Charmed Season 1 Episode 2 – TV Review
Was it a mistake for Charmed to falsely resurrect Valerie Cruz in only the second episode merely to be used for a tame, monster-of-the-week?
TL;DR Valerie Cruz is already dredged back up to stand in for a shapeshifting monster-of-the-week; a different monster is also on the loose (what is it with each episode having two discrete demons?); the girls argue over whether or not to trust Harry, but it turns out okay.
An Evil Brit he is not.
So yeah, after dispatching her cruelly early, Charmed decides to bring back Valerie Cruz right away, as the girls think she is talking to them through the Ouija board. Macy remains skeptical, but Mel gets hardcore on the “let’s bring mum back to life” train, managing to convince Maggie, and pitting the two sisters against outsider Macy. Macy does, however, remain skeptical of Harry, too, and via the Book of Shadows, a plan is put in place to use a truth serum on him. Things get sitcom-y, though, when Mel’s girlfriend takes the spiked tea by accident, leading to awkward but endearing confessions of love. Maggie also faces her own personal predicament when her empathic and telepathic abilities make it impossible for her to enjoy sex with her boyfriend. Things culminate when the Ouija board metamorphoses into Valerie Cruz, who fights against Harry. She claims Harry wants to kill the Charmed Ones and steal their powers, so she sets them off to find a magical artifact to use against him. But shocker, Harry says this artifact will actually sap the Charmed Ones’ powers to transfer to the Ouija demon. In the end, Maggie realises that Valerie is a fake because she can’t get a reading from her, and Harry is proven to be correct. They vanquish the demon and make amends with Harry, while also concluding their subplots with their respective love interests (Mel reconciles with her girlfriend; Maggie dumps her boyfriend; and Macy apologises to her colleague she flirts with because they had a minor disagreement earlier). Meanwhile, the episode begins with a goo monster breaking out of the lab where the ice demon was fought last episode. Macy, after the suspicions are lifted, shows a sample of it to Harry, who reveals it is the Harbinger of Hell, an agent of the apocalyptic prophecy. The episode ends as Harry tells them it will be seeking a human host, and we see it apparently choose a comatose assault victim who was mentioned briefly last episode.
She’s also briefly in this episode when the sorority sisters visit her, so unclutch your pearls, Natalie Hall is still in the show.
Charmed remains unsure of its identity. This episode leans away from the upfront political aspirations of the pilot, and settles instead for a fun, monster-of-the-week romp. Which feels in line with the original series.
But Supergirl has shown us (although, not always successfully) that you can do both. So I am still left to wonder what Charmed wants?
Why I hate this episode:
It clearly doesn’t want to do right by Valerie Cruz, wasting her return not only to life in-universe, but also to the show, on this unambitious Ouija board demon. Bringing the girls’ mum back from the dead should have been saved for later in the season.
The tonal clash between the sitcom elements and then the “oh by the way a demon with Hell in its name is on the loose and lets not forget about that apocalypse” at the end of the episode continues to make me worry about where Charmed will go. In a world filled with grim, self-serious, serialised television, I’d like to think Charmed could be brave enough to crap it up with silly weekly adventures. But that’s a tough ask.
I’m surprised Mel is the one to lead the charge in believing the Ouija board is Valerie. The militant lesbian shouldn’t also be the sappy one. Don’t you know your stereotypes, show? Gosh.
I question how smart the girls truly are. Because they all fell for that mirror world trap pathetically easily.
Maggie can pretend all she likes that her power isn’t useless, but bitch I’d trade it for time-stopping or telekinesis any day.
Oh, and the mirror portal effects are fucking garbage.
But it’s not all bad:
But gurl, I am a garbage person, and I literally guffawed at that scene. It was absolutely terrible, and I absolutely loved it. Let’s get cheap and wacky in here.
On that note, everything to do with the truth serum was so much fun. From the Book of Shadows presenting the page when they needed it, to the super obvious mistaken switcheroo of the thermoses, and then to Mel’s girlfriend’s torrent of confessions. Alongside that, we’ve got Macy trying to get the truth out of Harry after she thinks he’s had the truth serum, and then realising what’s happened. There was nothing about this I would have changed. Well done, show.
The girls’ rift wasn’t handled quite as well, but I did appreciate that Macy pointed out how she is essentially an outsider to Mel and Maggie. Because it’s true.
The episode manages to give each sister an equal share of focus, but Maggie’s time is spent a bit better, as she comes to terms with the pros and cons of her powers. The scene of her having sex with her boyfriend was awkward and also kind of lovely, as he moves between obvious horny dumb sex thoughts, to thinking of unsexy things to try and last longer, and then eventually thinking about how much he loves her and doesn’t want to lose her. Maggie’s later choice to dump him for his own good was consequently mature and believable, which is not something you always get in a CW show, you know?
Mel’s situation with her girlfriend is less nuanced, but I did appreciate the decision she makes to accept their relationship isn’t completely perfect.
Macy’s preference for science has featured heavily in both episodes thus far, so I am worried it could become grating. But hey, it’s what she’s good at.
The goo monster is requisitely goofy, and its breakout scene is overlaid with way too many stock sound effects. I liked it.
Natalie Hall is back as Maggie’s sorority bitch frenemy. Here’s to more.
Harry does his flustered, charming Brit thing.
Oh, and the fashion has stepped up its game. Macy is still a stick in the mud, but Mel gets a kind of Sporty Spice getup to stomp around in. And Maggie gives us hopefully a taste of what’s to come with her Parisian, turtle-necked, shoulder-padded blouse with black leather (vinyl?) skirt fantasy.