REVIEW: THE ORDER – SEASON 2

The Order (2019)

Starring

Jake Manley (Heroes Reborn)
Sarah Grey (Power Rangers)
Max Martini (The Town)
Matt Frewer (Watchmen)
Louriza Tronco (Make It Pop)
Adam DiMarco (The Magicians)
Thomas Elms (Spiral)
Matty Finochio (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Devery Jacobs (Cardinal)
Katharine Isabelle (Hannibal)
Françoise Yip (Aliens vs Predator 2)
Ian Tracey (Bates Motel)
Sam Trammell (The Fault In Our Stars)
Diana Bang (The Interview)
Jedidiah Goodacre (The Originals)

the-order-season-2-episode-2-free-radicals-jack-hamish-lilith-randall-knights-netflix

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Kayla Heller (Snowcoming)
Grace Dove (How It Ends)
Francesca Bianchi (Drive Hard)
Madison Smith (Cult)
Alison Chang (Gal Pals)
Jodelle Ferland (Silent Hill)
Sasha Roiz (Caprica)
James Marsters (Buffy: TVS)
Ian Ziering (Swamp Thing)
Jason Priestley (Tru Calling)

the_order_season_2The Order is one of those shows on Netflix that tends to escape notice due to scant publicity and an inability for word-of-mouth to adequately explain how good it is without sounding ridiculous talking about werewolves and secret magical organizations on a college campus. Fortunately, season 2 pivots away from its revenge plot for male protagonist Jack Morton and focuses on one of the most surprising successes of the first season: the Knights of St. Christopher. Despite the fact that the werewolves spent a few episodes regaining their memories and feeling sore about it, their eventual place as the Order’s enforcers was a central role they very much deserved. At first it seemed like the acolyte handlers manipulating Jack, Randall, Hamish, and Lilith were misguided but harmless. Most fans didn’t love the memory wipe of the season one finale in the first place, but as a delay tactic for allowing Alyssa to believably persuade Grand Magus Vera Stone to induct the Knights, it was pretty solid. The Order often takes jarring narrative leaps that don’t always make sense at first, which can be to its detriment, but in this case, the difficulties with the rogue practitioner and the initial decision to rob the reliquary seem like a logical progression in retrospect.AAAABZNM1C_NroSZ-8C0XBb1MvqOxXOR6sHWATY8en9LEVQCilXTjhLaN8a72nQI8Hm7Xi16bT8i9glkxMKcGtsakBi_gen9_BqAH3BOUb4dMcdNIxiKBut even with later clarification, some plot threads in The Order season 2 seem painfully convenient for a disturbing amount of time. For example, the fact that a demon stole the Order’s artifacts for the Knights and then stole them again along with the treasures of the Sons of Prometheus right afterwards for someone else felt like an implausible coincidence until Salvador’s off-the-cuff remark about the predictive powers of necromancy. Given that the season, like last year, is broken up into two part mini-adventures (the werewolf revenge, the rogue practitioner, the emperor demon, the Sons of Prometheus, and so on), the fact that Praxis eventually is revealed to be the common thread linking them all adds clarity but doesn’t completely erase the disjointed experience along the way.i-7That being said, there’s a lot to love about this second season of The Order. Of particular interest are the addition of demons to the supernatural lineup. Dark Matter fans could be forgiven for not recognizing the thief demon played with gleeful mischief by Jodelle Ferland, but she sported a distinctive eye sigil carved directly into her flesh that became the wickedly cool distinguishing characteristic of her kind. It was seen again with Rogwan the fear demon and in the climactic moment when Lilith returned from the hell dimension. Lilith’s absence