, some of the questions I’ve been having along the way aren’t even remotely acknowledged, let alone answered. As a both series and season finale, there will be spoilers. Also, this aired several weeks ago as I write this, so really, if you care about spoilers, you’ve had time.

The episode starts with Naomi in her room, doing a post to her Superman site, and talking about how long it’s been since she posted. She also indulges in some self-reflection that her readers won’t get, but we the audience do, as she ponders not just what it means to be a hero, but when you can actually call yourself that. After the opening credits, Naomi has a long talk with her parents about her origins, how they ended up with her, and what she remembers. Having had a sobering few experiences with her assorted friends at risk, she makes a momentous decision, and then immediately regrets it as her parents come out with a plan it sounds like they’ve been working on for a while.

Shaken up by her talk with her parents, Naomi pays a visit to Zumbado. She tries to just leave something for him and slip away, but he finds her and they have an awkward conversation. Naomi is keeping secrets, and not doing it well, and while he doesn’t know exactly what’s happening, Zumbado can tell something is up. Then the McDuffie family takes an unscheduled trip, which is cut short by Julian and the Assassin showing up and offering whatever the opposite of roadside assistance is. Naomi, battered, realizes her parents have been taken and doesn’t handle it well.

When in doubt, there are really only two places Naomi is going to go. The first stop, of course, is Annabelle’s. Annabelle does her best to calm and reassure her friend, but the next stop isn’t reassuring as Dee’s shop is a wreck, clearly following an unpleasant visit. Not that we’ll ever know, but I sort of wonder where Dee lives. He always seems to be at the shop, and there’s never even been a mention of his having a home or an apartment or whatever. In a perspective shift, we see the assorted prisoners gathered up to pressure Naomi: Greg, Jennifer, Dee, Zumbado, and Akira. I think that last one was a research goof on the bad guys’ part; Naomi and Akira just aren’t that close.

Annabelle offers her trademark mix of commonsense and pop culture, this time referencing Sherlock as they try and figure out what’s happening. While Naomi hides things from her best friend, the prisoners make an early descent into paranoia and turn on each other, bickering and accusing each other. I don’t know, maybe finding a way out would have been a better use of time and effort? A seasoned warrior like Dee, not to mention heroes with experience on their own world like Akira and Zumbado, should have known that.

No fool, Annabelle figures out what Naomi isn’t telling her, and gets understandably upset about it. After they sort of argue for a bit, they start to worry about the rest of the Scooby gang. We learn about yet another random interest of theirs, as it turns out everyone but Naomi and Annabelle are paintball enthusiasts, although with varying degrees of experience and skill. Annabelle clearly has no love for this game, and vents some comic annoyance several times. Naomi glimpses one of the alien attackers (they’re both white guys with beards and its dark, I’m not sure which one it was, nor that it matters), and is rattled at seeing danger so near her friends again.

It becomes a night of surprising revelations. At a loss for what else to do, Naomi and Annabelle bring everyone to Dee’s dojo. It’s an amusing geek fest with lots of comic book references, and a great deal of “Wait, how do you know that?” as we finally get some hints that these characters do, in fact, have lives and even interact when Naomi isn’t around. Naomi tries to duck out to save her friends, they all figure it out and spoil her plan, and there’s a great Star Wars reference before Naomi uses her powers to ditch her friends, leaving them both worried and wowed in her wake. The captured adults stop bickering long enough to figure out why they’ve been grabbed, so I guess at least some of their brain cells are working.

Naomi meets up with the aliens (I have no idea how she knew where to go), and they taunt her about her friends and loved ones being a weakness. Naomi insists they are wrong, and we see that the gang hasn’t been left behind after all, although some of them are still treating this way too lightly. Naomi also learns what the plan is for her, and gets very worried about her future. The kids save the adults, and just as one of the aliens (Julian, I think) menaces the gang, the freed adults burst on the scene and show they are not in the mood to play. Dee intimidates some answers out of their newly-taken captive, and Zumbado calmly backs him up. The two of them do make an impressive team. The adults take a very condescending attitude towards the kids, but the kids point out, correctly, just who is saving who here.

For reasons that weren’t entirely clear to me, Naomi goes to the portal that was supposed to be the aliens’ getaway plan. She and Annabelle have a very emotional scene and then Naomi does something remarkably reckless. She ends up confronting the oft-mentioned but never-before-seen Brutus, and things don’t go how either of them expects. He makes some odd claims about her past, and she shows a greater mastery of her powers than he expected. Brutus also sheds the tiniest bit of light about some of what happened when Superman showed up, but the whole “He’s fictional, no wait, he’s real” bit is never explained at all. Among the many things that happen here is that Brutus does something he claims will help her get some of her memories back about the night she fled Earth-29. A rescue party in the form of Akira and Zumbado show up, and one of them bravely holds off Brutus, likely dying in the process, so the others can escape.

Regrouping after this, there’s a lot of discussion about the future and what Naomi should do next. Dee got some news on his own personal quest, and Naomi encourages him to follow up on it. I presume this would have been detailed if there had been a season two. The kids, being kids, have a party and talk about their future helping Naomi in her quest to defeat Brutus and learn the extent of what she can do. This hinted at something that might have been a lot of fun to see. In the last scene, Greg and Jennifer take Naomi out to the woods (cue ominous music) to hide some things from their past. Naomi’s memories suddenly start coming back, and she learns some shocking things. Her whole world is turned upside down, and she ends up flying away in shock into… well, it would have been into her future but there’s no more show.

What I Liked: A lot of this season has had some really irksome, weird, unexplained things, surrounded by wildly uneven writing. This episode was much better written and the dialogue especially was great. The kids all got some great lines, and the interplay between them was the best they’ve done in all thirteen episodes. It was nice seeing Naomi get a better handle on her abilities, finally. The big reveal at the end was surprising, but I could see it working, and it makes some things that happened earlier in the series a lot more sinister.

What I Didn’t: A lot of the weirdness is never explained. Why did everyone think Superman was fictional and then start believing he was real? Why did Dee admit to the Superman “stunt”? Why did every single character have a compelling attraction to Naomi that, at times, really transcended any explanation, barring Annabelle? Why were all the other alien characters from Earth-29, but Dee was Thanagarian, and was he from 29’s Thanagar, or this world’s? For that matter, which Earth was all this happening on?

The last episode being so much better than the others was actually rather frustrating. It showed what this could have been, and, if they’d kept this level of quality throughout, I think they might have gotten a second season. I’ll give this finale a 4 out of 4, and the season a much lower 2.5 out of 5.

Goodbye, Naomi. I’ll miss some of the ideas here, and Annabelle for sure.