Charmed enjoys a soft reset and a fresh return to form as it starts its Season 3 arc
Starring Melonie Diaz, Madeleine Mantock, Sarah Jeffery, Jordan Donica, and Rupert Evans
Owing to production on its second season closing down as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Season 2’s storyline surrounding the Faction and their dogmatic pursuit of magic took the first three episodes to fully resolve itself. With Vivienne finally out of the way, and without Jimmy on the loose, the Charmed Ones are able to take a breath for what feels like the first time in a good while, and actually focus upon their lives outside of magic, as they are now officially not dead anymore. However, they are now beset with the problem that all magical beings cannot come within a few metres of each other without being violently shocked and burned.
For the first time in a good while, it feels as if Charmed is actually fleshing out the central characters away from the magical exploits. Because Season 2 uprooted the sisters so completely from their regular lives, isolated from their jobs and their friends and stranded in Seattle, most of the episodes revolved specifically around magical issues, but the defeat of the Faction allows the sisters to achieve a sense of normalcy. This episode successfully balances the sisters’ real-world problems with a supernatural threat, so that the structure of following each sister on a different path is less frustrating and convoluted as when there are conveniently multiple difficult things to do in order to take down a particular enemy. Instead, it was paced well, with a suitable level of tension without the supernatural enemy taking over the entire episode.
It’s been three months since the sisters saved the magical world, but they have yet to find any sort of solution for their curse of not being able to touch each other. Macy is the one who takes it upon herself to fix the problem, as she desperately wishes to be closer to Harry. Finally united, they now have to deal with the fact that they cannot be physically intimate. The episode leans heavily into this particular difficulty, and Macy and Harry make no secret of their desires (which really highlights just how far Macy has come in terms of sexual agency and confidence), but it takes Maggie to remind them not to lose sight of their emotional intimacy to encourage them to connect over a sweet dinner in the garden.
Elsewhere, Mel has now become a professor at Seattle State University, putting her activism passion into educating others. Quite why there appear to be boys in one of her classes who are blatantly transphobic is strange, as it seems an odd class for them to take, but that’s neither here nor here. Also, how Mel became a professor in just three months, and passed vetting checks without anybody wondering how strange it is that her entire house has been transported from Hilltowne to Seattle is also going to be ignored. Regardless, it’s nice to see Mel have a focus and a drive outside of magic again, and also introduces new character Kevin (J. J. Hawkins), a trans man. Kevin seems a brilliant character so far and, crucially, he and Mel do not come within a particular distance, which could mean that he is also magical, which would open up some interesting avenues. Equally, it would be nice to have more characters who are removed from the supernatural side, but regardless Kevin seems to be a nice presence. Somebody should probably remind Mel that she can’t just rewrite the syllabus regardless of her own personal feelings though. Especially not when you’ve only been a professor for a couple of weeks. It’s not how it works.
Elsewhere, also remembering that she is no longer dead, Maggie is back on her psychology degree track, though faces a sexist professor who seems to faun over one student in particular, who also won’t actually let her get a sentence out completely without bulldozing her. It’s a hugely relatable situation. Everybody’s been in that workplace scenario where there’s one (generally white, straight) dude who just seems to think that their opinion matters more than anybody else’s, but this is, of course, especially resonant with many educated women, I’d imagine. Maggie’s panic attack was portrayed really well, and it’s nice to see the show not completely forgetting about it. It’s also fascinating how she can ward off supernatural disaster on a regular basis, but finds these situations, where she cannot use her magic, far more stifling.
The entire storyline culminates in the three sisters banding together to stop an ancient magical force, known as the Chupaalma, after they were each possessed to perform a magical ritual to reawaken it in the first place. This results in possibly the best vanquish yet, as each of the sisters use their respective powers to defeat their foe. The graphics looks incredible, and it’s nice to see how their (new) powers are growing and developing. Here it is in gif form for you to enjoy:
This episode would be a brilliant return to form, if Charmed had ever been this good before. Finally loose from the tethers that it created in Season 1, and from the overly magic focussed Season 2, the writers are free to reacquaint themselves with the concept that these are women who happen to witches, and not the other way around. Their personal drama should always dominate over the other storylines, and it’s brilliant that these storylines are about the sisters themselves, and not necessarily just about who they date. For both Mel and Maggie, they have previously been defined by their relationships as opposed to their own personal growth, so it’s nice to see the show reorienting itself. Though the same isn’t true of Macy, this season promises to return her to her scientific roots, and, unlike Mel and Maggie’s relationships, her connection with Harry seems to have far more promise.
With the new, and original, threat of ancient monsters, there’s a chance that this could be the strongest plotline that Charmed has undertaken so far (which wouldn’t be too tricky a feat, if we’re honest). Hopefully the future episodes work out how to fit both Jordan and Abi in with the new dynamic of focussing upon non-magical drama.