elsewhere in the season was difficult to bear, but the setup for drama in the future was infinitely better than last season’s finale, especially with details like the fresh look of her new facial markings.The-Order-season-2-Netflix-episodes-2523646The mention of other magical organizations of which the Sons of Prometheus was just one was also appreciated. We hear of eight chapters worldwide with “Adeptae” field agents, and the idea that they could have such different ideologies and methods like those displayed by the naturalist, potion-brewing hive mind of the Prometheans is quite intriguing and well illustrated by the Egregore storyline. This was an important factor considering the Hermetic Order of the Blue Rose was missing much of its season one strength with Vera doing all the heavy lifting and little for others to do besides clean up after Respondio rituals. Even Kepler had to carry the full menace of the Council, a group that was so much more intimidating in season one.unnamedAnother aspect that was less prominent here in season 2 was Alyssa and Jack’s relationship, although in this case, the blunting of that sharp edge only made their brief moments of reunion that much more powerful. Alyssa’s broken magic was a mystery that unfolded in brilliantly unexpected ways, especially when The Order tricked us into thinking her love of Jack was to blame — how boring would that have been? Instead, Alyssa’s evolution from someone desperate enough to welcome a hive mind to the person in charge of a loose collection of free-thinkers is as magnificent as it is ironic.the-order-alyssa-and-vera-1024x682Of course, she’s only in charge because Salvador, the brilliantly conceived hidden leader of Praxis, was supposedly killed by Vera, but anyone who believes that she’s actually dead should remember that, among other factors, she was the champion of Alpha, the mysterious hide mentioned in the first season of The Order. Praxis’ magical “tourists” are somewhat reminiscent of The Magicians’ hedge witches, but they are distinguished by the threat posed by the Tartarus explosions and the added push to eliminate the need for sacrifice with the “forisfactorum,” and the setup for a third season and the possibilities for broader storytelling are very exciting.5-1-3The werewolves were a bit all over the place this season, but fortunately, Randall provided the unrelenting skepticism that the audience was likely feeling all season long having to watch their beloved Knights kowtow to the Order. Jack is always playing the long game working for change from within, and Lilith at least had the burgeoning relationship with Nicole to explain her acquiescence, but Hamish’s infatuation with Vera, while admittedly quite charming at times, felt like too big a compromise. The struggle between Midnight and Silverback was as compelling as always, however, and credit must be given for The Order’s continuing ability to make Midnight’s new champion, Gabrielle, simultaneously obnoxious and sympathetic at the same time.5-1-3The overall impression created by the full run of The Order season 2 is one of increased stakes and the welcome focus on the Knights of St. Christopher, and while some fans may be hurting over the impact Alyssa’s rebellion has had and will have on her relationship with Jack, it’s exactly these sorts of consequences that make a series worth watching. Whether viewers applaud the series for avoiding the “bury your gays” trope by sacrificing Kepler instead of Nicole or for indulging in humorous guest appearances from celebrities playing themselves, the end result is the same: they’re appreciating the unique aspects of this most unusual show.

