To the Waters and the Wild
Episode 1 of Fate: The Winx Saga begins with a farmer out counting sheep. After stepping through a magical portal, he’s chased by a snarling, maniacal beast that grabs him and drags the man off-screen.
We then cut to a generic montage of our magical school as a pop song plays in the background. New girl Bloom is attending this school for fairies and eventually meets Stella, who gives us some exposition about what’s going on.
There’s 7 different Otherworld realms and Alfea is the one she’s currently in. Bloom currently has the skills of a fire fairy and is about to begin lessons in channeling and honing her magic. The curriculum there has been designed specifically to do just this and help shape the future of the Otherworld.
While Bloom gets acquainted with her roommates, including Aisha, Earth Fairy Terra and moody Musa. The set-up is undeniably similar to Harry Potter,. In fact, this is even outright referenced after a jag toward “mansplaining” when Sky shows up to lend Bloom a hand.
Anyway, we receive more exposition from Stella as she mentions that magic is directly tied to emotion; the stronger the emotion the stronger the magic.
Trouble brews outside in the woods as Terra’s Father uncovers the dead body of the shepherd we saw killed at the start of the episode. It turns out he has char residue over him too, which Headmistress Farah Dowling worries could be a hint toward something ancient and evil lurking out there again.
As whispers become murmurs, the school is abuzz with theories over what happened to this dead man. Further teen angsts adds to the drama, as Stella tells Sky, in no uncertain terms, to stay away from Bloom. Looks like we’ve got the makings of a love triangle here guys!
Bloom heads out and beyond the magic barrier to see what lies outside. When she does, she looks over old pictures on her phone of the charred remains of her childhood home. It’s now clear that she was directly responsible for this, given she was a fire fairy.
We then jump back in time and see what happened that evening. She struggled to control her fire and ended up covering her Mother in third degree burns after falling out with her parents. Thankfully, they didn’t know she was responsible but it also begs the question – how did she conjure up that level of magic? Well, Aisha may have the answer.
Before we get there though, we return to the present as Bloom conjures up some flames but struggles to control it. Aisha shows and conjures forth some water powers of her own, extinguishing Bloom’s hungry flames. If there’s anyone who knows what it’s like to lose control it’s Aisha. When she was a kid, she flooded her secondary school after failing a math test.
Back at school, Aisha tells her she could be a Changeling; a fairy baby switched with a human one at birth. This means she could well be pure-blooded. As Bloom walks away, we cut across to Dowling who opens up her secret bookcase and heads inside. What could be inside? I’m sure we’ll find out by season’s end!
Meanwhile, Stella lends her ring to Bloom and encourages her to head out side the barrier, telling the girl to go back to the First World. She does just this, showing up outside her family home and watching her parents inside. They obviously think she’s in Europe studying but she rings them all the same and says hello.
After an emotional chat, Bloom decides to head back but on the way, finds herself stalked by a menacing, snarling beast. Thankfully Dowling shows up and stops the creature, as we find out this beast is known as the “Burned One.” Although Bloom is saved, Stella’s ring is lost.
Farah speaks to Saul and tells him they’ve tied down the Burned One and that there’s a Changeling operating in the First World. Well, the next scene shows that same Burned demon snarling and growling while chained to a chair. As Beatrix shows up, she conjures her lightning abilities and shocks it. “Good morning, sunshine.”
The Episode Review
Much like The Watch earlier this year, Fate: The Winx Saga has very little in common with its source material. From character changes and a much darker outlook, the show feels like it’s riding on the Winx name while adopting little of what made that animated hit so endearing. Instead of the fashion, bright colours and wholesome relationships, we’re essentially given a moody, angsty teen drama.
There’s nothing wrong with that of course but this feels like a pale imitation of Harry Potter. The problem is, Harry Potter actually had some compelling backstory writing and a mischievous tone that slowly grew darker over time. Here though, we’re plucked straight into the moody clutches of Alfea with sporadic flashbacks in the middle.
The other problem comes from the depiction of “Normal” and the “fantasy” worlds. In all the great fantasy stories of old, the character journey starts with the familiar and ends up in the unfamiliar to get a sense of the fantasy elements. Here though, we’re thrown straight into Alfea and then back to our world and to be honest, there doesn’t appear to be much difference.
I can’t help but feel the show may have actually been better served with those flashbacks of Bloom beginning the show and seeing her uncontrollable magic. The journey to Alfea could have then been a magical, wondrous experience like that of Harry and co. arriving at Hogwarts. Instead, this just looks like a boarding school in the middle of nowhere.
This is, of course, a far more mature reimagining and we’re only one episode in so this one could change and grow over time. Right now though, the magic of Winx is lost in favour of this being a fantasy teen drama. If you can go in and take this as an original show with little to do with Winx, you should find enough to enjoy.