The Chosen Is On Fire:  A Review of Season Two

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Last month, I wrote a review of the first season of eight episodes of the blockbuster historical drama series The Chosen, which have gotten more than 400 million viewsHaving received considerable positive feedback on the review, I thought it would be helpful to write a review of Season Two.

First, and most importantly, Season Two of The Chosen is every bit as good as Season One. Like Season One, there are eight episodes which take place in the early part of Jesus’s three-year ministry starting in A.D. 26. In essence, The Chosen is an intimate and personal portrait of Jesus as seen through the eyes of his apostles and others who encounter him.

The Chosen is based on the true stories of the Gospels. However, some of the timeline and locations have been altered, and fictional characters have been added to the script. Naturally, much of the dialogue has been invented, as well. Although this is a series of historical fiction, Dallas Jenkins and the other creators of The Chosen state that they have created The Chosen  to support the truth of the Scriptures.

The genius of The Chosen is that it builds the story of Jesus’s ministry around those who come in contact with him.  In addition to his disciples, we meet in the first two seasons of the series:  Nicodemus and his wife, Roman officers and magistrates, Pharisees who are offended by Jesus’s ministry, Mary Magdalene, John the Baptizer, and many who are healed by Jesus.

The first episode of Season Two begins with John the Evangelist, who is interviewing Jesus’s mother, his disciples, and others who knew him around a decade after Jesus’s death and resurrection. He is taking down notes in order to write his account. It is a clever and well-written scene, with apostles such as Simon Peter, Andrew, Thomas, and Mary Magdalene telling John how they first met Jesus and how they experienced him.

The first episode also has a creative scene in which Jesus encounters Melech, the man who has robbed and beaten the victim in the story of the Good Samaritan. Instead of focusing on the Good Samaritan who saved the poor victim, or the victim himself, the story centers on Melech, who almost killed the man rescued by the Good Samaritan. Jesus leads his seven or eight disciples (he has not recruited the full twelve at this point in the narrative) and Mary to the house of the robber. Melech is filled with guilt and remorse for what he has done. In a wonderful touch, Melech is now lame, because a horse he stole during the robbery threw him to the ground, breaking his leg, which has never healed. At the end of the episode, Jesus ends up healing Melech both spiritually and physically.

It’s non-Scriptural, of course, but it’s an example of The Chosen at its finest – a plausible vignette steeped in the Gospel message that helps us understand the Gospel better.

Episode four of Season Two is one of the series’ best. It begins with a young boy falling from a tree and becoming paralyzed. When he reaches adulthood, he goes to Jerusalem where he camps out at the pool of Bethesda. Tradition has it that when the waters of the pool move, or are stirred by an angel, the first person immersed in the water would be healed. In the fifth chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus goes at Passover to Jerusalem, where at the pool he encounters the man.

However, what makes the narrative so powerful is that the brother of the paralytic is a member of the Zealots – an underground guerrilla group committed to eradicating Roman rule through violent attacks on both Romans and Jews who collaborated with the Romans.  The paralytic’s brother is called Simon. And we see him training with his band of brothers to accomplish a perfect assassination of a leading Roman.

Simon enters Jerusalem at Passover, as well, and before he undertakes his mission to kill the Roman governor, he goes to the Pool of Bethesda where he meets his brother. He confides that he is a Zealot and will seek to kill Romans and will only believe in the Messiah when he comes and heals his paralyzed brother.

With several disciples who take notes on the event, Jesus seeks out the paralytic and heals him in a marvelous scene. Just as Simon the Zealot emerges from hiding to kill the Roman, he sees his brother walking nearby. He aborts his attack, knowing that the Messiah has indeed healed his brother. Simon then goes to meet Jesus, who calls him to become one of his disciples, and Simon throws his dagger away in a pond.

There are too many other superbly drawn scenes to enumerate, but a constant throughout Season Two is the continuing sparring and squabbling among the members of the growing band of disciples. As they travel as nomads throughout Syria, Judea, and Samaria, they debate and argue about everything. And of course, this is realistic. The disciples came from widely different backgrounds with varying degrees of literacy and faith. Matthew had been a tax collector, four of the disciples were fishermen, Mary had been a prostitute, and Simon Zealot a guerrilla. Disagreements were likely.

Season Two ends with Jesus preparing for his transformative speech – the Sermon on the Mount. The last episode shows him praying about, meditating on, and developing his words and phrases for the sermon, ending with him reciting the beatitudes. It is fascinating episode. And we don’t actually get to see the Sermon on the Mount, given before thousands of Christian extras who came to Texas to take part in the scene. The narrative strongly suggests the sermon will be shown in Season Three.

As mentioned in the review of Season One, The Chosen was not funded by a small group of wealthy  investors. It was crowdfunded. The first season of The Chosen raised more than $10 million from sixteen thousand donors. It was the most money raised by crowdfunding in media history.  Now there exists The Chosen non-profit, which enables people to give money to the series to produce future episodes and receive a charitable gift tax deduction.

The first two seasons of The Chosen can be seen free of charge on Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Peacock. There is also a Chosen app that can be downloaded to view Season Three.  Digital video discs of the first two seasons can also be bought.

One can only marvel at the genius of Dallas Jenkins and his team in bringing to life The Chosen. The stories offer historical and cultural context for the Gospels, and make them more accessible to a modern audience, without watering them down.


Robert H. Bradley is Chairman of Bradley, Foster & Sargent Inc., a $6.3 billion wealth management firm that has offices in Hartford, Connecticut and Wellesley, Massachusetts. Read other articles by him here.