Netflix Mini-Review – Carmen Sandiego (To Steal or Not to Steal & Season 2): It Got Better, But Not Enough

Carmen Sandiego’s latest incarnation returns with a new season and a choose-your-own-adventure and it’s improving.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free for Season 2)

Carmen Sandiego (Gina Rodriguez) has discovered that her longtime adversarial mentor Shadow-San (Paul Nakauchi) was in fact protecting her and supporting her from the… well, shadows. Together with her helpers Zack and Ivy (Michael Hawley and Abby Trott) as well as tech support hacker Player (Finn Wolfhard), Carmen continues to thwart the efforts of her former organization V.I.L.E. while finally attempting to negotiate peace with ACME and their Chief (Dawnn Lewis). At the same time, Carmen starts to look into her past and find out who she was before she was abandoned on the Isle of V.I.L.E.

CarmenSandiego - 1Boxing
Also, we do see a main character actually do maintenance exercises, which is nice.

In “To Steal or Not to Steal,” Zack and Ivy are kidnapped by V.I.L.E. and Carmen is forced to come up with a plan to rescue them… via you telling her what to do. 

END SUMMARY

I’d pretty much planned on abandoning this show after Season 1, but I figured I’d give it another shot. Season 2 honestly wasn’t much better at the beginning, although I noticed they’d toned down much of the blatant exposition and I had gotten more used to the idea of Carmen being a Simon Templar-esque anti-hero rather than a villain. Because of that, I stopped watching after like 3 episodes and called it moot. Then, a few days ago, a beautiful woman asked if I wanted to do that “To Steal or Not to Steal” choose-your-own-adventure game and it was actually pretty fun. It still had the educational elements, but it also had some decent action sequences and interesting elements that were reminiscent of Telltale games. I appreciate the effort that clearly went into it and that it actually doesn’t let you win unless you make some positive moral choices. Good for kids, basically. Also, if you get the best ending, you get one of the best reward videos I’ve ever seen for these kinds of things.

Image result for carmen sandiego to steal or not to steal
TRY CRAZY STUFF ALL THE TIME!!!! You’ll die, but then you just replay it.

I still think that it’s wrong to basically reverse a character for a reboot, but I do appreciate that more of this season started to differentiate this Carmen more from her prior incarnations. A lot of the episodes were about exploring her backstory, something that was usually unknown or intentionally obfuscated prior to this. The closest we ever got, to my knowledge, was the series finale of Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego where she might possibly have found her father, but the show leaves it ambiguous. Since this was the first version of Carmen Sandiego who we got to see the backstory of, it makes since that this was also the first embodiment that gives a more concrete explanation of how she became an orphan. Not a total one, to be sure, since they want to keep the show going, but it is actually a half-decent origin story for a character who previously had the trait of “not having an origin.” 

CarmenSandiego - 2Shadow
The origin does involve ninjas, which is good.

Overall, I don’t know that I recommend the second season, because I’m still not happy with the show, but I do recommend playing the interactive episode. Seriously, get the good ending, and if you have loved this franchise for as long as I have, you will be very happy. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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