REVIEW: ‘The Order Season 2’ is a Vast Improvement

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The Order Season 2

The Order Season 2 is a horror/drama young adult Netflix series created by Dennis Heaton. The show retains much of its original cast, led by Jake Manley and Sarah Grey. Also returning are Adam DiMarco, Thomas Elms and Devery Jacobs. Additionally, recurring characters played by Louriza Tronco and Katherine Isabelle become series regulars.

At the end of the first season, the Knights of Saint Christopher (the werewolves) had their memories wiped by The Order after helping them defeat their nefarious leader Edward Coventry. Rebuilding from the death of the Grand Magus, the leadership of the entire organization falls to the Belgrave Magus, Vera (Isabelle). The magical society attempts to give the wolves new, normal lives, under surveillance and control by acolytes. When their bestial sides threaten to shake off the magic memory wipe, Vera demands Jack and his comrades’ initiation into the Order to be used as allies. With the two secret societies tumultuously aligned, Jack Morton, Alyssa Drake and the entire university must prepare for a sinister, unpredictable enemy that manifests on the campus.

The plot has improved over the first season, especially in regards to its pacing and structure. Like before, the 10 episodes are split up into 5 story arcs, all contributing to the larger storyline. Where this season finds its strength is the plot moves a lot quicker through the first five episodes than it did previously. There is much more excitement due to the fact the world has already been explained, allowing the actual narrative to progress without being bogged down in as much exposition. Many of the episodes are incredibly investing and fun to watch. There were episodes of The Order season 1 that felt like a chore to get through, but I didn’t experience that sensation with the second volume. Most of the twists and reveals were very surprising 

What was also appreciated with The Order Season 2 is the exploration of the wider world, not just the campus and the city it is in. One of the methods this show with is small references to the other temples the Order possesses. But in the middle of the season, another magic-wielding group shows themselves in my opinion among the best episodes of the season. This venture by Heaton gives the show incredible potential to spread further, as opposed to being confined to the same temple and the buildings above. The world-building creates more variety in how magic is used by other people and how those communities function.

The plot is great for much of The Order Season 2, but there are still glaring issues that haven’t been addressed within either season. The biggest one is the complete lack of tension or build up. By this, I mean that complications will be solved and incredible speed. For example, if a character is abducted, they are found before any concern can even be mustered. A secret is discovered or spread like wildfire in minutes. Even scenes involving the various mystical creatures lack suspense or buildup. With the way dilemmas are paced, it’s difficult during them to think the person that is suffering it is in mortal danger. 

The writing of Jack has also had an upgrade, but he’s still really badly performed by Manley. The comic timing that he possesses is better, with the sarcasm and deadpan starting to work well in some instances. But his tone of voice or expression never changes, and his emotional depth is non-existent. I enjoyed his story arc more though, as he tries to control his anger fueled by the wolf hide that possesses him. But it is increasingly frustrating that other characters, in particular Alyssa, frequently refers to his emotions and his compassion as what sets him apart from others. But it’s hard to pinpoint his compassion because Manley bestows it with the same delivery he uses from when he’s irate, or distraught.

Alyssa is continuously played well by Grey, and her writing within this season feels unique to the other main characters. She seems to operate out of the main narrative through much of the story and this seems more obvious as the show progresses. A lot of crucial events within the narrative appear to pass her by, and there are some episodes where she has no presence at all. Alyssa’s role becomes much more involved in the last act of the season, around episode 8, but it was surprising how much time she spent on the periphery of scenes. The dialogue created for Grey still threatens to derail her performance in certain instances, but that’s an affliction that plagues every cast member. 

Three characters that made The Order Season 2 better was the other wolves within the Knights of Saint Christopher. They are blessed with the best parts of the production, but cursed with the worst. It took a long time for me to like them in the first season, they were afflicted with awful dialogue and not much character depth. But with the introductions gone for this season, they are free to be explored more. Hamish (Elms) is the one that has been improved the most. He was achingly dull when on screen before, but Elms has instilled him with much more charm. There are multiple occasions that require Hamish to partake in missions on his own, and he is very capable of captivating the audience with his wit and wisdom. He is also given his own stunts and moments to show off as the leader of the pack.

