Fate: The Winx Saga is a coming-of-age style journey that follows six fairies attending a magical boarding school named Alfea, situated in the Otherworld. The fairies must learn to control and master their abilities and the season centres around six young fairies. While the fairies learn to manage their powers, they must also learn to navigate love, rivalries, and a new threat to the school and all of the fairy kind. Fate: The Winx Saga stars Abigail Cowen as the fire fairy Bloom Peters, Hannah van der Westuysen as the light fairy Princess Stella of Solaria, Elisha Applebaum as the mind fairy Musa, Eliot Salt as the earth fair Terra Harvey and Precious Mustapha as the water fairy Aisha. The second series brings a new addition to the main group of Flora, another earth fairy played by Paulina Chávez.
Season two picks up with school starting back up again, only this time, they are under new leadership. With Rosalind (Miranda Richardson), Alfea is under her militant authority while the students deal with Headmistress Farah Dowling (Eve Best) missing, specialist Saul Silva (Robert James-Collier) imprisoned for treason, things at Alfea feel as they may never be the same for the Winx girls. Season two brings in new villains in the way of the Blood Witches, a group of people who have a tumultuous past with the fairies of the otherworld, something that plans to come to a head this season.
From creator Brian Young, Fate: The Winx Saga is a live-action reimagining of the Italian cartoon, Winx Club, by Iginio Straffi, there are some notable differences from the cartoon of the same name. For one, while watching season two, it seems to be trying to be too much like a generic CW show more so than it did in the previous season. Since Brian Young was involved in The Vampire Diaries, it makes sense. Season two did fix the snide infighting of the Winx girls, but only just. The lingering stares and tension can be felt as they still try to allude to some sort of love triangle between Bloom, Stella and Sky (Danny Griffin). Thankfully, they do not go further than that with the love triangle, but it feels as if Young is trying to hold onto a cliché that everyone else is tired of. Still, despite fixing the snide infighting some characters still are stuck in the past of prioritising their romantic partners over their friends and somehow, the romantic relationship dramas manage to invade every aspect of drama or conflict within the show. It is a tired trope but one the writers seem to enjoy.
With a new season comes new characters and cast, and these additions have been the saving grace of the show. The show received a backlash for its lack of diversity and one way they tried to solve this was to bring in Flora, an earth fairy who is distantly related to Terra. Flora is a breath of fresh air for this show and without her, the season might have felt a little stale. Flora come in and she elevates and pushes characters while being there for them and has little time for the trivial drama of relationships and jealousy. While Flora is flawlessly written, you cannot help but wonder how they could write a character as independent and well thought out as Flora and fail in doing the same for the rest of the characters on the show, especially when you compare the main character. Bloom remains very much the same as the previous season and lacks the charisma for a main character and mumbles through almost every line it does make you wonder if the show would be stronger with a different lead or a different actress.
Other than Flora, there are other characters who have agency and plot outside something romantic. It is no coincidence that these are the more interesting characters and storylines. Beatrix (Sadie Soverall), Sebastian (Éanna Hardwicke) and Sam (Jacob Dudman) have interesting arcs and it is no accident this is what happens when the writers get out of the romantic angle of the show. Sam spends season two struggling with his own moral code and that of his father and it is refreshing to see, and it is very reminiscent of Dudman’s performance in Medici. Finally, Dudman gets to show of the complexity of his character rather than being a romantic plot device for Musa. Outside of the romantic relationships, we get to see Sam pushed to his limit and its executed brilliant by Dudman. The family dynamics and the politics of the school is shown through Sam and Terra’s family, though it is over quite quickly.
Only characters outside the Winx group have any motivation that excludes finding a romantic relationship and prioritising that and one such case is Beatrix. Early in the season, the writers make it clear that the relationship between Beatrix, Riven (Freddie Thorp) and Dane (Theo Graham) is not a scandal worthy cliché, at least not to Beatrix and Riven. Beatrix goes through her own development and while she is still the tough exterior character, Sadie Soverall gives an impressive performance that gives Beatrix new depths that unfortunately is not shared with the majority of the main cast members. Paired now with Stella, Beatrix and Stella’s friendship blossoms into a supportive, compassionate pairing that really helps both characters wrangle their way into more of a welcoming and pleasant dynamic that has been lacking in the past.
Unfortunately, while these characters are given more depth, the same cannot be said for others. Bloom’s character arc is the same as last season, only this time instead of just learning to manage her powers, Bloom must manage the dragon flame. Of course, it does not seem to take priority as Bloom constantly pushes aside her friends, the main plot and conflict for romantic trysts with her boyfriend. With cheesy and unnecessary horseback montage to Taylor Swift, Bloom’s season two arc is just the same as season one only now she is officially in a relationship with Sky. It is disappointing given that as a female lead, Bloom lacks any of her own agency outside of Sky and on the rare occurrence Bloom focuses on something other than her own romantic entanglements, she often pushes aside the needs of others for her own. There is not much growth between Bloom season one and season two, only that she has more control over her magic.
While other actors give great performances, the same cannot be said for Danny Griffin as Sky. It is impressive that after seven episodes of season two, Griffin manages to give one emotion and tone during his entire season two arc. While other actors bring their A-game and try to salvage a sub-par script and show a definite improvement from season one, Sky’s character does not bring any sort of improvement like that. A similar thing can be said for Musa. While Elisha Applebaum gives more emotions to her performance in comparison to Griffin, it is hardly a fair contrast. Musa’s character seems lost within season two but that is more on the writers than the actor. It is as if bringing in Flora had them a little overwhelmed with plots for the main fairies and hoping viewers would not notice this messy character-arc decision that wraps itself up by the end of the final episode.
Overall, season two of Fate: The Winx Saga seems torn in what it wants to be. It is as if the show runner wanted the run of the mill teenage drama while trying to show more adult themes but struggling with the result. From underutilised characters like Stella, Beatrix, Sam, and Sebastian, too much time is wasted on the romantic entanglements of others instead of the main plot of the season. Some big moments that people have been waiting for since season one are over in a flash while there seems to have been a decline in what magic is used and how much. The show works without the romantic drama taking centre stage and it would have been better if more of the fairy magic was used.
Flora is the MVC of the season as she supports and empowers other characters while calling out those who are being petty. She is a breath of fresh air in the show and helps to drive the main plot along instead of hindering it.
Fate: The Winx Saga was screened for review.
Fate: The Winx Saga Season 2 releases September 16th, 2022, at 8:00 AM BST.