Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Charmed: Season 1, Episode 11: Witch Perfect

The director of an acapella music group goes to Greece and ends up being possessed by an ancient Greek item in a shop in Athens. He even does the patented possession neck snap.

Y’know, life in Urban Fantasy worlds must be damn interesting for anyone dealing with anything historical.

How does this link in to the Charmed ones? Well, Maggie has decided that with her demon boyfriend and little sojourn in Tartarus what she really needs is some close harmony singing

Uh-huh well done, Charmed, that’s a convoluted link almost on par with some of the ridiculous convoluted links of the original series. Hey "Witch Perfect"? It's doing that old Charmed thing of making pop culture references like 6 years after they were relevant

Harry is also kind of depressed because he’s trying to gather his memories about his not!dead son and also seems to have some lingering tartarus badness clinging to him. Oh and he really really disapproves of Galvin knowing the truth but respects the sisters insistence he not have his memory wiped.

But, of course, the true revelation of last week was Macy discovering that she and Maggie are actually full sisters, her dad, Dexter Vaughn, being both their dads while Ray was Mel’s dad. Nervous and excited she tries to explain this to her sisters and it doesn’t go down well

I actually like this argument because all of it kind of goes back to where they all are at the moment and how they approach this revelation.

Macy is happy - because she hasn’t exactly lost anything with this revelation. Her father is her father, her mother is her mother, she still has two sisters but if anything is even closer. More, with her inclination towards facts and knowledge she is fascinated to discover new secrets and new knowledge. She’s happy and interested and excited

While Mel is more reeling - she’s discovered she’s the half-sister after being so close to Maggie for so long. But more, we were told that Mel was always super close to Marisol only now she’s learning that Marisol kept more and more and more and more secrets from her - witchcraft now seems to be the least of it. Mel feels reeling and wounded and hurt.

And Maggie, having already felt betrayed by Parker, wounded by the fact that Ray, her apparently-step-father didn’t come home for Christmas and now her biological father apparently abandoned her is just hurt and deeply deeply upset

On top of that Macy feels attacked by them being a little shoot the messenger while they feel insulted by her glee and Mel actually has a good line about how Macy tries to police how they react to this and push them into how they SHOULD feel about this (positive) rather than acknowledging how they do feel about it,.

This causes all kinds of drama. Of course. Macy goes to Galvin, very angry and expressing that to him while he gently pokes that maaaaaybe they have a point. She decides to do something deeply unwise and cast a secret reveal spell

And my gods how that spell didn’t backfire I do not know. This spell is DESIGNED to backfire. It was written by a supremely messy spiteful witch cackling away as she imagined all the many ways it could backfire.

Instead the spell reveals a cache of letters between Marisol and Dexter (Macy’s father) showing they had long term contact up until his death and they loved each other the whole time. Macy is pretty thrilled by this but pretty emotional - she lived a lonely life without her sisters and has learned that her mother was close and her siblings accessible all that time is a bit of a blow.

Mel decides to go to Jada and the Sarcana and basically tell them everything. Because her mother lied to her Mel has decided she won’t be like that and will be honest. She’s the worst undercover agent, ever. Jada expected this - she knew Mel was working undercover but basically expected her to be converted to the Sarcana’s cause. And as extra proof of that, Jada takes her on a mission to do exactly what she promised the Sarcana did - use magic to get some comeuppance on a rapist who has been given a pass by the courts - a story that has all too much relevance today

Which is why it’s powerful and useful to depict. But I’d still like Mel to think deeper and wonder what an organisation of magically powerful vigilantes mean and the damage they could do or biases they may hold. There’s more complexity here.

A complication arrives when amnesia Niko arrives. Yes, Mel’s ex. This scene should have been way more emotional than it was. She reveals she’s a PI basically following Jada around because her family think she’s become involved in a cult…. Which is… kind of not wrong?

