Sunday, February 25

Raising Dion: Season 2 Review

Raising Dion Season 2 is now streaming on Netflix.

The second season of Netflix’s Raising Dion is a charming jaunt down a familiar road. Convenient in its pathing with nary a twist in sight, most of the story beats can be seen coming from Afar. That said, the newly developed areas of interest make the journey more than worth taking.

Picking up two years after the events of the first season, the show depicts Nicole Reese (Alisha Wainwright) and her now 10-year-old son Dion’s (Ja’Siah Young) continued efforts to juggle everyday life with that of the supernatural. This time around, though, the struggle is a little more manageable thanks to a few key changes. Nicole’s promising career as a graphic designer, for instance, has bolstered her finances. An improved support system made up of family and friends helps in keeping Dion insulated. And BIOMA, the company that previously pursued Dion for his gifts from him, now offers services like training sessions and temporary housing for “powered” individuals.

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The contrast between Raising Dion’s seasons is evident early on. While the first provided an origin – the discovery of latent abilities led to an exciting, yet dreadful period where the promise of adventure was overshadowed by several looming threats – this season offers an experienced perspective, where an older, more confident Dion has learned to control his powers. That’s not to say life is stress-free, of course. Raising Dion’s unique family dynamic remains compelling; the clashing views of a concerned parent and super child still permeate most of the onscreen drama.

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This entertaining aspect of Raising Dion was broadened to include several new and returning characters. A secondary story thread centered on newcomers Simone Carr (Tracey Bonner) and her teenage daughter, Janelle (Aubriana Davis), is especially worth mentioning as it explores the potential prejudices one might experience given the circumstance. This includes inward and outward struggles, depicted in an unhealthy mother-daughter relationship and a shared perspective on racial issues – there’s a solid scene that succinctly addresses the repercussions of calling the authorities on Black people who are perceived to be a threat.

Like Dion’s powers, the show continues to evolve. Leaving the confines of an origin story allows for better pacing. The enhanced special effects are a welcome treat. And the child acting, namely that of Young, has generally improved. Sammi Haney’s portrayal of Esperanza Jimenez is as delightful as ever. Griffin Robert Faulkner and Davis both provide convincing performances as the troubled Brayden Mills and super teen Janelle, respectively.

The adults fare a bit better. Wainwright continues to do a great job playing Dion’s mother. She seems to even draw a stronger performance from Young, resulting in some of the show’s most emotional scenes. That is, when they are n’t outdone by Jazmyn Simon’s portrayal of Kat, Nicole’s sister of her; she still steals every scene she’s in.

Raising Dion Season 2 improves on what came before.

Though this season of Raising Dion is decidedly better than the previous one, it does have its issues, one of which is in its familiarity. It hits the same notes as most other superhero shows. Void of any real twist or powerful revelation – something that is seemingly hinted at early on via a glossed-over Civil War reference – it loses some of the uniqueness that Season 1 benefited from. This also ties to the treatment of the main “villain.” As dreadful as they may seem, their motivations are lacking. Raising the stakes in terms of the potential fallout following their victory isn’t enough to warrant any emotional investment. They seem to only exist to act as a means to an end before a convenient resetting of things.

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There are also some cheesy moments to contend with, something that isn’t necessarily tied to the child actors. Their onscreen interactions are cutesy but never to the point of negating their inherent charm. It’s mainly the treatment of certain action sequences (or the moments prior) that, while family/kid friendly, can be a bit tough to sit through.

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