The CW’s reboot of Charmed reinvents itself again for season 2, thanks to new showrunners Liz Kruger and Craig Shapiro. The Charmed Ones, Macy, Mel and Maggie, along with their Whitelighter, Harry, and their magical house, are whisked off to Seattle to be placed in the witch-ness protection program for their own protection from the latest round of evil that’s declared war on them.
This reinvention takes the show fully into the Buffy the Vampire Slayer realm of supernatural fantasy fighters. The witches may have a secret lair in one corner of the coworkspace basement, but you just know there’s a hellmouth in another corner and most of the other tenants of the building are also supernaturals on the run. The everyday, normal aspects of the characters’ lives are relegated to the edges of the show, while their roles as supernatural superheroes who are saving the world from evils large and small become the center of their lives.
With the Elders gone and evil running rampant, it makes sense for the Charmed Ones to put their magical duties first, but I hope they’re able to go back to their schooling and chosen careers eventually. And that they develop personal lives, though I doubt that will take long on a CW show.
It’s been 3 weeks since the season 1 finale. The Vera-Vaughn sisters begin the new season with a birthday bash for Maggie, who is carefree and in her element during the party. Macy is counting out the number of drinks she’ll allow herself, since she wants to stay in control. Once she begins talking with Maggie, she gives up on self control altogether and blurts out that she’s been offered a dream job in Ann Arbor, 2 hours away. She intends to take it, even though she knows Mel won’t understand. She needs to get away for awhile after everything that’s happened.
Maggie is hurt that Macy wants to leave, but covers it up quickly so that Macy only sees her usual patience and understanding. They agree that Mel is burying herself in magical work and barely notices their existence lately.
Mel is up in the attic with Anya, a witch whose Whitelighter has gone missing. She promises Anya they’ll investigate his disappearance and calls on Harry to escort the young witch home.
With that settled, Mel goes downstairs to check on her sisters and discovers the party. She really was in the boss witch zone upstairs. Mel stops time so that she canhave their full attention while she disapproves of her sisters’ life choices. Maggie tells her to lighten up, that they’re allowed to have some fun since they saved the world and defeated the Source of All Evil. Mel decides to go along and the party starts up again.
In the morning, Mel is in clean up mode, Maggie is texting with her potential new boyfriend, and Macy is hungover. Maggie accidentally tells Mel about Macy’s new job. Both Macy and Maggie have decided that they want to focus on their human lives and leave the main administrative witch duties to Mel, since she’s good at it and enjoys it.
Just as Maggie says that she doesn’t want to sit around waiting for trouble to barrel through the front door, trouble barrels through the front door in the form of a cloaked demon who’s heavily armed and impervious to their powers, even the Power of Three. They call Harry and retreat to the attic, but the demon quickly follows. He breaks through their door sealing spell in moments and destroys the Book of Shadows as if it was an ordinary paperback.
We all barely have a moment to react to this huge loss as the Book of Shadows disintegrates, because a portal appears in the room. It sends a magical blast at the demon as it opens which throws him across the room. Harry tells the sisters to jump through, while he holds off the demon. Maggie and Mel rush through the portal, but Macy won’t leave without Harry. Harry pushes Macy to go while he keeps the demon from following her. The demon fires a dart into Macy’s leg as she escapes. Then he stabs Harry in the heart.
This is not okay. I’m taking my stand now. I won’t continue without Harry.
The sisters reappear in a barren underground space. They’re okay, but a moment after they appear, there’s a shrieking, moaning sound and flashing lights. Then a voice tells them that Protocol 38 has been activated and they’re in the Command Center. They walk a short distance and discover just that. The voice continues, explaining that Elder Order 257 requires emergency extraction when witches are faced with an existential threat. Their auras have been stripped for their own protection and they should await further instruction from their Whitelighter.
They call Harry, but he doesn’t respond. The Command Center has a giant book that looks like it has important knowledge, but it’s in the Elder language, which they can’t speak or read. They realize that they’ve been taken into a witness protection program, but with the Elders all dead and Harry MIA, no one is coming to help them.
