Heading into its second week, Charmed 2.0 still had a hefty amount of proving to do. Decent enough beginnings aside, the pilot was little more than an introduction to characters and devices that fans of the original (or anyone with access to TNT during the day time) would all too readily recognize. So, while last week was the unavoidable jumping off point, this one needed to be the start of truly building upon what creators want this refresh to say. Sadly, Let This Mother Out ended up biting off a bigger mouthful than was necessary to get going.
We open on a
hapless victim janitor mopping by her lonesome and trying to learn German. Only, so much for bettering herself, because in the midst of her vintage Duolingo session, she gets attacked by Venom a black goo monster who appears to meld with her and then slither away into a vent as she falls into a coma. Ach nein!
Returning to where the pilot left off, the girls are still reeling from being Ouija’d not to trust Harry, who is in turn summoned by the girls repeating the board’s warning aloud — because apparently this dude is just waiting by whatever magical hotline Whitelighters use. After a few flimsy excuses that Harry all too easily buys, he reminds the girls that the Underworld is still after them, and leaves with a parting, counter-warning not to trust the Ouija board. Surrounded by cryptic warnings, the sisters retreat to their mother’s former room, where Macy is in the act of moving in, and begin to argue about their next steps in order to work out their suspicions of Harry once and for all. Melanie wants to
make a bad decision use the board to talk to what she assumes to be the spirit of their mother; and Macy thinks that they would be better off leaving their phantom caller on hold to work on a truth serum to which the Book of Shadows has magically pointed them. Looking to squash this mounting battle for eldest sibling dominance, Maggie quickly sides with Macy’s less convoluted potion plan, and the pair of them set to work on making their first witches’ brew with Mel looking on in what is quickly becoming characteristic frustration.
Potion and Mel successfully simmering, Maggie shifts focus from Harry, (presently code-named Meghan Markle to prevent any more accidental summoning), and messages from the great beyond to what’s really important: her status with her girl frat. Hoping to smooth over the awkwardness of last week’s accidental attempted vanquishing of the head sorority sister, she heads over to a group visit of a hospitalized former pledge — armed with gloves to chill out her pesky telepathy. Unfortunately, when the girls keeping vigil clasp hands in prayer, Maggie quickly finds that the barrier method doesn’t cut it, and is once again treated to the bitchy inner thoughts of pals, alongside the psychic screaming of the comatose sister in question. To make matters worse, the mindless sex Maggie later initiates to cope with this latest upending of her life is everything but, with every point of contact triggering an outpouring of her ex-with-benefits’ most irritating and unsexy thoughts. Greatest hits include orgasm stalling techniques via thinking about his grandma, and his undying love for Maggie. Yikes.
Over on the other side of the campus, Macy attempts to return to her own non-magical responsibilities in the science lab, but finds her stab at normalcy thwarted when she catches wind of
Venom the goo monster’s attack that occurred the night before. Giving into this latest complication, she bottles a bit of the evidence conveniently left behind by sloppy forensic techs, and makes her way to the victim’s bedside, only to find Harry has beaten her there. After allegedly mind-wiping the still unconscious janitor, the Whitelighter asks Macy if she knows anything about this latest incident, but she lies and keeps her findings to herself, clearly still set on letting the truth serum have the final say in how much Harry can be trusted. I guess that’s what happens when you begin a relationship with non-consensual rope-play. Go figure.
Back at the house, the forbidden Ouija board tries to make contact with a more than willing Melanie, and when a less than composed Maggie comes home, Mel convinces her to sit down for another bout of supernatural telephone. This time, the call barely begins before the board literally lashes out at them, though luckily just in time for Macy to show up and deliver a board-smashing, telekinetic save rather than the the big ‘I told you so’ that she was more than entitled to.
Somehow unswayed by this fairly damning turn of events, Mel is still convinced that their mother is trying to contact them and too angry to be reasoned with, going so far as to suggest that Macy broke the board on purpose out of spite. Understandably hurt and likely a little frustrated by missing all the science classes she should be taking, Macy reminds her sisters that being abandoned by their mom hasn’t exactly fueled her desire to reach out, or made her feel like much more than an outsider in the tight-knit family that she only met just last episode. It’s a valid reminder, although one an only mildly chastened Mel doesn’t seem above countering, but before this latest argument can devolve any further, Mel’s girlfriend Niko arrives bearing sandwiches, vinyl, and a thermos that looks an awful lot like the Charmed Ones’ container of truth serum; ruh roh. As expected, a wacky mix-up soon ensues, leaving Macy to confront
Harry Meghan Markle with nothing more than a hot beverage, and poor Niko (who I totally forgot was a cop) to take a big old gulp of Veritaserum that leads to a botched perp interrogation, and some painful truth bombs when Melanie arrives at the station to try and sort things out. Romance decidedly off (again), Mel is granted an instant reprieve from her relationship drama when she returns home to find that Maggie has not only managed to fix the Oujia board, but received instruction to release who or whatever has been chatting them up. What could possibly go wrong? As it turns out, ostensibly nothing, as one hasty ritual raises the ghost of their mother out of the board, easy peasy, lemon squeezy. Ha! Take that, Macy’s well founded suspicions! For now anyway…
Rushing into ghost mom’s arms for hugs and answers, the family matriarch promises to tell all, but not until the girls are all together for some probably not ominous at all reason. That said, she is willing to throw Harry under the bus for being a both her murderer and a power stealing fiend, a series of accusations that rather handily line up with the sudden death of the janitor Harry was allegedly mind-wiping. I mean, as long as you ignore the mysterious black goo monster lurking somewhere in the plot.
