Saturday, April 3, 2021

Julie and the Phantoms 1x06 Review: “Finally Free” (I’ve Got a Spark) [Contributor: Jenn]

“Finally Free”
Original Airdate: September 10, 2020

The old adage “actions have consequences” is an adage for a reason — it’s painfully accurate. Luke, Alex, and Reggie learned that the hard way in the previous episode of Julie and the Phantoms. And unfortunately they also learn another lesson about how apologies don’t immediately erase hurt. But there’s something else we can glean from “Finally Free,” and it’s a lesson that Julie learns: sometimes hurting people hurt people. It doesn’t make it right, but at the end of the episode, Julie has a deeper understanding of Luke and his motivations.


It’s apparently Luke’s birthday, and that’s something he doesn’t share with the group. But Alex and Reggie, who have a lot more history with Luke than Julie does, convince her to take a little trip with them out to Luke’s old house and watch what he does. But let me back up for a moment because the reason that Luke ends up visiting his family is only partially because it’s his birthday. Alex and Reggie mention that Luke tends to poof away to the house often because of his strained relationship with his family.

While initially the boys’ revenge plot against Trevor seems to be just out of petty spite (and part of it is), the larger part of their reasoning has to do with their families. When Trevor took the Sunset Curve songs, he effectively erased Luke, Alex, and Reggie’s impact as individuals. Luke’s parents hated that he was in a band, and their strained relationship is a guilty weight that Luke carries around with him. They’ll never know that he was doing something that mattered. And he’ll never get to apologize to them for the way he left their relationship. As silly as it might sound, there’d be some sort of vindication if Trevor admitted that he’d taken the songs and credited Luke as the songwriter. It would show his parents that Luke’s dream wasn’t in vain, and his death wasn’t either. It’s not a large consolation when what you’re really facing is the loss of a child, but it’d be something at least for his parents to hold onto. Right now, all they know is that their teenage son died in the 90s and they believe that he died hating them. 

But still, they celebrate his birthday every year. As Julie, Alex, and Reggie watch Luke — filled with emotion — sit at the table with his parents and blow out the candle on his birthday cake, Julie realizes that even though she called Luke selfish for abandoning her at the dance, his decision was rooted in pain and grief. It doesn’t make his flaking excusable, but it softens Julie’s heart. She recognizes that her and the boys have something in common, even if so much is different. They all share the weight of grief and the pain of losing people you love. That allows Julie the chance to forgive the boys for flaking on her at the dance, helps her understand just exactly what Luke lost before he died, and helps her put into perspective the important bond she and the band share through music. She mentions that they’ve all lost so much already that they can’t afford to lose music too.

And there’s a moment where Luke realizes the bond he and Julie truly share, and you can tell that he’s overjoyed at her choice to rejoin the band — but not because he wants fortune and fame or even to be seen by an audience.

He’s willing to give up being the lead singer of his own band, step aside, and let Julie shine because maybe it’s taken him until he’s died to figure it out, but Luke Patterson would do anything for the people he loves.


Speaking of Luke and Julie, this might very well be the episode where Luke realizes how he feels about Julie. He respects and admires her for sure (that endlessly supportive puppy!), and you can tell that the part where Julie calls him selfish is especially wounding because she mentions songwriting and how close they’ve gotten because of it. But Luke sees Julie as more than a friend, and if you need further evidence just watch the way that Charlie Gillespie plays Luke in that garage scene after his parents’ house.

He’s truly repentant and surprised that Julie returned. But more than that, he’s touched when she explains why she returned. They have a bond, all of them, but she’s only talking to him in that moment. And then when she wishes him a happy birthday? Charlie’s choice was so delightful and I’m curious to know whether it was a directing choice or a choice by the actor to appear so giddy. That’s the only word I can use to describe the little way he fidgets with his hand and the momentary surprise that Julie knew it was his birthday. (Also gotta love that Julie doodles a birthday cupcake on her mic later on!)

The boy looks at Julie like she’s the sun, and he’s happy to step aside and watch her shine. During their performance of “Finally Free,” even Alex and Reggie see the spark between the two (ironically when they’re singing, “I’ve got a spark in me”). But there’s a moment I love maybe more than that one — it’s at the very end of the song when Julie riffs the final few notes, and Luke looks at her with this complete sense of awe. He’s taken aback by how talented she is and how much she fills up the stage with her voice and presence. He’s basking in her glow and it’s so lovely to see. Typically in shows like these, the male protagonists pursue the female protagonists, make some googly eyes, and then convince the woman that they’re the right person to be with. But Julie and the Phantoms takes a different approach — Luke is a lovestruck teenage ghost boy who, every chance he gets, points the spotlight off of him and right back to Julie. He’s supportive, encouraging, constantly praises her, and reminds her that she’s the true star. He’ll say it in the final episode, but to him, no music is worth making unless it’s with her.

Ooooooooof, it hits you in the feels in the best way! And don’t worry because the next episode is possibly the show’s best and will demonstrate exactly how perfect these two are for each other (minus the whole ghost/human thing but we can work with that). 

Hitting the right notes:

  • While “All Eyes on Me” and “Finally Free” aren’t my favorite songs lyrically, both are definitely bops. And “All Eyes on Me” is fabulous for the Alex appearances alone. Owen Patrick Joyner is comedic GOLD throughout.
  • I do feel bad for Madison because apparently during filming the song “Finally Free,” it was so hot and she was overheating (made worse by the dress she was wearing). According to her, she nearly passed out. (Also I think this scene was when Charlie was sick so honestly good on everyone for powering through.)
  • “I’d kill them if they weren’t already dead.”
  • “Feels like that time I was fixing my amp in the rain.”
  • The boys’ little sorry song is so cute.
  • I should mention that Julie gets grounded for skipping class, she’s paired with Nick for a dance in class, and she seems to be flustered by that fact. Nick is actively fine (albeit pretty personality-less) but let’s be real, it’s hard to compete with Luke.
  • I love that the show threads “Unsaid Emily” into the scene with Luke and his parents. It emotionally wrecked us before we even heard it!

What did you all think of “Finally Free”? Sound off in the comments below!


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