MLW’s Note: I had just gotten clearance from our mighty overlords to start doing these on a more relaxed schedule rather than weekly because of time constraints and also because watching so much Woke Charmed in such a short duration was beginning to show signs of giving me brain damage. But then PanZagloba swooped in and decreed that the world shouldn’t be expected to wait for Woke Charmed, and volunteered to enact my labor for me. Who says voluntarism wouldn’t work as a model for society? So without further ado, here’s PanZagloba’s recap of episode 10!
First, a fair warning – unlike Mythical Libertarian Woman, I am no writer. I wrangle databases for living. Second, I never watched original Charmed, or any WB/CW shows except Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Veronica Mars, both of which rank very, very highly on my list.
Third, this episode is called “Keep Calm and Harry On”. Once again, the Woke Charmed writing team heads off any snarky titles by providing the optimal one (what am I supposed to use, “Keep Woke and Harridan On”?).
Previously on Woke Charmed: Maggie found out her crush is a demon; Mel was invited into Secret Society for the Overthrowing of Middle-Aged Women and Their Replacement by Other, Slightly Younger Women (Sarcana, not the Green Party); Connerparkerdude sent his brother to Tartarus and Harry went along for the ride; Friendzone found out that magic is real.
We fade from black on sounds of gunfire and screaming. A masked man holding a woman hostage says (in a British accent), “Stay back! I’m gonna kill her!” As people scatter, he drags her outside and we see a sign saying “Middleham Trust”, so it looks like we’re dealing with merely an armed robbery. He lets the hostage go, dumps his gun in a nearby rubbish bin, and runs off. In the background are a couple old-looking cars (50s? 60s?), and he’s soon nabbed by a bobby in an old-fashioned uniform. The mask comes off and it’s Harry. Yeah, I figured he was something bad in his prior life when he bragged how only the best become Whitelighters. I actually had him pegged as a demon, or Jack the Ripper, so this honestly seems a bit weak tea.
We cut back to present-day Harry, who is sitting in a red-lit room, getting stung by a scorpion. A ridiculously 80s-cartoon-villain-voice starts expositing that this is how Tartarus torture works, assailing the target with memories they would most like to forget. CC endearingly identifies the voice as Dragon Eye, by the way. Harry of course thinks these memories are fake, and we cut to his interrogator for the moment:
You win this time, CC.
After some requisite taunting, the camera pans up and onto the title card and OH MY GOD WHAT IS THAT FONT?! Between the eye and this title, I’m getting some serious mid-90s PC RPG flashbacks:
(MLW’s Note: Yeah, I don’t think I ever mentioned it before, but this show doesn’t have opening credits, it just has a title card with this font and it changes to fit the theme of each episode. So for the Christmas episode, it was covered in snow. There have been some darn cheesy ones but this is probably the cheesiest.)
After the title, we cut to Mel angrily closing the Book of Shadows, then angrily recapping what happened before mid-season break, prompting Macy to refer to Tartarus, the “Alcatraz of the Underworld”, as “Hell-catraz”. Charity is also here, and she tells us that the Elders can’t help, since the only way to get someone out is the Scythe, and they destroyed it.
(MLW’s Note [No, I can’t resist continually butting in]: When Patchouli Hobo/Jada gave Mel her piece of the Scythe back a couple episodes ago and Mel went running to Charity to tell her all about it, Charity asked what she did with the Scythe piece and Mel was like, “I destroyed it.” But I figured she was lying, right? She just didn’t want the Elders to get it? But NO, she apparently actually did destroy it! I have no clue HOW, and I don’t understand WHY because that seems COMPLETELY RETARDED, but here we are!)
When pressed, Charity admits that the Elders aren’t interested in pursuing the matter, “not for a Whitelighter”. The reasoning is that he knew the risks, so screw him. Charity, however, says she’ll keep thinking, and reminds us Mel is supposed to be infiltrating the Sarcana and that Macy needs to figure out what’s up in her lab. Macy shows her a picture of Connerparkerdude’s divorced parents, and Charity says his dad reminds her of someone. Mel tries to make a “Hell-imony” joke, because she’s the worst. Charity leaves as the sisters assure her there’s nothing else going on, and as soon as she’s gone, Macy says that Friendzone is back and ready to talk. They didn’t wipe his memory (because Harry was unavailable, not because they decided to be decent) so they need to keep this secret from Charity. Mel likes not telling her things, and wants to contact Sarcana, since they got someone out of Tartarus.
