Welcome to the first recap of Woke Charmed! Or should I say… welcome to your doom.
The episode starts with a woman offscreen creepily whispering, “This is not a witch hunt.” Then we cut to slutty youngest sister creeping down a dark hallway in a way that supposed to seem like a horror movie, but in actuality, she’s trying to sneak out of the house for a Greek theme party. She’s quickly busted by bitchy lesbian older sister, who is angry at her for stealing her boots for the theme party. Sisters, right? That’s a thing sisters do! Always borrowing each other’s clothes, always being mad about it. Dialogue is a thing we can write! Stereotypical banter ensues: “The Greek system is an oppressive misogynistic homophobic institution of cisnormative hedonism”; “Wah wah you just don’t want me to have any fun.”
Their arguing is interrupted by the sound of their mother on the phone yelling about how this isn’t a witch hunt, it’s a RECKONING!! It turns out the sisters’ mother is a Women’s Studies professor who is trying to get another professor ousted because, surprise, he is a rapist! Or a harrasser. Or something. #MeToo relevancy. But nobody believes her, of course, because she is a WAMAN, and on top of it, his victim is unable to testify because she’s in a mysterious coma.
After hanging up the phone, their mom proceeds to give them a stereotypical “I’m so proud of you, never forget that you’re sisters” peptalk for no apparent reason.
Then the girls go out for the evening. Bitchy older sister (Mel) texts her girlfriend to get naked. Right now. Right this second. No foreplay. Get fucking naked.
(Side note: This is probably supposed to be a surprise when it’s revealed that she is a lesbian, but she acts so much like America Chavez that literally no one is surprised.)
Meanwhile, slutty younger sister (Maggie) is annoyed because her ex-boyfriend doesn’t want her walking through Rape Woods alone in the dark in a miniskirt and crop top. It’s so patriarchal of him to try to police her body and practically accuse her of asking for it by dressing like a whore and walking into the woods in the dark by herself! How dare he try to white knight her, following her to “protect” her, offering her a ride to the party, as if she’s not a strong waman who can take care of herself!
Both the girls’ fun evenings out are soon interrupted by a panicked text from their mother telling them to come home immediately because she’s about to get murdered by a bunch of crows. A murder of crows, in fact. Or it might be an unkindness of ravens, but the crow pun works better. As they swarm about her, she screams, “Hear this, I have three!”
The girls don’t make it home in time to help their mom, though, because Maggie is too busy trying to impress Regina George so she can join her sorority. Because, of course, this is TV, therefore the sorority is filled with stereotypical Mean Girls — you can’t expect a show about feminism and sisterhood to not shit on women’s clubs that emphasize sisterhood! Mel, having de-nakified in record time, shows up to drag her sister home, but not before getting in a good screech at the fraternity boys about rape culture. (This is not a joke — the words “rape culture” are literally used. She turns to a couple making out on the couch on their way out the door and says to the girl, “Remember, when it comes to consent, you can change your mind at any time!”)
When the girls finally get home, they find their mother dead on the ground outside the house. It looks like she’s committed suicide by jumping out the third-floor window, but we know better than that.
The title card pops up, and then on-screen text that explains three months have passed. Now we meet a Beautiful Black Woman named Macy who is looking for a house to rent with her “friend.” They walk past the house of Maggie and Mel, and Macy has a moment. Friend(zone) assumes that it’s because she saw the house on the news, but we know better than that.
Later, in a generic lab where everyone wears white coats and does Science, Macy researches the news story about the house on her laptop and freaks out when she sees the photo of the dead woman. However, she is interrupted by a creepy old white guy who looks like a wax museum figure of Tim Conway. This is the professor that Dead Mom was trying to get fired, but now that she’s gone, he has been reinstated and absolved, and the patriarchy lives on. He creeps on Macy, sending a chill down her spine, then rolls away — I’m not entirely sure whether he’s in a wheelchair or if he actually is just rolling in his desk chair like a weirdo.
Some people aren’t happy that he’s been reinstated and absolved, though. Mel is angrily posting flyers all over the campus demanding his removal. In the midst of her flyering, she is approached by a British man whose audacity in daring to speak to her makes her grind her teeth loud enough to be heard from five feet away. He tells her he enjoyed her article in the latest issue of Critical Inquiry, which made him feel, quote, “As though my penis had been torn from my body.” This pleases her, but unfortunately, it turns out that this man has replaced her mother as head of the Women’s Studies department, and therefore she hates him because he is a cis male. He defends himself by pointing out that he’s had articles published in twelve reputable feminist journals, and that one of his articles was retweeted by Roxane Gay, but she remains unimpressed.
