Charmed 1x01 “Pilot” Review
There had been rumors of a Charmed reboot for years. Before that, there were rumblings of it being a sequel to the original series. At long last, the rebooted series has arrived. The new series follows Mel and Maggie Vera (Melonie Diaz and Sarah Jeffrey), as well as their long-lost half-sister, Macy Vaughn (Madeleine Mantock), as they discover their new powers that were bestowed upon them after their mother Marisol’s gruesome murder. It follows the same kind of formula that the original series had, but that’s basically it.
As much as I had wanted to delve into every single article and promotional video leading up to the pilot episode, I had to hold myself back. Much like many fans, I was a huge fan of the original series and scoffed at the idea of a reboot so soon after the series finale. (It’s only been 12 years. That’s not a lot.) However, then I decided to be an adult about this fictitious work and it give it a shot. Hollywood hasn’t been pumping out very many original ideas lately, so we’ve got to work with what we’re given and make for the best and make the best of it, they did!
Going into this with a very open mind, I was delighted by what greeted me. There was a light-hearted air to the episode, despite it starting off with a murder and the sisters in mourning. It was a great set-up to help us get to know the new sisters and their whitelighter guide, Harry (Rupert Evans). Mel and Maggie were the two sisters who had grown up together in a small college town called Hilltowne. Mel, the oldest of the two, is a hot-headed grad student, as well as ardent feminist and sapphic queen. She has a beautiful, kind, and caring detective girlfriend, Nico Hamada (Ellen Tamaki). After Marisol’s murder, Nico breaks up with Mel, not because she doesn’t care, but because Mel is just so angry all the time. Mel knew something was up with her mother’s mysterious death, but no one had given her the time of day, including Maggie.
Maggie is an 18-year old undergraduate, starting her first year of college. We’re introduced to her trying to rush a sorority on campus. Maggie’s personality dictates someone that wants to fit in with those around her. The sorority is cliched, including the sorority president. That was basically one of only two parts of the episode I didn’t like. The sorority president, Lucy (Natalie Hall), comes across with this fake niceness that your typical “mean girls” always seem to sport. Lucy makes it clear to Maggie that she’s a shoe-in for joining the sorority, but wants Maggie to be more like the other pledges by falling a bit more in-line with their image.
Macy Vaughn is a scientist. She recently got a position at the same university that Mel and Maggie attend, working under a Professor Thaine. While taking a walk, she stumbles upon the Vera house a few short months after Marisol’s murder. She recognizes it from a picture she has of herself standing in front of it in Marisol’s arms. Macy was told by her father that her mother died when she was little. She discovers that part was a lie, but we see her reading about Marisol’s murder on her first day of work. She ends up visiting Mel and Maggie and telling them she’s their sister. She basically ends up rocking their world, as the house completely loses power.
The house may have lost electrical power, but these three young ladies gained their supernatural powers by all being under the same roof together for the first time. Turns out, that broke the binding spell their mother had placed on them. In the original series, the sisters had a binding spell placed on them so they could grow up as normal children, safe from dark forces. One can assume, based on this knowledge (unless you’re new to the world of Charmed), that it’s the same reasoning in the new series.
Soon after meeting, the three start to exhibit new abilities. Macy discovers hers at a bar. She ends up flinging a beer bottle at the wall...without touching it at all. She believes she’s drunk and clumsy and makes a flimsy excuse to leave her friend behind and go home. Mel finds her power when she’s catching up with Nico at a coffee shop. Nico’s a concerned ex-girlfriend at this point and while discussing Mel’s behavior after her mother’s death, Mel starts freezing time. Understandably, she’s freaked out and flees. Maggie finds her abilities during rush at the sorority house. She’s being introduced to other girls in the sorority and when she shakes their hand, she hears their thoughts about her. They’re typical judgemental sorority thoughts, but it’s enough to weird out Maggie and make a spectacle of herself in the meantime as she runs out of the house.
The three women soon find themselves waking up tied to chairs in the Vera’s attic. Harry (mentioned above) introduces himself as a whitelighter; their angelic, spiritual guide. He’s also the man who took Marisol’s vacant position in the Women’s Studies department at the college. Harry informs them that they are the Charmed Ones and it’s their destiny to take down the forces of evil and stop the apocalypse. Obviously, this is met with trepidation. Macy explains that it’s all just science and that magic isn’t real. Maggie is fearful of these new abilities and isn’t sure if she wants this. Mel seemed to be the only sister who was thrilled by the news! They now have the ability to find out who murdered their mother.
What actually gets them all on the same page eventually is when Maggie is attacked by her ex-boyfriend, who has been possessed by a demon. Was he the only evil being on campus? Absolutely not. Professor Thaine, who Marisol had been the sole reason for charges being brought against him because he’s a sexual predator, is evil in all the ways there can be. We’re first introduced to him earlier in the episode on Macy’s first day at work. He had the charges against him cleared, but protests were popping up on campus. By the end of the episode, Professor Thaine is made out to be the first big bad these new Charmed Ones have faced and defeated. They originally believed he was the one who killed their mother, but his dying words say otherwise.
The episode ends with with sisters gathered around a Ouija board, attempting to communicate with their mother on the other side. “She” informs them not to trust Harry. This can go one of two ways: 1) The spirit the sisters have come into contact with isn’t their mother and is potentially an evil spirit/demon attempting to turn the sisters against their Whitelighter. 2) Harry isn’t who he seems. I’m quite partial to number 1. It might just be that it’s my belief that Whitelighters are a force of good. If Harry is indeed a Whitelighter (he has the healing powers Whitelighters tend to have at least), I believe he must be good. If he isn’t, I’ll be the first to eat my words and express my disappointment.
As far as pilot episodes go, it wasn’t very groundbreaking. This show is still very much in the shadow of the original series. My hope is that it comes out from behind that shadow sooner rather than later. I want this show to stand out on its own and it very well could. It offers intersectional feminism, which the original series severely lacked. For the original series at the time, it was great feminism...for white women. Times change and representation needs to grow. If your feminism is lacking in intersectionality, then I know I certainly don’t want it. Fans of the new and old series, alike, should just give this series a shot. I am a very firm believer that you should never judge a show on its pilot. Let the season speak for itself. Let this show stand on its own.
The Power of Three is back and just as strong as ever!
It is WAY too early to tell who my favorite sister is going to be, but at the moment, it’s a tie between Macy and Mel.
The line about the power to freeze time being “very common with control freaks” had be laughing hysterically because, damn, if that wasn’t just true for Piper, and now Mel.
Pilot episodes are so cheesy, but this one was great for introducing the new sisters.
These sisters are also related to Melinda Warren! (Just like the original sisters!) It’s a show about magic, so naturally there could be a number of tie-ins to the original series.
What the fuck is with the orbing? Is it even called “orbing” in this series? Whitelighters are supposed to “orb” in and out. This is the only thing that could possibly make me think Harry isn’t a Whitelighter...unless this is the new orbing that isn’t “orbing”. (This was the second of two things I didn’t like about this episode, FYI.)
I’m sick and tired of seeing fans of the original series bashing the new series. Give this show a shot or don’t, but let the show speak for itself and stop harassing the actors and other people involved in the reboot. If you don’t like something, nothing is stopping you from simply not engaging. Be mature. It’s just fiction. Fiction is supposed to give you a break from your current reality. I’d gladly take a reboot over our current reality any day of the week.
Charmed airs on Sundays at 9/8c on The CW.