But to the main plot - Maggie is singing with the acapella group and wins the audition by being tearful while singing Walking on Sunshine. Which is probably a red flag. We meet the other singers (and one of the extras is in a wheelchair which is a nice inclusive touch but she is an extra so let’s not wave all the flags). We meet Effie, sort of a mean girl who always gets the solo parts and we reconnect with Lucy

Who is a really good friend, comforts Maggie over Parker, happily let’s go of everything that went on between them and has some really good advice to help Maggie deal with her family drama. As well as being super grounded when talking about her own family’s drama. I honestly think this is a part of Charmed that requires more credit than it gets -by taking a character any other show would have made the super terribad mean girl. And they didn’t. All praise for that.

So the possessed music director has a huge ego, doesn’t much like singers and demands they sing a weird disonanance that he says is important. Maggie rightly guesses this is super weird, especially when Effie disappears (he ate her soul because evil) and when he freaks out when she touches his ancient Greek pipes and she hears screaming

Yes, definitely evil

Photographs and research later and Macy and Galvin believe he’s a siren (they throw in a line about gender being fluid for why he’s male which feels more like a throwaway line but hey challenge rigid gender roles of monsters) Except we don’t because when they gather and challenge him they realise he isn’t a siren. Like any good bad guy he monologues his motives: he was the director of the sirens, his work gave their song its power but they got all the fame and glory (also they turned on him). Now he wants all the glory

And to eat souls - which is happening as the group sings now and nearly kills human Galvin but for some special tea they pour down his throat

Next encounter with a power of three spell to kill siren directors… and it doesn’t work. Because the sisters are still pissed at each other… Which I like. Old Charmed kind of touched on the idea that the foundation of the power of three was the bond between the sisters but it rather lost the way of this towards later seasons when the far greater focus was Phoebe’s love life and Piper’s endless quest for normality. The power of three spell can only work when they resolve their conflict: so Mel recognises she was super angry with Marisol and was taking it out on her sisters so apologises. Macy admits she was angry at them for their reaction which wasn’t fair and apologises. While Maggie’s super fine because she unloaded on Lucy earlier (which, i won’t lie, made me laugh out loud)

Power of three works and the big bad is killed. Galvin and Macy then use SCIENCE to figure out how to save everyone else - which involves the acapella group singing happy songs and Galvin playing the pipe

EVERYONE IS SAVED, everyone gets their souls back, including Effie and the Charmed ones can go home. Mel also has a revelation about her mother - sure Marisol kept secrets… but she’s doing way more than that with Niko. And sometimes secrets are to protect people. This let’s her let it go a bit more and go see Jada again to warn her about Niko following them

This leaves Macy and Maggie free to look over Dexter and Marisol’s letters together (and so Mel lets them have some alone bonding time) where they discover YET ANOTHER dark secret - Macy died and Marisol and Dexter brought her back to life. But doing so was terribad and they don’t think Macy will ever forgive them. DUM DUM DUM

While Harry summons Charity to confess that he’s still reeling from tartarus (his powers didn’t work earlier) but also torn over his loyalties. While the Charmed ones are like family to him, he also feels the urge to find his son. He is no longer the Blank Slate that Whitelighters are supposed to be… and he feels conflicted. He thinks he cannot be their Whitelighter and they deserve a Whitelighter who is solely focused on them

I kind of like this conflict because it emphasises why the blank slate thing is important. I think it also fits into what, I hope, will be a development of the elders and showing them a little less as “heartless, faceless rulers” and more, again, people fighting a difficult war and making hard choices. I feel the whole Elders vs Sarcana conflict is still too simplistic

I’m glad to see Galvin actually added to the plot - I feared he may become a Darryl and be there but have no real role. I also like how they hooked in his character: he’s interested and positive and enthusiastic which I like. He shows himself capable enough to help and not be a burden while not eclipsing the sisters. Yet at the same time we saw how vulnerable he was which i think is a good way of emphasising why Harry’s concerns are not unrealistic.

I’m curious now to see if Niko is just there as a one off or whether this may be a rekindling of their relationship between her and Mel. I say again, I think how their relationship ended was very much not ok - and Mel’s reaction to Niko was desperately shallow this episode