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How Fate: The Winx Saga succeeds where Stranger Things fails

This fairy show is not afraid to land some punches. Fate: The Winx Saga season two has taken the fairy-focused series and turned the darkness and horror elements way up. In a way, it’s a more fantastical version of Netflix’s flagship, Stranger Things.

Stranger Things’ acclaim isn’t unfounded: it taps into a zeitgeist that is normally reserved for long-running franchises like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, and rarely heard of for TV shows. Has Fate reached that height? Well it certainly has a devoted fan base and a defined world, but currently no, it hasn’t. Like we said though, no shame in that. However, where Fate succeeds is in being a show that clearly isn’t afraid to take a few risks, and in season two, they paid off in a massive way. They’re the kind of risks that Stranger Things hasn’t actually managed to achieve itself.

The biggest element? It’s not afraid to kill off its darlings (specifically key, integral members of the show.) Stranger Things certainly has a body count, there’s no denying that (and we’re personally still getting over the tragic death of our beloved Eddie Munson, may he rock on in peace). But by the admission of the cast and the showrunners, the Duffer Brothers do not like, or want, to pull the trigger on someone considered an essential member of the show.

Instead, they do a workaround trope known as the ‘Sacrificial Lamb’, a likeable character introduced in order to be killed off. It gives the show stakes without there actually being any at all for the main cast members at hand. We predicted Eddie’s death before it aired for exactly this reason, considering they had done it at least three times before. It’s impactful, sure, but you can see it coming. None of the more impactful “deaths” have actually stuck.

“The Duffer brothers [show creators] are two Sensitive Sallys who don’t want to kill anyone off,” Millie Bobby Brown said during the interview circuit for the series. “We need to have the mindset of Game of Thrones. Kill me off! They tried killing David [Harbour] off and they brought him back!” In September 2022, during an interview with Vanity Fair to promote movie Do Revenge, Robin actress Maya Hawke also agreed there were “too many cast members” and said more should have died in the process of season four. Fate: The Winx Saga doesn’t seem to have that issue.

In the season two finale, with an almost painfully quick swipe of the hand by evil blood witch Sebastian, we lost one of the most prominent fairies of Alfea with the death of Beatrix. Beatrix (played by Sadie Soverall) was a character of her own design, falling into the grey area of good vs evil. She was out for her own survival and purpose, arguing for a position of power at the school and even willing to double-cross others to get to her own end goal. But her connection to the main group is undeniable – not least of which with Stella, with whom there has been many fandom ships launched in their honour.

She was great fodder for some intense scenes among the main Winx girls, always armed with a sarcastic comment, but ultimately had reasons for her actions. Her death will make an impact far stronger than the ones that we’ve lost from the main cast of Stranger Things, because she was around long enough and connected to enough of the main cast to actually have an impact. In the world, it has potential to do what the death of Hopper could have done… if the Duffer Brothers had been strong enough to stick with it.

As the leader of a girl gang, suddenly her friends are unmoored, her final words to Bloom, “remember you said that,” when she denied her offer of help and knowledge, and we’ve already seen that Stella will have Beatrix’s death weighing on her conscience. Sure, there is always the chance Beatrix could come back – it’s a fantasy show after all, and resurrections are literally what Sebastian was trying to achieve. But as Beatrix herself told Stella, bringing people back to life comes at a great cost, and almost destroyed the Otherworld the last time it was attempted. If she does come back, this won’t be the Beatrix we’ve come to know and love to hate to love.

This isn’t the first time the show has killed off a major character either, despite only being two seasons long. The death of Principal Dowling (Eve Best) was astronomical in its effect on Alfea, not least of which because her replacement was Headmistress Rosalind (Lesley Sharp/Miranda Richardson), which marked a win of evil in the otherwise good-natured lives of the fairies and specialists. In a literal fairytale world, good should always triumph over evil, and yet that season one twist threw the rulebook out of the window. Stranger Things is an incredible series, and the far more universally loved of these two shows – but as it goes into its final season, it could do with taking a lesson or two from Fate’s Alfea school.

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