Charmed: Kappa Spirit

“It's hard to let go, but if you don't then ...”
“You end up a ghost with an axe to grind?”

A messy but highly entertaining episode, ‘Kappa Spirit’ taps into several great concepts, but fails to truly embrace any of them to their fullest extent.

There are a few wonderful plots at work this week, each with their own surprising outcome. Maggie’s attempts to make-up with Lucy; Mel’s pain over the loss of Niko from her life; Harry’s reluctance to leave the Vera home; the ghost hunting; and the rando trip to the 80’s. There’s a lot to like about what the writers attempt to do with each of these stories, but a split focus stops most of them from truly hitting home.

The bulk of the hour deals with the titular Kappa house, and Maggie’s desperation to make amends with Lucy after she came clean about kissing Lucy’s boyfriend Parker a few episodes back. This whole cheating plot is dull at best, but the decision to keep Parker at a distance while the girls worked through their own issues salvaged what I had already dismissed as banal writing.

As Maggie and Mel try their best to stop the ghost of a former Kappa sister from manipulating Lucy into hurting herself, they discover some surprising truths, ranging from the mystical to the personal. Firstly, Brenda the ghost is not a banshee, as the girls initially believed, but a revenant, intent on repeating the same version of her death over and over. The former head of Kappa, who was in charge when Brenda died, tells the girls about how badly Brenda treated her fellow sisters, and how the university covered up the many deaths that have occurred since Brenda herself fell from the roof of the sorority house.

This is the first part of the episode that suffers from limited screen time. We could easily have gotten a full hour of exploring Kappa and the damage that these repeating deaths have had on the sorority. The episode breezes over the cover-up of the deaths of the Kappa sisters, barely taking the time to address how these deaths would have affected the girls who were around for each of them.

In trying to save Lucy, Maggie comes to the realization that it’s she who is the real villain, and accepts her role in causing Lucy’s pain, ultimately destroying Brenda. I really liked how the writers tied the quest to destroy Brenda into Maggie’s attempts to reconcile with Lucy. It gave a mostly stupid storyline some much needed gravitas. Hopefully the series continues to do this going forward because it got me invested in something I was beyond caring about.

In other Kappa related news, there was a nice moment of acceptance on Mel’s part. Since the start of the series she’s been wholly dismissive of Maggie’s love for the Greek system, and her attempts to rush at Kappa. Since she’s fighting hard against the damaging effects that the Kappa party life is having on the safety of women on campus, she never saw the other side of Greek life that Maggie really loved; an accepting and friendly group of women who love and support each other... sort of.

Elsewhere, Macy investigates the mark she saw on Galvin last week, only to discover that it’s her own fault that it’s there. As it turns out, Macy has darkness in her, a darkness her mother was seemingly aware of when she was pregnant, as Mel and Maggie discover when they see her briefly during their time travel back to 80s Hilltowne. As with the death of the previous Kappas, the writers’ decision to bury this time travel plot in an already crowded episode prevents them from truly embracing what could have been a great opportunity to dive headfirst into the Vera matriarch’s past, and how much she means to each of the sisters. In any case, Macy tells her sisters about what she discovered, though Mel and Maggie don’t share Marisol’s concerns and dismiss the eldest sister’s worries out of love. I don’t think that’s a secret that will stay buried for long...

It’s hard to think of Macy as a person who could have a single dark bone in her body. She was the epitome of warmth and understanding when Harry revealed the loneliness of his life as a whitelighter, and how much he had grown to enjoy staying at the Vera home. He ends his already extended stay by the close of the episode, but the girls do their best to initiate him into their own “Vera-Vaughn” sisterhood. It was a sweet little moment, not just for him, but also for the sisters. We’ve seen very little of the girls as a unit over the last few episodes, so it was nice to see it come into play again.

Plus

Ellen Tamaki (Niko) is no longer credited as a series regular, which means she may not be coming back any time soon.

More elements buried due to too many plots; Mel’s attempts to grieve over Niko.

The psychic told Macy that the secret to who she is, was hidden in the “pillar of her past,” which was a strange key, hidden in a pillar on the Vera porch.

The shapeshifter from ‘Other Women’ stole a vial of Macy’s blood from the Hilltowne University lab.

He Said, She Said

Maggie: “I wasn't a loyal friend, and then I played the victim, like Brenda, because I felt excluded. I kept trying to get you to forgive me, when what you really needed was space, and I'm so sorry.”

Mel: “I'm sorry. I wasn't hearing how important Kappa was to you. And we all need lives outside of being a witch. And I guess I need to start rebuilding mine.”

There was an obvious enthusiasm in every element of this episode that gave it a serious spark. I’m willing to accept the faults in the execution if the writers continue to embrace what works and improve what doesn’t by avoiding the cliches and crafting surprising and affecting drama out of them.

6 out of 10 Kappa ghosts.

Originally posted at PandaTV.

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