I want you to know that I am quoting all of this verbatim. None of this is made up or exaggerated.
After leaving British Guy standing awkwardly in the hallway, Mel goes outside where she begins stapling walls of flyers to every flat surface. A men’s rights activist — no, I’m not kidding — comes up and tells her that by flyering without a permit she’s committing vandalism. She tells him to fuck off, and then he starts smugly arguing that Professor Rapey McRaperton is innocent because he had a hearing and was cleared of all charges. She screeches at him that he couldn’t be exonerated when the main witness against him was in a coma and therefore couldn’t testify, and the MRA starts bullet-point listing all the things that you would expect a feminist to expect an MRA to say: “blah blah due process, blah blah he-said she-said, blah blah the victim is clearly unstable,” etc.
We are 10 minutes into the episode.
Mel winds up punching the MRA and gets in trouble with the cops. It turns out that her naked girlfriend from the beginning of the episode is actually a detective with the Hilltowne PD. She looks like she is approximately 23 years old, a perfectly normal age for someone to be a detective and not a rookie cop working swing shift at the jail. She is also apparently now Mel’s ex-girlfriend, because they broke up because Mel went psycho(-er?) when her mom died. After the cops leave, Maggie comes in and gives Mel the stereotypical “you’re losing it” speech and announces that she has been rushing Regina George’s sorority for the last month and is going to be moving into the sorority house. This leaves me with a lot of questions:
- MONTH-long recruitment?
- Rushing only one sorority rather than going through the standard Panhellenic all-sorority recruitment?
- What time of year is it?? Recruitment happens at the beginning of the semester??
But of course I shouldn’t expect any answers to these questions, this is a goddamn TV show. I can’t even fault Woke Charmed specifically for this, it happens in everything.
Anyway, while they’re arguing, there’s a knock at the door. It’s Macy! What a surprise! We didn’t see this one coming! They open the door and she announces out of the middle of nowhere that she thinks she is their sister. She shows them a photo of herself as a baby being held by their mother in front of the house. When the other two see the picture, there’s a spark of lightning and the power goes out.
Oh, right — this show is Charmed! I forgot, what with all the feminism, that there’s actually, you know, magic!
Macy explains that she found the photo after her father died. Mel accuses her of being a grifter and tells her to fuck off. Macy runs away, meeting up with Friendzone at a bar. He asks her what her father had told her about her mother. She says he told her that her mother died when she was two, so, obvious lying going on there. When Friendzone tells her he thinks she should try talking to Maggie and Mel again, Macy makes a bottle fly across the bar with her magic rage and then runs out in a panic.
We cut to Maggie on a house tour with a bunch of other girls who are rushing. Regina George informs the rushees that this isn’t just a social sorority — Kappa is woke.
YES. REALLY. THAT’S WHAT SHE SAYS.
After we finish cringing from that line, Maggie shakes hands with a couple of the sisters and when she touches them she’s able to read their minds. They of course are thinking stuff like, “Ew, she worked in the dining hall last semester!” Which is definitely what people in college think about other people in college. This is completely normal and very realistic. Realizing she’s reading minds, Maggie runs out in a panic.
The last one to get her powers is America Chavez, I mean Mel, who is able to freeze time. She discovers this while on a non-date with her ex-girlfriend, who is concerned that she’s unraveling. The fact that she keeps freezing and unfreezing time at random intervals does little to convince her otherwise. Completing the trinity, Mel runs out of the coffee shop in a panic.
Now that the girls all have their magic, it’s time for kidnapping! British Guy from the beginning of the episode grabs them all and ties them up in the attic of their house. But don’t worry! There is a reasonable explanation! The girls are witches, destined to save the world from impending doom! And he needed to kidnap them and tie them up in the attic of their house in order to tell them that! He is a very excellent male feminist guy!
He explains to them that they are the Charmed Ones, the most powerful trio of witches in the world. Their mother, also a witch, bound their powers when they were babies so that they could live normal lives, but now their powers are awakening. British Guy (Harry) is an advisor to witches, also known as a Whitelighter. He’s also dead, or something. A ghost? He died in 1957? But he’s also the new head of the Women’s Studies department, so non-witch people can obviously see him. IDK?
Harry informs them that their mother was murdered by a demon because the apocalypse is upon us. He gives them the Book of Shadows, which prophesies that there are three signs of the apocalypse:
- The first step of the apocalypse is Trump becoming president. NO, THIS IS NOT A JOKE. THIS IS REAL. THEY REALLY SAID THIS.
