Charmed: Keep Calm and Harry On

“So they're just going to leave Harry in Hell-catraz?”

One of my most common critiques of this series has been its inability to commit to a single narrative. It’s great that the writers are as ambitious as they are. It’s also wonderful that there are so many exciting ideas at play. But with such weak groundwork being laid out, the lofty heights that are so clearly being aimed for are just too far out of reach. This issue was evident as early as ‘Kappa Spirit’, and was a huge problem for me while watching ‘Keep Calm and Harry On’.

We start this hour with the Vera sisters in a state of flux following the events of the fall finale. Harry and Hunter have been banished to Tartarus, and the sisters’ attempts to get the Elders to act and help set Harry free aren’t bearing much fruit. Even Charity initially fends off their pretty strong arguments to free an innocent man from the depths of hell.

Charity was an interesting character throughout this episode. She’s initially hesitant to help the sisters, but after much convincing she gives up Harby (the Harbinger) so that the girls can use it to trade for Harry to free him from Tartarus. Though it’s been a while since we saw the theft in question happen, the penny finally dropped with Charity that Alistair mesmerised her and stole the real Harby from right under her nose. Perhaps it was guilt over this coupled with her initial refusal to help Harry that made her change her mind, and of course convinced her to sneak a look at Harry’s memories of his human life.

While he was trapped in Tartarus, our favourite Brit was faced with glimpses of the same memories that Charity saw in a lot more detail. Though most of what we see is fleeting, one memory stands out in particular; Harry had a son whom he lost, and he blamed himself for it. After his rescue, Charity reveals to him that his son is actually alive, and Harry did actually help to save his life. I wonder what age that would make him now?

I love that we’ve finally been given something tangible about Harry’s life, but what really annoys me is that there was a wealth of opportunity for the series to use this whole memory torture thing in a more extreme way, and really dive into Harry’s back story. Instead, we get drip fed bits of information about his past life, while our attention is diverted elsewhere, to events that are mostly a mixed bag.

The best sub plot here is one that I’ve been digging for a while; the Sarcana. We finally get a glimpse of the witch that Jada brought back from Tartarus, and she’s not in great shape. Mel seems to be buying into the Sarcana’s mission a little more than she seemed initially. She even goes so far as to give Jada more of the magical elixir the Sarcana have been using to restore the mystery witch to her former glory. I’m guessing it won’t be long before this witch is back at full power. I’m excited to see that happen, especially now that we know this witch is being played by Leah Pipes, one of my favourite cast members from The Originals. She looks suspiciously like Charity, doesn’t she?

A sub plot that was a bit hit and miss: Maggie’s attempts to get over Parker’s betrayal. I like Maggie a whole lot, and I think the idea of using magic to not feel any pain is a good one, but the push and pull of the other competing plot threads really hindered this one. This is especially noticeable in how Maggie’s powers tie into her emotions, and the spell to hold back her pain blocked her power of empathy; a pretty significant development that almost glossed over completely. Then there was the spell she managed to randomly concoct. She’s hit with the same memory torture as Harry, and the trauma of this somehow pushes her to think of a magical spell with her sisters on the spot. I’m not sure the mythology here is being well thought out; what the hell is this spell and how did the idea even occur to Maggie to use it?

In any case, it saved the girls from Alistair Cane’s attempts to kill them after he learns about Hunter being banished to Tartarus with Harry. I was initially excited about Craig Parker’s casting - he was kind of great in Reign - but he was pretty terrible this week; chewing scenery left and right. That dodgy CGI didn’t help matters either. I’m sure he’ll be back in the picture soon, so we’ll probably be treated to the same hammy performance in a few episodes time. Ugh.

Plus

The writers have gone back to trying to cram some not so funny gags down our throats; some of those Hell puns were dreadful.

I still don’t think Melonie Diaz is up to par with the rest of the cast. She seems to deliver a lot of dialogue with sarcasm, when it’s not meant to be sarcastic at all? Weird.

Jada and Mel kissed. I like this paring even if I don’t like Melonie Diaz.

Niko is back! She was spying on Mel at the bar when Mel locked lips with Jada. How did Niko end up returning to Hilltowne?

Galvin seems really into the whole magic thing now that he’s learned the truth. He’s still dull as mud, but I like that Macy has found someone who’s on her side and that she can be honest with. He even knows about her being a virgin and is being a gentleman about it, despite some initial hesitation.

He Said, She Said

Maggie: “Harry's in Hell-catraz because my freaking powers couldn't figure out my boyfriend was a demon.”
A hell pun that actually kind of worked.

Galvin: “You sent someone to Hell-jail? And Harry, who's your 'white person,' went with him?"
Macy: “Whitelighter. Although both are technically correct...”

I’ve stressed it already, but I really like the general ideas behind most of the stories in this series, but the execution is just still too choppy. We’re nearly half way through this debut season, and I feel like there’s a clunkiness that should have dissipated by now. I’m having a good time when I’m watching the parts I want to see, but otherwise I’m a little frustrated. One development that’s reeled me back in though; Mel and Maggie don’t share a father, Macy and Maggie do. What does this mean for the sisters?

5 out of 10 lock bad CGI demons.

Originally posted at PandaTV.

No comments: