Charmed Season 2 Episode 9: Guess Who’s Coming to SafeSpace Seattle Recap

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The Vera-Vaughn witches return from their winter hiatus with the Darklighter once again in play and another family member back from the dead. SafeSpace Seattle has a new billionaire owner with some ambitious ideas that could interfere with the sisters’ use of the command center. Macy finds him intriguing and wants to know more, both professionally and romantically. Jordan deals with the consequences of Parker’s attack.

Recap

Maggie and Jordan’s idea of a friend date has evolved into pretend muggings on dark city streets. Parker spooked Jordan with that jealous attack before the holidays, and he wants to be sure Maggie can protect herself.

When Maggie gets home, Mel is boiling a kettle of water on the table using her new superpower of molecular manipulation. She’s just achieved a new personal best of under 30 seconds from cold water to steam, but they both agree the power needs a cooler name.

Or at least something that’s less of a tongue twister to spit out in a crisis. Mel suggests Matter Mastery. That does at least roll off the tongue.

Time has passed at the same rate on Charmed as it has in the real world, so it’s been about a month and a half since everything happened in episode 8 with Parker and Abby. Mel doesn’t like the idea of Maggie getting close to Jordan because she’s afraid he’ll get hurt again. Maggie tells her that her heart is closed up tight after Parker’s latest betrayal. She insists that she’s focused on working on herself for now and displays her lightning fast reflexes when Mel slides her a cup of cocoa.

She then promptly has a vision of a neon motel sign, the Darklighter’s clawed, circular weapon (the chakram), and another cloaked hit monster. She tells Mel about it.

Macy is in the Command Center experimenting with black amber, but so far it hasn’t brought her normal witch powers back. Harry reminds her that it could take a while, and she still has her demon powers in the meantime. She makes a dig at him about how much he likes demon powers, referring to his interest in Abby.

Before they can discuss her jealousy and disapproval further, Mel and Maggie rush downstairs, saying they’ve found the Safe Harbor Motel from Maggie’s vision. It’s in Newark, NJ. Macy isn’t sure how to handle finding out that the Darklighter is alive. As Harry points out, it makes sense, since he also came back from the grave.

Maggie is ready to find and take on the Darklighter again, but Macy wants to stay away from him. She feels too vulnerable to his influence. Maggie asks Macy to cover for her at work upstairs in SafeSpace instead. It was Maggie’s turn to act as tour guide.

As Macy prepares to begin the tour, one man asks an excessive number of questions. Macy gets testy with him and sends the group for kombucha. She helps Swan set up chairs and asks for advice on how to handle difficult tourists. Swan tells her there’s a trick to it. Then she points out the new majority investor in SafeSpace, who’ll be speaking in a few minutes- the same man who was hassling Macy during the tour. He’s Julian Shea (Eric Balfour), tech billionaire and philanthropist. “He puts the vision in visionary.”

Swan is even more beside herself with excitement than usual. I hope he lives up to her expectations. Or his cover isn’t blown. Or she gets a boyfriend soon. I think Parker’s available and knows where SafeSpace is.

Julian notices them watching him and comes over. Macy apologizes for being a lousy tour guide and tells him she’s actually a scientist so she doesn’t need social skills. He gives her a thousand watt smile and admits that he was trying to rattle her. Swan jumps on his hand and shakes it too, also enthusiastically introducing herself.

The song in the background is about wolves among us, FYI. It plays over both Julian and Macy and Jordan with his girlfriend, Lola. There’s deception afoot among the visionaries.

Jordan and his temporary girlfriend, Lola, are studying constitutional law in the lounge area, but she gets upset that he’s distracted by Maggie’s problems again and walks out on him.

Well, Lola’s not wrong to be worried about the effect Maggie will probably have on Jordan’s life and the way that will probably draw them closer together. But the concussion Parker gave him is probably the least of his problems in the long run.

Harry, Maggie and Mel check out the motel from Maggie’s vision. Harry has to peak into each room until he finds the correct one, which is booby trapped. The room’s occupant climbs in through the window while they’re investigating. It’s their supposedly dead father, Ray Vera. He thought they were dead, too, after the house supposedly burned down.

It’s good to be reminded occasionally that the Charmed Ones faked their own deaths and are technically on the run.

Harry grabs Ray and demands to know who he really is, so Ray proves his identity by using his daughters’ nicknames: Torito and Little Bug. Maggie tries to hit Ray, but Mel stops her and asks Harry to give them a minute alone. She dumps out his bags and tells him she knows he’s lying to them.

He admits that he’s not just an archeology professor. He’s also an antiquities thief, like Indiana Jones. He steals from the digs sponsored by the university he works for and sells to the rich and unscrupulous through intermediaries. Recently, he sold something to the wrong person and is in some kind of trouble, so he’s on the run. He’s not even sure why they’re after him. He faked his death to throw them off his trail. He tells the girls to leave right now, before his enemies catch up to them, but they refuse to go until they sort out his connection to the Darklighter and Maggie’s vision.

They find the chakram in his bag. Harry spots the new assassin in the parking lot. Ray says he lost the monster a week ago in Georgia. He thinks they should escape through the bathroom window, because he’s ultimately a small time criminal who’s listened to the Beatles too much. Harry knocks Ray out and orbs them all out of the room, just as the assassin is opening the door.

Julian begins his talk by saying, “Good evening, idiots!” instead of referring to them as visionaries. Then he tells them that he’s the real visionary in the room and brags about his achievements. But he’ll let them stand next to him, because they know how to dream big, just like him.

He wants to get ahead of climate change and make it irrelevant by farming underground. He’s going to turn the sewers of Seattle into a subterranean Eden using UV lights and hydroponic technology and in the process take complete control of the local food supply- burn through tons of fuel instead of using the sun to grow food- get ahead of a food crisis he’s just now manufacturing.

Nothing about that sounds sustainable, but it sure does sound profitable, if you convince people that your food is the only pure food and use your billions to sabotage farmers growing food on the surface. It would also lessen the need to protect the surface environment, so corporations could continue their current destructive practices. You think I sound cynical? I’ve been paying attention to corporate agriculture for the last 30 years. Nothing good can come of this plan. We don’t want our food supply to be even more strictly controlled by a few billionaires.

Macy looks like she thinks this is a great idea, until Julian announces that the pilot program will be underneath SafeSpace Seattle. Oops. Looks like the Command Center will become a corn field.

Harry gets Ray settled on the couch at the house and leaves Maggie and Mel to decide what to do with him. They’re inclined to send him away, but they need to question him about the chakram, so they wake him up. Ray is confused, because he saw the house he’s in burn down. Off camera, they tell him the truth about themselves and their mother.

Macy asks Julian out to dinner, since it’s the only way she can get enough time with him to convince him not to build underneath SafeSpace. He’s so excited that someone had the confidence to ask him out, he accepts.

Ray the compulsive liar doesn’t believe his daughters at first. They have to demonstrate their magic for him. But learning that his wife was lying to him for their entire marriage is one of the best things that can happen to a guy like Ray. Suddenly, he’s off the hook as the bad guy and can play the magnanimous injured party. Then he imagines the secrets of ancient civilizations the family witches must hold, which he could sell, and demands to be shown more.

Mel wants her questions answered instead and shows him the chakram. Before he can answer, Macy walks in. She and Harry chat in the kitchen while she mixes up some influencer potion to use on Julian during dinner. He agrees with her that under these circumstances, roofying the billionaire is regrettable, but necessary.

Harry is sad that Macy has a date and it’s not him. But she quickly walks out of the room before he can openly react to her news.

Jordan can’t concentrate on his studies because he’s having flashbacks to Parker’s visit to his gym. Parker called Maggie by her last name, which Jordan didn’t know before that night. Armed with a full name, Jordan can now cyberstalk Maggie, so of course he does.

Since she was a popular young woman who “died” a tragic and sudden death, he easily finds all of the tributes to her from her old school and sorority. If Jordan wasn’t obsessed with Maggie before, the combination of Parker’s jealous attack and the tribute pages guarantee that he can’t stop wondering what the rest of her story is and if she needs more protection.

She’s the perkiest femme fatale ever with a backstory straight out of a forties noir. And the best wardrobe ever. OMG, I love the top she’s wearing in this next scene, where they’re interrogating her father. 💖💖💖

Ray admits that he snuck back into the house after Marisol died and stole magical items that he thought of as part of as her antiquities collection. He took one particularly juicy talisman about the size of his hand that had a carving of an eye and runes so old he didn’t recognize the language. Harry reacts strongly to the description of the piece.