Macy finds the glowing green arrowhead in her leg from the Demon’s dart. The wound looks especially bad. The sisters decide they need to leave the Command Center to find help for Macy. There’s a large, medieval looking iron door at the top of some stairs, so they go through that, into a dark room with another door.
The second door leads out into a
high school public hallway. The door they came through has a sign that says it’s a restricted area. A guard tells them as much and that they need an orange key card to go through. He decides from their lost demeanor that they must be there for the tour and takes them to join up with a public tour of the facility. Their tour guide, Swan, preferred pronouns she and her, tells them that they are in Safe Space Seattle, a premier communal workspace where their dreams can flourish.
The witches take a break from the tour to assess their situation in the light of day and discover that their powers don’t work. Macy’s wound is getting worse, so Maggie goes to find a first aid kit, while Mel tries to contact Harry. They tell Macy they’ll meet her back in this central courtyard in ten minutes.
Mel checks out an herbs and crystals store called Spellbound Botanica. The owner, Katrina, quotes Glinda from the Wizard of Oz and asks Mel if she’s a good witch or a bad witch, then lets her use a phone to call Harry. He doesn’t answer. Mel promises to buy something the next time she visits Katrina’s store.
Swan tells her tour participants that the core values of Safe Space Seattle are sustainability, community and collaborations. “This is where the magic happens.”
Macy hears Swan and decides to make some of her own magic. She spots a lost and found bin nearby and takes a scarf to bandage her leg, plus a sweater. She sits in an alcove while she works on her leg. When she’s done, she notices signs discussing the history of the building. It began life as an insane asylum for women, which was rumored to have a secret tunnel. The women who were committed to the asylum were believed to be witches and the treatments were geared toward eliminating their magic. Treatment included torture. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2019.
While Macy is reading the signs, she hears Harry’s voice whispering to her, “Macy. Macy, it’s me. Come home.” She’s confused, because there’s no one in sight.
Maggie finds a boxing gym run by an instructor named Jordan. He’s hesitant to loan her his first aid kit, but she almost has him convinced when Mel shows up. Since Maggie told him she needed the kit to treat her sister, and the girl by the door is obviously uninjured, Jordan decides Maggie’s lying.
He’s also a medic and offers to come with her to help her other sister in person, but Maggie tells him that he can’t give the kind of help she needs. They agree that neither of them trust many people and he loans her the kit. As the sisters return to the courtyard, Mel shows Maggie that she lifted Swan’s orange keycard, so now they have access to the restricted area and their Command Center.
Mel and Maggie realize Macy is missing. She’s grown confused and wandered outside, trying to follow Harry’s voice. Her sisters follow the trail of blood on the floor left by her wound and get to her just as she’s almost hit by a car. The demon’s arrowhead is slowly poisoning her, turning her veins black and green. They need to find a way to treat her, quickly.
The sisters use the keycard to get back into the restricted switchroom, but find a brick wall where the iron door to the Command Center should be. They use the Power of Three to cast a spell that opens the door. On the way into the Command Center, Macy passes out for a few minutes and hallucinates a Harry who’s wearing the look that on TV generally signals “evil twin”- black leather jacket, eyeliner, slightly spiky hair, scarf. Dark Harry wakes Macy up and holds her tight- tighter than real Harry would.
He tells her that she’s been unconscious for hours and that he’s already sent Mel and Maggie home. Macy asks if he can heal her. He caresses her face and says he can. Macy says that he seems different and Harry agrees- he is different. He asks if she likes it. Macy does. Harry says, “Good. Let’s go home now.” Macy passes out, but wakes up in the real world, still in the switchroom with Mel and Maggie. They help her downstairs.
