Charmed Season 1 Episode 3 – TV Review
Maggie and Macy better watch out, or our house lesbian is going to steal the fashion game.
Even her Halloween costume this episode is the only sexy one.
Yes, it’s a Halloween episode.
TL;DR The girls take on the Harbinger of Hell; Mel struggles with wanting to act recklessly; Maggie uses magic for personal gain when trying to impress the sorority; Macy conquers her trepidation with macking on her flirty colleague.
The power of three… subplots each episode.
So the major thrust of the episode is the seeking out of the Harbinger of Hell’s vessel. Macy bakes some sugar cookies that should react with the demon’s sulphur to identify them, and the girls set out to distribute them. The demon manages to stay undetected inside no-longer-comatose #MeToo victim Angela, while the subplots percolate. For Mel, this involves her wanting to use her powers without earning the necessary discipline via Harry’s training. Harry warns and chastises her, but Mel refuses to listen. Meanwhile, Maggie gets an opportunity to host the sorority’s Halloween party, and finds a glamour spell to make her costume and the house look totally fabulous. She also gets some love interest action from some nice, new boy. Meanwhile, Macy has trouble spitting out her feelings for her flirty colleague. Everyone converges at the Halloween party, where Angela promptly attacks. Maggie’s malfunctioning glamours impede her ability to fight, and then despite Harry’s warnings, Mel unleashes an attack above her skill-level, badly injuring Macy. She is, thankfully, fine, but Mel realises she needs to stop being such a dickhead. And with the glamours worn off, Maggie gets out of her sorority situation surprisingly unscathed, but is dismayed to discover the boy who’s been chasing her all episode is, gasp, Natalie Hall’s boyfriend. Macy, though, does end up mashing face with Flirty Colleague. So the night wasn’t a total loss. The episode ends as the Charmed Ones tie up Angela to await further instruction from the Whitelighter Elders.
So Angela is bucking the monster-of-the-week trend. It’s now monster-of-two-to-three-weeks.
This episode feels much steadier on its feet than last week. And I think the simple reason for that is it made a choice about whether it would be campy or serious.
Was campy the right choice for the episode? Certainly.
Do I believe Charmed will have the conviction to commit to that choice and not be tempted back to the grim side? Not yet.
Why I hate this episode:
I really don’t have a lot to whinge about this week. So Charmed can pat itself on the back for placating me so early in its run.
I still have a few minor niggles, though. Macy continues to be the weakest link of the sisters. Her “but what about science!?” thing is getting real old, real fast. We get it. And Charmed takes this a bit further by filling in some backstory about how she was one of two non-white girls at her school so she chose to be smart and serious to escape judgement from the whites. I don’t mind my CW politics being super anvilicious (again, I live for Supergirl), but when this really only existed to give Macy an excuse to put on a sexy outfit to impress her love interest, I don’t know, man.
Also, Macy’s original party costume was Ruth Bader Ginsburg. So although her sexy Persephone was very nice, I’m kind of mad that they disrespected RBG like that. It’s a Ginsburn, but not a fun one.
Oh, and Harry gets ripped off in the costume department, as he only gets to put on some nebulous face mask while acting as a waiter at the party. Rude.
But it’s not all bad:
There are some otherwise delicious costumes, though. Mel get top marks for being the only Charmed one to go for typical Halloween slutty, dressing as a sexy witch. Maggie has some pretty butterfly princess getup; Macy looks very yummy as Persephone; Flirty Colleague is James Bond as played by Idris Elba (yes, bitch); and Natalie Hall outdoes everyone as a zombified pageant contestant with a sash that reads “The Patriarchy is Dead.” See? I told you I like heavy-handed political commentary.
Mel gets the best subplot of the episode, as her struggle against Harry’s instructions leads to some fun banter. Things aren’t completely light and airy, though, as Mel eventually reveals to him that the reason she’s resisting hiding her powers so much is because it feels like she’s being shoved into the closet. We get confirmation that she is gay, and not bi, and explains how her mum never made her ashamed of her sexuality, so why should she be ashamed of her powers? It’s a little bit X-Men, and I like it.
Her lesson about not rushing into using too-powerful magic is also welcome at such an early stage in the show. Hopefully that’ll save us from having to endure that kind of thing when the battles have higher stakes.
Maggie also learns a valuable lesson about the perils of magic, specifically when using it for personal gain (another cornerstone of the original series). I think my favourite part about this subplot is when she returns to the party after everything’s worn off, and Natalie Hall thinks the changes were planned as some sort of Cinderella theme, and she’s impressed by it. Cute.
I audibly gasped when new love interest Parker sidled up to Natalie Hall to be introduced as her boyfriend. It’s one of the oldest tricks in the soap opera book, but that’s because it works.
Angela as possessed by the Harbinger goes full camp and never once comes off too menacing. Highlights include when she rolls her eyes while hugging Mel, and turning up to the party once the demon has totally dessicated her body and being mistaken as wearing a costume. I lol’d.
The Harbinger needs to feed on the blood of virgins, and is seen murdering a woman-hating podcaster (later clocked as an incel by Mel. Topical), and a puritanical, anti-party girl. They’re an equal opportunity murderer.
During the final showdown, Macy reveals that she is a virgin, and they use her as bait to lure it out. Bold move.
After the battle, Harry tells Mel that she reminds him of a previous witch he mentored who entrusted her witchy secret to the wrong person, and ended up institutionalised and committed suicide as a result. I’d like to hear more.
Oh, and thank God that Natalie Hall is sticking around. The CW really did owe her after Star-Crossed. Remember that fucking garbage?