Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Charmed - Charrrmed! 

I had a mixed reaction to this episode.

On the one hand, it was lively, the dialogue was quick and with attitude, and the characters for the most part weren't dwelling in the depths of despair and confusion. I loved the scene where Piper brought breakfast to Darryl and Inspector "Something's Going On Because I Say It's Going On" Sheridan, then just froze Sheridan in order to chat with Darryl. He ordered her to unfreeze her, but Piper was just "Whatever - these missing women are witches, we've got to help them, what do you know?"

And what's up with Inspector "Captain Ahab" Sheridan anyway? She's got nothing, her bosses have told her to pack it in, but dammit she's not going to give up. Police harrassment? Misuse of public funds? Stalking?

What's the story with the newly introduced Agent Brody? He's supposed to be from some hush-hush group within the Department of Homeland Security, and is responding to some demon blood sample that Sheridan sent. DHS has a demon-hunting specialty group? Are they called The Initiative by any chance? Is he really working on an official project, or does he have some ulterior motive? He seemed more interested in having the sisters indebted to him than in busting them for... whatever. I don't think Congress has spoken on the subject of regulating interstate witchcraft. Would this be a dormant commerce clause situation?

I think part of the lightness of this episode was Leo's minimal role in it. The less of him the better, especially now that he's so freaking morose and tormented. Speaking of freaking - I loved that Inspector "Regulations Be Damned" Sheridan used the word "freaking" during her initial rant, as in "no freaking way."

Oh yeah, the storyline. Cursed pirates, the captain ages but doesn't die, his crew is bound to serve him unless he breaks parlay. At least they acknowledged the mythology lift from Pirates of the Caribbean. They kidnap and cause witches to age and die in order to lure the Charmed Ones, who in turn must steal a golden chalice which will summon the fountain of youth, which will make the captain young again, etc. Paige gets nicked, Piper and Phoebe steal the chalice with gratuitous use of laser security acrobatics a la Entrapment but of course they forget about the pressure sensitive alarm under the chalice - come on, even I knew that was coming! Sheridan, Brody and Darryl follow them to the pirate's cave (guess it wasn't a mystical cave, just some cave full of mystical pirates in the Bay Area that no one noticed, the captain is youthified then tries to kill the Charmed Ones, thus breaking his vow not to do that. The crew turns on him, kills him and ends their own curse. It gets dusty, including the parrot. The parrot was bound by parlay? Sheridan wants to bust them for unlicensed spell casting or whatever, but Brody shoots a tranquilizer dart into her neck, tells the witches they owe him, and sends them on their way. Huh? Are they going to be recruited into the enforcement of some secret clause of the USA Patriot Act? Paige is returned to her rightful age, and everyone lives happily ever after.

Whoops. Here comes the part that really bothered me. The last bait witch the pirates took and cursed was Brenda. Paige went to Brenda's apartment looking for clues, and another woman answered the door, quite visibly upset. Turns out she's Brenda's girlfriend. At first I thought this was great, as it was presented very matter of factly, with no "Oh. Um." kind of thing on Paige's part. People - the show takes place in San Francisco, and I think this is the first time they've dealt with any gay characters!

So Paige manages to scry for Brenda and pops into the pirate's cave, where she gets age-infected herself and goes out for help, at Brenda's urging. Piper and Phoebe go back just in time to hear Brenda's dying warning to save their sister, and off Brenda goes to whatever awaits her after this life. And that's pretty much it for her storyline. Back at the manor one of them mentions that they have to save the witch, but someone (sorry, can't remember who) points at that they "lost that one already." Then they move along. No remorse, none of the usual sorrow at not being able to save them all, not one peep about her girlfriend back at the apartment. Is the poor woman still sitting there, waiting to hear what happened and if Brenda is ever coming home? Coudn't they at least let her know that Brenda used her dying breath to save Paige? Huh - lesbian relationship, witchcraft involved, one of them dies. Did Joss Whedon help write this?

Although we never got to see both halves of the lesbian couple in the same scene, we did get gratuitous groping and pawing courtesy of Piper and Lesley, who had an incredibly contrived subplot in which Lesley faked a publicity stunt in which he was a lucky reader who won a date with Phoebe. Meanwhile, Phoebe knew it was just because he was afraid to ask her out directly, so she went along with it. What? She made out with him the first time they met, she recently leapt into his arms and wrapped her legs around his pelvis, and he's afraid to ask her out? Then as soon as they have their predictable confrontation followed by the equally predictable kiss, the first thing he does is rip off her sweater, because that's the logical thing to do when you're in the workplace after hours. I was reminded of the nightmarish art gallery scene on Queer As Folk. Maybe next week they'll have Nick Lachey go by Brenda's apartment and give her grieving partner some manly comforting. I wouldn't be surprised. Aghast, but not surprised.

Casting note: This week's elder sucked. Get more John de Lancie!!

Next week: More Charisma Carpenter! Maybe she could help with the post-Brenda fallout...

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:06 AM