Beware of spoilers for the second season in the article. Please do not continue reading if you haven’t watched the season yet and you are not okay with being spoiled.
The fantasy series returned for its seven episode second season on Netflix on the 16th of September 2022 , after a very controversial first season. How did this season fair?
Character Report card ( in no particular order )
Bloom’s powers are very cool but I feel as a character she isn’t the best/most likeable character in the Winx group and that goes even right back to the source material and is something the live action series didn’t improve upon. Part of the problem is we don’t get the girls simply hanging out and learning about each other, since this is an Netflix show that’s binged the writers don’t quite have the excuse that doing that would put people off from tuning in week to week. When I feel it would actually be an effective and easy way of bonding and developing the main characters connection towards each other.
Bloom’s character as the lead feels like a character meant to service the plot, not so much a character with a magical destiny who is still a regular relatable teenage girl. This is something Buffy the Vampire slayer managed to do so effectively in the 90’s ,Buffy Summers was powerful but she was also very relatable and likable and actually had a personality.
Bloom at times comes across as a bit selfish whereas Buffy killed Angel to save the world, the vibe with Bloom is she would probably let everyone die to save Sky , Bloom willingly giving Sebastian ( a murderer ) her power to save Sky essentially places the blood of all of the people who Sebastian would kill with the dragon flame on her hands (it’s a selfish move on her part because she isn’t able to let Sky go ). There would be nothing stopping Sebastian from killing Sky anyway after getting the dragon flame, he was that petty as a villain. Bloom also risking unleashing her power in anger to attack Sebastian and potentially kill a lot of innocent people caught in the crossfire of her power isn’t great either. Even though the show counteracts at the very end of the season with Bloom entering the “wormhole” and saving everyone, it doesnt wipe away her past behaviour. I don’t think I would have a problem with this direction for Bloom if they are going to have a dark Bloom arc for her going forward and the writers actually follow through with it.
Rosalind and Stella’s mother the Queen of Solaria placing a crystal on her back to keep her trapped at the school was cruel. Stella keeps that secret to herself because she has always felt alone as a Princess and the notion of having friends she can confide in is a new thing for her is sad. Stella’s friendship with Beatrix is actually interesting and allows the show to explore who Beatrix is and why she has done everything she has done over the past 2 seasons. Stella and Beatrix are both the loneliest characters on the show and it makes sense that they are able to relate to each other on that level. Stella being the only one visually hurt when she sees Beatrix’s body and that pain ultimately lighting a fire within her to transform was a great subtle moment.
Aisha’s primary story this season is centered around her relationship with Grey who turns out to be a blood witch. The romance and betrayal happens within the span of seven episodes so it doesn’t quite feel earned. I also never bought that Grey might actually be bad anyway , the show doesn’t do the best job selling that conflict particularly because there is no time to give it the screen time it deserves so it felt rushed. The actors do have chemistry though to their credit. I love Aisha and I wish the show would explore her family and background a bit more.
Musa also has some interesting story-lines this season. From the moral question of whether using her powers on her friends and boyfriend (Sam) is acceptable to losing her powers entirely and becoming terrified of getting them back. All those things push her towards finding an interesting way to defend herself by learning to physically fight. I think it’s an inspired idea to make her a specialist/ fairy mix which sets her apart from the other girls who seem to rely mostly on their powers but aren’t the best physical fighters. I think the only reason they are putting Musa and Riven together for the live action show is because the animated series did it. I don’t think I care much for them on the live action show, maybe that will change with time. Musa’s hairstyle was terrible this season , it didnt suit the actress and made her look considerably older, which is odd because this is supposed to be a show about teenagers even though most of the actresses are in their twenties.
The show added some more diversity this season after the show was heavily criticised for not being as diverse as the animated series last season , by casting a biracial actor as Aisha’s love interest , casting a latin actress to potray Flora and exploring Terra’s sexual identity. In Flora’s case I will have to give the show credit for how naturally she fits in with the rest of the girls. Even though Flora is mostly a background character this season, I hope the show finds more stuff for her to do next season. I really liked this character and I’m interested in seeing were her jorney takes her.
