The final episode of Grand Army season 1 brings plenty of bittersweet scenes but also moments of freedom as the lead characters find a glimmer of hope.
This recap of Netflix’s Grand Army season 1, episode 9, “Freedom” — the ending explained — contains significant spoilers.
We recapped the entire series — check out the archive.
The episode begins with the text “The filthy chinks, Arab terrorists, money grubbing jews, and attention ***** blacks at your elitist school will be slaughtered and doomed to burn in the pits of hell. Their heads are going to be blown off by shrapnel. It is going to be a bloodbath. It is going to happen TODAY”. The texts from the previous chapters is a confession email before something sinister is going to happen. The sender schedules the email for 10.45am — it’s Leila.
The finale of Grand Army makes the viewer anxious — you are always expecting something horrific to happen after this opening scene.
Preparing for marriage
Episode 9 sees Dom about to make the biggest sacrifice of her life — it’s a reflection of the conditions her family live in but also the courage she has to try and save them financially.
Dom is preparing for her marriage to Ronald — they are arranging payments and a place to stay. She’s told she needs to stay in the city until they get divorced. Dom admits to Ronald that she will be happy to have her own room. Ronald asks if she’s doing anything for her birthday and she solemnly says no.
Joey is paranoid that her new school knows about what happened. She rings her mother and she’s upset that she’s “No-one” here. She texts George, Tim and Luke and asks if they can meet later as she wants to talk. Luke asks George to screenshot the text. They then bump into Sid and they tell him that they don’t care that he’s gay. The pair take it to an extreme about how Sid is gay — when Sid walks off he makes a comment about never getting into a taxi or an Uber with them. He was throwing flames here — it’s a great moment.
Sid finds Victor and tells him he is sorry for his outburst and the accusation against him. Victor accepts his apology.
Despite his father telling him to focus on his future, the weight of the world rests on Jay’s shoulders in episode 9 as he wants to send a message.
Jay and others begin their sit-in routine. There are many students taking part and Jay is shocked at the turnout. Leila asks if she can sit with Omar. She seems chirpier than usual but keeps looking at the time. She tells Omar that even though she isn’t in the play, she still wants to see it.
John gives a speech about racism to the sit-in. Due to the email sent by Leila, the school is evacuated. Rachel is panicking and tells Leila that she doesn’t want to fight anymore. They make up as friends. Later, Leila and Omar hook up.
Leila’s got what she wanted; the play is cancelled, she has her best friend back and she’s hooking up with someone she likes. This is a highly manipulative moment by the character — she’s essentially created chaos to get her own way and it could have repercussions in the second season.
The next moment in Grand Army season 1, episode 9 is perhaps the most heartbreaking as Joey wants to hear accountability on the behalf of her attackers.
Joey meets Luke, Tim, George and Anna. They are immediately impatient with her and expected an apology from her. She gets upset and asks them to admit what they did. When Anna backs George and Luke, Joey looks at Tim. She tells Tim that he sat there while they pinned her down. Tim stays silent and Joey stands back and looks at them all before walking off. The others walk off while Tim stands there and finally, he breaks — “It’s true though”. Luke and George get angry with Tim and tell him to stop talking.
As Joey walks home, Dom sees her. They sit on a bench together and catch up. Both girls agree that they are both just “Living”.
It’s important that Tim has broken — even though Joey never saw him admit what happened in the taxi, the guilt will now chew on his mind. But it was awful seeing Joey wanting her friends to admit what happened but they idly stay silent.
When Dom returns home, she’s greeted by a surprise birthday party. John is there with roses. Dom’s mother is clearly bothered by their relationship. Dom then reveals to her friends that she got the internship. After she gives a birthday speech, the party starts but the concern on her mother’s face is still there.
The next day, Dom walks into school and John is there with a sign asking her if she’d like to go prom with him. She freaks out and heads to the bathroom. She tells her friends it’s a red flag for immigration. Her friends are surprised she’s going ahead with the marriage.
