‘The Chosen’ Season 4 review: Is it the new benchmark for faith-inspired television?

A still photo from “The Chosen” Season 4.
A still photo from “The Chosen” Season 4. | Mike Kubeisy, The Chosen

“The Chosen” kicked off its Season 4 release as Episodes 1 to 3 finally landed in theaters. Streaming dates are not yet set.

Ahead of the release, the Deseret News obtained screeners of the entire season to review it. The reviews will be spread across three articles corresponding with the theatrical release. This is the first of such reviews centered around Episodes 1 to 3.

The spoiler-free short review is that the first three episodes of Season 4 manage to create a tense mood and beautifully interrogate how grief reveals what really matters to us — and what’s inconsequential but feels like the whole world. I’m planning on heading to the theaters to see it again.

As this is a review, there are spoilers ahead. Scroll past the picture if you’d still like to read more.

Still of Jonathan Roumie who plays Jesus in “The Chosen.”
Still of Jonathan Roumie who plays Jesus in “The Chosen.” | Mike Kubeisy, The Chosen

Let’s go through the basics.

What is ‘The Chosen’ rated?

It’s TV-PG.

‘The Chosen’ parents guide

Episode 1 includes the death of John the Baptist. It’s not graphic, but it is tense and the implied violence may be difficult for some younger children to watch — it lasts around two minutes, maybe less. As usual, there are no curse words and the content throughout Episodes 1 to 3 is clean.

Review of ‘The Chosen’ Season 4, episodes 1 to 3

Season 4 of “The Chosen” manages to do something that other entertainment has failed to do: portray religious people without coming across as preachy, but also without putting down those people.

The entire mood of the season was tense. I was expecting that because the cast and crew said it would be tense, but frankly, it was more tense than I expected. The mood is ominous. The audience knows what’s coming up next for Jesus, but Jesus still somehow emits joy and the kind of wisdom that comes with old age.

The majority of screen time is spent on the disciples and this season especially has the effect of putting the audience in the shoes of the disciples. At times, I felt myself getting annoyed with the disciples because they didn’t seem to get that followers of Jesus would still have to do chores (of course) and that Peter being a leader isn’t a sign that he’s better than the others. Right when I kept getting annoyed, a disciple would show some introspection and bring the audience along with them.

It’s not done in a way that feels preachy.

There’s a discourse about what it means to ask and seek. The participants in the conversation don’t quite understand it, the audience does, but then the audience has the opportunity to examine themselves.

Grief is a major part of Season 4. There’s talk about grief and what it means. It’s not until the very end of Episode 3 that one of the most difficult to bear versions of grief comes across the screen and the viewer is left wondering: Will a miracle happen next or is it really over?

And then, Episode 3 draws to a close and the audience has to wait until Feb. 15 to see what’s next.

Related

Technical aspects of ‘The Chosen’ Season 4, Episodes 1 to 3 reviewed

Acting: Jonathan Roumie, who plays Jesus, shines. If you’ve been watching from Season 1, expect to see Roumie exceed all his past performances. He managed to convey a key emotion — Jesus feeling that the disciples don’t get it — throughout the season in a way that creates empathy between him and the audience. He switches emotions swiftly when he needs to, but it’s still believable. Roumie’s mannerisms also made me chuckle, too.

Noah James, the actor who plays Andrew, also gave a standout performance.

Brandon Potter (who plays Quintus) might as well be a Marvel supervillain. He managed to walk right up to the line of overdramatic without crossing it and ended up with a stellar performance. Yasmine Al-Bustami, who plays Ramah, deserves plaudits for her acting. Shaan Sharma, who plays Shmuel, should earn an award for his facial reactions, which came across as authentic. His distress was palpable.

The final rating? 9/10.

Production: One of the most compelling visual scenes of the season was when the disciples approach the Roman temple. The bright red colors stand out against the desert background and you feel transported to an earlier age. In fact, both sets used to film “The Chosen” deserve props. I visited the Midlothian, Texas, set over the summer and I was impressed with the set then — it came alive throughout the whole season.

It’s filmed as a sitcom. There are plenty of plotlines that deviate from the main plotline, but they are connected to the main one. The central theme seems to be: The disciples don’t get it and Jesus is trying to help them get it. The laundry scene was illustrative of this.

The vibrant colors associated with the Romans popped off the screen and the contrast between them and Jesus’ group of followers was made even more apparent.

What’s striking about the script is how it manages to intermingle some older terminology, such as thou, with accessible dialogue.

The final rating? 9/10.

Score: Great. The score builds tension and it’s not noticeable. I mean that in a good way. The score blends in so well with the dialogue and the scenes that it feels like it should be there, so I didn’t focus on it. It simply flowed. When I actively paid attention to it, I thought it was intriguing.

The final rating? 10/10.

Overall rating: 9.5/10. To push it to a 10, the dialogue would have to slow down just a bit in some places to create better flow. The production value this season was dramatically improved from previous seasons. It’s not that previous seasons weren’t very good, it’s that now “The Chosen” has found its groove and improved across several different metrics from acting to costumes.

In my view, it’s worth going to see it in theaters. Even though I’ve already seen it at this point, I plan on heading to the theaters to see it again.

“The Chosen” Season 4 did something remarkable and has become the kind of show that can hold its own among Hollywood’s best offerings.