Final Space and its crew are receiving one harsh cookie from Warner-Discovery. Creator and star Olan Rogers announced on Twitter his space opera series has not only been removed from HBO Max, but it’s also getting erased as a tax write-off. Once it leaves Netflix internationally, there will be no way to legally watch the series online. This merger has hurt so many shows, and Final Space is another one that has deserved better, simply because of how creative and fun this found family adventure is, and how much potential is left unfulfilled.
The series follows prisoner Gary Goodspeed (Rogers), a lonely and talkative prisoner floating in space with just his A.I., HUE (Tom Kenny), mindless robots Gary named, and a sanity maintenance robot, KVN (Fred Armisen, on top of his game). Then Gary meets a powerful yet adorable alien named Mooncake (also Rogers). This encounter leads Gary to form his Team Squad to journey across space to save the universe from titans in a universe known as Final Space run by a being known as Invictus (Vanessa Marshall).
A Unique Space Epic
“Space epics” are both common and hard to come by in this day and age with Star Wars, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Rick and Morty dominating cultural conversations. Final Space melds its specific brand of humor with episodic charms and fantastic world-building. Unlike other sci-fi series, Final Space does not anchor itself to Earth aside from a short-lived Season 1 subplot. Earth is left in the review mirror in favor of exploring a universe of titans, aliens, and beings more powerful than one can describe. One season can feature Quinn (Tika Sumpter) trying to save Earth while falling in love with Gary. She eventually stops Final Space from consuming the universe by sacrificing herself. The next can center around a version of her named Nightfall, who left Final Space and travel through multiple timelines only to experience the same tragedy of losing her love, Gary. It also makes for a darker story over time. Main characters die gruesome deaths, building the stakes throughout. The final episode ends in that darkness with the remaining Team Squad shrouded in doubt and loss. It’s a series that grapples with trauma by leaning into the darkness of space.
That darkness does sometimes lead to light, and the few specks of light come from family. Nearly every protagonist has family issues. Gary’s father died when he was a child and his mom, Sheryl (Claudia Black), abandoned him out of grief. Quinn watched her sister die fighting. Avocato (Coty Galloway) acted alone to save his son, Little Cato (Steven Yeun), until he met Gary. Clarence (Conan O’Brien) adopts Ash (Ashley Burch) and Fox (Ron Funches), both of whom lost their families and selves in traumatizing fashion. All the main characters experience tragedy that brought them together.
Solid Performances and Complex Storylines
Final Space never leans too far into the saccharine here. Rogers and his team consistently push these characters into heartbreaking situations and reveal harsh truths. Gary reconnects with his mom — before she betrays him and the Team Squad, fights Gary, and then returns to help their mission without fully repairing their bond. Avocato killed Little Cato’s parents in an act of war and took him in as his son without telling him the first part. Invictus forces Gary to kill Fox in front of Ash to sow distrust in her. The Team Squad is put through the wringer for the entirety of the series.
Yet, the characters are strong enough to keep you watching, partially from the voice acting. Yeun, Burch, Kenny, and Bunches are all experienced, and they help you fall in love with their quirks and mourn their tragedies. Armisen makes an annoying character charming. Sumpter portrays multiple versions of Quinn and captures the strength and, eventually, her vulnerability. The early episodes can get annoying, but they do lay the groundwork and still endear us to the characters.
Our lead, Gary, can sometimes be grating, particularly in the early episodes. His attempts to seem cool and act like a hero, which can come off as annoying. However, the more they show his tragedy, the more you relate to the shell he’s putting up. He is trying so desperately to be the hero he lost in his father and failed for so long, but out of that becomes so loyal and forgiving he can accept anyone. Gary Goodspeed grows on you, just like the series.
Now, it’s hard to say many hopeful anecdotes here about the series ending. Rogers is pushing a campaign to #renewfinalspace, but who knows if that will work. Regardless, Final Space exists and delivered three seasons of beautifully made, entertaining space drama. And, as Gary put it, “We can’t change the past, but we can write a new future.”
Final Space will continue to provide comfort for those who remember it and through that community will find new lights to darken the uncertain cosmos.