Maggie and Mel try and make sense of the Command Center, while Macy tries to rest, but her condition worsens. They still can’t decipher the Book of Elders. There’s a giant lighted world map which shows red dots that they assume mean danger. Then a big red button lights up on the table. When they push it, another portal appears. A marble rises out of a bowl, so Maggie takes it with her as they help Macy up and go through the portal.
They come out in Vermont, in front of Mary’s Magical Bed & Breakfast, which is run by two witches. But they’re too late. The witches have been murdered by demons. One is hanging in front of the fireplace, with “Die witches” painted on the wall. They realize that the map is a witchboard that indicates which witches are in danger. Blue lights indicate safe witches and red ones show where the danger is.
Maggie decides to search the house for something to heal Macy.
A guest of the bed and breakfast comes downstairs to complain about the bad service they’ve been given. As she’s threatening to give the bed and breakfast bad online reviews, a rat demon takes human form and spits poisonous venom onto her. She collapses just as a second rat demon appears and takes human form.
The witches hide in the kitchen, but are put in more danger when one of the rat demons comes in looking for a snack. They don’t have any magic and macy is too weak to move. They decide to make their own and search the kitchen for weapons.
Macy hears Harry’s voice again, calling her home. She tries to stand up and follow him, revealing their presence to the demon, but Mel sprays him with a can of rat poison, which miraculously works on rat demons, too. Sadly, it takes the whole can, so she’s defenseless when the second demon attacks her for killing his cousin. Mel and Maggie try to fight him off, but he’s too strong.
Macy’s eyes get red and she screams at the demon, “Let go of my sister!” Then she shoots dragon fire out of her hand and kills the demon. She still has her awesome demon powers, even though her witch powers have been stripped. Once the demon is dead, Macy collapses. The poison from the arrowhead is spreading.
Harry orbs in when Macy collapses. He couldn’t find the Charmed Ones until he felt Macy use her powers. He quickly heals Macy by absorbing the poison into himself. After a minute that feels like forever, Macy wakes up and looks at Harry, asking if it’s really him. He asks who else it would be.
Another Wizard of Oz reference. We’re not in
Kansas Michigan anymore. And we should probably pay attention to the way Katrina and Glinda carefully assess the intentions of every potential witch they encounter.
They prepare to orb home, but the poison Harry absorbed from Macy has compromised his powers and they’re stuck at the bed and breakfast. A giant demon stomps into view, so they escape outside and run to the spot where the portal dropped them. The portal is gone, Macy can’t control her fire power enough to use it and the demon follows close behind them. Macy decides to bluff her way through a confrontation with the demon while Mel, Maggie and Harry find a way back to the Command Center.
Macy tells the demon they can both die or they can both go home, and suggests they choose option B. The demon replies that he can’t agree to that because they’re at war. The demons are coming for the witches.
Harry explains to Mel and Maggie that the portal system should include a return mechanism. Maggie remembers the marble she pocketed before they left. She throws it and it turns into their portal. Harry yells to Macy just as the demon goes for her.
They all make it safely back to the Command Center. With Harry’s help, they now understand that the blue lights on the witch map represent safe witches and the red lights signify a witch in danger. Every witch in the world is represented. The Command Center is supposed to be staffed by a Whitelighter who monitors the witchboard.
The destruction of the Book of Shadows triggered the portal that brought them here. They are now untraceable because their auras and powers were stripped. The Elders wanted to give witches the choice to live normal human lives. They can’t go back to their normal lives as long as the demon assassin is chasing them. The Book of Elders has the knowledge of how to restore their powers, but they’ll need to learn to decipher it before they can use its spells.
Harry says that he couldn’t tell what the assassin looked like under his cloak. Macy asks what happened after they went through they portal. Harry tells them that he died. The assassin stabbed him in the heart and the next thing he remembers is waking up in his grave, even though he should have stayed dead. He couldn’t find the Charmed Ones, so he tried to ask other Whitelighters for help. He discovered that the rest of the Whitelighters are dead. They were created by the Elders and tethered to them. When the Elders went extinct, so did the Whitelighters. Harry survived because Fiona severed his connection to the Elders in season 1.
