By Sophia Monastra
“The Chosen” is the world’s largest crowdfunded TV series, and from the launch of the first episode of its third season, it’s easy to see why.
Episode one, “Homecoming,” begins with a look at the disciple Matthew’s backstory before cutting away to the Sermon on the Mount, where Season two leaves off. A few of these shots are weirdly formatted, with Jesus voicing over clips when he has stopped speaking. This may be an artistic choice to signify time passing, but it is not well executed.
From the sermon, the story branches out to focus on the impact the message has and the characters’ reactions. Several parties, including Roman officials and a Pharisee, are affected by Jesus’ words, potentially leading to some future conflicts and subplots. One of the most impactful moments is the scene between Judas, a young financial apprentice, and Jesus. “The Chosen” faces a unique situation where the vast majority of the audience already knows how the show and Judas’s arc will end. So far, the writers have painted him as a surprisingly sympathetic character in his interactions with his master and his sister.
One of the strengths of the show is that, even though there is a multitude of characters and subplots, the episode never feels too crowded. I remain invested in all the smaller conflicts each character deals with. For an episode with more than eight focus characters, this is skillful writing and execution.
Even though most, if not all, of this episode is very well-written speculation, the appearance of two new biblically-mentioned characters holds promise for future conflicts and subplots. Joanna, the wife of Chuza, appears at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, bearing a donation and news about Jesus’ imprisoned cousin, John the Baptist. Andrew, previously one of John’s disciples, accompanies her to visit John in Herod’s prison. A more well-known character, Jairus, helps a pharisee store a potentially inflammatory document.
The second half of the episode deals with roommates. Now that the trek across Judea is over, everyone is settling back into Capernaum for the time being. This leads to some interesting situations, as multiple characters deal with the prospect of sharing their homes with road friends.
The second half of the episode sets up some potential character tension points and adds humorous interactions, before ending with a touching mirror of the first scene.
So far, this season seems like it will draw less from scripture and more from speculation. However, the first episode sets up future conflicts and reintroduces where the characters are in their developments, serving as a solid beginning to a new season.
“The Chosen” is available for streaming on Angel Studios.
Sophia Monastra is a freshman Environmental Science major and writer for Cedars’ Arts and Entertainment section. She lives in mortal fear of longboards and enjoys reading comics, writing fiction, and experiencing deep emotions about teenage mutant turtles.
Images courtesy of Angel Studios.