Based solely on camp counselor Susie’s characterization throughout Summer Camp Island’s first and second seasons, you got the sense that, aside from her vast magical powers, she was more or less your typical childhood bully. Despite being tasked to look after impressionable young minds, nothing delighted her more than tormenting campers like Oscar and Hedgehog with a never-ending litany of mystical pranks.
But in Summer Camp Island’s newest season, currently dropping in multi-episode chunks on HBO Max, the series has given Susie new depth by delving into her past, and establishing that both her outlook and demeanor are wrapped up in a larger story about how the world’s magic is in danger.
Each of the episodes within the “Witches” arc begins with a new opening sequence featuring Susie, Ramona, and a number of Summer Camp Island’s other witches, all at a point in time in the past when the island was seemingly populated by far more magic users than in the present day. Within the first few moments, “Witches” details how it was once quite commonplace for witches to live among mortals and use their abilities to assist people with all manner of everyday tasks, ranging from fortune telling to healing.
Here, the younger Susie’s far more relaxed than her current-day counterpart, primarily because she seems quite content with her social circle of other witches and the overall life she leads. What sets “Witches” into motion and brings Susie and Ramona together for the first time is the gradual weakening and disappearance of magic from the world, an event that both drains magical beings of their powers and erases everyone’s memory of magic ever having existed.
As “Witches” unfolds, you begin to see the earliest buds of Susie’s signature thorniness taking shape in response to her realizing that, if she doesn’t work quickly, everything she loves about her life will disappear.
By the time Ramona and Susie are on the same page, and they make their way to the titular island for the first time in search of a way to save witchcraft, Summer Camp Island reveals a number of truths about their friendship and the camp that fundamentally recontextualizes everything previously established within the show. When Susie and Ramona do end up parting ways as “Witches” catches up with what’s technically the very beginning of Summer Camp Island, you understand why Susie’s so rude, and what makes her so keen on targeting campers like Oscar and Hedgehog who openly profess their platonic love for one another.
Summer Camp Island’s overarching tale is building toward something much bigger than any of its individual characters, and now’s the perfect time to catch up on the series before watching the latest new five-episode arc, which dropped today.
Summer Camp Island is now streaming on HBO Max.
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