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Expats (Prime) Series Finale Review

Mercy (Ji-young Yoo) looks worried in the season finale of the Prime Video series Expats

With a focus on family and motherhood once again, the season finale of Prime series Expats is a fitting conclusion to an excellent show.   

Towards the end of the Expats season finale, the voiceover concludes the show asking “who do we think we are, any of us, to think we are immune to tragedy,” in a moment that feels very circular to the beginning of the Prime Video series. With the whole episode serving as a callback to the rest of the show, particularly episode 1, this week’s episode was a very fitting conclusion to the series, bringing back some of the key themes of the show and saying goodbye to the characters whose lives we have followed for the past few weeks.

The Expats season finale takes us into the lives of our characters a few months after the latest episode. The Umbrella Movement protests are still ongoing and that is where the plot picks up with Mercy Cho (Ji-young Yoo) and Charly (Bonde Sham) just before Mercy’s mother is due to arrive in Hong Kong to visit her. At the same time, Margaret Woo (Nicole Kidman) is getting ready to move from Hong Kong to the United States with her family and their domestic worker Essie (Ruby Ruiz), and Hilary Starr (Sarayu Blue) travels back home to visit her sick father as she gets adjusted to her life after divorce.

I originally thought the entirety of Expats was leading up to a happy ending all along, a tale of family reunited and wrongdoings repaired, as Hollywood movies often tend to do, but I was happy to be proven wrong. In the season finale, not everything is magically resolved just because the show is ending: after all, in real life, some tragedies never really find closure, and neither do they in Expats but the series shows us how life can still go on, despite all the pain and sadness, and ever get better.

I also really liked the voiceover parts in this episode: admittedly, voiceovers are always hard to get right as they are often too expositionary or uninteresting. However, the season finale of Expats makes it work thanks to the visuals of the three women speaking to the camera that is cut between the rest of the episode. A lot of the individual parts are filmed well: a lot of it feels like a conversation with the audience rather than with their scene partners as they are all filmed in a middle close-up with the characters talking directly to the camera. In this sense, it very much feels like the characters are saying goodbye to each other as well as to the audience at the same time.

Nicole Kidman is in a corridor at the airport in the season finale of the Prime Video series Expats
Nicole Kidman in the Season Finale of the series Expats (Atsushi Nishijima/Prime Video, Amazon MGM Studios)

In this episode, the audience finally gets to see a little more of Charly, one of the most interesting characters of the entire show, as her plot evolves. In many ways, she feels like a counterpart to Mercy, especially as in the season finale of Expats she calls Mercy out on her privilege. This is particularly interesting as for the entirety of the Prime Video show we have been used to seeing Mercy as the outcast, as the one character who did not fit with the extra rich and privileged characters we see in the show. But it is fascinating to see the rehearsal of this as Mercy’s privilege and luck are evident against the young people of Hong Kong fighting for their future.

Once again, Expats brings a little more of Hong Kong into its plot by showing various shots of the city as the characters move through it. However, I would have liked to see a lot more than this: Hong Kong is only a backdrop for the show and rarely used in its actual plot. This is particularly evident when it comes to the protests, a key moment in Hong Kong’s history and political identity: they often come back throughout the episode, but they are hardly ever properly explored. They are the background for Mercy’s story, but I would have much preferred seeing this story and struggle rather than anything the season finale is showing us.

Much like in previous episodes, episode 6 – and the entire Prime Video show – always seems to focus on the least interesting and most privileged characters. In the few scenes when the focus shifts to the working class, like in episode 5 with Puri and Essie, or to the political situation in Hong Kong, with the plot with Charly in this episode, Expats is at its very best, but unfortunately, that happens too little for my liking. The focus on Margaret, Hilary, and Mercy is still interesting, as the audience does want to see the end of these stories in the season finale, but not enough when we are reminded of all the characters whose stories remain in the background.

Overall, the season finale of Expats is a good episode, one of its best actually: the cinematography and visuals are always impressive and seem to get better and better with every episode. In this episode, in particular, the show plays with camerawork and cinematic techniques to deliver some of its most impactful scenes. However, it does not reach its very best in episode 5 which paired the visual excellence of the show with its most interesting plot and storytelling.

The season finale of the series Expats is now available to watch on Prime Video.

Expats (Prime Series): Episode 5 Review – Loud And Clear Reviews
In the longest episode of the Prime Video TV show yet, episode 5 is everything I wanted Expats to be from the very beginning.
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