Maggie is in her bed, with a box of tissues and…magazines? I thought ice cream was more traditional. She is worried because she hadn’t been able to recognize that her boyfriend was a demon, which does seem a big strike against mind-reading powers. Mel is, as always, unhelpful, and Maggie tells us she doesn’t want to feel like this anymore, or to feel anything. Mel is now on firmer ground, because she can again make it about herself. She reminds Maggie how she could get over her girlfriend. Mel leaves and we see Maggie making something with a mortar and pestle. She’s reading a spell of Protection against Hurt (the Hurtblocker – this is real title in the Book of Shadows) that looks like it was written by a ten-year-old. In crayon.
She smears the green goo on her forearm, says the incantation and waves her hand over the goo, which…covers it with a bandage? At any rate, aren’t we a bit early for horrible allegories about drug addiction? It should take a longer decline before your show goes there.
Meanwhile, Macy and Friendzone are walking and recapping the premise of the show. Friendzone calls Harry “the white person”, and I can’t even mock him for it. If Harry were any whiter, he’d be Casper the Friendly Ghost. He reminds us about his voodoo grandma, and we go over the protection spell the sisters removed from him. Macy says it was the demon who removed it which is…revisionist history at best. He asks Macy to demonstrate her powers, and, when she telekinesises a coffee cup into a trash can, he laughs with joy. As a Xander fan, I must say I’m enjoying Friendzone taking on the role of a normal dude who learns about weird magic stuff. May he never acquire any powers or abilities. Things get a bit less fun when Macy informs him their boss is a demon.
Speaking of their boss, over at the lab Connerparkerdude is coughing out some gross green slime as his mother gives him a shot. He says he’d rather die as half-human than live as a demon, his mom is worried that this is actually the most likely outcome, and Demon Dad ruins the moment by walking in and being a dick. He wants to know where his other son is, and isn’t buying the story that Demon Brother stole the amulet and took off. I mean, not to stereotype but that kind of betrayal seems to me in line with demon behavior. Maybe he thinks he has his sons in hand? Mom is angry that he’s intruding on her domain and he (reasonably) points out it’s his company and she’s there because he gave her the job. He shows off his hypnotic powers by forcing her to thank him, but she stabs her hand with a letter opener and breaks the spell. If you have enough willpower to do that, wouldn’t closing your eyes be easier? Dad says he’ll find his other son and strides away, leaving mom and Connerparkerdude looking worried.
At the Sarcana HQ, we have chanting and a woman in a glass box who sways as if she were in a trance. Hobo Lady explains to Mel that in Tartarus they torture you and destroy hope, so you end up like this. This is shocking news to Mel, for some reason. I guess she made it to grad school without encountering Dante’s Inferno? The lady in the box (MLW’s Note: Charity’s sister/Harry’s former ward, Fiona) was an important witch, known as “the Keeper of the Sacred Flame”, and I suspect this will be relevant later in the season. She is handed a vial of glowing green liquid, and we’re told this is Hellflame, which powers the incubator (the glass box) but they don’t have enough to make her better.
Hobo Lady then catches us up on what Sarcana is about (down with the Elders), and did they really think there would be a huge surge of new viewers after the break to weigh us down with all this recapping? She’s finally helpful and gives Mel a tip that a gatekeeper to Tartarus is a demon called Dante*, who conveniently lives nearby. Seriously, what is up with this place? Sunnydale had a Hellmouth – is Hilltowne something similar, or does every tiny town in America have a thriving supernatural community?
* (MLW’s Note: Come on, man, you’re not going to make the obvious Dante joke here?)
Back in Tartarus, Harry gets another scorpion sting-induced memory. He’s in a prison laundry, folding the clothes when a guy bumps into him. Some posturing leads to Harry being called a pretty boy, and you bet that in prison, there’s only one response to that. Well, two, but this isn’t Oz. Harry does pretty well in the fight, until he gets shanked by one of the other prisoners. Back in his cell, he shows us a scar in that exact spot. Dragon Eye returns to taunt him.
I’m confused, we’re at a commercial break and there hasn’t been a moment of wokeness yet.
Mel is on the phone and has figured out that they have something they can trade for Harry – the Harbinger. She’s enthusiastic about how clever her idea is, but Maggie, who is on the other end, seems unimpressed. This, of course, makes Mel think something is up, because there could be no other reason for someone to have issues with her ideas. Maggie hangs up because Connerparkerdude is coming straight for her. He tries to explain, but she has no time for his bullshit. She does, however, have time for another dose of the green goo.
