Netflix’s ‘Julie and the Phantoms’ mixes several genres to deliver a quirky and entertaining story to the audience. It is a teen drama that dips its toe in the supernatural territory, with a lot of music. The series not only focuses on the usual teen tropes but also creates a mythology of its own around the ghosts. The ending stirs even more mystery into the mix. SPOILERS AHEAD
After the death of her mother, Julie, a promising singer-songwriter, loses her interest in music. Her father plans to sell their house and move on. While cleaning the garage, Julie finds the CD of a band named Sunset Curve. When she plays it, three ghosts appear out of nowhere, and it turns out that she is the only one who can see them. They had died due to a hotdog poisoning twenty-five years ago, hours before they were to perform the gig of a lifetime. Another shocking twist arrives when they discover that they become visible to the world when they start playing music with Julie. And so, a band is formed.
As the band, named Julie and the Phantoms, starts to earn a name for itself, the three ghosts meet a mysterious man named Caleb. He offers them to join his show, but they decline it in favor of Julie. Following this, strange things start to happen to them.
With the intensity of the lightning jolts increasing with every turn, the Phantoms realize that they have no other option but to tell Julie about what is happening to them and find a way to make their final wish come true. They tell her about the Orpheum and work on a plan to book a gig there. Meanwhile, Julie’s secret is revealed to two very important people. First, her brother Carlos discovers the Sunset Curve CD and in its poster, recognizes the boys who play in Julie’s band. First, he thinks about exposing them to the world as ghosts, but when he realizes how important they are to Julie, he decides to leave it alone.
Another person who comes across this startling revelation is Trevor. He had been a member of Sunset Curve as Bobby, and after the death of his band members, he found success by selling the songs written by Luke and changed his name to Trevor. He recognizes his old bandmates when he sees them in the video that Julie’s father had made during the house party. He is taken aback by their existence but doesn’t get the chance to do anything about it, yet.
The plan to play at the Orpheum is set in motion and it looks like the Phantoms just might cross over to the other side. But just before that, Caleb arrives and tries to foil their plan. He takes them back to his place and through another explosive performance, he tries to convince them to take up his offer. He also questions their final wish and wonders if the Phantoms are ready to take that chance to find out if they are wrong about it. Meanwhile, their absence worries Julie, who believes that they might have run out of time. She calls out to her mother to help her and give her a sign. She gets it when a random woman gives her a dahlia, her mother’s favorite flower. She goes on stage, not knowing whether the Phantoms will show up or not, but to her surprise, they do. The band performs brilliantly and the Phantoms stay around long enough to take a bow.
Once they are back home, Carlos lets Julie know that he knows her secret. She goes to the garage to say goodbye to the Phantoms but discovers that they have not crossed over to the other side. It looks like Caleb was right; playing in the Orpheum was not their final wish. As they start to get weaker, Julie begs them to take Caleb’s deal, but they refuse, vowing to never go back there. As they share final words with each other, something strange happens. Julie’s touch gives energy to Luke and he starts feeling stronger. The same happens for Reggie and Alex when they group-hug each other. As they start to glow, Caleb’s stamp disappears from their wrists and they get back their strength.
While the logic of this act is not explained, it does make it clear that Caleb is not as powerful as previously imagined. One way to explain the event would be that Caleb had been bluffing. The stamp and the deadline was just a trick to make people believe that he is powerful enough to destroy them. Out of fear, they would surrender to him. But the Phantoms don’t do so, and hence, Caleb’s bluff is called. When the deadline expires for the stamp, its effect wanes as well. Another explanation could have something to do with Julie’s mother. Previously, Flynn had told her that the reason Julie can see the Phantoms could be because it has something to do with her mother. While we don’t see mother’s ghost in the entire season, Julie does receive signs from her on an important occasion. Could it be her who saved the Phantoms from their doom?
The final cliffhanger that the season leaves us with is the possession of Nick. He was introduced to us as Julie’s crush. Over the course of the season, he develops feelings for her. At the end of the final episode, he ends up outside Julie’s house with a bouquet. Before he can ring the bell, Caleb shows up and possesses him. It turns out that he is not very happy with the Phantoms escaping his grasp. He has returned to exact revenge, not just on them, but also on Julie. And he plans to do so with the help of Nick.
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