Thursday, October 25, 2018

Charmed: Season 1, Episode 2: Let This Mother Out

After the first episode I was more than a little disappointed and my hopes have been thoroughly dashed - yet after this episode things are looking a little better again - this show is going to get my hopes yo-yoing

It improves a lot by exploring the sister’s relationships a lot more and generally slowing down the pacing. The main conflict they face is that the Spirit Board they found starts moving, claiming to be the spirit of their dead mother and tells them not to trust Henry

There is quickly a conflict primarily between Mel - who tends to be very emotionally focused, was the closest to their dead mother and isn’t a great fan of Henry anyway - who desperately WANTS to believe the Spirit Board is their mother.

While Macy, the scientist who believes in objective reasoning (who also doesn’t especially want to talk to their mother because the question of why she abandoned her is bound to come up and since Macy can’t think of a good answer to that she knows it’s not going to be fun. So she kind of DOESN’T want the spirit board to be mother) points out they have no proof that the spirit moving the planchette is their mother and writing off Henry as a resource.

While Maggie finds herself in the middle - supporting Macy’s logic but feeling Mel’s emotion as well. As they argue what to do, the book helpfully flips to a spell for a truth serum and Macy opts to use the spell to test Henry’s sincerity… Mel doesn’t like it but Maggie says yes and they insist “majority rules”.

They also worry about using Henry’s name because he comes when called so end up calling him Megan Markle thanks to Maggie

There’s another conflict in how Macy is feeling… last week I commented how it felt weird how quickly Macy became a sister to the other two, joined the family and moved in freakishly quickly. Now Macy is feeling like an outsider - as the other two discuss their mother and their connection and love for her, it makes Macy uncomfortable because, of course, she only knows her mother as the woman who abandoned her and it’s hard to hear the unreserved praise lavished on her and is equally painful to hear all these beautiful memories which she cannot share. They’ve also moved her into their mother’s bedroom which makes sense - but they’re not willing to let go and also try to keep the room as a shrine to her mother. Including the Mom Bong which is kind of awesome

This spills over into her life -while she has made up with colleague Galvin after she accidentally threw things at him with her telekinesis, she then has another argument when she hears that he has covered for her and helped at work… she is feeling left out at home and fears feeling left out at work as well.

While this is happening Henry is busy seeking evil demons - and warning them to look out for signs of demonic evil like presidential tweets (ok I have to applaud that one). And there is a demon on the loose - some black goo has attacked a janitor at Macy’s work place. Macy manages to get a sample - but even when she runs into Henry doing some memory wiping (I am so glad he has this power and all the terrible “magic is revealed” plot lines of old Charmed will end).

Maggie has her own conflict - her ability to read minds feels completely lacklustre next to the awesome freezing and telekinesis power. Her mind reading power is not giving her useful conflict powers and she can’t turn it off -which is really making it hard for her to join her sorority (which is still something she wants because just because she’s a witch doesn’t mean she doesn’t want a normal life). Every time she touches someone she hears their thoughts

It also makes it hard for her to have sex with her not!boyfriend Brian, especially since he clearly wants to rekindle their relationship and can’t stop thinking about that - to say nothing of the things he thought to stop premature ejaculation. Which is not sexy.

Mel and Niko are back in a relationship - which is somewhat derailed by the truth serum which didn’t end up in Henry’s tea - but did end up in Niko’s. Under the power of truth she hilariously ruins a case, says many unfortunate things to her colleagues and when Mel arrives to take her away she tells Mel she slept with her ex-fiance. Twice. Ok Mel and Niko weren’t back on then but anyone’s going to have issues knowing your partner has on-again-off-again-issues with an ex-fiancee.

The spirit board is also acting up - a shadowy hand grabs Maggie and Macy breaks it with telekinesis which doesn’t help calm the brewing conflicts

Maggie fixes the board and manages to communicate with her mother - who answers questions only she knows and asks to be freed… of course, super excited she works on that. Macy has lots of reservations but Mel is charging ALL IN without pause. Using majority rules they free their mother.

It’s very very emotional, of course - and it even hits Macy hard to meet the mother she’d never seen before. They’re quick to dote on her and follow her instructions on how they need to imprison Henry - after they knock him out (also points to Henry’s fighting style using his teleporting ability). They run with this, involving finding shiny crystals from mirror worlds that require them to work together. The whole time Maggie is getting more and more uncertain about this. With her mind reading power and enhanced empathy she is disturbed that she can’t sense anything from her mother. But now, majority rules, means she is being overruled by Macy and Mel who are enthusiastically following mother all the way

They find Henry and their mother fighting when they emerge - and they help their mother. Of course she urges them to trap Harry but Maggie continues to question. Mel isn’t buying it - until their mother appeals to their unique special connection to convince Mel to stand with her

And Mel stabs her. Mel knows her mother - and her mother would never ever play favourites and imply Mel meant more to her than her other daughters. Yes, mummy is a demon and Henry guides them on how to destroy her - with a mirror. Or a reflection anyway since they use a smart phone

They all reconnect in the aftermath with Henry not blaming them to being taken in, it’s what imposter demons do (he blames them for Brexit). They all confirm that Maggie’s power is awesome and she just needs more self-confidence to stop other voices drowning her out. Macy and Mel both admit they let their emotional wants overcome common sense - and that they’re both basically very invested in being right. Maggie uses her empathy to give important advice about Galvin and Niko

I really like this - because not only do we see the sister bond but we see mind reading being used in a very positive way (unlike how we saw empathy on old Charmed which was invasive and kind of obnoxious), both making it clear she doesn’t have the lesser power while bringing the sisters together extremely well

They also resolve to dump this “majority rules” nonsense. It’s not about majority - all the sisters should be listened to. It’s now about unanimity - they all will be heard and decide together. Which, again, feels like an excellent way to build the sister bond between them - as does them deciding to move their mother’s stuff out of Macy’s room so she feels welcome there

They also resolve to trust Henry who mocks the idea he’d appear if he just spoke his name. And he continues to be snarky and much better done than last week… but he also thinks the goo monster is a harbinger of Bad Stuff to come.

This whole episode was a vast improvement - the breakneck pacing was slowed down enough to explore their relationships and build those vital sister bonds. This has always been the core of Charmed, this powerful sister bond, their connection, them working together. It was always vital to build this, especially since Macy was coming from the outside - and by resolving conflicts this works to help them find a baseline.

The show was also much funnier than last episode - with Henry being more amusing and his political references feeling a little less convoluted and forced and Mel being less of a rage avatar. My hopes are being restored.