Ray sold it on the black market, then a year later someone knocked his door, wanting to know where it came from. Rather than lead them to his daughters, he skipped town. The next thing he knew, the house had burned to the ground. He went back to the house, looking for any sign of the girls, but there wasn’t any. He found the chakram in the ashes. He’d sold it to the same buyers a few months previously, so he thought they must have killed his daughters.

Mel realizes that he faked his death to avoid dying like he thought his daughters did. Both girls are disgusted with him. Ray explains that they keep finding him, even though he’s careful to leave no trace of his presence behind. They figure out that there must be a trace on him and search the items in his bag.

Ray insists that he’s not carrying a tracker. Harry finds a small Minoan box from 3,000 BC that has something inside. Ray stole it from a museum in Crete- faking your death is expensive. Mel and Maggie do a “Full Disclosure” spell to open the box.

There’s a ram’s head figurine inside. When Ray picks it up, it glows, then sends out a powerful wave of magic then ends with the house being fully visible.

Macy and Julian discuss early computer scientists and discover they have a lot in common. They move on the his underground farm and Macy brings up every environmental objection she can think of, but Julian has had several types of site surveys done. After she brings up the underground migration corridor of a local salamander, he wonders if she has another motive. But his phone buzzes and he has to take the call, interrupting their conversation.

When they realize that the house is uncloaked, Mel and Maggie demand that Ray hand over the figurine. He balks, insisting that it’s worth even more money now, since it’s magical. Mel and Maggie yell at him, so he hands it over, but it magically pops back into to his hand. This happens every time he hands it to one of them.

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Mel and Harry decide to give up on the figurine and go to the Command Center to work on a spell to recloak the house. Maggie stays with Ray and the ram’s head in the house.

When Julian gets off the phone, he tells Macy that they’ve decided to postpone excavating underneath SafeSpace until they consult with an environmental biologist. He wants to do this right. Macy is happy she didn’t have to use the influencer potion after all.

Except she’s already put it into Julian’s wine, so now she has to get rid of it before he drinks it.

Or she could let him drink it and influence him in some other way. Maybe he should sign the property over to the Charmed Ones? The world would be safer if they had financial and physical security. Just sayin’.

Julian makes a toast to honesty, emotions and salamanders and Macy smashes their glasses together, spilling the potion.

Maybe he’ll absorb it through his pants and be suggestable for the rest of the evening.

Maggie sits outside and looks at the stars. Ray joins her and reminds her that he used to teach her the constellations and their stories. Her favorite was Orion the Hunter.

Hold that thought.

Maggie doesn’t remember those times. She just remembers her dad leaving her and not understanding what happened. He explains that his marriage crashed and burned. He tries to pass the problems off equally as both his and Marisol’s fault.

Maggie says that what’s important to her is that Marisol was there- she had a mother who raised her, that she could depend on, but her father was a ghost. Maggie asks why he abandoned them so thoroughly, even on holidays and birthdays. He doesn’t really have an answer, beyond trying to say he didn’t want to.

He didn’t want to think of himself as someone who would do that to his children. But he didn’t want to put in the effort to be there for them either. Like every other father who thinks they tried to be a good father and some invisible phantom stopped them.

It was hard for Marisol to stay and raise the girls alone through every setback, but she did it. She is the hero who deserves sympathy and to come back from the dead, not this scumbag. He deserves nothing.

Maggie says that she just wanted her dad to love her and he wasn’t there to do that. Then she gets up and walks away before he can hug her.

Mel wishes they had sent Ray to Siberia. They find the figurine in the Book of Elders. It’s a protection totem called the Stone of Atreus that’s supposed to guard the Island of Crete. Mel marvels at what a failure her father is as a protector. The stone clings to its thief. It has a remorseless magical guardian called The Fury who won’t stop until he’s recovered it.

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Macy and Julian return to SafeSpace, where she uses a low Ph home remedy to remove the wine stain from his clothing. He asks about her career as a scientist. She says that she had to sacrifice it for her family. He agrees that family is important, but so are your own dreams. But then he says that, “The unexpected detour sometimes has the best view, because you never know what’s right around the corner.”

Maggie looks at Orion out of the window in her room and remembers her father talking about it. She runs downstairs to tell him that she remembers. He takes her hand and she has a vision of the Fury, the protection monster, finding him and sucking out his soul or something.

