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‘Paper Girls’ 1×08 review: “It B Over” slips back into its old bad habits

By November 25, 2022November 30th, 2022No Comments4 min read

Paper Girls is a casualty of the current state of television. When streaming companies first competed for dominance—and our attention—in the early 2010s, awarding winning prestige dramas like Transparent and Orange is the New Black graced our screens. Though these shows were not perfect, they proved that Prime Video and Netflix could produce superior works on their platforms, just like the big boys. Nowadays, streamers try to grab subscribers by pumping out content at breakneck speed, regardless of its quality.

Take Paper Girls, for example. The four main leads may carry the eight episodes on their young shoulders with their performances, but the series falls flat in other areas. At its best, the young adult drama captures the period when little girls transition into adolescents with precision. At its worst, the show relies on shock value and unearned plot twists than on worldbuilding and character development. Similar to its pilot episode, “It B Over” backslides into its worst habits thanks partly to its messy plotting, extremely confusing character choices, and hokey visual effects.

The series finale opens with Juniper (Celeste Arias) sending a distress signal to Heck (Daniel Rashid) and Naldo (Will Bennett), the two teenage STF Underground members from Episode 1, through Tiffany’s (Camryn Jones) highly expensive but reliable walkie talkie. As Juniper repeats her location into the device, she receives a voice from the other side of the time warp. Unfortunately, the person who picks up the signal is Mac (Sofia Rosinsky) from 1988. Through this surprising reveal, the paper girls realize they are in a time loop that is impossible to break.  

Upset at their predicament, Mac runs off to blow off some steam inside Larry’s farmhouse. Thankfully, she is not alone as KJ (Fina Strazza) heads inside to console her. However, Prioress (Adina Porte) corners the girls and offers them a solution to their problems. Instead of killing them, she will erase their memories and send them back to November 1, 1988, as if nothing ever happened. Mac wants to take the deal because the child is tired of running away. Yet, KJ does not trust Prioress as she has seen the warrior at her worst. As a result, the Old Watch soldier takes the duo to the Grand Father (Jason Mantzoukas), so he can explain why it is vital to keep the timelines intact.

According to the Grand Father, traveling to the past is like recording over a poorly distorted mix tape. The STF Underground wants to return to create the future they want. However, these time travelers risk distorting the timeline to the point it ceases to exist. The Grand Father intends to prevent this by keeping the timeline the same. Hence the ongoing war between the Old Watch and the STF Underground. The Grand Father’s explanation tracks in this scene, no pun intended, as it is one of the few times Paper Girls takes the time to explain its science fiction tropes. The series would have been easier to grasp if the Grand Father had expressed his motives earlier. 

Despite the Grand Father’s theory, neither child buys what the man sells. As a result, the elder threatens the girls to accept his deal, or he will feed them to his pet pterodactyl named Tessa. You read that correctly. The show randomly inserts a flying dinosaur in its finale. Thankfully, Larry (Nate Corddry) and the remaining paper girls come to their rescue, but Tessa eats the STF Underground member in front of their eyes (that guy never gets a break, huh?).

As Larry meets his second untimely demise, the paper girls dart away and hide in the farmhouse’s basement. While inside, they have a brief, heartfelt discussion about their pasts and futures. Mac reveals her cancer diagnosis to Erin (Riley Lai Nelet) and Tiffany. KJ invites her friends to her bar mitzvah if they survive, and they all commit to staying in touch. Sadly, Prioress cuts their sweet moment short when she captures the girls and forces them onto the ridiculously ginormous time-traveling ship in the sky.

A lot of confusing and unhinged moments happen on the poorly rendered ship. While the paper girls await their fate, Prioress explains that Tiffany’s educational institute created time travel. To prevent the war, Tiffany must go back in time to stop her older self from developing time travel. Unfortunately, Prioress gets attacked by an Old Watch soldier, and the girls get separated amid the chaos. Mac and KJ blast off to the moment Adult Tiffany creates time travel, while Erin and Tiff get sent to the 1970s. The episode ends on one unearned cliffhanger.

I am not disappointed that Prime Video canceled Paper Girls after its first season. Throughout its entire run, the YA drama fails to tell an entertaining story with stakes, develop secondary characters with goals and aspirations, and, most importantly, create a believable world. I hope the four leads find better work in the future. Considering their talents and commitment to the bit, they deserved better. 

Featured Image Courtesy of Prime Video

Phylecia Miller

Phylecia Miller is a quirky Black freelance writer and creator of the blog, Hi, Phylecia. Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, she resides in Vancouver, British Columbia, with her lovely husband and lazy tuxedo cat. Her professional experiences include working for Rotten Tomatoes and Film Independent. When she is not agonizing over her first sentence, Phylecia takes long scenic walks at Stanley Park and the VanDusen Botanical Garden. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @hiphylecia.

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