AMC’s Soulmates: Season Finale Review
*This Review Contains Full Spoilers*
On the season finale of AMC’s Soulmates, The (Power) Ballad of Caitlin Jones, we watch as the test’s newest match has a timid young woman discover a new strength within herself as she begins to uncover her match’s dark secrets.
The finale brings us back into a story of the test not only testing relationships, but also having those that take it go through moments of self-discovery as we meet the episode’s titular protagonist – Caitlin Jones (Betsy Brandt). Caitlin has been eagerly waiting for her to match with her soulmate for quite sometime and been sort of hopeless romantic due to her poor relationships with men. Due to her past abusive relationships and her current relationship with her uncaring boyfriend Doug (Tom Goodman-Hill), Caitlin has really become a timid pushover in her life constantly worried about asserting herself and facing physical retribution from men. Even when she walks around, she lives in fear of the male gaze and she’s just hoping that her match can treat her better and instill a greater confidence within herself.
Thus, when she finally matches with someone, a handsome doctor named Nathan (JJ Felid), she’s incredibly excited to meet him and move on to a new relationship. Even while she’s willing to drop Doug suddenly for her match like plenty of other people in this series have, the way Doug scolds her and attempts to control her to keep her basically as his slave makes it feel more like a necessary step forward for her. As Caitlin meets Nathan, there’s a instant connection that they have that feels like love at first sight and a comfortability and acceptance between the two that has Caitlin talk about her situation with Doug as well as her bad relationship past and Nathan to give off the supportive impression that Caitlin has been looking. There is one moment that makes Caitlin worry that Nathan is no different from the abusive relationships she’s been in before as he drags her into a dark alleyway, but it just ends up being a moment for him to show Caitlin her own inner strength and how to deal with stressful situations.
All of this ends up making Caitlin fall in love with Nathan and she ends up even taking more control in her life. She was able to finally kick Doug out of their apartment and her life, she looks more confident to those around her, and legitimately seems happy with everything. However, the good times don’t last for long as Nathan basically ghosts her, and you instantly start to wonder what’s exactly up with Nathan. Eventually Caitlin is able to get through to Nathan and ends up seeing his true colors come out and boy are they dark. It turns out that Nathan is actually a serial killer that didn’t end up killing Caitlin when they met because he felt that they had a genuine connection and that she would love him unconditionally. Also, he believes that her bad past and troubles with men making her feel inferior makes her harness the same sort of inner rage that he has that could drive her to kill. It’s certainly an interesting twist that becomes a little more interesting when it really affects Caitlin.
Reverting back into her old habits and fears, we basically get to watch her wrestle with what Nathan believes about her as she questions whether or not she actually can kill. From the visions she has of killing Doug because of how much he drains her to how she seemingly finds pleasure in tasing a mugger that she’s able to subdue, there’re really some moments that make you wonder if her and Nathan are going to become a killer couple. Even for the absolutely atrocious shaky cam in the some of the more action-oriented sequences and the episode’s underwhelmingly ambiguous ending, it’s still pretty thrilling to watch unfold. It’s a horrifying look at someone breaking past their fears to conquer them and an intriguing look at how relationships can really leave an impact on someone and show them a whole new side to themselves. However, it’s not without its flaws.
The big problem with Caitlin’s killer turn and self-discovery is that the angle of abuse within her character makes this realization for her a little problematic. With Caitlin being abused the only driving force for these killer thoughts, there’re a lot of times where the episode is unintentionally painting the idea that people who are abused just have killer thoughts and become psychopaths. It’s definitely not the right kind of message or thought that you want in your story, especially in a finale, and the elements of abuse actually don’t feel necessary at all. The story could’ve easily worked without it and the thrilling elements of Caitlin possibly discovering a darker side to herself could’ve been just as good without the abuse angle painting an incorrect and problematic view of abuse victims.
While the season finale puts the series in a better place than where it started, it still makes its own mistakes with its filmmaking and problematic story that paints victims of abuse in an unnecessarily bad light. Although this season is over, AMC has already renewed Soulmates for a second season so hopefully the series can work its kinks out and deliver a more consistent set of fascinating and thrilling stories that fully lives up to the potential that has been built.