Welcome back to Alfea, fairies. It has been quite a long time since we were last with the fairies of the Otherworld, and a lot has changed for Bloom (Abigail Cowen), Stella (Hannah van der Westhuysen), Terra (Eliot Salt), Aisha (Precious Mustapha), and Musa (Elisha Applebaum) on Fate: The Winx Saga Season 2. The school is now under new leadership, which certainly shows inasmuch as just about everything is now incredibly different than when Headmistress Dowling (Eve Best) was in charge. This time, however, the girls are joined by newcomer Flora (Paulina Chávez), Terra’s cousin who has returned to Alfea following some time away. After wholeheartedly enjoying the absolute chaos of the first season, even as a huge fan of the original series by Iginio Straffi, the second season left me with very mixed feelings. This is nothing like we witnessed before… and that’s not necessarily a good thing (for the fairies and for viewers).
Honestly, the biggest issue of the season is that everything feels exceptionally muddled because the cast is even more overloaded than it already was during the first season — with only one additional episode. In addition to the existing characters, we now have Flora joining the other Winx girls, while Riven (Freddie Thorp) and Beatrix (Sadie Soverall) have more intensified and important roles. Rosalind (now played by Miranda Richardson) joins the cast full-time in Dowling’s stead, but as a more instrumental character. Andreas (Ken Duken) takes over as the specialists’ instructor, though Silva (Robert James-Collier) is still around and Sky (Danny Griffin) is caught between them. Plus, new additions Grey (Brandon Grace) and Sebastian (Éanna Hardwicke) get quite a bit of focus, too. There are a few exits in store, too, but it doesn’t do nearly enough to balance the cast, leaving almost every story feeling half-baked because there isn’t enough time to explore them all thoroughly. Even if the series was getting a 13-episode order, instead of the current six and seven respectively, there wouldn’t be time to do all of these characters justice.
In turn, this causes the characters that the series should be focusing on to suffer because their development is the cost to pay for the overburdened cast. Bloom is the only one of the Winx girls that gets even a respectful amount of focus, which is rather frustrating at times considering the series is supposed to be about all of the Winx girls. Terra and Stella both feel like afterthoughts this season with Aisha close behind but just a bit more involved in what’s going on. That said, Flora joining the Winx girls is cause for celebration. The series’ interpretation of the beloved character is quite interesting and unexpected, though this definitely creates some excitement and intrigue around her role at Alfea and in the Winx suite.
It’s really a shame that the writers didn’t just introduce Flora in the first place because there wasn’t really time to explore her dynamic with the others and bring her into the group on-screen. It’s rushed, and suddenly she goes from Terra’s cousin to BFF overnight, so we’re missing all of the buildup and the natural progression of these relationships that we saw in the first season with the others. Additionally, the question regarding Flora joining the series is how the series could balance having Flora and original character Terra, both of whom are Earth fairies with very similar skill sets. Season 2 doesn’t seem to answer that question. However, with what little Terra is able to do over the seven episodes, she progresses in a way that will be very exciting should the series get picked up for another season. Likewise, what we do see of Flora is great, and truthfully she is probably my favorite of the fairies by the end of the season.
In addition to being stretched too thin with too many characters to juggle, the overarching stories told this season are just rather lackluster. For instance, Rosalind is not the intriguing and charismatic villain she was in the first season (when played by Lesley Sharp). Richardson’s take and the new course the writers put Rosalind on in this season are both rather disappointing. There’s so much wasted potential with a story that doesn’t quite feel on par with what we saw from Rosalind before. Similarly, Andreas just doesn’t bring anything new or fun to the show. He’s the male version of Rosalind in many ways, but he lacks the power and knowledge to do anything worthwhile. Considering the first season’s finale ended with the cataclysmic and unthinkable shift in leadership at Alfea, having Rosalind and Andreas take over, the follow-through is altogether dissatisfying. Both offer little to the story outside their lame antagonistic actions, overshadowed completely by Beatrix who proved herself a better antagonist than both combined in half the time.
For all of its flaws, the first season of Fate: The Winx Saga told a compelling story that flowed well, followed a logical path, ended on a satisfying note, and relatively managed to balance the Winx girls while still centering on Bloom. The second season doesn’t do any of this. It feels directionless, lost in the chaos it created, not sure what to do with or how to include far too many of the main characters. The overarching story is so deeply uninteresting that it’s difficult to care about or follow until about the fifth episode of the season. While the world still revolves around Bloom, the other Winx girls aren’t given their due, which is frankly disrespectful to the original series that took pride in showcasing the stories and strengths of all of the Winx girls. As interesting as characters like Sky, Dane, and Riven can be, there’s absolutely no reason their stories should exceed the importance or focus of the Winx fairies, but they do — particularly Sky’s, of course.
In short, the series seems to forget what it is and what it should be during this season, sorely reminding this writer of Prime Video’s The Wilds, which was canceled after a much-critiqued second season that forgot what viewers loved about it in the first place. The season of Fate: The Winx Saga is still a good binge-watch with a few great moments throughout, but probably won’t keep people as intrigued as the first season did.