Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Witches of East End, Season 1, Episode 10: Oh What a World.

We pick up, alas, where we left off – with Killian professing his love for Freya. She kicks him out, repeating that she has made her choice.

Wendy, in cat form, goes into the mansion to check the wall of silver poison goo. She returns to Joanna and Victor to report that there’s now Argentium leaking through the portal and they all conclude someone is definitely trying to open it. Or trying to get a poison that would actually kill the immortal Joanna. Victor suspects the Gardiners but Joanna and Wendy have tested Penelope and Dash and they’ve come up mortal – and Victor is staying around to help.

And Mike still wants Ingrid to open the door to Asgard since she’s the key. She says no and no and no and no and he finally appeals to her desire to know where she came from.

Cut to Penelope to remind us all that she’s evil (the show does worry so about us forgetting) creating a potion full of crows.

It’s the wedding day, and everyone wakes up with different levels of angst and hope (Victor and Joanna in the same bed). Joanna accidentally rips Freya’s veil (bad omen! Declared by Freya and Wendy). And it’s raining (bad omen! Declared by Wendy). And dead crows (that’s definitely a bad omen). Wendy considers calling the whole thing off but Joanna won’t hear of it – in all their lives, Freya has never lived long enough to get married, she’s not going to rob her of it now. They just need to use good magic whenever there’s a bad omen.

Ingrid magically breaks into Mike’s hotel room and takes some of his notes – and finds he has a whole wall of creepy notes, maps, diagrams et al. And Mike catches her, wanting his map back and for her to open the portal. He’s not afraid of her because she’s too sweet and lunges at her – she uses magic to force him down on his knees, rejecting the whole “sweet” label (you should have let him bleed to death, Ingrid).

Freya asks her dad to walk her down the aisle and she talks about the tarot her mother dealt with the good boyfriend/bad boyfriend choice – again putting Killian as bad, even though Victor thinks she’s made a big assumption. They’re joined by Ingrid who isn’t impressed by the idea of Victor being in the wedding. But she doesn’t question Freya’s right to make the choice and they have a whole sister moment

Wendy and Joanna both use magic to counter the omens and Freya asks Joanna what she thinks of asking Victor to be in the wedding and Joanna wants it all to be Freya’s choice – she can make her own decisions. Killian has left a present for Freya, it’s a music box that plays the special music he wrote and they both dreamed about – which sends Freya off all depressed. Then she goes off to see Dash (he tricked her into seeing him before the wedding with a false text – and I thought it was seeing her in the dress?) so he can give her a stunning piece of jewellery (which is both new and blue).

Ingrid meets up with daddy Victor, still very prickly but she wants to know about Asgard since Joanna and Wendy won’t talk about it. After forging a connection with her he tells her they left Asgard because they lost a war. She asks if he’d go back – ultimately he’s afraid because there are people who are far more powerful than them waiting on the otherside to kill them, but, ultimately, none of them wanted to leave Asgard.

Mike looks like he’s going to gatecrash the wedding, with a gun.

The Beauchamps all get ready for the wedding – including a blessing for the wedding. At the end of which, the new expensive bracelet Freya has falls off – the chain broken. Yes, another bad omen. Freya goes to see her dad and he decides, with impeccably bad timing, that she needs to know about one of her past lives. 1906 in San Francisco when she was living alone  and she’d found her one true love. Killian (or past Killian, then called Henry) before she died in the great Earthquake. Killian may be a reincarnated soul constantly coming back to Freya (yeah and she keeps dying – so it doesn’t really support the whole “not a blight on her life” argument) who has been reborn now to find her (that doesn’t mean he wants to find her for good reasons as Freya wisely points out).

And Joanna has a little talk with Penelope about why she bothers to keep a picture of Archibald around since he was a murderous cult leader (ooooooh, unbeknownst to Joanna, that’s Penelope/Athena’s father). Penelope asks who he murdered and counters that she read that he was the one who was murdered and pointedly says they should ask Ingrid what happened. Purple because she’s a historian. Honest.

Penelope’s tipped her hand and Joanna hurries to tell Wendy. They go to check the portal together, Joanna feeling more and more ill after drinking the wine Athena gave her – and then Wendy zaps her with magic. Yes, Penelope in disguise.

Joanna wakes up tied to a table in a magic circle – and Penelope reveals who she is. Joanna tries to reason with her but Penelope is evil – on the plus side she didn’t send Dash after Freya, he is human with no powers and legitimately fell for her. And why are Dash and Killian human? Because she “borrowed” their powers when they were young, without telling them.

Freya gets all sobbing and angsty about Killian – and goes to find Dash, in her dress to call off the wedding. On the wedding day. Dash accurately guesses this is about Killian and kicks her out.