- Trump’s presidency starting the ball rolling, the senior witches (such as their mother) begin to fall.
- And then the portal to Hell opens.
Apparently their mom recognized Trump’s election as the portent from the Book of Shadows, so it turns out that she anonymously sent Macy the grant application that got her the job at the Science lab so that she would come to Hilltowne so she could unseal her powers. Upon being told this Macy, a Scientist, explains that there can be no such thing as witchcraft, and that there must be a Scientific explanation. Macy, also being a superhuman prodigy, has also already mastered her witchcraft, even though she doesn’t even believe in it.
Harry gives them the Book of Shadows and tells them that they have 48 hours to choose whether they want to accept their witchly destiny — “Being a witch is a fully pro-choice enterprise.” If they decide not to become witches, they will lose their powers and every thing supernatural that happened over the last two days will be undone.
Mel, believe it or not, is immediately on board because, quote, “Throughout history, strong women were called witches, and they are. We are.” She feels they have a moral duty to take on their role as witches in order to shift the power dynamics of the world. I know you all think I am kidding by now, but I’m not. I am quoting this dialogue verbatim.
Maggie, though, doesn’t have time for this, because she’s too busy rushing Regina George’s sorority. And Macy, being a Scientist, has to go to the lab and do some research about this before she can decide — think of a logical explanation! Science this shit!
However, on the way to the rush event, Maggie is attacked in the woods by a demon dog who drools green slime on her. This being physical evidence that Macy can Science, they have a sisters’ meeting (apparently now they are just cool with Macy being their sister) and Macy puts the green slime on a microscope and determines that it’s some sort of hydrochloric acid. Mel wants to use the Book of Shadows to hunt the demon dog down; Maggie wants to lie low for the next 24 hours, wait for their powers to go away, and go back to living a normal life; Macy wants to use baking soda to counteract the hydrochloric acid because Science.
While Macy goes to raid the kitchen, Harry pops in and informs the sisters that a demon dog must have a demon owner, so they need to be on the lookout for whoever is controlling the dog. Mel and Maggie reason that only people in the sorority knew that Maggie was on her way to the Kappa house, so it must be somebody from the sorority who sent the dog. The obvious choice, of course, is Regina George! That would explain everything, wouldn’t it? Not just an evil sorority, but a demon sorority!
While they all argue about how to deal with this demonic threat, Maggie steps outside and gets a bag put over her head. Two kidnappings in one episode! When the bag is removed she finds herself in the Kappa house, where everyone is dressed like angels, and a row of girls sit in chairs around Maggie while Regina George informs them that they are all now officially part of Kappa. Was this kidnapping their bid day? Their initiation? Who even knows, I can’t figure out how these fake TV sororities work. I will say that if this was supposed to be initiation, frankly, it wasn’t weird enough. I may be willing to defend real sororities and say that they’re not all made up of psychotic Mean Girls, but I won’t lie and say that their initiation rituals aren’t freaky as hell.
Regina George tells Maggie to meet her upstairs because she has something for her. Mel bursts in with a box of baking soda just in time to throw it on Regina, who is not actually a demon. Apparently she was going to offer Maggie a drink from her secret stash. Whoops.
So if she’s not the demon… who is?
It’s Maggie’s ex-boyfriend, of course! The one who was following her through the woods earlier in the episode to protect her from her own slutty clothes. Apparently he knew she was on her way to the Kappa house that night because he’s a stalker. He tries to kiss her, she realizes he’s a demon, and then they have some witty repartee about how consent can be revoked at any stage during the sexual encounter.
But don’t worry, she’s able to fight him off thanks to the magic of Pilates!
Macy bursts in, throwing baking soda on him, which kills the demon and exorcises ex-boyfriend. He and Maggie then begin to make out because reasons. Afterward, the three sisters walk home and rehash the event and Maggie’s taste in men. Macy asks Mel why she didn’t just freeze time after throwing baking soda on Regina George, and Mel reveals that her powers only work when she’s not angry. Everyone laughs because, LOL. Mel? Not angry? So basically, her powers are never going to work.
In the night, Macy, being a Scientist, has an epiphany: she remembers that Harry and the sisters said something about it being cold at the house when their mom died, but it wasn’t cold in the sorority house when Macy threw the baking soda on ex-boyfriend, which means that the demon they killed was not the demon who killed their mom. When she runs downstairs to inform her sisters, she discovers that Mel has already left for a rally taking place at the campus to protest the reinstatement of Professor Rapey McRaperton. Macy then remembers that she felt cold when he was creeping on her at the beginning of the episode, and realizes who the real demon is.
