I have never seen anything quite like the season two premiere of Charmed. The series has returned but it’s not a happy reunion. Instead, this was a giant bonfire where everything and the kitchen sink were tossed into the flames and left to burn. I still have no idea how I feel about it.
After Charmed wrapped its first season back in May, the series switched showrunners and there was a big fuss made over changing the focus to be more about supernatural storylines. This raised alarms for me. The original Charmed started going downhill after creator Constance M. Burge stepped back and let Brad Kern take over, switching the focus from sisterly bonds to supernatural costume changes and petty squabbling.
However, I was willing to give it a chance. Since the season finale was about Mel, Macy, and Maggie taking over for the Elders as leaders of the magical community, focusing on supernatural stuff felt like a natural way for things to go in season two. Keep calm and Harry on, right? Boy was I naïve.
“Safe Space” started off innocuous enough, with the sisters hosting a raging party at their house. Danger is still lurking in the shadows, with a witch informing Mel that her whitelighter has gone missing, but overall things are going pretty well. Then, the next morning, the sisters are attacked by a mysterious assassin wielding bombs, blades, and a Hot Topic-friendly hooded coat. This seems like a typical baddie that’d be defeated by the end of the episode. You’d be mistaken. This event is apparently so bad it completely changes the fabric of the show.
Within the span of three minutes—trust me, I tracked it—everything about the show goes up in flames. Their childhood home is trashed, the Book of Shadows is destroyed, and they’re sent through a portal that strips them of their powers and dumps them clear across the country in Seattle. They do eventually get their house back because, apparently, homes can travel through portals and become invisible. Don’t ask, it’s Charmed.
This isn’t just a temporary change of circumstance for the sake of drama. I’ve watched the first three episodes of the season: This is where we are now. Maggie is no longer in school. Macy isn’t a scientist. Niko is seemingly gone for good, with no hope of resolution after her and Mel’s painful goodbye. Everything about their former lives has been tossed to the wind, including the powers that made them the Charmed Ones (though that could change). The first season may as well be a prequel YA novel about how things used to be.
The rest of the episode is spent setting up our new status quo. The sisters have set up camp in the Elders’ Professor X-style command center, hidden inside a co-working spot called Safe Space (har har), where they can track witches in distress and travel instantly to their location using portals. They’re confronted by demons hinting at something dark rising and we get introduced to the new love interests now that Parker and Niko have presumably gone extinct. Charmed is also leaning hard into Macy and Harry’s sexual tension with a side-plot involving the assassin’s secret identity—I’m sure you can guess who. I don’t blame the show, honestly; their chemistry was one of the best unspoken things about the first season.
I have never seen a series pull something like this before. We’ve seen shows make shifts to lift things up after a lackluster first season. For example, Legends of Tomorrow changed from a drama to a comedy and was much stronger for it. But LoT still worked within the framework of the world it had already set up. To have a series so drastically upend its story, throwing everything out the window to start fresh with something new? It’s not only strange, it’s uncomfortable. It reeks of desperation and makes me worry how long the series can last.
I’m sure some fans will like the new-new Charmed, and maybe eventually I will too. But for now, I’m kind of lost. I already spent 22 episodes getting to know these characters and their world. I’m now being told that none of that matters, and I have to be honest: I don’t like it.
- Content warning: There’s a disturbing moment toward the end of the episode where we see a woman who’s been hanged. Kinda comes out of nowhere. It seems like the show is experimenting with darker imagery, but I hope it’s not just for shock value.
- The moment I saw Safe Space I knew this wasn’t going to be a temporary storyline. You don’t spend that much money on a multi-level, multi-room set if you’re not planning on it being a major part of the series.
- I’m going to get real sick of the Safe Space gimmick real fast.
- I did like how they explained away the loss of other Whitelighters, as it makes sense that if the Elders died out they would too. It also explains why Harry is still around, since he was no longer attached to them. On that note: How does Harry manage to keep getting hotter?
- Why is there a Wiccan shop inside a co-working space, anyway? I mean, apart from the fact that the Charmed Ones need it and to give Mel a new love interest. I suppose that’s reason enough. But I’ve worked in co-working spaces. They usually don’t include Wiccan stores.
- RIP Niko. I don’t think I’ll ever get over how wrong they did her.
For more, make sure you’re following us on our Instagram @io9dotcom.