Regarding Terra exploring her sexual identity ,the execution of the story is fine the primary issue affecting how it comes across is the fact that the storyline feels like it came out of knowwhere for Terra’s character prior to this season (there was zero build up for Terra’s arc of self-discovery). It’s unfortunate the writers didn’t introduce Flora in season 1 so Terra could be seen as a individual character from the start without the “replacement scandal” bogging down the character because there is potential to have a really great character there. Musa’s character has the same issue too to be fair even though the actress is still a person of color and has some asian ancestry. I think the casting scandal was unnecessary and completely avoidable for the show unfortunately it will always be a part of the shows legacy.
Another worry with Terra’s character going forward also sterms from the show probably not having any initial plans to adapt Flora into the series at all because both of the characters (Flora and Terra) are earth fairies which essentially makes both of them similar magic power-set wise. The show could suprise us by finding interesting ways to differentiate their magic but I think the easiest root the writer should have taken was for Terra to be Tecna from the animated series and just have technology based magic powers. The creative choice to remove the science fiction elements from the series had the negative effect of making the series feel more like a generic fantasy based series (removes all of the uniqueness of the Winx brand).
Beatrix “Stormy” continues to be my favorite character from the first season in this series , she is a bad girl with a heart and we love her for it. Her conflict between choosing to look after herself as she has always done or choosing her new friends is particularly interesting. It’s unfortunate what happens to her at the end of the season and I truly hope the show brings her back and like they teased, the writers finally follow through with introducing Icy and Darcy as her sisters. I’m glad it seems like they didn’t follow the animated series retcon of changing the Trix and not making them biological sisters. Beatrix is the real MVP hero of this season because she sacrifices her life to keep Sebastian from getting the dragon flame.
The highpoint of Rosalind’s story this season was her final scene with Bloom from her revealing she killed Farrah last season and also underestimating Bloom’s power. The death scene felt like it could have been at the end of a season as a very climactic moment. I’m still wondering if the show should have been divided into two parts and divided in between this point. Rosalind and her story as a whole unfortunately feels like leftovers from season 1 and not in a particularly great way either. It seems like the writers had a bigger role in mind for her when season 1 ended and ultimately just decided to get rid of her. It’s odd they cast Miranda Richardson a typically more well known actress for season 2 but didn’t quite give her much time as the lead villain.
Sebastian Valtor :
The main villain of the season seems to be the live action series version of the villain from the animated series Valtor. In the show Sebastian was a narcissistic villain willing to murder many so he could attain as much power as possible. Valtor is one of the most iconic Winx villains so I hope they at least introduce the more accurate vampire aesthetic character eventually Sebastian is great as a nod to that villain but underwhelming if this is all that comes from Valtor in the live action adaptation.
Whilst his defeat by the girls in the series was a thing of visual colorful beauty VFX wise, I think this show is severely lacking in the magical power battle department. Whenever characters are using their magic against each other it doesn’t quite feel as epic as it should because it ends so quickly and there isn’t much done beyond characters tossing their magic at each other. The show has the perfect ingredients for what could have been an appointment television series e.g… if it had been made like a HBO tv series for example but it feels very limited in scope for budgetary reasons. The final battle with the Blood witches felt almost like an excuse to just end the series with another hand to hand action sequence with the Specialists and the school being attacked yet again just like season 1 with the burned ones.
A Season Divided :
1. The cast continue to be a highlight of the series , I truly wish they were given better material to work with.
2. The show is a bit uneven this season. The second half once the main villain Sebastian is revealed is really good but then the season ends soon afterwards. It ends with a very interesting setup for next season. The finale is a really good episode for the show.
3. I loved the power progression of our main characters which we see quite a few times such as Aisha being able to use her powers really effectively to help rescue Silver in the first episode.
4. The visual effects for the series are generally really good. The VFX for the wings are beautiful but as a suggestion, I actually wish they had adopted a combination of practical effects for them and VFX e.g… actually construct real animatronic wings for the girls the production team can control manually to create an effect of the girls wings moving to make them look a bit more real. The Jim Henson Company could definitely have pulled something like that off.
5. I like that the show has male fairies and female specialists in the mix but I wish they would actually explore what that means in the context of the world in the show. The only prominent male fairy character we have with a somewhat important supporting role is Sam as Musa’s boyfriend and Terra’s brother.
