Note: This post contains SPOILERS for the whole first season of Luna Nera.
The best way to view Luna Nera, I found after watching all six episodes, is to look at it through the lens of a villain origin story. There's very little information about Luna Nera that I've come across as of this writing, so I have no idea if Ade as a villain will happen should there be a second season, or if it even was the plan all along. For now, however, even with a script that at times could be clunky, and a less than stellar performance by the lead (Nina Fotaras), the first season as Ade as an heir to the Furious works.
What do we know about Ade so far? She was a girl with a good heart, whose world was shattered at the murder of her grandmother (whom she later found out was actually her mother, made to look older by a spell). She was determined to protect her younger brother, who was actually her younger sister, glamoured to look like a boy for her protection. Ade used her power to help find other witches. Ade emphatised with these women; she knew that she could have been one of these hounded, tortured witches, had she not found her way to Tebe's coven. As time went by, anger continued to grow within Ade.
The sole light of Ade's life was the love of Pietro. Yet even their love was sullied by the dangerous times they lived in. Ade had a premonition of Pietro's beloved mother dying. Pietro had been certain that his treatment was working, his mother was getting better, so her sudden death was a shock to him, a turn of events his devotion to science could not explain. Ade and Pietro's love may have had a chance had Ade not killed Pietro's father Sante in front of him (she did it to save Valente).
From the moment Sante died, Pietro closed his heart to the woman he once asked to be his wife. He stepped up as the new leader of the Benandanti.
It is not easy to assess just how Ade felt when she learned that she was not the chosen one. The chosen one was Valente, who had been rechristened as Luxor. Ade fled from her coven because she did not feel she was like them, bathed in light and certain of their purpose. Did she resent finding out that she was not the special, powerful one, or was she merely deeply upset at the lies her mother forced her to live with for most of her life? I tend to lean toward the latter, though I cannot discount the former. Ade risked her life begging for food for the sick Valente after their mother/ grandmother was arrested. How painful would it have been for Ade to learn that all her sacrifices had been for a sibling she never saw for who she truly was until now? Still, Ade had a home with the coven when they all thought she was the chosen one. She felt she had a purpose there. Finding out that she was not the chosen one may have unmoored her.
It is worth noting that it is only after finding out that Valente/ Luxor was the chosen one that Ade accessed powers beyond her premonitions and hearing voices. Ade banished the ghost of her mother, along with the voices that followed her as she ran. Immediately after that, her eyes turned black, similar to the eyes of Marzio Oreggi, the heir to the Furious on earth and possibly Ade's father.
Thinking of Luna Nera as a villain origin story makes me excited for a second season. Now that Ade has accessed more of her powers, what will she do with them, with all that anger within her? What will happen when former lovers Pietro and Ade face each other? Will Ade find herself against Tebe's coven, and her own sister? Will there be an eventual redemption arc? Will we get to see the army of the dead alluded to in the first episode?
So, yes, I did not find it easy to get into Luna Nera at first, but now I want to see more. There is much to like about Luna Nera, and it ended with a promise of more compelling storylines. I just hope that Netflix gives the show a chance to complete the story it wants to tell.
■ It was a little funny that the one time I saw chemistry between Pietro and Ade was when they danced, when they both had masks on.
■ I mentioned how much I liked the Pietro as a man of science angle when I wrote about 'Omen', the first episode. Well, nothing came of that.
■ Who is the actor who played Leptis? She's awesome! She and Tebe (Manuela Mandracchia) are my favourite actors in this first season.
■■■ Update: I think Leptis is portrayed by Lucrezia Guidone.
■ There were plenty of scenes in Luna Nera that demonstrated how important it is to have female voices in entertainment. Just to highlight a couple of them:
■■■ When members of the Benandanti, including Sante, witnessed Marzio Oreggi (now a cardinal) performing magic, they did not blink. If the Benandanti were against magic, against humans exercising inexplicable power, they would have turned against Marzio. The scene emphasised that what the Benandanti were truly against was not power, but women with power. Magic did not frighten them, women with magic did.
■■■ When Pietro stepped up as the new leader of the Benandanti, it was universally supported. When he tapped Spirto as his right hand, only Cesaria objected. Spirto was just beaten for betraying the Benandanti. Pietro was, until recently, against everything the Benandanti stood for. Cesaria had been loyal to the Benandanti for years. Yet, at that pivotal moment, Cesaria's voice was ignored whilst Pietro was celebrated, and Spirto accepted. Years of devotion to the cause mattered less than simply being male. This is a scenario familiar to many women, especially working women.