‘Charmed’ – Season Three is Back and Looks Good

‘Charmed’ - Season Three is Back and Looks Good (Maggie in Season three premiere, courtesy of the CW)

The real third season of CW’s Charmed premiered last night in an episode titled “You Can’t Touch This” and I’m excited about it. Feminism is back in the show’s DNA and with it, our Black/Latinx leads are center stage again. They just can’t get within six feet of each other (sound familiar?) or any magical creatures. It’s a way of doing the pandemic without doing it and it was nice to acknowledge our current reality without being overwhelmed by it.

That said, I’m still a bit traumatized by all the mistakes and missed opportunities of season two — which just concluded thanks to the pandemic. Somehow the second season managed to sideline its WOC stars (aka the reason we all tune in) in favor of a random half-witch-half-demon white lady, Abigael, and Harry’s backstory. Abby was nowhere in sight last night and I was thankful.

With her gone and Harry in a supporting role again, we had time for the real world lives of Maggie, Mel, and Macy. There they face condescending men, transphobic nonsense, and at least one white woman who’ll only do the bare minimum — I’m looking at you, Dean Rebecca Eldon. Here’s where the show has the chance to be so good again — focusing on the contrast between the sisters’ unquestionable power in the magical world versus their disenfranchised position as women of color in the real one. Sounds good, right?

On the more predictable side, Charmed S3 is moving forward with its romantic entanglements. I ship Maggie and Jordan — he’s such a great character with his curse allowing the show to examine inherited privilege and generational sin. His good guy/woke-ness definitely makes him sympathetic and I love how he inspires Maggie to be better, encouraging her to trust in herself and grow.

But when it looked like maybe Harry had died for a minute, I was relieved (spoiler — he lives). I know the Whitelighter is pivotal to the whole Charmed premise but the Harry of season two is like a walking vanilla wafer. I don’t see any reason why Macy would be so hung up on him. Maybe, he’ll get his personality back this season but it’s hard to root for this couple in the meantime. Certainly, Macy proclaiming her need/want/desire for physical intimacy was cool, particularly after her virgin plotline in season one, but Harry seemed… oddly uncomfortable by it? If he doesn’t want a woman who knows what she wants, the whole Charmed universe doesn’t need him.

A new set of challenges emerged in “You Can’t Touch This” — not just the no-contact stuff but a new source of evil, complete with scary monsters and maybe an alternate dimension. Think Stranger Things but starring badass WOC witches and not kids in the eighties. I just hope they find a way of making the bad magic-side stuff mean something.

Last season, they set up tech billionaire Julian Shea as the villain and it could have been a game-changer. He was the wounded, charming, white guy, too ambitious for his own good. They could have commented on capitalism and the flaws in our current world order. Instead, they made the matriarchal figure in his life the real villain. His aunt Vivienne was manipulating him all along and so the show fell into typical patriarchal cliches, the conniving woman blamed for the man’s bad behavior. Barf. The fact that Charmed Ones disposed of Vivienne with relative ease (and Julian died without fanfare) made the whole saga even worse. Season two could be summarized as a mess of potentially strong ideas squandered.

My hope is that season three pulls from that wreckage what it needs to be great again and I’m optimistic that it will. The sisterhood is back after all and I’m rooting for these witches.

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