6. I’m glad they got rid of the unnecessary stereotypical teen Sky drama between Bloom and Stella, that was something that made the first season a bit of a chore to watch. There is a lot of romance in the show but nothing that affects the friendship between the girls which is a great thing.
7. If you were able to look past the show’s flaws in season 1 to enjoy it, I’m sure this season will be entertaining for you regardless of it’s issues. The second season is much better than the first even with its flaws.
The not so good :
1. I feel like the writers of the show don’t seem to understand the source material , the changes made to the show from the animated series don’t seem to help the show either. The lore of the show seems to limit the scope of the animated series which took place in an entirely fantastical and science-fiction based universe. The show’s world as a result still feels very small and in a world where we have genre shows like House of the Dragon, Rings of Power, The Wheel of time, Stranger Things and Shadow and Bone, the show is simply not able to enter that group to drive conversation which is unfortunate because it could have been that good. Winx Club as a animated series has some dark elements to it even as a kids show and a whole lot of scope (at least the first 4 seasons).
2. One of the biggest issues with the show is that it doesn’t seem to know how to bring out the best out of it’s very capable actors. I didn’t like Farah Dowling much in season 1 , the show didn’t do much with her and in retrospect I think that was a problem with the writing not so much the actress. I absolutely love Farah’s actress Eve Best on the House of the Dragon as Rhaenys the Queen that never was. When it comes to Fate the actors are really only doing as much as they can with the material they are given. Another actor who I think shined way more in another show is Kate Fleetwood (Stella’s mother in this show ) as Liandrin Guirale on The Wheel of Time. Bloom’s actress Abigail Cowen was also great as Dorcas Night on the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
3. The show seems to not understand what the main draw of the Winx franchise is for fans too, the girls’ friendship. This to me has been the difference between reboots/adaptations that work and those that do not. A great example of this is the Peacock streaming services Bel-Air television series. Whilst The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was a half hour sitcom and Bel-Air is a drama the writers understand that the core thing people loved about the original series was the main theme of family. The friendship of the girls is way more important than anything else in this series ( the Winx are the show). There are moments there but the friendship moments on the show seem secondary to the main plot about big bads and whatever big villain needs to be defeated at the time.
4. The episode count for the series is also an issue; the show oddly feels slow paced and rushed all at once with only seven episodes. When Aisha said she had been dating her boyfriend for months and he broke her heart, I was like wasn’t that a few days ago in the timeline. The shorter episode count actually works against the show , I think Netflix should at least order 12/14 episodes a season and then divide them into two parts. The show has way too many characters and simply not enough time to give all of them great storylines in a short six or seven episode season.
5. The use of strong language in the series tends to feel forced and not quite natural. The show feels like it’s typically made for a teen audience with everything from the young attractive cast to the CW network pop soundtrack but the addition of strong language and sexual elements feel like they should be in a show for older audiences. The writers indicated that they wanted to make the show for people who watched Winx Club as children but most of those fans probably would have preferred something more accurate to the animated series, for example a show that had broad appeal and could be watched by kids and parents.
6. I actually think the transformation sequences on the show would be better and look a bit more cinematic if the show used individual character based instrumental cinematic score music for the characters using their powers as opposed to pop songs like the Winx Club animated series (the sequences aren’t accurate to the cartoon anyway). I think this change would open the show up to using the transformation sequences way more than once a season (as they have done for the first 2 seasons of the show). The show is not as cinematic as it should feel with its brilliant concept , most people have said the show feels like a CW series but there are also CW series such as Superman and Lois and Stargirl which definitely look more cinematic than Fate.
7. The Otherworld feels a bit underdeveloped as a magical world. We spend almost all of our time in the series at the school and we havent seen any of Solaria or the royal palace at all so its easy to forget that the series takes place in a different magical world. The show also hasn’t been clear about the other magical creatures that inhabit the otherworld besides faeries , blood witches , burned ones and the scrappers.
An uneven season that starts off a bit weaker but has a stronger second half. The season is ambitious but ultimately the episode count doesn’t allow it to reach the heights it is so earger to soar to. The season ends well though and I will definitely be checking out season 3 (if Netflix renews the show for another season).
What did you think of the season ?
Who is your favorite character in the show ?
Let us know in the comments below ?