There’s a scene within the second season of HBO’s docuseries 100 Foot Wave during which surf icon Garrett McNamara sits silently on a Hawaiian seashore and meditates as his brother-in-law, CJ Macias, does a voiceover. “Nowadays it’s not at all times clear what Garrett is as much as, or what his intention is on any given day,” Macias says. The scene is meant for instance how McNamara, now in his fifties, has lastly damaged free from his globetrotting pursuit of monster waves—a decades-long dependancy that made him well-known, practically killed him, and was the point of interest of 100 Foot Wave’s Emmy-winning debut in 2021.
The scene additionally inadvertently defines the strengths and weaknesses of the collection’ second chapter, which airs its penultimate episode this Sunday, Could 14, on HBO and HBO Max, earlier than concluding on Could 21. Sure, the newest version of 100 Foot Wave once more dazzles viewers with heart-pounding footage of surfers zipping alongside skyscraper-sized waves in Nazaré, Portugal, and explores the emotional connection that they’ve with their adrenaline-soaked and generally lethal career. However chapter two lacks the singular focus and season-long arc that characterised its debut. It ping-pongs between Portugal, Hawaii, and even Iceland. Some episodes really feel extra like a dangle session with the surfers than a narrative. Some viewers (myself included) might discover themselves echoing Macias’ phrases as they watch alongside. Throughout season two, it’s not at all times clear what the present is as much as, or what its intention is throughout any given episode.
Let’s again up. In the summertime of 2021, 100 Foot Wave burst into the HBO streaming queue after making a buzz on social media with this heart-pounding trailer. That first season advised the story of how McNamara and his tiny band of misfit surfers developed Nazaré from a little-known fishing village into essentially the most well-known big-wave browsing vacation spot on the planet. Season one additionally coated practically a decade of McNamara’s life, and explored the psychological stresses that he and different big-wave surfers endure of their pursuit of the proper wave. They discover unmeasurable pleasure, but in addition crash and undergo traumatic accidents, and spend months—generally years—battling bodily and emotional hardships to attempt to get again within the water. I checked out season one as a curious surf interloper and was instantly sucked in.
That season’s six-episode arc had a tidy ending in its finale: Nazaré hosts a serious skilled competitors in February 2020, and the world’s greatest big-wave surfers lastly get to expertise the legendary wave that McNamara helped pioneer. It’s a becoming capstone to the contained story 100 Foot Wave got down to inform, and (in my view) one of many the explanation why it introduced residence an Emmy award that yr.
Season two covers the 18-month interval after Nazaré’s worldwide debut, and captures the pandemic, just a few big storms, and even two totally different competitions. The six episodes are set chronologically, however you may watch them in any order (besides 5 and 6—view these back-to-back) with out feeling misplaced. Moderately than merely specializing in McNamara, the collection profiles others, amongst them Frenchwoman Justine Dupont, who over the season turns into one thing of a co-star.
I lately requested McNamara to outline season two, and after some considering, he gave me this reply: “Weaving in different characters, weaving in different tales. The primary character began out as Nazaré and now it’s the metaphor of the 100-foot wave. Life is a 100-foot wave. Deliver that vibration and that frequency to wherever you go and no matter you do.” (You may learn my full interview with him right here.)
Hey, that works for me. And I perceive why McNamara and the collection producers selected to inform a broader story, even when the one they bit off didn’t essentially have a pure arc. Season two opens within the early months of the pandemic, when an October storm within the Atlantic sends a document swell towards Nazaré. McNamara, Dupont, and season one star Andrew Cotton journey into the waves alongside a swelling assortment of latest surfers: native teenaged phenom Antonio Laureano, browsing celebrities Lucas “Chumbo” Chianca and Kai Lenny, Brazilian couple Michelle Des Boullions and Ian De Cosenza, and others. Footage exhibits the water churning with jet skis towing surfers—a visual distinction to the empty waves featured in season one.
The rocky shoreline above Nazaré’s churning water has additionally modified. Hundreds of followers crowd the fortress overlooking the ocean to observe the motion, giving the surf spot the texture of a Roman coliseum. They cheer, gasp, and recoil in horror because the surfers angle down waves and get swallowed by lethal whitewater. The scene is a visual cue that Nazaré has certainly been found by the plenty—thus, it’s time for 100 Foot Wave to inform a brand new story with a distinct focus. In subsequent episodes, the collection heads to Oahu to discover the legendary break Jaws. It discusses the difficult private dynamics that always exist between a surfer and his or her jet-ski driver. And it dives into the damaging mixture of ego and blind ambition that generally results in catastrophe within the water.
My total takeaway from the brand new season remains to be unquestionably optimistic, and the present is completely worthy of your consideration. The present profiles new surfers, and the collection expands its focus to different big-wave locations. Plus, improved camerawork and expertise gives dizzying and recent vantages of the heaving ocean that will depart you trying to find your sea legs. And don’t even get me began on the Philip Glass rating, which has all the power and complexity of Koyaanisqatsi.
I suppose the one constant through-line on this different storytelling is McNamara and his household. He and his spouse, Nicole, navigate the uneven seas created by his way of life. They’ve one other little one. He surfs mega waves whereas she watches for hazard from the shore, and collectively they try dwell as common mother and father.
McNamara, sporting a head of grey hair, grapples together with his ageing physique, which after many years of surgical procedures and crashes, not has the ability to resist essentially the most ferocious wipeouts. After I accomplished 100 Foot Wave season two, I assumed that maybe it was McNamara’s struggles with Father Time was the lacking arc that I used to be trying to find. Maybe the main target of season two was really the ageing gladiator lastly turning his again on the ocean, I assumed.
After I spoke to him on a name, I noticed that this storyline was removed from over. He advised me he was once more coaching to surf monster swells.
“My physique goes to be manner higher than it’s ever been in a month—I’ll most likely be in the most effective form of my life in a month,” McNamara advised me. “I kinda obtained slightly need, slightly extra starvation for just a few extra huge waves.”
Seems not each story wants a starting, center, and finish.
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