The monster knocks down the door within seconds. It grabs Ray. When Maggie hits it with her baton, it clones itself, so there are 2 monsters. Mel and Harry grab Macy on their way by and rush back up to the house.

Maggie and Ray run up to the attic. The monster follows. Harry, Macy and Mel orb in. Macy throws demon fire at it, which turns it into three monsters. Harry tells Ray to give it the stone.

When Ray takes out the stone, it turns back into one monster and opens its mouth wide. Ray puts the stone inside. The monster disappears and the house is recloaked. There was some soul sucking of Maggie and Ray, but no way to tell if it left lasting damage yet.

Later, Mel and Maggie wonder if Ray has left for good, but it turns out he was at the liquor store picking up rum for the coquito. He notices that they still have his favorite mug. It’s the mug Maggie was using earlier when she had the vision of Ray’s motel. Mel figures out that objects which have been used by someone can help Maggie focus her visions.

They drink to being a family again.

Oy, girls, have we learned nothing? Don’t settle in too much. The man has sticky hands and itchy feet.

Harry and Macy work on house repairs and worry about whether Ray is sticking around for the right reasons. Harry notes that Ray was probably responsible for releasing the Darklighter.

At SafeSpace the next day, Maggie thanks Jordan for being a good man. He starts to tell her he knows one of her secrets, then chickens out and tells her to enjoy her java. She goes to the utility room and the Command Center. Jordan follows her into the utility room, but can’t figure out where she’s disappeared to.

She’s growing more mysterious by the minute. Does Jordan love a good mystery to solve?


Commentary

This episode expands Maggie’s powers to include psychometry, the use of physical objects to enhance scrying. Physical objects absorb energy from the people who use them frequently, and that lingering energy signature can be tapped into by psychics with a talent for it. The object used in the reading is referred to as a token-object. There were hints in the episode that Ray might have some latent talent for psychometry, given his ability to home in on the most precious and/or magical items in a room.

I have issues with deadbeat dads, but Ray is a well-written character. We’ve already seen a bit of Marisol (though not enough) and what her daughters have inherited from her- their talents for organization, persistence, loyalty, stability, strength, intelligence, magic, creativity, and subterfuge. Now we’re finding out that Mel gets her academic streak from Ray and Maggie learned how to use her empathy to work people from him. Ray also taught them the arts of subterfuge and gentle manipulation.

Mel saw how destructive Ray’s way of life can be, and wants to reject it in favor of honesty, but can’t stop herself from trying to control other people’s lives. Or wiping their memories clean (Nikko). Or using them in rituals without their consent (Kat). Her molecular mastery (and previously, her time control) comes out of this need to control her life and the world around her so that it will make sense and feel safe, a personality trait she was born with which was enhanced by the trauma of losing and relosing her father, then her mother, then finding out she has another sister who was kept from her, etc.

Maggie prefers to appear too nice to hurt anyone, like her father, and uses that niceness as a strategy, though I don’t think she always consciously realizes she’s doing it. Ray calculates his every move. Occasionally he has good intentions he can’t follow through with, but at his age he knows his own patterns. Maggie keeps talking and smiling and appearing harmless until she convinces everyone it’s the truth, including herself (Jordan, Parker, everyone in season 1…). She doesn’t want to be like Ray, so part of her journey as a witch is accepting that it’s okay to be dangerous and angry for a good cause.

Maggie’s young enough that she hasn’t fully realized her own talents yet, but I suspect that she’s also very observant, since that tends to go along with empathy. So far the show is giving that trait more to Mel and slowly having Maggie realize her gifts, such as her cat-like reflexes. In order to react to Jordan the way she did on the street in the opening scene, she has to be using her entire aura to sense the world, the way a psychic who’s fully awake or a thief who’s afraid of being caught does. Mel noted during the episode that Ray taught her to play poker, so this could be another skill that he handed down to his girls that will only blossom now that he’s back in their lives. Like thieves and con men, gamblers have a use for empathy and hyper awareness of their surroundings.

Macy’s journey in this episode was to be the one who is left out. She’s lost her career, while Mel and Maggie have each found meaningful work to help the family- Mel in reconstructing the Book of Shadows and Maggie in being a SafeSpace manager. Maggie and Mel have gotten their regular witch powers and an extra power back, and she hasn’t. Magicwise, she’s still just a demon, the enemy of the witches. Her father is dead, while their father came back.

