Home Featured TV Shows All TV Shows Movie Reviews Book Reviews Articles Frequently Asked Questions About Us

Charmed: Season Three, Part One

"The destruction of the sisterhood is inevitable."

(This review covers the rebooted series Charmed episodes 3.01 through 3.03, and includes spoilers!)

For obvious reasons, Charmed’s second season was cut short. As such, these opening three episodes act as a default ending to season two’s story. There are a number of iffy workarounds, but the “would be” finale ‘Triage’ is a series highlight, and wraps up the strong second season on a high note, though it’s technically more of a jumping-off point for season three.

Opening episode ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ avoids standard premiere exposition in favour of picking up where we left off back in May last year. With Julien and Vivienne now aware of the Charmed Ones and their identities, the sisters are forced into hiding and have to put out all the magical stops to prevent magic from falling into the hands of the Faction. Macy’s relationship with Julien is naturally her “in” and she uses it to get through to him.

The first little COVID restriction is very evident in all of Julien’s scenes. Though the producers were clearly able to use pre-pandemic scenes in the first episode, all of Eric Balfour’s remaining scenes use a CGI likeness of the actor rather than the real thing, and a silly glamouring spell in ‘Someone’s Going to Die’ to avoid having to fake his appearance for too long. I’ll admit, Julien as a character wasn’t all that exciting, but having Peyton List play him made him a tad more fun. Regardless, when he’s killed by a power hungry Vivienne shortly after assisting Macy, I didn’t really feel much, and was kind of glad to see the back of that see-through CGI.

The final confrontation and subsequent death of Vivienne at the hands of the sisters is blown through way too quickly. I'm not sure if it was sped up as a result of COVID, or if this was always the plan, but it was a very anticlimactic end to a near season-long story. It was oddly reminiscent of Fiona and Charity’s incredibly rushed deaths near the close of the first season. That said, it seems the consequences of this quick fight are what's important, here.

Vivienne’s brush with the tree under SafeSpace causes a knock-on effect on the magical word, triggering its death, and the death of the entire magical world with it. Though it hit a bit too close to home to see several characters coughing and spluttering as a result of a global illness, this little twist was used incredibly well. As the sisters quickly locate the pieces of the necklace that contain the Source’s power to save magic, they each get a chance to reflect on aspects of their past, present and future.

For Maggie, it’s a trip down memory lane as she revisits Kappa. For Macy it's her current feelings for Harry that come to the forefront, with whom she spends what could potentially be her last night alive. Finally, Mel gets a taste of her future, or lack thereof, as she travels forward in time to find the necklace shard she hid and finds her own grave. It’s here we start to understand the meaning behind the sacrifice required to save magic.

The destruction of the sisterhood was very prevalent in the latter half of season two, and here it’s worked into the story beautifully. Mel may have thought it was her life that was needed to save the magical community, but in actual fact it's the sisters’ willingness to put all of their lives on the line together that turns the tide. The destruction of the sisterhood still remains a threat, but after constantly worrying that they would need to lose one of their own, here they prove that they can maintain the strong bond necessary to harness the Power of Three.

Potions and Notions

Abigael reveals the existence of her sister, and recruits Jordan to find her and retrieve something she needs. That something is a weird totem that seemingly gives her a demonic reflection amongst other things.

More COVID workarounds: Kate Burton appears as Elder Celeste via video chat. I didn’t mind this one all that much, we’ve already seen it used in worse places in the interests of product placement.

Ruby is still helping Mel out, though she is still standing firm on her decision to stay away from magic herself.

Harry finally kills Jimmy when he gets the opportunity to do so while magic is down. It’s an odd way to end what could have led to an interesting story had they decided to merge with one another.

Spells and Chants

Macy: "Wouldn't it be nice if magic was the answer to all our problems?"

Abigael: "You'd sacrifice your life for your sisters? They're lucky to have you."
Mel: "I'm lucky to have them."

‘Triage’ closes with an odd development that seemingly has the sisters unable to come close to one another. Whether or not this is a COVID-dodging trick remains to be seen, but I’m on board either way if it's used right. I hope that this third season also manages to tell a worthwhile story, but I'm more confident in this series now that its managed to make up for a weak finish to its debut season.

8 out of 10 Source necklaces.

3 comments:

Nic said...

Nice review and you hit all the points. I thought that Viv and Julian’s story felt rushed at the end but I suppose they were never compelling enough to warrant more time. Still, their parts in the 2nd season feel a bit superfluous now. And I totally agree that just killing off Jimmy like that was an odd way to go with that storyline. I really hope he’s not completely dead and makes a return later on. For my money, the darklighter storyline and Jimmy specifically was the most interesting thing they did in the whole show (counting both seasons). So much rich mythology and psychology that could have been mined from that. Instead of being a side villain at the end, Jimmy should have been the overarching villain (Viv&Julian’s screentime should have been given to him, maybe even Abigael’s). He was far more interesting and developed than any of the villains they’ve had. He’s also a someone who is intimately connected to the main four and whether he merged with Harry or not, there were many more interesting things they could have done with him.

Still, all that said and despite the shaky execution on some storylines, I thought season 2 (counting the 1st 3 eps of s3 that should have been in s2) was a big improvement over season 1. I admire the higher ambition of the second season even if the writing didn’t quite match it at times. Harry’s bigger role, imo, served the story well. Rupert Evans is a capable actor and relegating him to a walking exposition machine in season 1 was one of the worst things about that season. I hope they continue to take advantage of his talents in s3 and give him an interesting storyline.

If there’s one thing I’d dock season 2 for, it’s that there wasn’t as much team moments between the four of them. It’s the one thing season 1 has over it. But it seems like season 3 is correcting that, which is impressive given the ban on physical contact between them. Like you, I think that twist as a response to covid is quite clever and I really like it. Season 3 is also diving back into their “mortal” lives which I also like. Gives the magical hooha room to breathe and gives Mel and Maggie meaty storylines. With the preview for next week, I’m really curious what storyline they’re giving Macy.

Anyway, I look forward to reading more of your reviews. Such a shame very few people are covering this show. Can’t blame people for dropping it after the lacklustre 1st season, I suppose.

TJ said...

I'm still watching, and I like the way the storytelling is going...sometimes.

Still, my biggest disappointment with this show is the three sisters. They simply are not good actresses. Macy is ok-ish, but Mel? No. And Meg is just hopeless.

But I am still drawn to this series, so for now, I will keep tuning in...

Panda said...

@Nic, agreed on all points and especially Harry's increased role. Certainly a big improvement overall, despite some shakiness as you mentioned.


@TJ, I actually think the girls have grown massively into their roles at this point. Sarah is so damn likeable, and Madeleine Mantock as become such a confident performer. They aren't the tour de force that were the OG Doherty/Combs/Milano trio, but by CW standards they are a nice little group.