‘The Order’, Explained

Netflix has been drowning its audience in a tsunami of entertainment, the latest wave of which came in the form of its new supernatural drama, ‘The Order’. The year has already been a good one for the streaming giant with shows like ‘Russian Doll’ and ‘The Umbrella Academy’ being consumed by people in one sitting. And these are just the starters, the main course is still to come with some of the most highly anticipated shows, like ‘The Witcher’ and ‘The Crown’, debuting or returning this year. Until then, the small offerings are doing a good job of keeping people occupied, and ‘The Order’ is another in line to serve this purpose. For the fans of the supernatural genre, it is a great way of spending their weekend. If you loved shows like ‘Teen Wolf’ or ‘The Magicians’ or anything that had something to do with magic and wolves, then you’re all set. For the people who have their hearts set on vampires, it’ll be a disappointment. It’s not a spoiler if I tell you that no charming, blood-sucking creatures will be stealing the thunder of other mythical creatures in this show. However, if you choose to read this further, I’m not making promises!

SPOILERS AHEAD.

Summary of the Plot

Before we dive head-first into the mythology and the machinations that went inside the making of this show, here is an overall gist of what happened. The story began with Jack Morton standing over his mother’s grave, telling her that he has been accepted into Belgrave University, right as the words on the letter change in front of his eyes. Turns out, the university has a secret society of magicians, called The Hermetic Order of the Blue Rose, and it has been Jack’s life-long mission, and that of his grandfather’s, to get into the university and the society so that they can find, and most probably kill, Jack’s father, Edward Coventry. Obviously, Jack succeeds in all this, and quickly proves his worth in front of everyone, while trying to solve the murders of his fellow recruits. Soon, he discovers that the Order is not the only secret society in the university. The werewolves have their own pack, the Knights of Saint Christopher, and they are the sworn enemies of the magicians. And the bad news for Jack is that he manages to land himself smack in the middle of their age-old conflict.

Blue Roses and Furry Hides

One of the things that work in favour of ‘The Order’ is the originality of its concepts. It doesn’t hesitate from twisting and turning the old ideas to frame something new out of it. The creators must have anticipated that the bulk audience of this show would be the people who are the ardent fans of the genre, and this means that they would have already watched the multitude of shows that came before it. If you give them the same old story with the same old creatures, then there’s really no sense in wasting your time and energy on a new series, only to face the disappointment of the viewers. Safe to say, ‘The Order’ will not disappoint you on that front.

Let me start with the concept of the werewolves. Whatever you think you knew about the condition, except the fact that people turn into giant wolves, you can throw it out of the window. First of all, it’s not a curse, and it’s not passed on like a disease. Most of the shows, if not all, before this, have shown that people who become werewolves feel dejected about themselves. There is all the debate about how they never wanted it in the first place, how they are a danger to everyone else around them, how the night of the full moon is their time of the month and no matter what they do, they can’t keep themselves from turning into a monster who’ll kill anyone and everyone who crosses its path in its mindless frenzy. In the world of ‘The Order’, things are very, very different.

There is no scratching or biting here. Also, you’ll most likely have a choice (except if you are the protagonist of the story!). The werewolves aren’t some mindless beasts here. They have an Order of their own, and just like any brotherhood (or as Lilith says, “a gender-neutral collective”), entry into the group is a privilege which will be offered to you if you are found deserving. You won’t be informed about what you are going to be until after you’ve joined the group; however, you’ll be told that the chance to become a superhero awaits you. And who can say no to that!

After you’ve consented, one of the hides will take over you and you’ll become one with it. Even if you don’t remember your first transformation, the next ones won’t be something that happens uncontrollably, though you will have to say the oath to be properly initiated. You’ll be taught how-to-live in harmony with your alter-ego, and once you get the hang of it, you can transform at will. So, for once, werewolves are not victims.

The procedure of the magicians is a bit more layered than this. You’ll be one of the seven who is sent a letter and a blue rose as an offer, which will most likely depend on your academic qualification or your legacy, to join the Order. Then, there’ll be a series of tasks and competitions to eliminate competitors until only three are left at the end. These three will then pledge their membership in an elaborate ceremony, with the whole masks and Victorian-temple setting. Those who are eliminated will be powdered with something that’ll make them forget everything about the Order, and perhaps even themselves. Unlike the Knights, for whom the membership is for life, you can be kicked out of the Order at any time, if you are still in the lower rungs of hierarchy. For the ones on the top, kicking out is equivalent to killing.

The Creatures

From the first couple of episodes, ‘The Order’ felt like an extended universe of ‘Fantastic Beasts’. A couple of them were introduced and they were rather interesting. I was looking forward to being introduced to some other new beasts. I was disappointed. By the time the first half ended, it was clear that the story had moved on and wouldn’t be picking up any new creatures along the way. Apart from the re-introduction to werewolves, there were only three other creatures that appeared throughout the show, out of which, only one was effectively employed.