Maggie and Mel’s ex lovers and potential lovers have buzzed around, while Gavin remains firmly out of the picture and the Darklighter is a non starter. Harry is half a person, the good half, and you can’t blame Macy for wondering how that would affect their relationship long term, when she has an extra dose of the dark side. Plus, he was their father/brother figure. Going from that to lover is a big switch to accomplish.

(I love Harry desperately, but that’s a lot of goodness to live up to.)

Macy is an intelligent, mature, well-adjusted person, but everyone has a breaking point and everyone gets fooled and taken advantage of occasionally. Abigail and Julian combined seem primed to create a bad situation for her in the second half of the season. Abigail is everything she could be, but won’t allow herself. Julian holds the keys to making her dreams come true, but at what cost?

Harry and the Darklighter are two halves of one whole, so their lives are likely bound together. Harry’s immortality has probably been partially created by keeping the Darklighter’s half of his soul safe. The Darklighter is similar to a horcrux, besides a way to make the Whitelighters purely good and self- sacrificing. I assume that eventually the two halves of Harry’s soul will be reunited so that he can be a whole person again. The Charmed Ones will find a way for him to keep his magic, since they have the original spell to work with. Maybe Jada, the child of a Whitelighter, will come into it somehow as well.

There’s no way Julian is just a plain old vanilla human billionaire. He practically has “ancient demon who’s one step away from being the devil himself” stamped on his forehead. I know indoor farming is a big deal in sustainability circles these days, but that plan for the SafeSpace basement was definitely a cover for opening up a Hellmouth or starting a venomous slime mold farm or growing a colony of mutated vampire bats. Trust me on this one.

On the other hand, his interest in Macy is real- consider her resume. She’s a part demon/part witch/Charmed One scientist who just finished helping Alistair’s ex-wife cure his son of being part human (or part demon, depending on your point of view- both happened, IIRC) and she successfully absorbed the Source of All Evil. He’d be lucky to have a brilliant, powerful, sturdy scientist like her working in his demonic lab.


 

Maggie and Mel’s reunion with their father is a typical family reunion- They go through the usual period of accusations, lies, skepticism, anger, demands for the truth, and observation of minute details to catch the other party in their lies. There should be more eating, small acts of revenge and violence, and imbibing of drugs and alcohol, but I guess the magic and antiquities thefts are metaphorical substitutes.

Your family doesn’t do this at reunions? You must not come from a Dynasty-style family made up of constantly warring factions like the Vera-Vaughns and I do. Season 1’s  in-fighting and dying elder witches seemed pretty realistic to me. Now the younger generation of demons/witches are even more violent and vindictive than their elders were. The parents’ generation is of no use whatsoever and are mainly selfish addicts who ran around with each other’s partners and lied about it. Spot on.

This is the most realistic show I watch.

The witches and demons could accomplish anything, but all they do is get into petty fights over power or material goods and ruin the world. It’s left to the 3 Charmed Ones and a few other brave and resilient souls, like Marisol and Harry, to attempt to break out of the negative patterns of the past.

At least Ray admits he’s deeply flawed. He also practices the fine art of gaslighting on his daughters as often as possible. It’s important to remember, over this episode and the next, that Ray is a compulsive thief, con man, deadbeat dad and professional liar. He abandoned his family and now Marisol isn’t here to correct his rewritten version of events. Gaslighting can be done in a gentle, loving way that’s even more insidious than when it’s done in anger. It’s much harder to argue with someone who seems to be acting kindly toward  you.

Maggie: “What’s next, selling us to the highest bidder?”

I expect that it will take many episodes, maybe even until next season, and he won’t do it until he has to directly trade their lives for his, but yes, eventually it will come down to Ray choosing his own life over his daughters. Everything in his story points to this. Neither he nor Marisol were really committed to each other, and, despite what he said in this episode, they both wanted it that way. The most important things to him are the thrill of the theft and the money from the sale. The only way he’d stay close to someone would be if they shared his love for the game.

Everything in the sisters’ and Harry’s lives points to them only being able to count on each other in the long term. Jordan seems like he could be an exception, but it seems early in the series to give Maggie a long-term, stable boyfriend, so I think he’ll be her guardian angel for another season. She’s not really done with Parker yet.

Images courtesy of The CW.

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