GAMEFACE SERIES 2 REVIEW – The Top 10 Damien Molony & Joncella Moments! (SPOILERS ALERT!)
Warning for spoilers and extreme DaMo-centric content!!!!
After five glorious weeks of bringing us laugh out loud joy, gripping us tight with a compelling, layered-like-an-onion story line and filling our hearts with one of the most beautiful love stories ever on the small or big screen, the second series of Roisin Conaty’s GameFace has just come to an end on Channel 4.
The conclusion of the ‘will they, won’t they’ first series saw a re-set of Jon and Marcella’s relationship, with her drunken one-night stand with ex Simon (Dustin Demri-Burns) still remaining a secret.
The second series arrived two years on and we could not wait to know where we would find Jon and Marcella and more importantly, where we would find ‘Joncella’.
The new series picks up the story only five weeks after we left it, with Marcella taking and passing her driving test, but pretending to Jon she failed. This omission of truth sets up the Joncella arc for the rest of the series.
And it’s a twisty turny ride from the get-go. Their adorkable, frustrating miscommunication from the first series continues and amplifies in the second, and their relationship veers wildly between tender moments of almost sharing their true feelings, to total misunderstandings – sometimes with hilarious, and sometimes catastrophic, consequences.
There is a kiss in episode 1 interrupted by Tania (Tiff Stevenson) bursting in to confront Marcella about sleeping with Simon. In the space of a few seconds the whole tone swings from possible romance to total disaster, and this sets the pattern for the rest of the series. Marcella’s ex is still on the scene, adding to both her and Jon’s confusion, and Jon’s ever patience is tested more than ever.
The comedy is masterfully constructed, perfectly paced and cleverly delivered, and every awesome-packed episode written by Roisin Conaty also takes us on a thrilling, fun, suspenseful, tense, heartful journey. Travelling along the very bumpy Joncella road, we cannot possibly guess at the final destination, and are fully invested not only in them as a couple but in both characters’ individual happiness.
It’s hilarious and unapologetically romantic too, it’s got all the layers of a drama, and all the laughs of a comedy, but it’s more of everything in one short 30 minute episode than a full feature length rom com.
Even more of a treat is the amount of screen time our fave actor has. Jon and Marcella are not a subplot in this series, but the main event – Damien features majorly in every episode.
All of the regular cast return, Caroline Ginty and Nina Toussant-White as Marcella’s flat mates Cal and Lucy, Pauline McLynn and Frances Magee as Marcella’s indelible parents, Dylan Edwards as now post-rehab, sober brother Billy, Karl Theobald as Graham the increasingly random and hilarious therapist, Llewella Gideon as Linda the conspiracy theorist neighbour. New guest cast, most notably Eliot Salt as Graham’s new assistant Frances, Alistair Green as Billy’s sober, marmite prawn making housemate Skinny Pig, Ako Mitchell as Marcella’s writing class friend/future co-writer Tom and Naana Agyei-Ampadu as Jon’s fellow art student, poetry reading special friend Sally, add fresh zing to an already fiery mix. Each character develops through the series as each story thread is woven in to the fabric of the whole.
Performances in this series are even stronger than the first, particularly Roisin C as Marcella, who oozes incredible natural comedy through her character, as well as a real tenderness. Her therapy sessions punctuate proceedings with the flashbacks and flash forwards we came to enjoy in the first series, filled with funny moments, quirk galore and also the continuing underlying pathos of Marcella’s life as she struggles through acting jobs, her family and relationship issues and her drinking, which becomes apparent as a real problem in this series.
Marcella’s job situation as an actor provides the highest comedy notes across the episodes, including her roles in the London Dungeons, as a monk, as the ‘Biccy Monster’ in an advert, her starring role in her own creation Carewolves and many more morsels of mere genius.
Damien’s quieter, more bashful, Jon has an intriguing intensity and Damien plays him with magnetic authenticity and such subtlety. His feelings for Marcella are pushed to their limits from the outset, and still not overtly stated, more conveyed through his expressions and actions, and in this series, always given away by his eyes. Throughout the episodes, wave upon wave of Marcella’s life threaten to wash him away, but they never drown the light she brings to those eyes. Each time he returns, with a phone call or a hope, and a kind of constancy, despite what comes his way.
Both characters are funny and intense in their own ways and their chemistry is warm and electric. You long to be as frustrated with him and with Marcella for their awkwardness and constant miscommunication, but it is obvious how deeply they feel for each other and you can only become invested in, and in the end yearn for, their romance to finally be realised. There is something very special and old fashioned about their connection that transcends everything else.
To cover every single Joncella plot point and miscommunication would require an essay – so many things happen, and the tension ramps up with their every single scene, let alone with each episode. Their ‘the will they won’t they’ dance is constantly surprising, nuanced and gorgeously designed.
When you love every single magic minute of something it is hard to pick favourites, but here are the DMF top 10 GameFace 2 Damien Molony moments!
1. ‘Irish Forrest Gump’ (Episode 1)
The dinner date, the smiles, the glowing, the eyes, the tension, Jon revealing he is ‘an artist’, Marcella calling Jon the “Irish Forrest Gump”…
2. Flash Mob (Episode 2)
Marcella’s dream-like therapy session vision of a flash mob apology to Jon, Damien in a white suit, the dancing, the singing, it’s all a glorious delight. The whole scene is a Molonian dream but if there has to be a moment, Jon’s confident wink and swagger as he takes over the singing and is surrounded by dancers.
3. Clarice (Episode 3)
It’s another film reference comedy moment and it’s Awkward Central in Marcella’s driving lesson (which she doesn’t need as she passed her test, but didn’t tell Jon, so she could still keep seeing him) after Jon suggested they should just be friends after finding out about Simon, but didn’t actually want to just be friends and was testing out how Marcella felt… and it’s only episode 3 and loads of things have happened and during this scene we’re still taking it all in… and then Marcella tries to invite Jon to watch a film and then her The Silence of the Lambs impersonation after Jon reveals (tries to reveal) his art tutor Clarice (“Hello Clarice”.. “Do you still hear the lambs, Clarice?”) has invited him to show his work at an exhibition. (phew) and all of that is not even half of a summary of all going on in this scene!
4. Pillow Talk (Episode 3)
Not a booty call but a sweetly romantic, funny scene, like an old movie. After telling her he did not want her to come to his exhibition, or stay in to watch a film together, Jon calls Marcella – they talk from their respective beds – and tells her he watched her film recommendation Steel Magnolias. Marcella laughs when he said it made him feel sad and Jon replies, “I am glad that’s made you laugh.” Their connection is shiny and their differences compliment each other.
5. The Party (Episode 4)
It is impossible to pick just one moment from this super exciting scene – perhaps the moment of Jon’s arrival at Billy’s door, or every moment after. Up until this point, we had only seen Jon with Marcella alone and Marcella with her flat mates, Simon, her family. Seeing Jon meet everyone in Marce’s world and the jeopardy of all he could discover from meeting them was a big thrill. Not just in terms of the characters and the story, but the ensemble cast together! And Marcella’s drunk dance. And Jon meeting Simon. And Jon meeting Marcella’s Mum. And marmite prawns.
6. The Artist’s Muse (Episode 5)
Is any explanation required? Well. It is not just the obvious “you’re very blessed, especially in this light, you look beautiful“ robelessness, but also Jon’s endearing awkwardness and the gasp worthy surprise (and horror) that Jon is undressing for Sally after turning Marcella away. But yes, mainly the robelessness.
7. Bush Dive (Episode 5)
This moment exemplifies something that happens many, many times in GameFace, Roisin C’s ability to write something that is insanely funny and deeply sad at the same time.
Jon drives miles and miles to surprise Marcella at the country cottage, only to see Simon there and come to the wrong conclusion. His full body bush dive is a laugh out loud but tragic moment.
8. I Don’t Hate You (Episode 6)
During the scene of Jon’s art exhibition there is the moment when he pretends someone else’s artwork is his, then there is the moment when Jon reveals his sculptures and one is obviously Marcella smoking a cigarette and he cannot see it, but the best moment is his very slightly glassy eyes (or maybe it was the light) when Roisin reveals she and Simon are not together and that she lied about failing her driving test.
9. The Nice Bit, FINALLY! (Episode 6)
With so many twists and turns it was impossible to foresee how the series would end, or even if the Joncella ‘will they, won’t they’ question would be answered. But then… Jon appears on Marcella’s doorstop the night before she flies to LA to begin her Carewolves journey (In itself a top moment) and delivers his big speech, telling her he knew she had passed her driving test, that she’s annoying and tardy (Hal moment anyone?) and delivers the best one liner ever:
“a bad day with you is still better than a good day with anyone else” and they kiss…
It’s like unwrapping a shiny gift at Christmas that you waited for all year.
10. JONCELLA – AT LAST (Episode 6)
Oh the feels, all of them! The Joncella arc finally breaks, along with the morning, birds gently singing, soft light filtering into Marcella’s room, as she lies in Jon’s arms. Both look visibly different, relaxed, happy and utterly head over heels with each other. And just so they, and we, know that this is not just a one-nighter and not ending when Marcella goes to follow her dream in LA….
“Maybe you can come and visit me?”
“yeah I think that might be wise.”
With more layers than a pizza and definitely not a spud, gorgeous and glowy GameFace 2 leaves you knowing you have been watching something beautiful. But don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s all light and fluffy, it’s BRILLIANT comedy, utterly original, cleverly constructed and unexpected in a way that you cannot know what is to come next, or even begin to guess, because you’re too busy laughing, reeling from an event, a twist, or revelation. There really is nothing else like it.
If awards aren’t given, bring in the Carewolves.
The whole series definitely requires a rewatch, then another one and another. Luckily all episodes are available on All 4.
Let the binge begin!
Have you seen GameFace Series 2? What were your top 10 moments? Join the discussion with other fans and vote in the polls!