Gen:Lock Season 2 Review

gen:LOCK Season 2 Review – Bigger Vision, Bolder Stories

Rooster Teeth is known for many things. Not the least of which was that of Red Vs. Blue, RWBY, Death Battle, and more. But many were pleasantly surprised when they went bigger and bolder when they revealed the show gen:LOCK. A 3D anime with all-star voice talent and a new world that featured giant robots, super special technology, and of course, warring factions. I actually got to interview writer Evan Narcisse about the second season right when it aired. But now that all 8 episodes are out on HBO Max, it’s time for a gen:LOCK Season 2 review!

Quick recap. In the world of gen:LOCK, the environment is being slowly destroyed due to global warming, and that has created two very different factions in trying to “save the world.” The Polity, which is more about military strength and science, and then The Union, which is about technology and faith. After years of war, a new program called “LOCK” is instituted to help stop The Union from spreading. Key among them is “dead” pilot Julian Chase (voiced epically by Michael B. Jordan).

4 other pilots are brought into the program, and much of Season 1 is about how Chase survived, what it cost to keep him alive, and the lengths The Union were able to go in order to get their vision of the world to spread. In this case, corrupting the original Chase (the one we’ve been following was a copy, surprise!) and making their own “Holon” mech to fight the other pilots. But, by combining their skills, Chase and the others were able to beat the enemy Holon and save the day.

All is well in the world now, right? Wrong…very, very wrong.

Because as we find out immediately in Season 2, The Union made more copies of the original Chase in order to pilot more Holon’s. Making them essentially nothing more than weapons, and mass-produced ones at that. At the beginning of Season 2, The Polity is pushed to the brink, and the Holon Pilots: Chase, Cammie, Val/Valentina, Maya, and Kazu, are fighting endless battles against a never-ending army that doesn’t get smaller. What’s more, despite their bonding at the end of Season 1, there’s a lot of infighting going on as they get more stressed and the possibility of them, and The Polity, dying grows ever more realistic.

Admittedly, it’s a bit of a whiplash given how bright and cheerful the end of Season 1 was. But, it works in their favor as it creates a new paradigm for everyone to live in, and grow in. What’s more, it sets up what I personally feel is the best story arc of the season, the definition of what’s right and what’s wrong.

Confused? I’ll explain. You see, much of Season 1 painted things in one frame of mind. Mainly, The Polity was good (as that’s where our main characters were in faction-wise) and The Union was evil (“proven” by what they did to the original chase).

But as Season 2 expertly shows not everything is as simple as that. There’s darkness on both sides, and seeing both side’s point of view really helped flesh out this season greatly.

Gen:Lock Season 2 Review

For example, in episode 2 of this season, “The First Strike”, we learn that it was The Polity that made the literal first strike that started the war with The Union. Not the other way around as we were first told. This drastically changes things and sets a lot of things up going forward.

This includes the other big twist early on that one of the assumed “good guys” via Col. Raquel Marin was using AI copies of the Holon pilots to make suicide bombers to help fight back against The Union. And as we see when we “meet” these copies…it’s rather monstrous what she did. So again, what’s right, and what’s wrong?

This kind of philosophical thought also applies to The Union, as we meet the head of them is Brother Tate, a religious man who truly believes his faith, and is honestly mortified in what he has to do to maintain it at times. Especially with what he does to the original Chase (which we see in full this go around). But he does it because he believes in what The Union is trying to do.

Also, he has a koala, and…it’s adorable, just saying.

But of course, this isn’t just about the overarching story (and there’s a lot that goes into that story, trust me). Rather, it’s about the people, and specifically, the pilots.

As I noted before, our dear gen:LOCK team isn’t as cohesive as it likely should be. Chase especially is shaken by what happened with Nemesis and wants to “protect his personal space” so that he doesn’t “lose himself” any more than he already has. 

