Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Charmed: Witchness Protection (7.10)

Something I'm finding interesting about this season is that most of the character-driven drama is rooted in ideas that are sort of derivative. There's tension between Piper and Leo, the sisterhood is threatened by distrust and separate allegiances, the Elders are self-involved and ridiculous, and so forth. But for some insanely positive reason, the writers are finding new shading to old storylines. There's logic to these arcs, and right now each character is being driven by something that feels personal and believable, not things that are only there to service a plot. I feel like I'm praising Charmed a lot lately, which in itself is something new and unexpected. I'm suddenly liking this show all over again.

Charisma Carpenter had been pretty wasted in her previous appearances, but this is truly her hour. In just forty minutes, she creates one of the most engaging characters this show has featured in years, somebody funny and confident and ambiguous in her allegiances. She also finds the vulnerability in the character, one of the finest scenes being her conversation with Phoebe about aching to be human. There's a real warmth to Kira, as we watch her gradually embrace the possibility of becoming a real person. It all makes her eventual demise that much more affecting, since it's so senseless and brutal for this show. She also has a ton of chemistry with both Piper and Phoebe, and I loved her declaration that Piper's 'the surly one'. Heh.

Elsewhere, the characterization continues to be inspired. Phoebe is entirely won over by the Avatars via her vision of a utopian future, while Piper too eventually comes around. It all sounds so positive, a world without good and evil, a world where everybody leads contented lives. But, at the same time, there's that nagging sense that this is all too good to be true, making the audience unable to entirely write Paige off as a Debbie Downer for not buying into it.

The Paige subplot is also pretty intriguing for this show, as we as an audience are the only ones who know that Brody is secretly nuts. It's a fascinating position to put us in, and gives everybody involved a feeling of moral ambiguity that has been lacking on this show since the Cole years.

If there's one annoyance, it's those freakin' demons. Are the actors worse than usual here? Damn. There's so much screaming and hollering and macho posturing and melodramatic scenery-chewing -- it's insane. Or maybe Charisma's layered performance just made all these other rent-a-demons look particularly terrible?

Witchness Protection is an ambitious episode with a gorgeous central performance, along with some of the most interesting character work this show has featured in a long time. Season seven is firing on all cylinders right now, and I'm enjoying every minute of it. A

Guest stars Oded Fehr (Zankou); Joel Swetow (Alpha); John De Lancie (Odin); Patrice Fisher (Beta); Ian Anthony Dale (Gamma); Jenya Lano (Inspector Sheridan); Corey Stoll (Manny); Matt Winston (Photographer); Charisma Carpenter (Kira); Kerr Smith (Kyle Brody)
Writer Jeannine Renshaw Director David Jackson


  1. My favorite episode of the season. I absolutely adore this one. I can't praise Charisma enough. She's utterly brilliant in this and I get sad just thinking about how brutal her getting killed off was. Can you imagine if she joined the cast for the season how frickin' awesome that would have be? She would have just taken Charmed to a whole other level (and God knows they needed it). They really didn't have to take a risk and kill her off when she had the potential to be SO much more. Nevertheless, a personal favorite hour of mine.

  2. I don't know if she would have worked long-term, but she made a hugely strong impression here. Although maybe the fact that it was a one-shot thing that made her so memorable?

  3. Really? I have the utmost faith in Charisma. Aside from Angel's fourth season, she was always such a charming presence. She really could have spiced up season 7 as the Charmed Ones' recurring frenemy. Too bad.

  4. I didn't mean Charisma herself, I meant how they would have kept writing the character in without making her presence sort of contrived. To further that, Witchness Protection was the only episode in which she actually did anything interesting, anyway. I like her as this tragic innocent with flair and personality, you know?