Charmed: Season Two (Part 3)

“Fear can't define us. Time to take the power back.”

[Episodes 2.15-19]

It’s hard to truly judge the final run of Charmed’s second season, given that it’s essentially a story cut-off mid-stream due to outside forces. There’s no big climax, no closure and no real pay-off. Looking at it as a standard mid-season cohort of episodes, it’s obviously a whole lot better.

While we don’t get any form of ending to the longer running arcs of the season, certain aspects do come to fruition, namely the sisters recapturing the Power of Three and getting back to full power. I mentioned in my previous review how much I liked the idea of the Power of Three being a potentially lethal force, if wielded incorrectly. That aspect is not lost as the sisters try their damnedest here to reclaim that power. With the help of Elder Celeste (the surprisingly well cast Kate Burton), the girls have to face their own individual fears in order to get it back. The episode in question, ‘Third Times the Charm’, is a season highlight. It hangs off Burton’s star power, and cleverly structures the story around each of the Veras’ unique circumstances (even incorporating Abigael into Macy’s), whilst still bringing it full circle with a great group moment near the close of the hour.

The Power of Three itself didn’t appear to be a whole lot of use after the fact, though, as these episodes reveal many of the remaining pieces of the mystery surrounding the group of humans attempting to bastardise and destroy the magical world, and the sisters’ inability to fight them. Julian Shea is at the center of it all, with the 18th episode unveiling his own role in those efforts. Naturally he’s a bit torn about it all after learning who Macy really is, so the writers infuse his story with more motivation to go against the Charmed Ones. Whether or not he goes all in and attempts to use magic to help bring his comatose sister back is unclear by the time the season is unceremoniously halted, but his struggles to do so are sure to be of huge importance when the series returns. As is his memory of Whitelighters coming to the rescue of the witch who was involved in the accident that nearly killed him and his family.

Other character arcs remain largely unfinished as well, though they are peppered with a lot of wonderful moments to tide us over until the third season kicks off. A personal favourite is Maggie’s discovery of her new ability to manipulate the emotions of those around her, just as she struggles with the newly strengthened bond Mel now shares with their father. The fact that Maggie isn’t Ray’s biological daughter isn't something the series leans into very often, but when it does so in ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’, it’s with a lot of heart and surprising earnestness. On top of that, Maggie finally giving Parker the emotional boot in ‘The Enemy of my Frenemy’ is beyond satisfying, and pretty much cements her as my favourite of the central trio. Parker’s survival is an annoying turn of events, but it does look like he’s out of the picture for the foreseeable future, which is a massive relief.

I do have to be thankful that he played a role in the introduction of the better part of the Caine family. Abigael isn’t featured much in these five episodes, though she does share some intriguing moments with Mel in ‘Search Party’, as she’s taken off her proverbial high horse having been usurped as the leader of the demon world. I still stand by my assertion in my last review that she’s relegated to a plot device far too often, but when she’s given the chance to show more layers, like she did here, I’m drawn in immediately.

Macy’s tug of war with Abigael comes to pause here, as she finally gets to tell Harry how she really feels. Their big moment is delayed after Harry’s struck by a bout of amnesia (because, naturally), but they get there in the end. Now their problems look to be more of the moral kind, as Harry starts to doubt his ability to act as the sisters’ whitelighter while he’s in love with one of them. It’s a play straight out of the OG handbook, but it felt inevitable. I’m curious to see if this version of Charmed can make more of these struggles than the original did.

Potions and Notions

Macy’s father is re-cast (now played by Buffy alum, Leonard Roberts) and features heavily in an episode that reveals Macy had sort-of met her mother Marisol before she arrived in Hilltowne in the pilot. Seeing the Vera matriarch again is more enjoyable than I thought it would be. She was such a recurring force in the first season, and she’s been so sporadically featured in season two that you’d forget that fact.

Ruby, Mel’s new love interest, is revealed to be a retired witch. I was surprisingly taken off-guard with that twist, and I enjoyed how the writers deal with her decision to retire from magic, and her decision to eventually leave Mel given how involved the Charmed One still is with her witchly duties.

Spells and Chants

Marisol: “When women like you and I lash out, there is no second chance. And I know it's unfair, but as more powerful women rise up in the world, things'll change for the better.”

Ray: “The reason why I never told you the truth about not being your biological father was because it never really mattered to me. From the day you were born, you were my daughter. And to admit otherwise would have been a little too painful, because the truth is, see, the truth is... I love you too damn much.”

I’m kind of frustrated that I’m not closing this review with a sound bite on how well this season tells a cohesive story, especially given how largely messy the first season was, but I do stand firm in my opinion that all 19 episodes are a step in the right direction. When the first season ended I remember being pensive about how well this new iteration could take advantage of a whole new direction, but it's really proven my fears to be mostly unfounded. The show is striking a nice balance of subtly honouring what came before it, while really setting itself free from the constraints of having to abide by a rulebook that isn't its own. It's still an imperfect show, but its imperfections are now separate to its obligations to live up to the Charmed legacy which, as a fan of both iterations, is a very good thing.

7 out of 10 black marbles.

1 comment:

TJ said...

I have enjoyed Charmed's second season. Much better than the first season where they stuffed in every storyline original Charmed had.

I like the new 'magical' center. It gives this version of Charmed a more unique identity over its predecessor.