Image: Charmed (The CW)
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The final stretch of Charmed’s first season has reiterated exactly what the show does well. It has been a bumpy first season, the show often dropping some of its best stories in favor of a more traditional Monster Of The Week supernatural drama structure. And some of those short-term narratives have worked, but a lot of them distract from the core of the show, which has always been about sisterhood, family, and grief. Charmed did away with most of its demons heading into the finale, allowing the show to refocus on what really matters. In the finale, Maggie, Mel, and Harry have to save Macy—who is officially the Source of all evil—from herself, and the battle is thrilling on plot and emotional levels.

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We return to the death of Marisol—the tragic event that kicks off the entire series. The sisters’ loss has been at the core of the emotional storytelling on the show, and the way the finale goes back to this works very well. Macy keeps creating new realities to try to bring their mother back, and her desperation is deeply human even though her actions in response end up being supernatural.

“I’m the problem that needs to be fixed,” Macy says halfway through the episode. Later, Maggie puts it into pretty clear words: Macy has abandonment issues. All three of the sisters do to an extent, but Macy’s is particularly potent. One of the greatest strengths of this show has been the way it maps its characters’ emotions and human problems onto their powers and the magical happenings on the show. In the finale, Macy is possessed by the Source, sure, but her actions really are her own. She’s desperate to reduce pain and to bring back the mother she never knew. She knows she can’t control her newfound powers, and she wants more than anything to protect her sisters, so she keeps pushing them away—literally.

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As usual, it’s pretty easy to see the beats of this episode of Charmed before they happen. This show isn’t exactly known for its twists and turns—though there have been some over the course of the season, particularly with Niko’s arc and with Macy taking on the Source. But when it comes down to it, the show more often follows a pretty predictable path. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing all the time, because the show finds ways to still inject its formula with excitement and specificity.

The way the show has made the sisters’ Latinx identities a significant part of their lives has been nuanced and still powerful. The queer storytelling around Mel has been excellent as well, a small yet still significant part of the show. Sometimes Charmed is a little too on-the-nose with its feminist messaging, but those moments still help make a case for this show’s 2019 makeover.

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When Mel and Maggie finally reassure Macy that they’ll never leave her, she’s finally able to control her powers. Again, Charmed tethers the magic to very real psychological underpinnings, giving the supernatural elements of the show more weight and raising the stakes on a character-based level. The cast is at the top of their game here, harnessing the high-velocity energy of the episode in every move they make.

When all is said and done and the Charmed Ones finally save the day, the finale then zooms in on some of the more personal, more human narratives on the show. Parker leaves Maggie, and even though their relationship has been plotted unevenly over the course of the season, the writing around scenes like this has always been strong. It’s a convincing breakup, and even though it happens quickly, Maggie sells the hurt of it in a way that feels grounded. Meanwhile, Mel continues to process the loss of Niko, and her internal struggle manifests briefly as she freezes time just to look at her. It’s here where Charmed really shines, aligning its human emotions with witchy actions and making these sisters more than just a prophecy-fulfilling magical trio. The payoff of its long-term storytelling this season ends up being hefty in its emotional, potent finale.

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Stray observations

  • What a ride this first season has been! Thanks for joining me, and even though I still think the show is working out some kinks, I hope to see more of it.
  • first season has burned through plot very fast, but the quick pacing in the finale actually works well instead of undercutting all the character work.
  • It’s pretty fun to see Marisol throughout the episode, and Charmed has done such a great job developing the sisters’ relationships with their mother and her death that as a viewer seeing her feels very powerful and meaningful.
  • I do think everyone is giving great performances in this finale, but I also still think that Melonie Diaz is a standout in how she’s able to balance the different tones of this show.

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