 

REVIEW: THE ORDER – SEASON 1

Sarah Grey in The Order (2019)

Starring

Jake Manley (Heroes Reborn)
Sarah Grey (Power Rangers)
Sam Trammell (Imperium)
Matt Frewer (The BFG)
Max Martini (The Town)
Katharine Isabelle (Hannibal)
Devery Jacobs (Cardinal)
Louriza Tronco (Make It Pop)
Adam DiMarco (The Magicians)
Jedidiah Goodacre (The Originals)
Ian Tracey (Bates Motel)
Françoise Yip (Aliens vs Predator 2)

6a01348361f24a970c014e6088c71b970c-320wi

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Jewel Staite (Firefly)
Ty Wood (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Aaron Hale (Miss Sloane)
Dylan Playfair (Descendants 2)
Hiro Kanagawa (Izombie)
Emily Holmes (Snakes on a Plane)
Julia Benson (Stargate Universe)
Kayla Heller (Snowcoming)
Thomas Elms (Spiral)
Alex Diakun (Friday The 13th Part VIII)

a4763c55-70a8-4acf-a9c2-4b41593fd64d-screen-shot-2019-03-06-at-31130-pmNetflix shows like The Order have an advantage that series that release episodes a week apart don’t have. Potential audiences can give a new show a quick opening binge right away rather than only viewing the always tricky pilot to prove that it’s worthy of being added to their viewing schedule. The Order is definitely a supernatural show that stands alongside The Magicians or The Vampire Diaries, but the true twist to the witches versus werewolves premise doesn’t show up until third episode. College campus drama tropes bog down the first episode a bit, but the central conflict is wholly unique with plenty of humor and well-written dialogue to smooth out the rough edges.MV5BZjZmYjQ2ZTktY2NjOS00NTg5LWJlYWMtNDE5ZDhhNjg5ODYzXkEyXkFqcGdeQW1yb3NzZXI@._V1_UX477_CR0,0,477,268_AL_On the one hand, The Order should be commended for not holding the viewer’s hand during key parts of the opening narrative. Jack Morton (Jake Manley of iZombie) and his grandfather (Matt Frewer of Orphan Black) clearly have some sort of ulterior motive for getting him into Belgrave University as a freshman, but the audience has to figure out why on its own, and the details that unfold go from simple to complex pretty quickly. On the other hand, the manner in which Jack is admitted and his almost immediate encounters with frat boys and townie-hating rich kids is meant to be accepted with a hand wave and does feel a bit rushed.the-order-netflix-season-2-4-1551991441704Given the hurry to establish the campus atmosphere, it’s remarkable how quickly chemistry forms between Jake and sophomore college tour guide Alyssa Drake (Sarah Grey of Legends of Tomorrow). Despite moments of overt flirtation on Jake’s part and even briefer flickers of mutual attraction, The Order is not in any rush to bring these two together or create any weird love triangles. A level of respect is built between them based on intelligence and an understanding that some of those around them, both magic users and regular students, are jerks with poor judgment.ty5y54yIt’s interesting that The Order pokes fun at ritualistic fraternity initiations immediately before bringing us into the pledge process for the titular Hermetic Order of the Blue Rose, which includes — you guessed it — the presentation of a magically appearing blue rose to the potential Neophytes. Even those established in the Order, such as college chancellor Vera Stone (Katharine Isabelle of The Arrangement) and the higher level students like Alyssa, indulge in the use of robes and masks, but somehow the secret society comes across as neither haughty nor ridiculous. It’s just Hogwarts or Brakebills with a dash of alumni politics, and it works.the-order-e1551988902714The question is how many viewers will stay tuned in long enough to realize that the initial conflict that’s presented in which Neophytes are supposedly being killed by werewolves is not nearly as Saturday B-movie as it may sound nor is it in fact a true representation of the nature of the animosity between witches and werewolves at all? Jake’s place in the Order may have a lot to do with the mission imposed upon him by Grandpa Pete, but by episode three, it becomes so much more than that. And again, the friendships that Jake makes along the way (some of which lie in direct opposition to each other) are a bit rushed, but the humor that comes from the Neophytes playing with magic way beyond their understanding or Jack’s R.A. (Adam DiMarco of The Magicians, oddly enough) trying to figure out what to do with his new resident is definitely worth overlooking the artificially acclerated bonding. Fellow Neophyte Gabrielle (Louriza Tronco of Spiral) is especially delightful and will quickly remind The Magicians fans of an early Margo, and she and Brandon (Aaron Hale of Pure) importantly add some much needed diversity to the lily white cast.the-order-season-1-on-netflix-ofSo ignore the loglines and stick around until The Order shows you what it’s really all about. With engaging characters and with several compelling paths set before its protagonist, this show has legs if it plays its cards right. Characters whom you assume are good might not be so honest, and those portrayed as evil aren’t necessarily so. Achieving that level of complexity so quickly is worth the sacrifice of a little exposition. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have seven more episodes to binge.

