Carmen Sandiego Season 2 offers audiences a playful and adventurous series sure to entertain both young and mature viewers. Season 2 invites audiences to discover how Carmen Sandiego came to be the fedora-wearing vigilante.
This review of Carmen Sandiego Season 2 is spoiler-free. You can check out our thoughts on the previous season by clicking these words, and if you need a catch-up, you can check out a spoilerific recap of that entire season by clicking these ones.
January 2019 marked the introduction to Netflix’s own take on the cult favourite character Carmen Sandiego. Based on the game ‘Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?’ a well-loved American educational video game for kids. Since the character’s debut in 1985 Carmen Sandiego has been reborn countless times through games, books, TV shows and now a Netflix Original. The first season was met in kind from fans and critics alike scoring a well-deserved critic score of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. The art direction and mature script offered fun and education to children, whilst providing beauty and subtle depth for older audiences. Carmen Sandiego Season 2 is no different as we return back to Carmen’s world with characters we have come to love and those we will revel in getting to know.
Carmen Sandiego Season 2 is joyful, colourful and notably sophisticated, as expected the target audience is children but this cartoon offers all ages something to behold. Children will be shown topics of morality and integrity whilst being exposed to countries and cultures they may not have heard of. Alternatively, a more mature audience will appreciate the style and nuances that rear for politics, industry and human sensibilities. In regards to style, Carmen Sandiego has it in abundance, being a great example of how children’s animation has matured and evolved to suit a wider audience. Most notably the show uses a rich palette of colour flourished with a combination of soft texture and sharp contours to demonstrate the perfect balance of light-hearted entertainment and gripping action.
As with its previous season, Carmen Sandiego Season 2 has Carmen (Gina Rodriguez), and her side-kicks Ivy (Abby Trott) and Zack (Michael Hawley) hop from country to country to try and foil the evil plans of V.I.L.E. The V.I.L.E institute is out once again to corrupt and meddle in the world’s affairs for their own profit and gain, but this time around V.I.L.E will not be defeated so easily with new tricks up their sleeves. Our heroes come against all-new villains and crooks, including brand new cadets of V.I.L.E, a formidable unit trained to not only steal irreplaceable treasures but to also bring down Carmen Sandiego once and for all. Player (Finn Wolfhard) also returns to his role as the voice of reason as he remotely assists the frantic trio on their adventure to restore peace to the far corners of the world.
Season 1 was often criticised for its failure to represent different countries and their culture authentically. Instead Carmen Sandiego settled to use each location as an exotic background for daring escapades rather than offering much in the way of education. Carmen Sandiego Season 2 doesn’t seem to fare much differently, although it should be noted that native languages and characters feature more frequently, although not exactly in abundance. This being so, the show seems to have taken a more relaxed stance in terms of its original franchise focus on education. Travel and culture act merely as a nod to the world of Carmen Sandiego and its educational roots rather than being its headlining feature in the Netflix adaptation. Instead the series entertains through chaotic adventure and slick action, captivating audiences with 3-dimensional characters and a well-written script.
Carmen Sandeigo will answer and also raise a few questions audiences may have, as this season we learn more about our favourite character’s driving forces and motivations. Audiences will discover the history of Carmen’s rescuer and teacher Shadow-San (Paul Nakauchi), the man who found Sandiego (then known as Black Sheep) as a baby. Zack and Ivy also play centre stage one episode as the series explores how the Boston-twin duo met Carmen and became her fiercely loyal companions of adventure. Fans of the show will also be happy to hear that Detective Chase (Rafeal Petardi) returns to his impulsive and dramatic self as he ignores all of his sensibilities in order to pursue Carmen alongside ever pragmatic partner Argent (Charlet Chung). On the other hand audiences may be disappointed to know the mystery surrounding V.I.L.E agent Gray (Michael Goldsmith) is hardly graced and questions in regards to what happened to him remain unanswered.
Overall Carmen Sandeigo Season 2 is a welcome return delivering fun, action and daring capers for audiences of all ages. The glossy standard of animation is unforgettable in style, and the new season offers more than enough backstory to keep audiences hooked whilst also encouraging reflection and theory. The characters we have already come to adore become even more endearing after learning about their tantalising origins and emotional history. Although more could be done to include culture and education, the series is relatively strong and enjoyable, and there certainly seems to be room for further seasons as we unravel the ever enigmatic Carmen Sandiego.
Kelly has been a film critic for Ready Steady Cut since 2018. Kelly gained a BSc in Film Production and Technology leading to her most notable credit for the production designer for a short film screened as part of the London Film Festival line up.