Harry and the Charmed Ones are the only protection left for all of the witches in the world. Later, they have a drink upstairs in Safe Space Seattle and agree to continue on together with their mission of protecting witches, rather than try to live normal human lives. They toast to the Power of Four.
Harry brings them up to the roof of the building to show them his surprise for their living arrangements. They’re confused, because it appears to be an empty rooftop. When Harry walks across roof and takes a step up, their family home appears, completely intact. Harry explains that it’s bound to them, forever, so it came through the portal with them. It’s cloaked for security purposes.
Mel, Maggie and Macy follow Harry inside. They decide that they’ll make sure tomorrow is a better day than today. They’re going to be proactive about going after the assassin and fighting the demon war, rather than waiting for their enemies to find them.
Harry goes up to the attic and remembers the moment when he died. He saw the assassin’s face, and it was his own.
Totally here for good and evil twin Harrys this season. We can never have too much Harry. Or too much Harry and Macy. Or too much Harry in a leather jacket.
The demon who attacks the Charmed Ones at home isn’t just any demon. It’s powerful enough to defeat the Charmed Ones and a Whitelighter, plus destroy their Book of Shadows, within a few minutes. It was able to spook Harry by appearing to him as himself, and make Macy think she was hearing his voice over a long distance.
The Charmed Ones have already shown that they are still powerful women, even without their magic. We had references to the Wizard of Oz in this episode, in which, as Katrina reminded Mel, Dorothy declared she wasn’t a witch at all. But by the end of the story, Dorothy has been the most effective character of all. She’s a witch. Even if she doesn’t speak her intentions out loud via spells, her magic and power flow through her, bringing change to the world and inspiring others.
I’ve only seen a few episodes of the original Charmed, so I’m going to let this version stand alone. It’s not the first or last remake to do things differently from the original. That’s how concepts stay fresh- they’re reinvented for each generation. Charmed is drawing from more than just its namesake, and is all the better for it. (I’m going to privately consider Anya the witch an homage to Anya the demon from Buffy, my favorite character.)
I’m glad that Harry is continuing to get his own storylines, since I followed Rupert Evans here from The Man in the High Castle last season. But I really, really don’t need to watch him die anymore this year, okay? No more tragic Harry/Frank deaths for a while. Let’s pursue that semi-forbidden love story between Harry and Macy instead.
They definitely have chemistry, but in season 1 he was more like the sisters’ father. I spent the whole second half of season 1 not knowing what to do with Macy and Harry’s romantic chemistry. Maybe the show needs to work on having Harry seem more like a brother than a father to Mel and Maggie. That would require them to give the women their powers back and give them lots of practice time so they become proficient. Maybe a bit of a time jump mid season, when they have Mel stop time frequently for a few weeks while they practice non stop.
They’ll also need to reconfigure the Command Center so that it’s set up with a science lab and whatever else they need for their own specific talents. The Elders were very old school and the Center clearly isn’t prepared for the issues modern witches face, just like the Elders also weren’t prepared.
I liked season 1 of Charmed, but I’m excited to see where the new showrunners take us. The new setting feels modern and fresh, while the big city, the portal system and their new mission open up unlimited possibilities for storylines. After the bloodbath that was season 1, they managed to make the change without killing anyone else, so the characters who were left alive can still show up at Safe Space, like Jada, Lucy, Parker and Niko.
I was hoping the house had magically cleaned itself up on the way to Seattle, but no such luck. After that long, long day, with no witchy powers, the sisters still have a messy house to deal with. And you know Mel won’t let them put it off for long.
Guest: “Hello? We ordered room service an hour ago. (A rat runs up to her.) That’s it. We are gonna Yelp you so hard, your own mother won’t even stay here.”
Rat Demon takes human form: “Yelp this, b*tch!”
She could have been nicer about the delay, but that did end up being a terrible hotel experience, you have to admit.
Images coutesy of The CW.