This Charmed review contains spoilers.
Charmed Season 2 Episode 19
I— where to begin first, let’s summarize this season.
1. The Charmed Ones lose their powers, and the Book of Shadows, they’re presumed dead, and Vera Manor magically moves from Hilltowne, MI to Seattle. They take refuge in a former Elders safehold that happens to be under a co-op space called, shockingly, SafeSpace Seattle.
2. All of the Elders and Whitelighters, save for Harry and a few outliers, were wiped out, making it extra hard for the Charmed Ones to regain their powers.
3. We meet and spend time with several characters, some of which were entirely superfluous and either wasted or overused.
Most notably, Kat, the queer, ambiguously magical medium, who fell for and helped Mel, then disappeared never to mentioned again, except for that one time Jordan comments on her store being open again. (Wasted) Abigail, who is ever-present until the penultimate episode, where she saunters away having accomplished nothing and mostly occupying the exact same space when we last see her as when we first meet her. (Overused) Jordan, the cute guy who turns out to be a descendant of a witch hunter, who wants to make amends for his family’s past by helping witches, the Charmed Ones especially. (TBD) Jimmy —a.k.a. Not-Harry, then Dark Harry— Harry’s Darklighter who worked for the unnamed-for-the-majority-of-the-season Faction, led by latecomer Julian Shea, billionaire, scientist, sad boy? And his aunt Vivian, billionaire, businesswoman, destroyer of magic.
We also meet Ruby, who Mel gets with after finally deciding to have a life, and that I only mention because she ends up being A. a witch B. useful, (all in this episode) as Mel’s love interests tend to be. There are others, including Godric (demon, wasted) and Parker (demon, why?) who round out the list of perfectly unnecessary additions to the story, and soft antagonists that rarely actually presented a challenge, but did just enough to keep the girls on their toes until they could face the real big bad which… THEY DON’T EVEN DO IN THIS FINALE!
Note: production of the season was suspended due to COVID-19, so this wasn’t meant to be the finale proper which I forgot about while watching the episode, and while writing this.
Let’s talk about how this show got me f’d up.
First of all, stripping Charmed of some fundamental things that connected it to the original, then replacing those things with… The same things with different names, was A CHOICE. I get wanting to forge a new identity for this iteration of the show but y’all should’ve thought about that before trying to profit off of the name recognition. The Book of Elders is the Book of Shadows in Latin, and the Power of Three might’ve been upgraded with some extra lightning effects, but it’s the same thing.
We could’ve skipped the seven or so existential crises each sister had to go through to self-actualize and regain their power, and spend more time instead, building a new canon that doesn’t rely on the original and gives this show it’s own foundation to build future seasons on. But nah, let’s just have the Charmed Ones use potions instead of spells to succeed against literally everything we throw at them while they’re “powerless” only for them to come out with larger powersets, and no enemies equal to that power.
In the previous episode, Maggie, Mel, and Ray call themselves infiltrating the Faction, but when the facility goes on lockdown, they portal out, in front of Julian, exposing themselves and bringing Julian to the realization that his boo is magical. Macy and Harry finally — FINALLY! — act on their mutual feelings for one another, which took too long, frankly. Maggie has panic attacks because of her unresolved issues with her dad, and when she finally goes off, the emotional surge unlocks some new facet of her power.
In earlier reviews, I wondered whether Julian’s feelings for Macy would make him hesitate to act, once he knew the truth about her, and they do… for a time. He resists seeking her out, hoping to find his way to the sacred tree and the black amber on his own. But when his aunt Vivian reveals his two-plus-decades comatose sister is responsive after being dosed with black amber, he resolves to find Macy. This is where the episode leaves it, and we’re supposed to wait til next season for this story to resolve. Yikes.
Harry and Elder Celeste go back to where he was made, to find the “skeleton key” that can put Jimmy back in his cage. She warns Harry against having a relationship with Macy, something he says he can handle. But later when Macy gets hurt, Harry forgets what little sense he has and goes to her aid, dropping the ball on protecting the whole team for a minute, and almost costing them the win. Things work out, and Jimmy is secured, but Celeste’s point is made. Harry tells Macy they can’t be together, then asks Maggie to use her newly acquired power (to alter emotions) to… I assume, change his feelings towards Macy. Double yikes.
We get exactly one thing we may or may not have wanted this season — Harry and Macy together— and that lasts all of two minutes. Julian and Vivian discuss things. The Charmed Ones ask Mel’s lady love for help to get into SafeSpace so they can protect the tree… or something. Frankly, nothing that happens feels important, and this was a poor episode to have to end on.
I gave Charmed a lot of flack this season, because it didn’t do much a lot of the time, but I also gave it the benefit of the doubt, because I really wanted to like it. Charmed should be good. There’s magic! There are witches, of color, in what is effectively present-day United States. Macy is a Black woman scientist, which is the more compelling of her identities. Mel’s entire academic and professional career changed when she altered her past with Nico, which is ripe with storytelling possibility. There is so much to build good stories, but most of it is lost to the identity crisis, and nothing better is put in its place.
The first season was fine, and its flaws could be forgiven, because it was finding its footing. This season should have built on that instead of literally burning it to the ground, but it failed to do so, and it failed to deliver something better. Maybe the planned finale was great, but we can’t know until they pick up the story next season. The next season might be good, but I doubt I’ll be around to find out. I really could go on about all the ways this episode —and ultimately this season— disappoints, but I’m going to summarize my thoughts with a TL;DR:
Charmed doesn’t have the range.