I didn’t give Lillith (portrayed by Jacobs) enough credit in my review for the first season, but she really was one of the shining lights. Her lines were often the funniest in the show, and her history as an acolyte in the order made her multi-faceted. She is still wonderfully played in Season 2, but her personality has been altered slightly. Much of the dark fury has been released somewhere as new relationships are formed. This is welcome because character growth is crucial for the audience to stay attached to them, but her impact as a real force of nature when on-screen is affected by the change.

The Order Season 2
THE ORDER (L to R) JAKE MANLEY as JACK MORTON, KATHARINE ISABELLE as VERA STONE, and JAMES MARSTERS as XAVIER in episode 206 of THE ORDER Cr. BETTINA STRAUSS/NETFLIX © 2020

Randall (DiMarco) remains my least favourite character in the show, mostly because the poor dialogue usually involves him at some stage in a scene. The jokes he makes are still awful, but it’s actually his more serious conversations that the issue forms. In any debate discussing the Knights’ new ridiculous plan, Randall is always the counter-argument. His position as the person to always say why the ideas are bad dissolves his real identity, replacing him with a plot device.

Aside from the main stars, there are a few other noteworthy performances. Vera’s role in the Order Season 2 is absolutely nailed by Isabelle. Her pessimism and miserable boss persona prevalent as a disciple of Coventry, but now as the acting head of the Hermetic Order of the Blue Rose, her other traits are revealed. Some of the most gut-wrenching speeches are delivered by Isabelle, showing the despair and true sensitivity the Grand Magus has for those underneath her, for example listing every acolyte that has died under her watch.  Alongside this, she is also given opportunities to show how incredibly strong, resilient, and badass she is in a fight.

Tronco also returns as the manipulative, power-hungry Gabrielle Dupres, determined to gain as much control as possible. And Sasha Roiz (known from Grimm) appears as a guest star in just one episode but steals the show. He looks to be having fun in the role, and that nearly always improves how the character is perceived by the audience.

The most striking and rewarding improvement is the CGI, possibly signifying a budget increase. The werewolves weren’t shown in their full majesty many times last season, often just showing a poor or an ear. But in Season 2 they are revealed in all their glory multiple times, and they look beautiful. When they do arrive on screen, they are capable of showing their rage or confusion, sometimes better than Manley can. Another gimmick that is utilized sporadically is POV vision of the wolf, presented like thermal or Smell-o-vision with a spectrum of different colours on the screen. And there is a closeup of Jack as a werewolf, very close to Alyssa. The finite detail on the face and teeth of the beast is exquisite. The quality of the wolves is very influential in highlighting the rising production value of the entire show. Even the floating texts that pop up in the air don’t look quite as bad as they did last season.

The Order Season 2 is a vast improvement over its predecessor and was far more enjoyable to watch. The wolves are now fantastic, much more like what I was hoping for before I dived into the show. The worst characters have been removed, leaving ones I started to get attached to as I spent more time with them. And for the most part, the plot kept me invested until the end. But there are still so many mistakes that haven’t been corrected yet in this season. The pacing of individual episodes. can still lead the audience to get bored or flag at certain areas, and the dialogue is badly scripted. Manley in the role of Jack is still miles away from getting me to like him. And there is a scene towards the end that is so drawn out, out of place and bizarre that it detracts from the entire season.

If you are a fan of Teen Wolf or The Vampire Diaries, then you may find yourself devoted to The Order.

The Order Season 2 is available on Netflix.

The Order Season 2

TL;DR

The Order Season 2 is a vast improvement over its predecessor and was far more enjoyable to watch. The wolves are now fantastic, much more like what I was hoping for before I dived into the show. The worst characters have been removed, leaving ones I started to get attached to as I spent more time with them.