REVIEW: HEROES REBORN

CAST
Jack Coleman (Kingdom Hospital)
Zachary Levi (Thor: The Dark World)
Robbie Kay (In Bruges)
Danika Yarosh (Shameless USA)
Kiki Sukezane (Death Yankees 2)
Ryan Guzman (Pretty Little Liars)
Rya Kihlstedt (Deep Impact)
Gatlin Green (Criminal Minds)
Henry Zebrowski (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Judith Shekoni (Garfield 2)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Toru Uchikado (Underdogs: Rising)
Jimmy Jean-Louis (Arrow)
Krista Bridges (Narc)
Pruitt Taylor Vince (Identity)
Jake Manley (The Order)
Carlos Lacamara (The Mexican)
Francesca Eastwood (Outlaws and Angels)
Hiro Kanagawa (Caprica)
Eve Harlow (Jennifer’s Body)
Clé Bennett (The Tick)
Nazneen Contractor (Star Trek Into Darkness)
Dylan Bruce (Orphan Black)
Tammy Isbell (Bitten)
Sendhil Ramamurthy (Beauty and The Beast)
Masi Oka (Get Smart)
Michael Therriault (Reign)
Cristine Rose (How I Met Your Mother)
Greg Grunberg (Alias)
Ari Cohen (Smallville)
Nesta Cooper (See)
Lucius Hoyos (What If)
Sara Mitich (The Expanse)
Rachael Ancheril (Star Trek: Discovery)

A year ago, a terrorist attack in Odessa, Texas, left the city decimated. Blamed for the tragic event, those with extraordinary abilities are in hiding or on the run from those with nefarious motives.

Tim Kring pulled off a minor miracle, reviving the Heroes franchise after it sank so far during its first four seasons. In those seasons, there were elements of each that I really liked, but the overall story quality seemed to become more disconnected and surreal. Heroes truly has been reborn.

Kring and the Heroes crew have revived a universe of mystery and wonder. These people–these “evos”–do things that no human body could physically do, like the miracles of old. It gives us hope. They call them “evolved ones” or “evos,” but there is something wonderfully spiritual about this. We have new characters, new abilities, new mysteries and new challenges. I call it a “minor miracle,” because the hot potential Kring originally created, was always there, heavily squandered in seasons 3 and 4. Here, I like what they’ve done. I’m enjoying these new friends and enemies. I especially like how they portray the enemy as unknowingly selfish and arrogant, but who also accuse others of being selfish for wanting to save their own lives. There is so much of that going on in the American government these days, as it did in Nazi Germany nearly a century ago. The parallels are chilling. Yet, the promise of the heroes is gratifying.

The fact that Earth’s magnetic field goes to zero and leaves the planet vulnerable to a violent, civilization-ending solar storm, is a wonderfully solid scenario — far better than the “2012” film’s neutrino absorption nonsense. It reminds me of the wonderfully upside-down deliciousness perpetrated by the UN, NASA, governments and the Corporate mainstream media — turning science into a popularity circus (“consensus”) and stifling debate with cute catch phrases like “settled science” and “deniers,” all the while distracting people from the real horror story that Global Cooling is bad and Global Warming is good. Why? Because we’re in an Ice Age. When the Holocene ends, 7+ Billion people will be in jeopardy, just as they are in this mini-series. Art mimicking reality, despite all the propaganda to keep us from seeing that reality. Nice when entertainment can wake some people up, instead of making them brain dead. The show has some flaws but all in all its a decent mini series with the only problem being the cliffhanger ending knowing that this is just a one off season.

REVIEW: IZOMBIE – SEASON 4

iZombie (2015)

 

MAIN CAST

Rose McIver (Power Rangers RPM)
Malcolm Goodwin (American Gangster)
Rahul Kohli  (Happy Anniversary)
Robert Buckley (Killer Movie)
David Anders (Alias)
Aly Michalka (Two and a Half Men)
Robert Knepper (Cult)