Downstairs, Mike kidnaps Ingrid at gunpoint. He shoots her in the arm and drags her to the portal – she doesn’t know how to open the door but the minute she touches it, it starts to rumble

Wendy and Victor notice Joanna is missing and Wendy goes looking – finding Joanna and Penelope just as Joanna has been poisoned with Argentium so she can be killed (apparently this needs to be by noose – a knife would be easier). She leaps on Penelope and Penelope starts strangling her – she manages to wave a hand breaking the magic circle holding Joanna, allowing Joanna to free herself.

Between them the two sisters put a noose around Penelope’s neck and knock her into a convenient furnace. Well… that was a little anticlimactic

As she dies, Freya, Dash and Killian all glow as their powers return. This pauses Dash before he continues to storm up to Killian’s boat to confront his brother. He launches himself at Killian and throws him across the dock with magic. Oops. With Killian knocked out and bleeding in his boat Dash stares at his hands in shock and then unties the boat and gives it a push. It floats off. So when Freya arrives, there’s no boat.

Back in the house, Joanna explains to Wendy who Penelope was – and they feel the rumbling of the portal opening. They rush over and see light pouring from the wall that is cracking away under Ingrid’s hands - Wendy smacks Mike in passing and he then dissolves to ash in the light coming from the portal

We close as a shadowy figure steps through the portal.

Ok that was a pretty epic finale to the end of season 1. A little distracted in places, but otherwise nicely solid with some plot lines sealed giving us the closure we expect from the end of a season and other hooks left open to draw

As to the season – well, let’s start with the negative (so I can end on a high which I think the show deserves).

The show had some pacing issues. The first episode was rammed with far too much going on but then some later episodes crawled with painfully slow distractions. It needed to pace itself better and leave me less mired in mud one second and sprinting the next

Relatedly, the show has far too many storylines crammed in at the same time – and a lot of the side storylines took far too much to resolve (like Wendy destroying Maura’s testimony led to a relationship arc with hot entomologist guy). There was too much going on – like Victor showing up, or Freya’s love triangle - yes I know it’s a central plot line – but it was dull dull dull dull and often meant the other 3 Beauchamp women were involved in an issue of far more dire import and then we’re interrupted by Freya stepping in “waaaah Killian’s so hawt!”. At times it felt like the powerful witch trying to actually kill them was so far down on their priority list that they may have even forgotten them.

And there’s a really severe problem with the minorities in this show. Like a few shows, Witches of East End started with a few POC in the first episode giving us hope of inclusion… Adam was Ingrid’s love interest and it looked like he was developing into a decent character… and he died. Barbara was Ingrid’s friend and could have been a decent character – but fell down the plot hole. Amy was introduced as Dash’s co-worker and Killian’s love interest… and died. When you have three POC and two of them die and one is background then We Have a Problem.

The show had a huge cast and no GBLT characters. No, I haven’t forgot Hudson – though I’d be excused for doing so since he had a total of 5 minutes of screen time the entire season – but I am not listing this character as a gay man. Yes some notes on the show mentioned he was Ingrid’s Gay Best Friend (seriously? You’re actually going to overtly label the character like that?) – which apart from anything else, would have been a hot mess of offensive tropes in and of itself – but those notes were never backed up in the show and even they have been largely edited now. The only reason I would read Hudson as gay is because he is a walking avatar of gay stereotypes. That’s not inclusion, that’s a mockery and you’re not getting even a crumb of an inclusion cookie off me for throwing in a mincing stereotype whose sexuality isn’t even implied and expecting me to assume he’s gay. What is this, the 80s?!

Yes, I understand he is gay in the books this show is based on: so here are the options – I call this show completely erased of GBLT people. OR I count a grossly stereotypical GBF with virtually no screen presence and no indication of him being gay as a GBLT character based solely on those offensive stereotypes. Either way, the writers can take a long walk off a short pier.

Right – now to the goodness.

CHEESE. Yes I know some people count this as a negative – but Witches of East End is one of those gloriously cheesey shows that serves up the cheese just right with all its overdramatic campy glory. It’s fun, it’s silly and I enjoy watching it even while a small part of me is kind of ashamed that I don’t hate it. I can’t even put my finger on what makes good cheese good cheese – but this is good cheese.

The family relationships are awesome. I can see these four as family, their interactions are natural, funny, strong and very real. It’s one of the things that glues the show together.

While the pacing was off, the world building was excellent – lectures where appropriate, questions left unanswered when it wasn’t. Lots of hinting but never information dropped when it made no sense to drop it.

Most of me is enthusiastic about a second season – but I do have some concerns about the minority representation that I don’t think is going to be addressed. Also, that damn love triangle is still going.