The others aren’t in any better shape. Kazu is angry at what’s happening, and honestly has a crisis of his own midway through that is both deep and hilarious. Cammie is wondering if what The Polity is doing is honestly just and whether she’s on the wrong side, and honestly defects to The Union to see their side of things. We get to see how Maya did the reverse of that and why she hates The Union for what they did to her and her family, and then, there’s Val/Valentina.

gen:LOCK did a very big thing by putting a gender-fluid character into this show, and casting Asia Kate Dillon (who is gender-fluid as well) in the role. They dive deeper into this during season 2 both visually, and emotionally, especially in regards to her relationship with Kazu. Which grows both naturally, and beautifully, and how they show their relationship virtually is rather deep and fully embraces their new HBO Max home.

Probably should mention that now. While Season 1 was made for Rooster Teeth’s website, season 2 has been brought to HBO Max and it goes very M-rated at times. Both in the language, the violence, and some of the scenes we see with various characters. Case in point, Chase walks in on his ex with her new boyfriend, and…you can guess the rest. Knock first, dude!

That maturity though also applies to how they show and tell the stories. Such as with Kazu and Val/Valentina’s relationship, or how they show the mental health of Chase degrading throughout the season. Another great example is with the return of Robert Sinclair, one of the pilots who was believed to be dead (and replaced with a duplicate for infiltration) and is actually alive, and sees just how wrong both sides of the war are. He eventually gets captured and forced to pilot a massive Holon because one of the investors in The Polity felt it didn’t matter what Sinclair wanted, but rather, what was better for the “greater again”.

So again, what’s right and what’s wrong? It just depends on your viewpoint.

And that honestly is what I really loved about season 2 as my review hopefully shows. The world of gen:LOCK is fleshed out in so many ways it’s shocking at times that this all built up from Season 1 given the limited scope we saw there.

I’m always intentionally not giving away all spoilers here because I want you to experience it for yourself. But because of the 8-episode format, there are a LOT of twists and turns, both in terms of the characters and the world itself. And once Season 2 ends, we’re not even close to where we were at the end of Season 1, and that’s perfectly fine.

You’ll enjoy seeing how it all unfolds, and can’t help but wonder what will happen in Season 3 should it happen (and yes, it should happen, there’s a lot more to do!)

I also would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the visuals and animation. Season 2 felt crisp to watch (as did Season 1, but as in most Season 2’s, the kinks have been worked out), and the great voice acting gave a lot of weight to all that was going on. Especially in places like the “Mind Share” which got a visual overhaul in Season 2.

Also, the differences in how we see The Polity’s structure and then The Union’s home when we visit that shows another layer to the differences in how these two factions operate. Add to that some really great battles and a certain late-game twist in terms of how the characters are literally viewed, and you can see why this season is bigger, better, and bolder.

So what the held show back? Well, personally, I felt some of the mature elements, including the language, were a bit much (like the walking-in scene). Especially if you just came off of Season 1 (which was very tame in comparison) and then went right into Season 2. Also, as noted, the intro episode was jarring with the new paradigm.

Adding to that, certain characters did seem to get either incomplete stories, or rather rushed ones. Maya and Cammie stood out in that regard for me. As we got the origin of Maya, and it ended with her getting shot repeatedly and falling into a river. So…how did she survive? And while Cammie’s journey of “enlightenment and ascension” with The Union was a key storyline, I did feel like beats of it were off, and if it wasn’t for one final twist, I would’ve been very disappointed with how they treated her character this season.

Furthermore, based on how I perceived what was said in Season 1 (and a key scene involving Cammie in that season), I didn’t understand how a certain character died and had to ask the writer himself how that worked. But others might not understand it as they didn’t get the detailed explanation I did.

Still, even with that, I hope this gen:LOCK Season 2 review shows you that this is a show you should get into, especially during this holiday season with you all having time to watch new shows! Both Season 1 & 2 is on HBO Max right now, so go try it out, and see just how cool this series is.

Gen:Lock Season 2 Review


Gen:Lock Season 2 dares to go deeper and bolder with the building of its world as well as its characters. If you enjoyed Season 1, you’ll definitely enjoy this season.

  • Gen:Lock Season 2 Review