Back in The Lab, Macy and Friendzone pretend to be doing The Science until the janitor leaves. Now alone, they grin mischievously at each other and…proceed to burgle their boss’s office. Dammit, Friendzone, that’s how you got your nickname in the first place. Computer is password locked (but clearly logged in – people, log out at the end of the day, so you won’t complain to your IT department about overnight updates wrecking your stuff), but Macy is prepared. She casts a spell that types in the password for her.
Some time later, while Friendzone is looking through (physical) files, Macy figures out that one of the DNA strands on the screen is non-human and jumps to a (reasonable) conclusion that Boss Mom is trying to turn human DNA into demon DNA. Speaking of, they hear the lab door slam and we see Boss Mom is back! As she enters her office, she sees Macy and Friendzone making out. She angrily shoos them away, and, as they apologetically retreat, it seems their ruse was effective. Dammit, Woke Charmed, stop making me enjoy these two!
(MLW’s Sister’s Note: NOOOOOOO)
They giggle (thank you, CC, for backing me up on this) their way out into the lobby, pleased with their success, and, caught in the moment, Mel kisses Friendzone in a very non-friendly way. Friendzone attempts to shed his nickname by inviting her to his place. Macy seems receptive to the idea, but then she drops the V-bomb on him. He is as surprised by this as London was by those other V-bombs.
Back at Charmed Mansion, Macy tells Mel about this, which apparently means no stay over at his place. Mel tries to be supportive but again, she makes it all about herself. Maggie, meanwhile, is too busy holding her hand to a lit candle’s flame to pay attention to her sisters’ conversation. Mel is mildly concerned about Maggie’s behavior and, for the first time, makes me laugh when she asks, “Seriously, did you take one of Mom’s old benzos again?”
Charity ruins the moment by apparating in and wondering what the sisters are smoking if they think the Elders will hand over the Harbinger. She tries to up the woke quotient by stressing “We do not negotiate with demons”, and I appreciate the effort, but come on, writers. The girls stand up for Harry. Charity leaves without a word. Moments later, the paint can containing the Harbinger (supposedly) apparates in.
Meanwhile, Dragon Eye is taunting Harry again with some attempts at arty cuts show him being bored in his cell. We then go to commercial break and I wonder why this bit was left in.
Dante is working at a lathe when the girls come into his shop. Dante responds to “Hello” with “Dropping off or picking up?” and I laugh again with this show, not at it. What the hell have they fed the writers over the break?! He knows who the sisters are and tells them a previous “gaggle of ladies” (a.k.a. Sarcana) tried to get someone out with measly ankh and lodestone, and he laughed them out the door. Harbinger, though is a different story. He tunes his TV to the Harry Channel (currently showing: open shirt, rubbing chest). Reasonably, Dante wants to verify the goods before he trades and…oops, the can is empty. He’s angry, but Mel time-freezes him so the sisters can work out what to do, and I’m beginning to think writers messed up when they decided this should be her power. She either drains the drama from any action scene she’s in, or they have to come up with ways to neutralize her every time.
Macy says she has a plan: unfreeze Dante, use telekinesis on a safe to pin him down (wouldn’t reversing the steps be easier?), then have Maggie read his thoughts. However, Maggie is so zonked out as Macy speaks that even Mel notices. Sure enough, Maggie fails to read Dante’s mind and concludes that her powers aren’t working due to being zonked out on green goo. There’s some weirdness here, as she paws at the bandage with increased anxiety, so it doesn’t look like she’s feeling nothing anymore.
Dante uses this distraction to push the safe away, grab Maggie and toss her into Tartarus. He changes the TV to Channel Maggie and tells the other two to go get him the Harbinger.
Back at the mansion, Charity is on the hot seat over the whole “empty can” incident. She, at least, recognizes “the Hurtblocker” as an addictive spell with possible side effects, and Macy is surprisingly blasé about Maggie “not reading the fine print.” Leave being a cold, insufferable bitch to Mel, it’s her schtick!
Charity is convinced the paint can can’t be fake because she never let go of it…until she remembers a tall dark stranger whose photo the sisters showed her earlier. Realizing he managed to hypnotize her and take away the can, she is worried about how powerful a demon he actually is. Luckily, they know a dude.
In Connerparkerdude’s room he tells Macy and Mel that his father is the demon Alistair, also known as The Dark Master (to quote Xander, “…bator”). Mel is being Mel, and Macy has to rein her in, because they don’t have a) time, b) Harbinger, or c) Maggie.
