In his review of Everything Everywhere All At Once, film critic Richard Brody wrote that "a mediocre fantasy is a transparent emptiness, a contrivance of parts that aren't held together by the atmosphere of social life." I was constantly thinking about this line while watching Netflix's The Chosen One. Based on the graphic novel American Jesus by Mark Millar and Peter Gross, the series is about a 12-year-old boy Jodie (Bobby Luhnow), who, after emerging from an accident without a scratch on his body, slowly begins to realize that he might have supernatural powers like Jesus. His friends - Wagner (Alberto Pérez-Jácome Kenna), Tuka (Juan Fernando González Anguamea), Hipólito (Jorge Javier Arballo Osornio), and Magda (Lilith Amelie Siordia Mejia) - use him to make money by staging fake miracles and selling "magical" items. After a man wakes up from the ICU (Jodie uses his powers on him), the locals start praying to Jodie and consider him to be their Messiah.
Jodie's mother, Sarah (Dianna Agron), doesn't like her son under the spotlight. She fears some bad, influential men will find them and take Jodie away from her. The Chosen One opens with Sarah fighting with one of these men. Yet, Sarah's apprehensions are rendered trivial. There is never a feeling of danger that she would get forcefully separated from her son. A man looking for the Miracle Child makes an appearance later, but he mainly acts like an observer. The problem with The Chosen One is that it never looks beyond Jodie. Everything is suffocatingly tied to his personal situation, and everything occurs so that this character can move forward. The series, like the blind followers, merely sees Jodie all over.
Hipólito worries that he will be stuck in Santa Rosalía forever, and Magda wants her parents to notice her. The issues of these two characters exist as a decoration that only creates an illusion of depth. Jodie's friends either react to Jodie's actions or look at him in awe or with a critical lens. Their friendship looks artificial, so when one of them is fatally injured, we coolly observe his condition. It doesn't matter if someone has a dead father, a rivalry with a brother/sister, or a sick parent. If you are not Jodie, you resemble a cardboard cutout. You are present on the screen to witness miracles or be affected by them. The characters are tightly tethered to the script. It's impossible to say how they will react outside the boundaries of the plot-related events. If you were to give Jodie a chocolate, would he ask for an ice cream instead? If you were to ask him out for a movie, would he tell you he would rather eat something at a restaurant? No one in The Chosen One is properly fleshed out. The people are like chess pieces that are manipulated as per the story's requirements.
This means anyone can change at any moment. A priest lashes a boy for killing a child, but he shows regret when the mob starts to hang him. What makes him draw a line here? What tells him, "No, this is too much!" Don't search for psychological answers because there are none. The priest is merely used to deliver this message to the audience: "Look, mob justice can be disastrous." Similarly, take Hipólito and his feelings for Magda. In one scene, he is jealous of Jodie and Magda, and at a later moment, he tells Jodie he's happy that it's the chosen one who stole his girlfriend. This change of heart happens off-screen, and you are left with two discordant moments that clumsily dispense information.
I didn't like Jodie from the beginning itself. I guess this is what The Chosen One intended. This Messiah breaks all the seven sins, and I thought the show would use him to warn us that we should not trust man-gods/man of gods and form a cult in their name. But the series, instead of fully condemning Jodie (and such practices), finally puts him on a pedestal and rewards his followers as they are "born again" in the rain. I am not sure what the message exactly is here. I can say that if you worship a sinful god, you, too, will make bad decisions. When Jodie realizes his mistake, he also puts his worshipers on the right track. However, The Chosen One itself invalidates this interpretation. Jodie, in the end, again becomes wicked. His arc (the journey from corruption to righteousness) is instantly, carelessly discarded. What does this mean for his followers, who are reborn in the finale? I don't think there will be any explanation in a second season. The world of The Chosen One will be geographically expanded, but it's impossible to say if the characters will gain an inner life and more dimensions.
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