Updated: Jan 1
My Approach to The Chosen Season 3
The Chosen Season 3 is almost here and I'm excited to see what Dallas Jenkins and company are planning to do in the latest season of the most comprehensive, ambitious on screen adaptation of the Gospels ever made. But before I get too far, I have a confession to make: I give very little attention to The Chosen hype-machine in-between seasons. I'm glad to pass that stuff along, but I don't watch most of it and I put almost no effort into looking for spoilers or previews. That kind of stuff just doesn't appeal to me. The Chosen Season 3 will be what it will be, and until I can enjoy it myself, I don't need vague hints and suggestions.
I needed to make that disclaimer in front of today's post, because I'm planning to share my ideas for what should happen in Season 3 of The Chosen. Some of my ideas will end up aligning with what Dallas Jenkins and others have shared about The Chosen Season 3 and some won't, but I don't really care too much in either case. I'm not sharing my predictions on where The Chosen will go in Season 3, I'm simply imagining where it could go. Instead of taking my cues from what Dallas has said or other spoilers, I'll be focusing on where Season 2 left us and where the story needs to go based on the biblical material.
Where The Chosen Season 2 Ended
For better or worse, the plot of Season 2 of The Chosen was all over the map. While the show clearly wasn't episodic (several plot lines evolved over the course of 3-4 episode mini-arcs), the season as a whole lacked a clear conflict and direction. Instead, we were given a handful of small conflicts and plot lines, many of which were introduced and yet never brought to a satisfying conclusion. Here are just a few of the dangling plot lines from Season 2 that Season 3 of The Chosen will need to pick up and resolve:
Shmuel & the Sanhedrin: Shmuel had a strange role in The Chosen Season 2. His plot line was disconnected and peripheral to the main arc of the show, and it failed to pay off in a satisfying climax. At the end of the day, all the intrigue with the leaders of the Sanhedrin doesn't really change very much. Shmuel begins the season determined to take down Jesus. By the end of the season, he still wants to take down Jesus. The only difference is that by the end of the Season 2 Shmuel has realized he can't lobby high-level leaders until he's done some more on the ground investigation. This is exactly what we can expect to see Shmuel doing in Season 3 of The Chosen.
John the Baptist & Herod: Season 2 of The Chosen didn't spend a lot of time on John the Baptist, but the time that it did spend had significant consequences. John begins the season free. By the later half of Season 2, he's been imprisoned by Herod Antipas for speaking out against the king's unholy marriage. Season 3 of The Chosen will almost certainly show us John's continued imprisonment and ultimately his execution.
Atticus, Quintus, & Gaius: Season 2 introduced us to another recurring Roman character - an investigator name Atticus who's tasked with tracking down Zealot insurgents. Over the course of the season, Atticus begins to take interest in Jesus because of his connection to Simon the Zealot. By the end of Season 2, Atticus is following Jesus incognito. Quintus & Gaius are off screen for most of Season 2. When they finally show up again in Episode 7, there are some interesting character moments but very little development in their plot arcs. In Season 3 of The Chosen, I expect the Romans will continue to be interested in/suspicious of Jesus and we may eventually see some more significant shifts in their attitude (see more below).
Simon & the Zealots: Season 2 of The Chosen introduced us to a Zealot assassin named Simon. After a failed hit on a Roman target, Simon discovered that his crippled brother had been healed by Jesus. By the end of Season 2, Simon has joined Jesus' disciples. However, the relationship between Simon and the other Zealots is never revisited. I'd like to see more of the Zealots in Season 3 of The Chosen - perhaps to contrast the violent kingdom that they are pursuing with the peaceful kingdom that Jesus is bringing.
Judas: The introduction of Judas in the finale of Season 2 stoked the interest of many fans. Judas is an inherently fascinating character that always receives a lot of attention in Bible adaptations. The Chosen has cast Judas as a slightly dodgy businessman under the mentorship of a very dodgy businessman. After securing a lucrative deal through underhanded means, Judas expresses doubts about living only for money. In response, his mentor reminds him that having a lot of money provides the flexibility to take a break and engage in other spiritual pursuits. By chance, Judas overhears the disciples trying to secure a location for the Sermon on the Mount and he ends up helping them. By the end of the episode, he's in the good graces of the disciples because of his help. In Season 3, we'll get to see Judas join the disciples in a more substantial sense, while likely dealing with his checkered past and disreputable connections.