(Incoming Real Dialogue Alert)
Mel: “Which is the only reason I’d ever set foot in a frat house that smells of stale beer and white privilege.”
Twenty-one minutes and fifteen goddamn seconds before the first real Woke Line. Thank you, nameless shitlord staff writer, for remembering me.
Rather than point out he’s bi-racial (bi-special?), Connerparkerdude offers to help them break into his father’s study. Mel still doesn’t trust him, but Macy is much more pragmatic and points out that they have no other option. As soon as the green goo wears off, Maggie will be in real trouble.
Speaking of Maggie, down in Tartarus she currently has scorpions crawling all over her. One stings her and we see some memories of Connerparkerdude wooing her. Come on, his technique is not that bad! (MLW’s Note: Yes it is.) Dragon Eye milks what little screen time he has by promising he’s going to give her “a Hell of a hard time”.
After the break, we return to Maggie freaking out and pleading for help, so I think at this point the green goo has pretty much worn off. A memory of her mother telling Mel and Maggie “how lucky she is to be the mother of two special young women” cuts to them seeing her dead body. Maggie calls out for Harry and, despite looking like…ahem…Hell, Harry (who appears to be in the next cell and thus able to hear her through the wall) responds. He tells her to be strong and that “love is your strength” but is unable to rally her, so he offers to take on her scorpions.
As Dragon Eye says, “Be careful what you ask for,” a swarm of scorpions enter Harry’s cell and begin stinging him. The next memory is of Harry in a hospital room, a doctor’s voice telling him that they are unable to save his son. Harry says it’s his fault.
Meanwhile, Connerparkerdude shadowwalks Macy and Mel through a wall into his father’s office. An aside: the sisters not having any way to skip obstacles or cut distances is a good call. It puts them at a disadvantage compared to demons, and makes them more likely to ask for help from others. (MLW’s Note: Pan is enjoying this show way too much.)
Connerparkerdude shuts down the security and opens the secret vault, and, admit it, Mel, there’s no way you’d have known to do any of this without him. But rather than say “thank you”, Mel notices a fairly large bottle of Hellflame and pockets it when the other two aren’t looking. They grab the Harbinger-in-a-Can and bolt.
Boss Mom has just finished her work when Demon Dad turns up again. He hypnotizes her, and, as she gropes for it, tauntingly shows the letter opener she used to stab herself earlier. Now Boss Mom can’t resist, and she tells him Connerparkerdude banished Demon Brother to Tartarus because he’s in love with Maggie.
We cut to very happy Dante confirming that the new paint can does contain one (1) Harbinger. Mel somehow manages to stop a man literally twice her height from taking the can and demands he hand Harry and Maggie over. Dante releases them, rather than dick over the terms or tell them to choose one, and he really comes across as a fairly reasonable, non-evil dude. (MLW’s Note: Yeah, I was confused by the fact that they said he was a demon rather than being some kind of guardian like the satyr or the Tawaret lady. But maybe they already forgot that. After all, it was three whole episodes and a mid-season break ago.) A touching reunion is interrupted when Demon Dad turns up, all black coat and leather pants.
Coming back from commercial, Mel jumps to the conclusion that Connerparkerdude sold them out, and Alistair puts some real menace in by freezing Dante with no effort. It would be more impressive had we not seen Mel do the same thing fifteen minutes ago, but you can’t have everything. Then the actor goes into this weird wacky-menacing routine, and ruins the tension. The lines read like they are made to be delivered in a calm, maybe near-friendly manner, but he instead chooses to go into “Angelus fucks with Buffy” mode, but hammier.
He, Mel and Macy have a bit of boring back-and-forth, although I do chuckle when he gives Maggie a little wave with “Hey, Mags. I’m so sorry about the breakup.” He follows through by pointing out that, if there’s any fighting to be done, an empath is pretty useless, and damn, I now want to see a villain really go on a tear hitting each sister where she’s weakest. Demon Dad hypno-commands Dante to release Demon Brother, but Mel freezes the poor lug and I now feel really bad for him. He wasn’t even supposed to be here today!
Demon Dad now launches into villainous monologue, calling them “dumb witches”, which I’ll put into the Woke column, even though it’s both tenuous and a 100% true statement. He also refers to himself in third person as “the Dark Master” (“…bator”), so I’m glad when mid-tirade Macy telekinesises a knife right into his forehead. She ruins the effect, though, by saying, “Put a pin in it, Daenerys.” I’ll do the pop culture references around here, all right?