The treatment of black students
Grand Army season 1, episode 9 demonstrates how difficult it can be to be heard in educational establishments in suppressed communities.
Jay and his friends meet with the assistant principal and talk about the treatment of black students in school. He suggests that they bring their issues to the Department of Education and try to attend the board.
Meanwhile, Leila finally stands up for herself in class against Chinese girls and tells them to speak English. She’s creating her own voice and despite her strange manipulations, this was a great moment for the character.
From acceptance to apology
Sid finally gets his answer from Harvard — he got in and he’s ecstatic. Meera was also there and she’s very happy for him. Dom tells Victor about his news and he’s happy for him. The pair kiss. Sid then gets a text from his father congratulating him.
It’s a moment of relief for Sid who has had a tough time.
Meanwhile, Dom apologises to the teacher that let her off for cheating and putting him in that situation — she promises she’s back on track. then Dom speaks to John and asks if he’s around later. The pair hug it out but there’s a serious obstacle in their relationship as we reach the end of the series.
It’s my outlet
Leila tells Omar that she is a dominant female and then shows him her graphic artwork — she explains that the post-apocalyptic world makes her feel freer and is an outlet. She then gets a text from George and she entertains it. Omar meanwhile looks at her other art and she’s the violence and destruction (we’d all run out at this point). Feeling a buzz from George’s texts, Leila starts kissing Omar again.
Every time Leila redeems herself as a character, she somehow manages to go 5 steps backwards.
Jay tells Owen that he’s filling in for his All-State Performance. Owen is furious at him and thinks he should give up the spot but as he walks off, he gives Jay advice on the notes he should do. Jay takes part in the performance rehearsals. Afterwards, Jay creates a story on Instagram of him and Owen playing instruments together and captions it that he should be with him on stage.
I was raped too
Joey finally gets the opportunity to share a safe space and talk to someone who has a shared experience.
One of the girls named Sylvie at Joey’s new school tells her she was also raped; her brother took her to a party in her dorm and the weed was laced — as she headed to the bathroom another student threw her on the bed and raped her. Sylvie never told anyone as she didn’t want to be a “Rape girl”. Sylvie finds Joey to be brave for what she did and regrets not saying anything. She tells Joey that she believes her.
The ending of the series brings the power of freedom and what it can mean to someone to finally feel themselves in the world.
When Dom returns home, she learns that her mother cancelled the marriage — her sister and her mother felt she didn’t want it so they will go through tough times together. Dom doesn’t feel it is fair on the family and doesn’t want to let them down. Her mother saw Dom with her friends and she changed her mind when they called Dom a “genius”; her sister also wants to see Dom get married to a man she loves. She has freedom again.
Joey decides to head to dance class to see if she can handle it. The dance teacher asks the group to let go of their bodies and release. This is Joey’s moment to be able to express herself. Meanwhile, a side scene shows Tim snorting drugs while Joey finally finds escapism in dance — and just like Dom, she finally feels freedom again. Tim texts her asking if they can talk as Joey finally has a smile on her face.
This was a sweet moment for the character — Joey has been trapped since halfway through the story and this moment of unleashing her mind and body felt relieving — it shows that the strength of writing in Grand Army has really shone through.
Dom texts John outside of his apartment. She has a surprise for him. She’s laid out rose petals that say “Prom?”. John says yes.
And then, to end a powerful series, Jay brings a powerful moment. He performs in the All-State Performance — he covers his mouth with black sellotape. It’s a protest — “We will not be silenced”. He stands there, fists in the air, with the entire theatre in silence.
Grand Army season 1, episode 9 brings plenty of bittersweet scenes but also moments of freedom as the lead characters find a glimmer of hope. There’s plenty of that in the ending — hope. So let’s just hope that Netflix gives this a second season as well. These characters need fleshing out.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.