Leila – Season 1 Finale Recap & Review

 

Aryavarta’s Fate

The finale of Leila sees all the pieces come together in this final slice of drama this year, leaving many questions unanswered and setting things up for a sequel that may or may not arrive. While there are some nice plot beats here and seeing Leila’s changed persona is certainly unnerving, the stark contrasts between Shalini’s journey and June’s desperate struggle to get her daughter back in The Handmaid’s Tale are hard to ignore. 

The episode itself begins with Shalini waiting for her daughter outside the school but having been brainwashed, she doesn’t remember her. She is also being raised by Shalini’s former maid. Seeing her daughter again prompts her to decide to attend the Skydome function as her daughter will be performing there. She’ll use this opportunity to attempt a rescue.

Back at Rao’s house, Shalini tries to photograph the plans but is caught by Mohan. In a bid to distract everyone, she manages to turn the electricity off which allows her to finally take the pictures of the Skydome’s plans. Unfortunately, she’s confronted again by Mohan but her old maid’s husband convinces him that she is innocent.

Bhanu receives the pictures and realizes that it will be difficult to get in as the security will be very tight. The only solution would be to get someone on the guest list.

Shalini then meets with Rao and gives him a movie reel she took earlier of his favourite poem. He asks her why and how she managed to get this as it’s now illegal to which she replies that she needs to get into the Skydome function as her daughter will be performing there. He decides to help her as he’s not happy with Joshi’s new order.

She also asks Bhanu for a passport and a car but instead, he gives her a light bulb containing a deadly poisonous gas to take to the function.  He convinces her to take it in but not before making him promise that no harm will come of Leila. Rao gives Shalini a script to read to the function, planning a coop in a bid to rule over Joshi.

With the wheels set into motion, the day of the inauguration arrives and Shalini has hidden the light bulb inside Rao’s lunch. As Joshi arrives, the children perform for the audience. Joshi then asks one of the children, which happens to be Leila, to stay with him. After Rao speech, Shalini goes up to Joshi and threatens to release the poisonous gas. He smiles, telling her she must do what she came here to do. She replies that she wants her life and her daughter back. He tells Leila to go to her mother, but she replies that Aryavarta is her mother.

The episode then ends with Joshi telling her that no one can defeat Aryavarta while Shalini looks ready to break the light bulb.

As expected, the episode ends on a cliffhanger and many questions left unanswered. While it was a nice twist to see that Shalini’s former maid is now the carer of her daughter, Leila leaves us hanging on for more when the final credits roll. It would have been interesting to find out more about the resistance’s actions or see Shalini attempt to rescue Roop but alas, we’ll have to wait and see if anything comes of these plot points if this is renewed.

For those who haven’t seen The Handmaid’s Tale, this will be a pretty enjoyable dystopian series however for those who have watched it, Leila feels a little too familiar. The colour red for the robes, the general narrative and the character arcs all feel very similar throughout the series. The second half of Netflix’s new dystopian thriller certainly slows the pace down too which may prove problematic for those expecting the opposite as this one reached its conclusion.

I just wish Leila had managed to shake off the shadow of The Handmaid’s Tale and gone in a slightly different direction. The opening episodes certainly showed some promise but the general narrative feels like very familiar and well-trodden ground. The cliffhanger ending is certainly disappointing too, especially with the future of the show still unknown at this point. It’s not perfect, but it is enjoyable nonetheless and Leila has been a tumultuous thrill ride that ends much like it began – with plenty of questions and promise but little in the way of true originality.

 

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