If you’re like me, you may have noticed Netflix was pushing a show called The Order down your throat. Every time I’d log in for around a week, it’d be there at the top. I was getting emails about it. But oddly enough, no one was talking about it. There was no buzz, heck I hadn’t even heard about it until it was released. So I looked into it and took a leap of faith. So despite not being a trendy, buzzworthy show, how does The Order fair?
The Order is a supernatural series complete with monsters and magic. Fans of The Magicians will feel right at home watching The Order as it has a somewhat similar tone and vibe to it. Heck, both shows use the University of British Columbia as their respective schools. In The Magicians, the heroes attend Brakebills Academy but in The Order, Jack Morton (attends the prestigious but very ordinary Belgrave University. Within the University however is the Hermetic Order of the Blue Rose, a secret society that teaches acolytes magic. Jack is determined to get into The Order as it’s leader, Edward Coventry, is his estranged father who is responsible for the death of his mother. So he enlists at the University in hopes of gaining the Order’s attention and fulfilling a revenge quest.
Of course, there’s more going on than Jack’s revenge quest. Something is hunting the new acolytes down on campus in the most horrendous of fashion, causing alarm and concern among the members. Who is hunting them, and why? There are things that go bump in the night in this universe and it’s interesting to learn more about them as well.
While the pilot does make this the focus, it doesn’t take long for the show to take the narrative in a completely unexpected direction. I won’t say what happens but by the third episode, the whole point of the show changes drastically and everything you thought was going to happen gets thrown in the air. The show does a great job of playing with your expectations and tossing them out of the window. The show also does a good job of staying away from over expositing its world and its rules. Not everything is explained at once and sometimes, the show just assumes you know a thing or two about the genre and doesn’t beat you over the head with a breakdown. When something does need explaining, it feels brief and organic most of the time.
The characters are all quite likable, from the “townie” Jack to his campus crush Alyssa Drake (Sarah Grey), who outranks him in The Order. The Magicians’ Adam DiMarco co-stars as Jack’s R.A. Randall, Orphan Black’s Max Martini plays Edward, Matt Frewer steps in as Jack’s grandfather and Katherine Isabelle plays Vera Stone, a ranking member of the Order and the University’s Chancellor. There’s more to the cast, but revealing who they are would actually ruin the story and it’s best to go in blind.
The use of magic is actually downplayed quite a bit in the show, unlike The Magicians. This largely stems from the show’s budget, which is admittedly, small and can make for some rather poor magic and creature effects, but is also due to the nature of magic in the show. This isn’t like Harry Potter where a flick of a wand grants you a spell, nor is it like Magicians, which feels more like real school work. Despite not being as flashy, it is still imaginative and complements the world nicely. One of the most overused magical bits in the show are doors constantly opening and closing with a wave of a hand (again, budget limitations) but the writers have fun with it and actually get to crack a joke out of it.
That’s another highlight of the show. Despite it’s more serious opening hours, the show definitely learns how to lighten up a bit and get some laughs out of you as it goes on while retaining the more serious tone it established in the pilot. One minute, we may be in an intense ritual scene or a torture sequence with a magic gauntlet, the next, the show may be making fun of college tropes and Marvel and DC. It’s a delicate balance but one that the show manages to keep. The show isn’t nearly as goofy as The Magicians, opting for more of campy horror and serious tone. By the way, the two shows are in a way, spiritually quite similar, hence why I continuously bring it up even though The Order ends up very much being its own thing.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised as to where The Order went and what it did. It didn’t reinvent the genre or anything, but it was a fun, self-aware romp, with characters and a plot you can get invested in. The show leaves a lot to be desired when it actually comes to magic, but here’s hoping a second season can offer more of that. If you’re a fan of The Magicians or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I’d say give this one a whirl. Before you go, why not check out our reviews of The Dirt and our in-depth look at Michael Jackson, Finding Neverland and separating the artist from the individual.