Back in Freeridge
Episode 1 of Freeridge opens in a high school where a crowd forms around two girls fighting. They claw, punch and kick each other without abandon until one finally wins. In the principal’s office, Gloria complains that Ines told everyone she has herpes.
The principal tells the two sisters off, saying he didn’t expect this from Gloria who is the sophomore class president. Their father comes in and awkwardly promises to “hit them hard” with life lessons. Outside the office, we see that the man is actually their uncle Tonio. He demands a hundred dollars each from them for pretending to be their dad and tells them to settle it in a week or the calls for school will go to their father. Gloria tells Ines she is done taking care of her and storms off.
In a grocery store, Gloria complains about her younger sister to her best friends, Cam and Demi. They too have some choice opinions about Ines and encourage Gloria to break free. The same way Cam says he’ll break up with his boyfriend Andre, hopefully, he adds. Gloria wonders how she’s going to pay off her uncle when she hears someone trying to buy groceries with silver.
At home, Gloria hunts for a silver spoon her aunt had given her only to realize that Ines sold it already. They argue and when Ines says things will work out, Gloria retorts they only work out because Gloria makes it happen. Their father comes in right then. The girls blame their split lips on Demi. He takes their late mother’s scarf from the boxes and informs them that a friend will be joining his birthday dinner. The girls remember they didn’t get a gift.
At the school cafeteria, Gloria fails to ice out Ines from her group and Cam fails to dump Andre. Later, Demi tells Cam they have to tell Ines to leave themselves since Gloria won’t do it. Cam says he’s never been more attracted to her. Demi says he’s only attracted to her because he needs a new obsession to get rid of the older one. Plus, they would have a bad breakup and destroy the friend group anyway. Cam says he’s ready to cut ties with Andre and casually mentions his secret obsession with her. When she calls him a liar and says he has no secrets, he says he does, he just never told her. When she asks why, he says she’d wreck him.
At home, Gloria makes it clear to Ines that she’s being iced out and needs her own friends. Gloria tells her friends the good news but the next day, Ines is hanging out with them at Gloria’s yard sale anyway. Gloria explains that she extended the border a bit. A man comes out from the house behind Gloria and demands to know why her yard sale is in front of their yard sale. He goes back having purchased a record. His wife comes back to argue but Gloria makes a deal with her to sell the stuff for a marked-up price.
Cam finds a box with the initials MM on them and buys it so that Andre will dump him. A woman in a fancy coat asks Gloria for the box and offers more than 200 dollars for it. When Gloria goes to get it from Cam though, the woman disappears.
The group finds a bunch of random things in the box including a photo of the woman when she was younger. After Cam leaves with it, the woman arrives at the doorstep, this time offering 1000 dollars for the box before. She even says that the box is cursed but once again disappears before Gloria can get it for her.
While Gloria and Ines set up dinner for their dad’s birthday, Demi rambles about how they are all cursed. When the girls’ father’s guests comes over, they realise that it is a woman named Lucia. Not only does their father actually switch on the AC for Lucia, she’s also wearing their mother’s old scarf. The girls give their father a pocket knife they found in the box as a birthday gift. He likes it but almost immediately cuts himself on it and then gets a back spasm on his way to get a tourniquet.
In her room, Demi uses tarot cards to check if they are cursed. The cards give her bad news. Cam enters through her window and tells her the box is definitely cursed because Andre loved it. While discussing what to do, Demi grabs his hands but then abruptly leaves them.
In bed now, Gloria and Ines talk about Lucia and how maybe she could be good for their father. How Ines may not be his favourite anymore. They also discuss the curse but Gloria doesn’t believe that there’s a cause and effect for everything. After all, their mother did not deserve her death.
At school, Demi freaks out about the curse and even more so when Ines’s arrival leads to her black obsidian stone breaking in half. Andre arrives and to everyone’s shock, his face has swollen up. The group then go back to the house of the yard sale and show the woman the picture they found in the box. She says that woman is dead.
While everyone else is sure they are cursed and being plagued by a ghost, Gloria doesn’t believe it. In her frustration, she says the real curse was the day she got stuck taking care of Ines. She leaves them to it and says to call her when it’s life or death.
Sometime later, the home phone rings and Tonio picks it up. After the call, he seems a bit off and tells her she doesn’t need to pay him the money. She and Ines break into his laptop later and go through his search history to see that he’s been reading up on cancer. Tonio catches them and reveals that it’s not him but their father who has cancer. Suddenly the curse becomes all too real and Gloria freaks out, saying she can’t figure this one out. Ines tells her that the only reason their dad doesn’t pay her so much attention is that he trusts her. Gloria apologises about what she said about Ines before and Ines says she knows very well what Gloria’s friends think of her. She says she will find her own friends soon.
With Cam and Demi in her room, Gloria finally gets on board with the idea of the curse and says that Ines will help them since she’s fearless and they need that. As they plan out what to do, the woman in the coat watches them from outside.
The Episode Review
Fun and intriguing are the two words that come to mind after this first episode. Gloria, Ines, Demi and Cam are clearly extremely lovable and real characters. The quipping, the banter, the eye-rolling and yes, even the hand-holding-and-gazing is all done quite well. Coupled with some speedy but deft editing, the episode clearly establishes these teenagers and their quintessentially adolescent experiences. Peggy Blow returning to the show must have given all the On My Block fans a good dose of excitement too.
Although the tide seems against Ines at the moment, I am most eager to see how that changes over the episodes. We don’t know much about the curse itself but the introduction of the box and the woman were more than enough to keep one wanting to know more.
Of course, beneath all the drama, these kids are struggling with very real and serious issues. Gloria is clearly burdened with the responsibility of taking care of Ines, while Ines herself seems to use a carefree demeanour to hide more vulnerable thoughts. it will be interesting to see how the show melds those two things together.
You can read our full season review for Freeridge season 1 here!