Election day is approaching in Young Rock, and Dwayne Johnson had his first debate last week. Despite not having the political credentials his opponent has, he shares a story about his time in Hawaii that reflected his family’s fighting spirit and how he won’t back down.
In “Good Vs. Great” we receive another tale of the presidential hopeful’s perseverance. After injury prevented him from playing his freshman year, this young Rock diligently trained in the summer so he’d be ready to earn a starting position next season. However, during his entire collegiate career, he would learn the painful lesson that sometimes hard work alone isn’t enough to succeed and there will be variables outside your control.
We all know that professional football wasn’t the path that Johnson eventually took so it isn’t surprising to learn that he faced hardships while at the University of Miami. Though it is interesting, like any autobiography, to hear first hand the different emotions and thoughts he had at the time to see where his head was at. Also, the teams he was on were legendary and he’s providing an insider’s peek at the occurrences on and off the field. Dwayne goofs and hangs with the likes Warren Sapp and Ray Lewis.
The use of these Hall of Famers also serves as a contrast to college young Rock’s own career seeing the attention they receive and how they’re on a different level talent wise. The writing of the episode does a good job showing and tempering Johnson’s high expectations. There are the comedic means by replaying the NFL draft with each subsequent scene seeing the star drop lower and lower.
What had a more significant impact were the emotional beats. Uli Latukefu conveys the disappointment and sadness in the more heartbreaking scenes such as when Dwayne’s coach reveals there is no NFL interest or when super-agent, Drew Rosenhaus, brushes him aside to talk shop with Sapp and Lewis. In the end, all the setbacks don’t dissuade him from pursuing football but it can be a little anticlimactic since we already know he never made the big leagues.
When it comes down to it, Young Rock is still about family and we see the Johnson’s at a rough point in their lives. Ata works as a telemarketer for a travel business while Rocky teaches future jobbers at a wrestling school. You can understand Dwayne’s motivations for providing for his parents and they, along with Lia, deliver the warm sentiments after such a rough episode for our protagonist. His present for his mother in the end, even though it’s not the luxurious mansion he dreamed of giving in the beginning, is still a moving gesture.
“Good Vs. Great” is a poignant episode about coming to terms with how factors outside of your control can get in the way of your dreams. Uli Latukefu does much of the emotional heavy lifting while the idea of family helps keep it positive.
Young Rock airs Tuesday nights on NBC.
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