The first creature was introduced in the first episode where the recruits had to find the coins to win their position in the Order. Jack finds the location with the help of Alyssa and discovers an injured competitor outside the building. There he finds a box, inside which is the coin and something else protecting it. We don’t get a clear picture of this something but we do get to know that it is vicious, considering how it had torn at the other person’s hand and that it was quick to react at the slightest of sounds. Silence was necessary to survive this creature and this is the trick that Jack uses to get the coin. This was the first and the last we saw of this creature.

The second and more prominent part of the story was the golem aka Clay. Unlike other creatures, its working was explained in quite a detail. As Alyssa explained, a golem can be made out of mud, wood or metal. You can make it sentient by writing a name on its forehead. It will do all your bidding, killing anyone you want them to. Jack discovers that this golem is none other than his weird roommate, Clay. Hence all the dirt in the room, something that even Vera notices in the first episode.

The third creature came for a very small window of time. After Jack pledges his oath to the Knights, the four decide to fight bad magic, wherein, they pass through a car where a boy and a girl are making out. In the middle of this, the girl begins to eat the boy, and a few seconds later, the werewolves do their job! The next we see of these creatures is when Randall is held captive and is experimented on. In order to trigger his transformation, these creatures are sent one by one to attack him. He kills them all bare-handed. This could have been an introduction to zombies, or some new kind of vampires, but again, we didn’t find out more about it.

Even in the magician community, we got to know about a specific type- necromancers. They have Necrophones, which are apparently quite rare, and they can see the future, or at least all possibilities of them, except for the werewolves. There is something about them that doesn’t allow Necromancers to see clearly into their future. Is there some sort of magic involved here? Keep it in mind for the next season.

Jack’s Family Matter

Right from the start, we know that Jack’s motive to go through all this trouble is to make his father pay for what he did to his mother. Edward Coventry is a wicked, manipulative, ruthless, power-hungry mage who will do anything to get what he wants. One of the victims of his manipulation was Chloe Norton, Jack’s mother. We don’t get much about their relationship, how and where they met, why Edward left her, and how come he didn’t know that he had a son? How short-lived was their fling? All we know is that Chloe was madly in love with him and there was something that Edward did that pushed her to commit suicide. While Pete and Jack blame Edward for her death, Chloe herself doesn’t seem to agree with them! When they talk with her through the Necrophone, we get the idea that even in death, Chloe holds on to the idea of being one with Edward. She clearly loves him a lot. Edward, on the other hand, not so much.

By the end, it becomes pretty clear that Edward doesn’t love anyone. It doesn’t come as a surprise when we are told that his wife, Sophia, is dead, too. Even she seems to have genuinely loved him, while he didn’t really seem to care. It becomes even clearer when he doesn’t hesitate to sacrifice his son for his own personal game. He didn’t know that Jack was his first-born, and even when he comes to know about it, he isn’t shocked or surprised or happy or anything. He doesn’t even mention Jack’s mother, only orders him to lie down on the altar-table before putting a dagger in his heart.

Similarly, he doesn’t care about Maddox. At first, it seems like he really does. Evidently, the kid looks up to his father and respects him. In one of the episodes, Maddox is attacked by the previous owner of Vade Maecum, where Edward binds himself in a mirroring spell to save his son. At that moment, it seems like he might not be such a bad guy as he was being made out. However, by the end, it becomes very clear why Edward wanted to save Maddox so bad. He thought that Maddox was his firstborn and he knew that the binding ritual would demand the sacrifice of the first-born. He couldn’t let anyone else kill the boy! This was the only reason he was keeping Maddox around.

Vera and any other woman for that matter didn’t trust him. Alyssa is impressed by his talents, and through her, we get to know why and how any woman would fall for his charms. Fortunately for Alyssa, it doesn’t end as badly as it did for others.

The History

For any story to move forward, the scenario of a conflict is a mandatory thing. The story of ‘The Order’ runs on the conflict between the Order and the Knights. The werewolves hate magic, bad magic, to be specific. Any time someone performs a spell/incantation, the werewolves will perceive it in the form of a loud ringing that will act as an alarm to wake up the sleeping beast. The Knights will then identify the threat and, most likely, kill him/her. The season doesn’t go in any details of why this conflict between the two supernatural forces exists? Who established these secret societies, and why? And what happened that made them each other’s archnemesis? You’ll not find the answer to these questions just yet! They have left these questions for the following seasons.

