Before the series paused for a week due to The Voice, a young Rock and his family get a taste of the good life when Rocky brings in more money wrestling for Vince McMahon. Despite the recent success, he finds he’s not the wrestling promoter’s number one guy and contemplates other opportunities. That includes an offer from his mother in law’s chief rival in Hawaii.
We’ll have to wait to see a resolution to the 1982 wrestling drama as “Check Your Head” makes the season’s first real dive into Dwayne Johnson’s college football career. It’s fitting prior to the flashback, that the Rock is being interviewed on a sports show by Kenny Smith to discuss the hardships he faced as an athlete off the field.
It was good to finally visit this period in Johnson’s life since we’ve already spent significant time with him as a child and high schooler on the series so far. We receive a firsthand look at how his serious shoulder injury affected him his first year and his battle with depression. We also hear some of his accounts on the University of Miami football team but it’s a little disappointing at the fairly tame portrayal of a squad with such notoriety. There is that mix of current/future NFL stars and celebrities that surround the team and Young Rock does humorously reference its star’s viral black turtleneck look.
In the previous episodes, Rocky seems engaged in his own world and sometimes absent in his family’s lives. Usually, Dwayne is covering for his dad’s behavior but it’s a nice contrast here to have him provide the support his son needs. In a touching heart to heart, Rocky expresses his concern for his child’s mental state. He gives encouraging words but also allows the younger Johnson some room to figure things out on his own.
“Check Your Head” does rely on unoriginal clichés within it’s narrative. Ata plays the overbearing mother who’s hesitant to let go of her son while he’s at college. When he comes home for winter break, she gains a better appreciation for an empty nest. Then there are all the sports platitudes with Johnson undergoing a tragic experience and hitting rock bottom before turning it around. How the conflict is resolved and how quickly all is forgiven is also annoying and highlights the privileged life athletes have compared to regular people; something that doesn’t endear yourself while running a presidential campaign.
The fourth episode of Young Rock is a formulaic sports story of overcoming adversity that has self-deprecating humor and a stirring father/son moment.
Young Rock airs Tuesday nights on NBC.
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