The Chosen, Season 2 (2021)

Reviewer: Charity Bishop

Season two of the crowd-funded series about Jesus' ministry introduces us to all-new characters, fleshes out the back stories of existing ones, and leads up to a calmative episode as Jesus prepares the Sermon on the Mount.

The half-dozen disciples now following Jesus (Jonathan Roumie) around set out for Samaria with an uncertain purpose in mind. Some of them assume Jesus will become the Messiah prophesied about who will liberate them from Rome, and others follow him out of pure devotion for his miracles. He leaves James (Abe Martell) and John (George Harrison Xanthis) to till a field and dream of the reason why (future generations benefitting from our work?) while he goes into the town to preach, but much to their surprise, Jesus has another lesson in store for them. They dine that evening at the home of the man who owns the field, a crippled and starving thief who robbed and beat up a Jewish man and stole his horse, only to lose it on the ride home (and break his leg in the process). Though not welcomed by all in Samaria, Jesus also won't allow his friends to react with violence when others mistreat them. What's going on here? Where's the Messiah?

Thomas (Joey Vahedi) and his future wife Ramah (Yasmine Al-Bustami) soon join them, although her father can't believe she's giving up a lucrative wine business to follow around a traveling preacher. Since the women feel left out in comparison to all the scriptures the men know, they decide along with Matthew (Paras Patel) to start memorizing scriptures. A brand new disciple, the enthusiastic, forgiving and tolerant Philip (Yoshi Barrigas) happily gives them verses to study, as well as updates them on John the Baptist's ministry. Little by little, one incident at a time, their numbers swell to include more disciples, from the depressed "failed architect" Nathaniel to Simon the Zealot, who is in the middle of an attempted assassination when Jesus gets his attention in a most unexpected way.

The Chosen is a delightful way to spend 8 hours of your time... quite possibly, over and over again. The incredible nuance and depth that goes into these scripts are unbelievable. The writers know the time period and the struggles it contained, but still manage to make the characters relatable in such a way that people can identify with their individual struggles. Midway through the season, one beloved character goes through a triggering crisis that exactly duplicates the struggle most Christians face in relapsing into old habits, followed by a spiral of shame at having not been "good enough" for Jesus. The touching reunion between this character and a forgiving Jesus, who offers them a hug, will bring tears to your eyes. Other places pack just as powerful of an emotional punch, such as an episode that escalates into bickering between the disciples and them venting their resentment toward one of them for his imperfect past, only to be interrupted by Jesus returning exhausted and barely able to walk after having spent all day healing people.

Simon Peter (Shahar Isaac) goes through spiritual and transformative growth, as his rivalry with Matthew takes an unexpected, healing turn. And John the Baptist () makes a huge guest appearance full of the zeal, fire, and some of the mischief we could expect from a "wild man" prophet. What also touched me was the ending episode, when Jesus prepares to give the sermon on the mount. Instead of paid extras, thousands of Chosen fans showed up to freeze their butts off in a field just to be part of that epic closing shot. And it's amazing, in the best kind of way. To look out across a sea of faces and know that the show has touched every one of them is amazing.

It's not cheesy, it's not preachy, and it's not what you think. It's so much more. Stream it for free or pay it forward. It's worth it.

Sexual Content:
None.
 
Language:
None.
 
Violence:
Samaritans throw stones at Jesus and the disciples, prompting James and John to want to strike them. Jesus restrains them. A man plots out how to kill someone by setting a distraction and knifing him, but doesn't go through with it.

Other:
A character suffering from trauma temporarily reverts back to gambling and drinking to soothe their pain.