Conflict Among the Disciples: Conflict among the disciples was a major theme in Season 2 of The Chosen. The last two episodes signaled a general shift toward unity, but several conflicts remain unresolved. In Season 3 I expect we'll continue to see Simon/Andrew vs. John/James, Simon (Peter) vs. Matthew, and perhaps we'll finally see some Simon the Zealot vs. Matthew (a pretty obvious conflict that I'm surprised the show hasn't exploited yet). That being said, my guess is that conflict among the disciples will not be a unifying motif like it was in Season 2.
Biblical Material in The Chosen Season 3
The Chosen isn't hesitant about inventing material in order to advance its plot lines (nor should it be). Even so, as an adaptation, the show isn't free to go in any direction it wants. Based on what we've seen in Season 2, we can expect the show to follow the biblical narrative and include several events and character developments in Season 3:
The Sermon on the Mount: Season 2 ended just before the Sermon on the Mount. While it doesn't make sense to show the entire sermon, Season 3 could use snippets of teaching to set up important themes for the season. If we're going to see the Zealot show up again and heightened conflict with opposing forces (Pharisees and Rome), I'd suggest using some of Jesus' teaching on retaliation & blessing those who hate you. Alternatively, it might make sense to end with the end of the sermon - the house on sand and house on a rock - in order to emphasize Jesus' authority as the king that God has sent.
The Selection & Sending of the 12 Disciples: The Gospels make a big deal about the moment when Jesus officially designates the 12 disciples and sends them out in pairs to preach to the towns of Israel. Now that the band is all together, Season 3 of The Chosen will probably show this moment. I also hope we'll see a few episodes of the disciples being sent out in pairs. Simon (Peter) and Matthew's buddy cop episode in Season 2 of The Chosen worked really well and the same formula (sticking 2 unlike characters together and forcing them to accomplish a goal) could work great. Maybe this is when we'll finally get to see Matthew and the other Simon (the Zealot) together. I'd also like to see Simon (Peter) and John or James together, so we can see the continued development of the relationship between the two power families.
The Doubts & Death of John the Baptist: In the Gospels, the selection and sending of the 12 disciples is closely tied to the imprisonment and death of John the Baptist, which fits with the set up in Season 2 of The Chosen. In Season 3, we'll see a messenger (Philip?) delivering messages between John and Jesus. Since The Chosen likes to play up aspects of the Gospel stories that are relatable to modern audiences, the doubt that John the Baptist seems to experience will be a focus. John seems to expect (like most Jews did) that the kingdom of God will come quickly and triumphantly, and Jesus' slow, meandering ministry calls this into question. This is a great chance for the show to call attention to how strange and unexpected Jesus' way of bringing the kingdom was. The strange events involved in John's death - Herod's daughter dancing for him and asking for John's head - also used to be a favorite story in the golden age of Hollywood. Although The Chosen isn't necessarily looking to have an excuse for sensuality like old Hollywood, it is a compelling story that's worth showing - and King Herod also serves as an important foil to King Jesus.
The Feeding of the 5,000: Speaking of contrasting King Herod and King Jesus, the story of John's death is immediately followed by the Feeding of the 5,000 in Matthew's Gospel. In this case, even I am aware of the fact that The Chosen team has advertised the Feeding of the 5,000 in Season 3, but it makes a lot of sense. In Matthew's Gospel, the pairing of the death of John and the feeding contrasts two types of feasts held by two types of kings - a feast of violence hosted by a self-preserving oppressor and a feast of abundant love, hosted by a self-sacrificing giver. Hopefully The Chosen will pick up on some of these thematic contrasts in how it weaves the story of John alongside the story of Jesus. The Feeding of the 5,000 in the Gospel of John also ends on an important moment, when the crowds attempt to crown Jesus and he flees from them, because they have a different vision of kingship. This might be an interesting note to end on. Perhaps those who attempt to crown Jesus are some of Simon the Zealot's former compatriots?
The Healing of the Centurion's Servant: We've been building up the Gaius plot for two seasons and it seems like it's time for something to happen. If he ends up being the Centurion who asks for Jesus' help, it'll create a lot of interesting story fodder for the show going forward (e.g. how will he be able to continue under Quintus?). A focus on Gaius might also allow the show to focus on contrasting the two kingdoms (Roman Empire & the Kingdom of God).
Parables of the Kingdom: In the Gospel of Matthew, the death of John the Baptist is also tied into the parables about the kingdom of God. Most Jews (including John himself) expected the Kingdom of God to come with sudden triumphant violence, destroying the idolatrous empires oppressing Israel. By contrast, Jesus used several of his parables to explain how through his ministry the kingdom was coming slowly and invisibly. While I doubt The Chosen will do an episode of Jesus telling and explaining all the kingdom parables (nor should it), I think it would make a lot of sense to weave some of these parables into Season 3.