I BET YOU’RE SURPRISED! ARE YOU SURPRISED? IT’S A REAL PLOT TWIST! A TWIST NO ONE SAW COMING!
We cut to a scene of the rally, where a group of men’s rights activists are standing on one side yelling, “Not all men! Not all men!” while a group of women wearing pussy hats, led by Mel, yell, “Believe wamen! Believe wamen!” The MRA that Mel punched at the beginning of the episode taunts and winks at her.
Mel doesn’t have time for him, though — her spider sense begins tingling, and she goes into the Generic Science Lab, where the drinking fountain has frozen over and her breath begins fogging up. Professor Rapey McRaperton waits inside, not in a wheelchair, so I guess he really was just rolling around in his desk chair for some reason. Professor McRaperton then turns into Jack Frost from The Santa Clause 3, and the final showdown begins.
As Maggie and Macy race to catch up with Mel, Macy informs Maggie that she found the demon’s profile in the Book of Shadows, revealing that his true name is Taydeus: “He’s an upper-level demon who’s lived for centuries feeding off of strong women, draining their strength.”
This was the point at which I fucking lost it and began howling with laughter so hard that I pulled several muscles and made my cat hide under the bed.
Maggie and Macy burst into the lab where Taydeus is confronting Mel, chased by MRA who for some reason suddenly now works for the lab? When before he had just been an undergrad, not even connected to the science department? He sees the demon and somehow immediately recognizes him as Professor McRapeyton even though he literally looks like Jack Frost now. The demon then impales him with an icicle, because even he can see how horrible men’s rights activists are. You think I’m making this up, but I’m not.
Mel freezes time, and they call for Harry to heal MRA and help them defeat Taydeus. Macy has found the spell in the Book of Shadows, but Harry informs them that it won’t work unless they accept the Power of Three. If they refuse, they’ll have no memory of anything that’s happened over the past 48 hours, including meeting each other — except I thought they met Macy more like 72 hours ago? But okay.
Of course, they accept their powers, join hands, and use the spell to defeat Taydeus, with Harry shouting out instructions at them like goddamn Tuxedo Mask. Before he dies, Jack Frost informs them that he is not actually the one who killed their mother, and “now it’s begun.” Apparently this guy was actually a demon pretending to be a human rather than a demon who’s possessed a human like ex-boyfriend, because he explodes after they kill him. No wonder he looked like a wax dummy in his human form.
After the demon explodes, the MRA stands up and says, “What was that?” Harry says he will wipe his memory, but the girls say no — let him remember. Let him try to tell other people about it. Let him see how many people believe him. Poetic justice.
The girls then strut away in slow motion, protesters behind them holding signs that say things like, “No means no!” and “End sexual harassment!”
The episode ends with a teaser for next episode: Macy moves into the house with her sisters, and Mel emerges from the attic holding a Ouija board. They use it to try to contact their mother, and the pointer immediately starts moving very rapidly. It spells out the words, “Don’t trust Harry.” As they read the words aloud, Harry appears behind them, and the episode ends.
Overall thoughts: This pilot was so incredibly woke that there were parts where I started suspecting that maybe this really wasn’t written by a feminist — maybe this was written by a shitlord trying to troll feminists. There were so many parts that were so on the nose it almost seemed self-aware. Regardless, it provided me with much hysterical laughter, so for entertainment value I gave it an A+.
On a more serious note, for a series that purports itself to be feminist, I noticed that the three main characters had a lot less agency than the original sisters from the 90s Charmed series. In the original pilot, the sisters find the Book of Shadows themselves; there’s no British guy to swoop in and explain everything to them. They awaken their powers themselves, and then they figure out how to use them themselves. Like I said in my intro, I’ve not seen beyond the first season of the original Charmed (I keep meaning to watch it on Netflix, but I never get around to it); I know from glancing on Wikipedia that Whitelighters do show up at some point (I have no clue if their function is anything like Harry’s, though), but when the series is first getting going, the sisters are pretty self-sufficient. The way that these girls needed everything explained to them by some guy seemed like it was undoing the whole “feminist” message. If the showrunner isn’t a secret shitlord, then that’s just one more layer of idiocy to this show.
Thanks for coming along on this woke journey and I will see you all next week with a recap of episode two!