This merely makes Demon Dad angry, of course, and he removes the knife and most of his face (!), revealing bad makeup underneath. I’m not sure why they did it, but I guess someone over there think bad special effects are better than no special effects:
He sprays fire from his hand, which makes the ladies cower behind random pieces of furniture but otherwise has no effect. Mel is upset about her “fricking useless powers,” and somewhere out there, Deanna Troi nods in sympathy. Harry grabs her shoulder and she telepaths? Remembers? him saying “love is your strength”. She runs over to her sisters and grabs their hands. Between them they create a blue glowing ball and I suppose this is the famous Power of Three? The ball counters Demon Dad’s flame and he teleports away.
Mel (why Mel? What did she do to earn it?) (MLW’s Answer: It’s in her contract, she’s the most important one) chucks Harbinger into Tartarus, Dante grabs the broom because now he has to clean his workshop to boot, and the rest are trying to figure out what it was that Maggie did. Harry tells them that Maggie created a new spell using the Power of Love™. They take Harry home and we see all the sisters preparing a nice tea tray for him.
Maggie and the others still think Connerparkerdude sold them out, and for once I can’t call them stupid. Macy drops the nugget that her father was “moody”, and Charity apparates in. Mel is, surprisingly, bitchy to her but then surprises me by thinking of someone else, and tells Charity that, if she cares about Harry, she should take the tea to him and comfort him. Charity does so, and tells Harry she reviewed his memories, which is apparently Not Done. She says everything Harry did was to save his son, and that Harry’s son not only did not die, he is in fact still alive. On top of everything, she tells Harry she loves him. Damn, adults having something approximating real emotions in a CW teen show?
(MLW’s Sister’s Note: NOOOOOOO)
(MLW’s Note: Actually, I’m with her on this one, Harrity is a hard pass for me)
Later, Connerparkerdude finds Maggie on her porch. He tries to explain, but she isn’t ready to listen and sends him packing. Before he leaves, he tells her his dad got scared enough to be leaving town. He saw his dad and didn’t get a horrible punishment for his betrayal? Alistair must be terrified.
Mel meets Hobo Lady in a bar and hands over the bottle of Hellflame she stole from Alistair’s office. She tells Hobo Lady she trusts her because she lets her actions do the talking, so Hobo Lady leans over and kisses her. There’s a momentary flash of lightning between them which may be significant later.
Mel considers this for a moment, then returns the kiss and they leave. As they do, a woman* takes their picture while Alistair’s voice echoes, “Don’t stop what you’re doing.”
* (MLW’s Note: IT’S NOT JUST “A WOMAN”! IT’S NIKO! IT’S NIKO, GODDAMMIT! NIKO’S BACK! NIKO’S BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACKKKKKKKKKK)
(MLW’s Sister: “Why do you want to saddle poor Niko with Mel? What did she do to deserve it?”
MLW: “Because Niko is pretty and a good actress and if I have to suffer through this show I at least want to be looking at someone who doesn’t look like she smells of cannabis and B.O.”
MLW’s Sister: “………..racist.”)
Friendzone knocks on the door of Charmed Mansion. Macy answers all flustered and there’s some dialogue about her being a virgin and him being “okay with what you do or don’t do with your body.” A thin gruel, writers. Where are your woke lines? Then we get to real reason why he’s here. He was going over the files he stole and found some DNA sequencing results. The Charmed Ones’ DNA. Macy immediately notices that results say Mel and Maggie don’t share a father – Macy and Maggie do.
And on that monster of a cliffhanger the episode ends.
Overall thoughts: That was far, far better than I expected. Characters mostly acted in character, Harry got to do some decent acting, Dante is a bro deserving of his own spin-off and the story was interesting enough even before the big revelation hit (MLW’s Note: TWO BIG REVELATIONS). And only one Woke Line – what the hell?
Thank you to PanZagloba for not only going to the trouble of writing this, but also for actually purchasing episode 10 on iTunes and thus giving money to this series. A noble sacrifice, one that will likely keep this monstrosity of a series on the air for years to come.
Anyway! I will be getting back to this as soon as I can. The series is not canceled, but I found doing it weekly was too much of a time suck and cutting into my ability to write things that actually, you know, earn me money. So the plan is that I’ll get the recaps written as I’m able and our mighty editorial overlords will find a place for it on the schedule. The series now also has its own category, so if you want to catch up on previous episodes, you can do so here!