What was one of the year’s most interesting shows stumbles to the end. While the art of Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye and Sam Levinson continues to hit on some interesting ideas, it has almost nothing to say about them. Add tonal inconsistency and a non-sensical plot, and you found The Idol gasping to be put out of its misery. HBO’s toughest Sunday night headliner in years, The Idol feels like a creative misfire like few before it.
The Recap – The Idol – Finale – “Jocelyn Forever”
Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp) records another song while Tedros (Tesfaye) watches from the other room. She works with Tedros’ other artists (Ramsey, Suzanna Son, to write more songs while Tedros pours another drink. He walks into the recording studio, and Jocelyn kicks him out. They begin fighting about the inspiration for the song. She then calls him out for the setup, and she calls him a con artist. Jocelyn says the musicians can stay, but he has to go.
Jocelyn and Leia play the song for the record label, and they love it. Finkelstein calls and expresses concerns about the tour. Leia asks Jocelyn to talk, but Joss blows her off. she rushes downstairs to talk to the artists.
Jocelyn tells the group she wants Ramsey, Chloe, and Izaak to be her opening act. She believes they have one shot to right the ship. Tedros drinks and makes snide comments from the corner. Jocelyn asks why he’s still here. She walks out of the room, telling the artists she can make them stars.
Tedros pushes Xander, pushing him to stand up to Jocelyn about his role as a singer. He tells his other artists to sell sex. Tedros even tells them to prostitute themselves if it will keep the team at the house.
Finkelstein, Nikki, Chaim, and Destiny arrive at the house. They’re met by all of Jocelyn/Tedros singers, as well as Mike Dean. Finkelstein asks for Jocelyn, but Tedros takes control of the room. His dancer tells Finkelstein to meet her upstairs and tries to seduce him. Tedros calls Nikki a Judas for the Dyanne deal. They fight, and Finkelstein threatens to leave.
Destiny tells Chloe to perform, and most of the room loves her. Finkelstein continues to worry about the tour. Leia gets a phone call from Rob, who tells her that he’s being accused of rape. The girl that Xander took a picture of with Rob has gone to the press. He needs Jocelyn to clear it up. Leia goes inside to speak with Xander but he blows her off.
Jocelyn joins and pushes Finkelstein to listen to Izaak. While Ramsey performs, Nikki talks to Tedros about how he found his talent. She begins pitching a partnership. Xander steps over to talk with Leia and insinuates that Jocelyn knows about Rob’s issues. Destiny tells Chaim she has in-roads on all of the artists. They can sign them before Nikki.
At the end of Ramsey’s performance, the news about Rob breaks into the group. Jocelyn and Tedros begin eyeing each other again. Xander begins to perform “Hare Krishna” and the representatives grow excited that he’s back to performing. Jocelyn pulls Tedros out of the room, and they fight. She decides to get rid of him and tells Chaim to pay him whatever he wants to get out of her life. Jocelyn tells Finkelstein that Xander will open for her as well.
Chaim takes Tedros out of the room and tells him the story of Little Red Riding Hood. When Chaim finishes the story, he lets Tedros know he’s out. Jocelyn performs for Finkelstein, who loves the new song. As she performs, security removes Tedros from the house.
They throw Tedros in the back of a Black SUV with Chaim. He gives Tedros a $500,000 check to leave them alone. When Tedros says he will not accept money, Chaim laughs. He wanted to go with Plan B anyway. He steps out of the car, and the doors lock behind him.
Upstairs, Finkelstein loves Jocelyn’s new song. The tour is back on with all of the other singers. Nikki agrees and says they are all superstars. Jocelyn, Ramsey, Chloe, Xander, and Izaak celebrate. Destiny tells Jocelyn she’s proud of her.
Chaim returns upstairs and tells Jocelyn it’s done with Tedros. She asks how much, but Chaim skirts the question. She asks to have a minute alone. He leaves, and we see Leia pack up her bags. She quits working for Jocelyn, leaving a note behind for Joss.