The scene then shifts to Macy’s floundering in her attempts to grill said fiend with her non-existent truth serum, and badly enough that he appears to catch onto her schemes, a revelation that has him lunging toward her to [attack] whisk her back to the attic and catch a spell book to the face for his trouble. With the (evil?) Whitelighter subdued, Mama says they need to find a prism Harry has hidden, because it’s the only thing that can trap him, and without any hint of foreboding at all tells them to look for it in a mirror in his office. Also not suspicious? When Maggie hugs her goodbye, she can’t feel any of the telepathic static that’s becoming her norm. Mama Vera (or Marisol as Wikipedia tells me) says it’s just a side effect of her spiritual form [silly], and this is apparently enough to send the girls
marching to their doom on their way. In their mother’s old office, they readily find the mirror they’re looking for and proceed to take a stroll through the looking glass without so much as looking both ways, consequently ending up stuck the moment they’ve all crossed over. Ach, nien!
By now, Maggie’s beginning to have very sensible second thoughts about the entire situation, but Macy and Mel aren’t trying to hear any of that noise, now so convinced by their mother’s miraculous reappearance that they are able to finally bury the hatchet and band together. Luckily, the initial trap seems to be the only pitfall they have to contend with, and the girls are able to retrieve the prism and use (for serious) the power of their newly formed bond to escape the mirror-verse, no sweat. Mini-quest complete, Charmed ones make their way back to their mother, just in time to find her grappling a very awake and surprisingly unsecured Harry. Um, hello? Tying people up is like the first thing he taught you. Tsk, tsk, ladies.
Now firmly team Ouija mom, Macy flies into action, using her powers to hold Harry at knife point to keep their mother safe, only the Whitelighter is insistent that the spirit before them isn’t who she says she is, a claim bolstered by Maggie’s own agreement that something is clearly off here. Battling against these firmly planted seeds of doubt, possibly not the mama, does her level best to answer all the gotcha questions the girls can throw at her, but a sloppy slip up of calling Melanie her favorite ultimately earns her a knife to her chest. Though, true to form, this is hardly enough to keep a good demon down, and it jumps up like the exorcist to launch a full scale attack.
The good news? As per Harry’s advice, the proper means of vanquishing are the same as the tactics I use to scare myself just about every other morning: show the demon its own reflection in a mirror, which would be no big deal had their escape from the prism’s hiding spot kinda sorta broke all the mirrors in the house. Thankfully, Maggie is able to think on her feet (because Macy was the one who got knocked over in the scuffle) and while Mel holds the non-mom in stasis with her powers, she uses her cell phone camera to turn poser to dust before things go from difficult to lemon difficult.
Day saved, the Charmed ones go about making their round of amends, entrusting Harry with the prism (that just so happens to be a power-sapping device, not a Whitelighter cage), working things out with the classmates and significant others that fell into the cross-hairs of their magical hijinks (or not, as the case may be with Maggie’s ex; apparently she’s just not that into him), and vowing to work harder at their newfound sisterhood with Macy. Aw.
While the Vera-Vaughn coven are patting themselves on the back for shoring things up,
Markle Harry pops back in to drop this week’s bad guy tease/cliffhanger: apparently Venom is a Harbinger, yet another dire sign of the prophesied end times the Charmed ones are supposed to be stopping, and word on the street is it’s looking for a vessel to help it raise all kinds of hell. Cue the comatose sorority sister from the top of the episode waking up ominously and the fade to black.
Honestly, this episode was all over the place. Between the main conflict of shaky trust between both Harry and the girls themselves, and the various relationship-oriented side plots going down, not to mention the tease of next week’s big threat, it all just felt a little over-full. I get the feeling that they’re trying to pack a lot of the new mythos and build-up to this season’s fight into as much of the early narrative as possible, but they need to slow down before they get so far ahead of themselves that not even the character’s can catch up. More than that, they really need to let Melanie and Maggie build on their relationship with Macy. They’ve known each other for less than the wait time between episodes, so of course they’re team-building needs work. Here’s hoping for a better next week…
-Harry really needs to work on his mentoring techniques. First he’s tying people up and now he’s lunging at his young female charges? I get the intent but the delivery is lousy. This goes double for his creepy warning about looking for excessive dog fornication as a sign of demon activity. Like, thanks but no thanks there, buddy.
-They really are leaning into this Maggie is insecure about her passive powers thing. It’s a tried and true method I guess, but I’m actually hoping they skip doing a redux of the original’s reasoning as to why she wasn’t afforded anything more potent.
-The commercials during this episode were really inconsistent on my end. As in, there were none for nearly twenty minutes in the beginning and then one almost every five minutes during the second half. I don’t know that it would have made a significant difference, but I wonder if the pacing wouldn’t have been a touch better if the advertising had been spaced better.
-Something I noticed, cinematography-wise: when it’s just the three sisters together in a scene Maggie and Melanie are very often filmed opposite Macy, almost like they aren’t on the same sides (yet). I wonder if this will change further down the line.
-How much you wanna bet that power stealing prism come back into play? Because I’m thinking that’s a little too conveniently drama-inducing to just get tucked away for never.
-Seriously, the only reason I know the girls’ mother’s name is Marisol is because I looked it up on Wikipedia. I honestly missed it in the pilot, if it was there at all…
Venom Not a Parasite Sightings out of Five
Charmed airs on Sundays at 9 PM EST on The CW