After 178 episodes of cleavage, fairytales, scenery-chewing, stupid police detectives, crummy exposition, off-screen feuds, skanky hooker outfits, underground caves, depressed alleyways, continuity errors, casual sexism, useless Elders, fugly haircuts, cheap knock-off's, McGowan mugging, illogical plotholes, shrewish whining, lazy repetition, vacant fuck-buddies, bad teeth, terrible child actors, desk sex, sperm quests, Shannen Doherty intrigue, ridiculous media commentary, weepy gorilla-face, gratuitous nudity, stank new cast members, Phoebe worship, sustained dwarf employment, cries for a normal life, nonsensical career decisions, questionable morals and more demonic possessions than there are people in China, Charmed is over.
If anything, Forever Charmed isn't too concerned with most of the story arcs that have been building over the last couple of episodes. Instead we get an abundance of weepy family scenes, with all the Halliwell family (sans Prue, naturally) coming back together to reminisce and bond and hug like they've never hugged before. Most of this is casually affecting, especially the big reunion at the end, but it doesn't make for the most energetic of series finales. Piper takes center stage for most of the hour while jumping from year to year with Coop's ring, and Holly absolutely sells the material. It's also kind of fitting that her presence is all over this episode, considering Piper was the least annoying of a trio of ultimately horrible series protagonists.
The Christy/Dumain story ended with an anticlimactic series of explosions, and I was a little disappointed that Billie didn't get a stronger punishment. She may have begged forgiveness, but her stupidity killed Paige and Phoebe, while she seemed perfectly happy to kidnap Wyatt and strip him of his powers last week. She's a huge, dangerous crone, and I would have appreciated a little more retribution, certainly not a nice little coda for her where she ends up babysitting Phoebe's kids. Then again, maybe I'm just sadistic.
One of the obvious elements differing Forever Charmed from last season's finale is the end flash-forward, in which all the important events in the characters' futures are laid out for the audience. I've never been a huge fan of this type of finale storytelling, but that's only because I prefer a little ambiguity. I'm sure there are a ton of people out there who enjoyed seeing the sisters with their kids, as well as the next generation of Halliwells killing demons and taking over from the sisters, but it's all a little too cookie-cutter for me.
I also eluded to this a while back, but I've always had a problem with the sister's last gasp of happiness being derived from settling down with a husband and a pack of kids. It's something that became the entire crux of Phoebe's character over the years, and Paige finds herself dragged into a similar position this episode, too. It feels so regressive a mode of thinking, as if the show is perpetuating the notion that a woman can only be emotionally fulfilled after meeting the perfect guy and shooting out a ton of babies. Paige, in particular, comes off a little jarring in the montage sequence, since I never imagined her even having children, especially ones that look so corny (the twin girls in pink, Henry Jr. -- gag). All I ever wanted her to do was settle down in a career that she had an actual investment in, instead of remaining this self-destructive and schizophrenic mess with absolutely zero direction in her life. I certainly don't recognize the person she became.
Regardless of minor issues, Forever Charmed works fine as a finale. It obviously could have been more interesting as a statement piece, but it's unsurprisingly neat and unassuming, something that veers so far into formulaic wholesomeness that it becomes near-fanfic. But like I said, that's just me. I'm sure there are a lot of people out there who welcomed all of that. Personally, I prefer a little edge to my finales, or at least an ending that leaves certain things open for interpretation -- but maybe I'm just expecting too much from the wrong show.
Charmed has been an interesting experience over the years. It's a show that, when written well, is one of the most engaging and easily watchable series that I've ever seen... like comfort food, or the hour-long equivalent of a classic, breezy sitcom that you can drop into at any point and still be satisfied by. But the show frequently became almost too disposable, settling for tired ideas and the most shallow forms of characterization. Creative imagination dried up, Alyssa Milano got bored, and Rose McGowan ended up twitching and sputtering her way through the last couple of seasons.
But the most disappointing problem is that I began disliking everybody. It's easy to forget, in light of recent sisterly awfulness, how sympathetic the three leads of this show used to be, Prue, Piper and Phoebe being flawed as individuals but consistently believable and engaging... there was heart there. You knew people like that, and I'm sure many of us actually were those people. But after a brief successful period following Paige's arrival, a brittleness appeared in each of the sisters, and they began to exhibit harsh qualities that weren't entertaining, weren't particularly well realized, nor performed with much conviction. They became drags, three women who were never happy with what they had, and who appeared to pluck new problems out of thin air just because they weren't through with whining. That is the real crime of Charmed -- not the lack of fresh ideas, not the weak antagonists, but the fact that the Halliwells lost their way.
But, at the same time, when Charmed was on, it was like nothing else around. I still consider episodes like Prewitched, Sin Francisco and Chick Flick some of the finest hours of anything I've ever seen: sassy, smart, well-written and just as tender and endearing as they were hilarious. That's the Charmed I like to remember, not the crippling redundancy of the later seasons, and it's the Charmed that I always switch on whenever I'm bored or unhappy. And that's a mighty fine legacy, don't you think? C
Guest stars Marnette Patterson (Christy Jenkins); Drew Fuller (Chris Perry); Finola Hughes (Patty Halliwell); James Read (Victor Bennet); Jennifer Rhodes (Penny 'Grams' