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Charmed charts a new course for season two

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In its second season premiere, The CW’s Charmed hits the regroup button in a major way. It pulls its central sister-witches out of Michigan and plops them in Seattle, where they quickly learn that they are the last defense between evil and the world’s remaining witches. They may have defeated the Source Of All Evil last season, but in the wake of the Elders’ destruction, all Whitelighters have also died. While its pacing is a little wonky, the season premiere charts an exciting new course for the sisters and Harry with a brand new call to action and reignited stakes.

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Shortly into its first season, The CW’s Charmed, outside of some of its shared mythology, established itself as something much different than its predecessor. There was the meaningful choice to make the show less white and less straight, rewriting the show to be about a set of Latinx sisters, one of whom is an out lesbian. But another interesting change was the decision to age the sisters down. This places the sudden discovery of their powers in a whole new context than the original, where the sisters had fully established adult lives before finding out that they would have to reconcile those lives with new ones as witches.

The Vera/Vaughn sisters, instead, are still figuring out who they are, beyond coming-of-age years but still at that tricky college age of searching for and crafting identity. Their lives are less established, so when they become powerful witches, there’s even more focus on the magic and less on their mortal lives. Mel in particular is all-in on witch life and has been from the start, with Macy and Maggie a little less sure that this is where they want to focus all of their energy. By the end of “Safe Space” though, they’re more resolute. If they’re the last defense for the world’s witches, they have a duty to do so instead of taking the easy out.

The way the premiere charts the path toward this realization is a bit tedious, again, due to shaky pacing. The premiere almost plays out like a pilot, trudging through new exposition while it sets up the parameters of its new arc. But it still manages to touch on its characters histories. Macy has to decide about a new job in Ann Arbor, bringing some of her insecurities and also her quiet ambition back to the surface. The dynamics between the sisters remain the strongest character work on the show, and that’s true in the premiere, which throws them into unfamiliar territory, forcing them to figure out what the hell is going on and work together even though they remain so different from one another in the way they make decisions and view the world.

Charmed deals with the struggle between good and evil not just on an external level but in its characters’ interiors. Macy has to wage this internal war the most obviously, and her demon side acts up in the premiere. Now, Harry, too must face a darkness within. The episode’s final twist isn’t that hard to see coming (the voice of the hooded assassin is quite obviously Harry’s), but it still adds a punch to the ending. Harry sometimes feels out of place on the show, especially since the decision to have a straight white man be essentially “in charge” of the sisters is an odd one (and he so far isn’t nearly as charming or funny as Giles of Buffy The Vampire Slayer was). But Harry’s long-term arc last season proved compelling, and the setup for season two promises an even deeper dive into the character’s interior, making him feel like more than just a quippy guardian angel.

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Stray observations

  • While it was fun to drop in on this premiere and I do hope that the season continues to move in an interesting direction, I won’t be resurrecting weekly coverage at the moment. I’ll be following along with the show though, so if anything feels worthy of another drop-in, be on the lookout for that.
  • The co-working space/millennial culture humor in the premiere is a bit tired.
  • That said, I actually think some of the show’s corniest humor is its best. It feels like an appropriate nod to its predecessor.
  • “Yelp this, bitch!” is my favorite line of fall television so far, and I will not be taking any questions at this time.
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