All that we come to know about their conflict in this season is that the Knights are supposed to keep something away from the magicians. There is a certain book called the Vade Maecum that will provide unlimited power to a magician that chooses to bond with it. Normally, any magic that you perform requires a sacrifice; no matter how small it is, someone has to pay for it. The magicians use their blood, for basic spells. The more powerful the spell, the greater the sacrifice required. Once you bond with the Vade Maecum, you’ll never have to make a sacrifice again. All the magic will come to your will, and you’ll be the most powerful person in the whole world. I guess, the only sacrifice will be your humanity because the book will bind you in a contract, which if broken will mean the death of you.

When the Knights realised the power of the book, they knew that they had to destroy it because an all-powerful mage is very bad news. They tore the book in four halves and hid it in places that’d be well beyond the grasp of the magicians. One of those halves was hidden in the hide of a wolf named Silverback, one of the five hides that are introduced to us in the show. For a long time, the power was kept out of the hands of the magicians. But the Knights didn’t anticipate that one of them could be corrupted by it as well. Since they were protecting it, the Knights knew exactly where the four pieces had been placed. About 50 years ago, a Knight got the book together and had almost gained access to it when he was stopped and the book was torn back again. In the present time, Coventry manages to bring all the pieces together and unleashes the power of the book. Almost!

The After-Death Experience

 

In one of the episodes, Jack almost dies and finds himself in a place where he meets the recruits who had been killed in the earlier episodes. When he sees Alyssa with her ex-boyfriend, Kyle, he is told that he is seeing memories, which at first, are mistaken to be his own. He quickly realises that they aren’t his because he didn’t have them in the first place. Moving through another memory, he realises that the place they are in a space where each and every memory and every single human being on Earth is placed. Because they are dead and in that space, they can access every memory and find out anything about anyone. It’s a “collective unconscious”.

Every supernatural-show deals with the topic of after-life in one episode or another. It is one of the inevitable themes, and mostly, it is tackled by every showrunner in the same manner- your life flashes in front of you, you meet a loved one who had most probably died before you, etc, etc. ‘The Order’ chose to deal with it differently and brought a new concept, which I’m sure will come handy in the future. If you were impressed by this new take, you should know that this idea already exists, and on a much larger scale than what was shown in ‘The Order’. Going into the description of it would demand another full-length article, and trust me, I’d love that philosophical discussion of the metaphysical. But this is not the place to do that. Just to put your finger on the idea, it’s called Akashic Records. Google it later!

The Ending

With all the ups and downs in the ten episodes, the ending of the show was expected to have some big twists; and honestly, they did a good job of that! Jack and the Knights, along with Alyssa, succeed in thwarting Edward’s plan. When he makes the final sacrifice, it is revealed that the one whom he thought to be Jack was actually Clay, the golem. The time having run out and the sacrifice not made, the Vade Maecum kills Edward. Couples hold hands and look at each other in relief, happiness and love. Jack decides to keep the membership for both the secret societies and asks Alyssa out on a date. All seems well until Alyssa makes Jack forget by throwing the powder on his face. In the next couple of scenes, we see that the rest of the Knights are made to forget too. Vera has become the Grand Magus now and still has the Vade Maecum, which was supposedly destroyed. She also takes control of the reliquary of the Knights and moves all the stuff away from there, which I think, includes Silverback as well. Turns out, the magicians have won in the end. But, is it the end?

The Order Season 2 Theories

Since they are still setting up the universe of ‘The Order’, at this point, anything is possible. We know that Vera has Vade Maecum and obviously, she must want its power, no matter how righteous she appeared in this season. This sets her up as the potential antagonist for the next season. However, I think that she’ll not be the only one. Some new characters will be introduced, powerful enemies, who will most probably come from higher up in the hierarchy. One can also expect the history of the Order and the Knights to be explored in more detail, along with the story of Jack’s mother. Hopefully, they’ll also build upon the stack of other creatures, introducing something new or revamping something old. There’s a lot of potential for this section of the story.

Apart from all these minor details, the main plot of the second season will focus on memories. The Knights have been robbed of their identity so hard that they don’t even remember their names. The second season will start with this problem. How exactly the Knights will get their lives back will remain speculation until the next season. However, of this I’m sure that it’ll take only one of them to come back, the rest will follow like dominos. Also, I think that Jack himself will be the first one to get back his memories, not just because he is the protagonist, but also because he doesn’t know how to bring others’ memories back. Or at least I think he doesn’t know. Hamish, Randall and Lilith clearly know that trick because they have already performed it. If one of them comes back, then it won’t take much time for them to bring others back as well. Jack, however, will have to struggle with it for a bit.

The other knot is how exactly will they come back? The answer is the wolf. Even if they have forgotten who and what they are, they haven’t been separated from their wolves. They are still the Knights and, I believe that the wolves inside them will play an integral part in bringing their memories back. And then there is love, of course. Alyssa loves Jack, and maybe in the next crisis, she’ll realise that she needs his help, and so, she’ll make him remember. Or, I don’t know, maybe Jack’s love for her will drive his memories and eventually, he’ll break through.

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