iZombie (2015)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Jason Dohring (Veronica Mars)
Adam Kaufman (BUffy: TVS)
Jessica Harmon (The 100)
Bryce Hodgson (Kid Cannabis)
Robert Salvador (Arrow)
Kurt Evans (Izombie)
Jade Payton (Good Game)
Daniel Bacon (Stargate SG.1)
John Emmet Tracy (Fifty Shades Freed)
Dawnn Lewis (Futurama)
Linda Park (Star Trek Enterprise)
Jake Manley (The Order)
Sam Huntington (Superman Returns)
Ryan Devlin (Veronica Mars)
Gerard Plunkett (Sucker Punch)
Christie Laing (Arrow)
Keenan Tracey (Bates Motel)
James Jordan (Veronica Mars)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Daniel Bonjour (After The Rain)
Adam Greydon Reid (Sanctuary)
Francis Capra (Veronica Mars)
Bar Paly (Pain & Gain)
Ella Cannon (Supernatural)
Eddie Jemison (Waitress)
Izabela Vidovic (Veronica Mars)
Laysla De Oliveira (The Gifted)
Adam Tsekhman (Legends of Tomorrow)
Carrie Anne Fleming (Supernatural)
Enrico Colantoni (Flashpoint)
Al Sapienza (House of Cards)
Jill Teed (Battlestar Galactica)
Mather Zickel (Bones)
Paul Rudd (Ant-Man)
Nemo Cartwright (Descendants)
Ty Wood (Chilling Advnetures of Sabrina)

 

Rose McIver in iZombie (2015)Across its first three seasons, iZombie was largely Veronica Mars with zombies and that was no bad thing. It was consistently entertaining, offered a fresh take on the overpopulated zombie genre and had a cast of characters you genuinely engaged with, not to mention a hugely underrated lead turn from Rose McIver, who absolutely nailed every single personality she was asked to inhabit.  From superhero-brain to old-man-brain and many more in between, Liv’s (McIver) various personalities after eating the brains of victims to solve their murders have been a large part of the show’s quirky charm.Robert Buckley, Rose McIver, Aly Michalka, and Rahul Kohli in iZombie (2015)Yet you had the sense it was always building to a game-changing event – which came in the season-three finale as the existence of zombies was revealed to the world. Following a time jump, season four started with Seattle becoming the walled city of New Seattle as the US government contained the zombie outbreak, setting up a season-long conflict between zombies and humans that looks set to explode in the season four finale.More importantly though, the season has upped the stakes for Liv, where she’s not just a crime-solving zombie any more, meaning that the ‘Brain of the Week’ structure has taken a bit of a backseat. It’s a big change that is good for the show, especially now that it’s been renewed for a fifth and final season by The CW.iZombie (2015)This season has seen Liv become the underground leader Renegade after the previous leader was brutally executed, smuggling sick humans into New Seattle and scratching them to save them so they can start a new life as a zombie. It’s put her in the sights of Fillmore-Graves, who are responsible for controlling the population in New Seattle, with the penultimate episode seeing her turn herself in to protect her boyfriend Levon (Daniel Bonjour). Liv’s arc has helped to keep the show fresh, immune to the problems of predictability that can affect long-running crime procedurals due to the repetitive structure. Instead we have a show whose morally complex central storyline has a genuine sense of peril – tricky when your main character is a zombie, even though we can’t imagine Liv will be killed off in the season-four finale.iZombie (2015)The big change hasn’t been without its issues, though, as some overstuffed episodes in the second half of season four struggled to find the right balance between quirky and serious. However, when the show could easily have rested on its laurels, it decided to change things up. Surely it’s better for an established show to rip up the status quo? It’s not like fans haven’t had the ‘Brain of the Week’ to enjoy, either, as Liv has savoured hopeless-romantic-brain, germaphobic-brain and pick-up-artist-brain among others, and the rest of the cast have got in on the act too (Major’s wrestler-brain remains a highlight). The only difference is that these are now just the delicious sides to the meatier main course of the season.b7dab6_928eb416b1fb4db898d56136b89713f0~mv2And with co-creator Rob Thomas revealing before the show was renewed that he needed just one more season to get to the “end of our story”, iZombie’s move into a more serialised storytelling can pay dividends in the final season as it’s clear that it’s all been building to a planned resolution.izombie-season-4-finale-1111048-1280x0That’s likely to be the discovery of a workable zombie cure, and Ravi had a breakthrough in the penultimate episode – but iZombie doesn’t need to be cured. It’s never felt more alive.