Dyanne hears that her record deal is being held by Nikki. She does not understand why her career is being held back. Nikki tells her to write her own song. As Dyanne gets into the elevator she asks if Jocelyn is the reason her deal is pulled. Nikki does not answer. Jocelyn preps for her tour, working out and practicing.
In a parking garage, Chaim pulls up to Talia. Her story is due Friday, but Chaim tells her to hold it. He’s got a bigger story for her. She agrees to hear him out.
Six weeks later, Jocelyn rides in a golf cart as she preps for a show. Surrounded by security she enters a SoFi Stadium for the show. Chloe, Ramsey, Izaak, and Xander prep for the show.
Chaim, Finkelstein, and Nikki discuss the tour. They sold out in 3 weeks, even though there were protests about the songs for being offensive. Tedros picks up an artist pass at the box office under the name Mauricio. The representatives reveal that Talia’s Vanity Fair article lost Tedros his club and reputation.
Tedros walks up to security and asks to see her. The security guy comes out and says that she’s never heard of him. He then cracks a joke and lets him into the back. Tedros walks into the room and sees Destiny waiting for him. Destiny warns him that she will kill him if he hurts Jocelyn.
Joss steps out from behind him. They express that they missed each other. Tedros sees the brush her mom beat her with. He realizes it’s brand new. They smile at each other and ride in a golf cart through the underground of the stadium.
Jocelyn goes through final makeup for her show. The crowd roars in the background. She steps out on stage and thanks the crowd for her support. She then tells them she wants to introduce them to the “love of her life.” Chaim, Finkelstein, and Nikki are shocked. Jocelyn tells him to stand in the corner. She says he’s hers forever.
Episode Breakdown – The Idol – Finale – “Jocelyn Forever”
This is another butchered episode, which ends in a way that makes no sense. While the first fifty minutes of the episode are well made, the last ten undoes any goodwill the show could have earned. The Idol continuously ran into walls its entire runtime, but there’s no rhyme or logic to the end of the show. From scene to scene the intentions of the characters do not align, and each step of the way, the acting gets worse. Any good feelings towards The Idol disappear by the end of the finale.
“Jocelyn Forever” shows the cracks in the series’ more impromptu elements. The Idol may have wanted spontaneity, but there’s no plot to speak of. Without much plot over the course of “Jocelyn Forever,” the gas runs out. Watching performers play songs we already know they’re capable of playing while record label execs tell us how good they are, does nothing for the emotional complexities of the series. While Levinson delivers some interesting visuals in the final moments of the series, the rest of the episode feels devoid of any emotional catharsis.
Depp finishes her five-episode streak well, and she more than proves her value apart from her father’s legacy. Depending on where she takes her career from here, she may find genuinely exciting offers available. Azaria appears to be the only one who understands what show he’s supporting and plays into the silliness of it. Randolph also lives up to her role, showcasing her talent and providing enough gravitas to make us believe someone actually has conviction.
However, the rest of the discussions throughout the episode are vapid. Characters we’ve grown to care about simply exit stage left with no additional time to deconstruct their journey. Sennott once again feels overqualified for her role here and instead gets wasted. It’s a real shame because she had all the set-up required for an excellent final scene. Instead, we’re left holding the bag with no real resolution to her journey. We never got a payoff for Dan Levy‘s role in the show, and good for him to simply move on (or get cut out. Either is preferable to whatever happened here). Eli Roth is just kind of present, and Mike Dean is in the same position. Simply put, there’s too much talent and not enough material for them to sustain.
Ultimately, the Frankenstein nature of the show came through in its last two episodes. The first three offered some genuine moments of brilliance. The last two were nothing burgers of a show, neither satisfying the “good hang” or plot-focused storytelling that makes a series interesting.
Perhaps most damning of all, The Idol never found its voice. There’s no real growth from anyone, no interesting concepts to pull from, and no ideology to examine. At best, The Idol says the industry is full of vampires. Like Babylon before it, that narrative is simply not compelling. It’s about as vapid an idea as one can have about Hollywood or the music industry in 2023, and throughout The Idol‘s finale, we are left scratching our heads.