This review contains spoilers for The Order season 2.
The 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.
But 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.
That 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 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.
Another 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.
Of 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.
The 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.
The 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.