'Shaq Life' Episode 9 Review: Compelling, fun finale showcases the NBA legend's greatest strength — willpower
Spoilers for 'Shaq Life' Episode 9 'Shaq's Last Stand'
It felt like a superhero story. Shaquille O'Neal, one of NBA's decorated basketball legends, has one superpower: Willpower. 'Shaq's Last Stand' is an hour-long finale that sees him check four boxes that he aimed to in his life after the sport— Be a complete family man, resurrect Papa John's Pizza and re-establish the name of the brand in the US market, have people go crazy while rocking the stage at the Lalapalooza and grapple a UFC fighter.
Almost each of his tasks comes with a moral lesson and these are the adages we've seen and heard before. What makes them special despite being used consistently over the years is that they all equate to Shaq. Over the eight episodes before the finale, there have been multiple instances where we see Shaq play a doting and responsible father to his sons and daughters. There's an emphasis on family and he sincerely attempts to be the best dad he could be.
The finale sees his efforts to man up his son Shaqir succeed. Still in his teens, Shaqir, like most kids, have lofty dreams and ambitions. But over time, he realizes the support he receives from Shaq. There are fitness lessons, disciplinary thoughts, and love in equal measure that sees the teen and his cousin, Columbus, dish out a stellar performance in one of their league games for the Cougars.
He checks the box of grappling a fighter in Greg Hardy. At 6'5" and around 265 lbs, Hardy, a former Dallas Cowboys defensive, made a career out of MMA and will take on Shaq who has been hitting the mats and the iron dedicatedly. For Shaq, it was about proving a point to himself, that age was a number and he could accomplish anything he would put his mind to. Cliche? The fight doesn't say that. It shows his willpower and the athlete mindset where giving up is not an option.
As far as the fight goes, call it a draw. But for the star, it was checking another life box.
It was established in the docuseries that Shaq came in as a board member for Papa John's following their controversy surrounding the African-American people. They paid the ultimate price when people slammed the pizza company and now it was all about building back the brand and getting back lost love. The ad they plan sees Shaq deliver pizzas to the people in an unscripted ad. There's enough humor when people ask him, "Are you Michael Jordan?"
This followed by a grand opening of Shaq's own Papa John's franchise sees people come in large numbers — The signs of recovery and progress. Make that ticking off another box.
And finally, the Lalapalooza where Shaq is keen on shedding off the celebrity DJ tag. DJ Diesel, as he is known in the music public circles, had some forgettable outings the series captures but after a morale-boosting Europe performance, there was enough confidence to rock the stage at the Lalapalooza and rock he did. DJ Diesel is not a novelty act and the chatter on social media was proof enough. By now, it is all but clear that Shaq is a man of many talents. He knows his stuff and that means all he needs to do after is just go about his mission.
As far as the intensity and tone of the entire docuseries go, it is kept light, funny, and easy so as to match Shaq's persona. Samuel L Jackson deserves credit for breathing life into the series with his witty and wise-cracking narration, richly complementing Shaq. The prank on Charles Berkley is best saved for the last and is a fun watch.
'Shaq Life' was released to keep the quarantine boredom at bay and can be added to that list of best docuseries to watch while on lockdown. The final minutes see Shaq ride off saying "See you next summer". So 'Shaq Life' Season 2 maybe?
'Shaq Life' finale airs on Thursday at 9 pm ET on TNT.