Judas gets the Moneybag: The Chosen needs to take its time in developing Judas. Season 2 did a good job of setting him up as a likable but sketchy character. In Season 3, the show needs to continue to unroll his character progression slowly. If he's too obvious of a villain from the start, his story won't be interesting and it'll make no sense why he doesn't get kicked out of the group. On the other hand, if he's too likable, it'll make it difficult for the show to make his fall believable. Judas also needs something to do. His business acumen demonstrated in the Season 2 finally makes it perfectly sensible for him to receive the business task of keeping the moneybag as a job. The show can then have Judas engage in some morally-grey use of the party funds for purposes that are sympathetic. Although we can forgive these actions right now, they'll set him on a downward trajectory.
The Themes of The Chosen Season 3
Based on the biblical sources that we've noted above, it seems like Season 3 of The Chosen should focus on a couple related themes:
The Kingdom of God: The Chosen hasn't really had Jesus talk too much about the Kingdom of God. Beginning in Season 3, this should increasingly become one of his central themes, as his successful Sermon on the Mount provides a basis for him to launch a wider movement.
The Slowness/Invisibility of the Kingdom: As we've noted, Jews expected the Kingdom of God to come quickly and triumphantly. Jesus will need to push against these expectations and help his followers understand the strange way that he is bringing God's reign to earth.
The Non-Violent, Sacrificial Kingdom: Another unexpected dimension of the kingdom of God that Jesus brings is that instead of being built up through the violent conquest of enemies, it is built through non-violent self-sacrifice. In contrast to the violence of Rome and the Zealots, Jesus will need to teach his followers to embrace the ways of peace and meekness. John himself will model this attitude in his death before Herod.
Sending/Multiplying: Up until this point, Jesus has been focused on a very small band of followers. As he begins proclaiming the kingdom of God, his relationship to the disciples will shift. Instead of simply teaching them, he'll be sending them to go teach others and bring the news of his reign to other towns that he can't all reach by himself.
So, what do you think? Am I missing any key events that you think should be included in Season 3 of The Chosen? Are there any other interesting themes that would be worth exploring? Please leave a comment below or reach out to me on Twitter!
An adaptation like The Chosen isn't meant to replace the Bible; it's meant to drive us deeper into the Bible and spiritual reflection. The 40 Days with Jesus series helps readers connect what they watch in The Chosen with the Gospel stories that they're based on and then engage in spiritual reflection.
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Contributing to The Bible Artist
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If you liked this post, you might want to check out some of my other posts on The Chosen and Bible adaptation. I have Bible studies/discussion guides for each episode of The Chosen Seasons 1-3, blogs exploring how The Chosen adapts key biblical figures, and articles exploring the controversial nature of adaptation. I hope you enjoy them!
The Chosen Season 3
Adapting Biblical Characters Series
Little James in The Chosen & Scripture ***Season 3***
Judas in The Chosen ***Season 3 Update***
Matthew in The Chosen ***Season 3 Update***
Simon and Andrew in The Chosen ***Season 3 Update***
Exploring The Chosen with Youth or Small Group [Discussion Guides]
Episode 1 Guide: Homecoming
Episode 2 Guide: Two by Two
Episode 3 Guide: Physician, Heal Thyself
Episode 4 Guide: Clean Part 1
Episode 5 Guide: Clean Part 2
Episode 6 Guide: Intensity in Tent City
Episode 7 Guide: ???
Episode 8 Guide: ???
Season 2 Reflection P1: What is The Chosen Season 2 about?
Season 2 Reflection P2: What was The Chosen Season 2 about? (Plots & Theme)
Episode 1 Guide: The Beloved Disciple
Episode 2 Guide: Philip, Nathanael, & Matthew
Episode 3 Guide: Life Among the Disciples of Jesus
Episode 4 Guide: Simon the Zealot & the Man at the Bethesda Pool
Episode 5 Guide: Mary's Demons & the Destiny of John the Baptist
Episode 6 Guide: Mercy and Not Sacrifice
Episode 7 Guide: Quintus Returns
Episode 8 Guide: Judas, Matthew, & the Sermon on the Mount
Episode 1 Guide: Mary Magdalene, Lilith, and the Redeemer
Episode 2 Guide: Mary Magdalene, Nicodemus, and Shabbat
Episode 3 Guide: Depicting Jesus in Art, Film, and TV
Episode 4 Guide: When Jesus Met Simon (Peter)
Episode 5 Guide: Mary, Mother of Jesus
Episode 6 Guide: Jesus, Shmuel, & the Pharisees
Episode 7 Guide: Did Nicodemus Follow Jesus?
Episode 8 Guide: The Woman at the Well, Eden, & Zohara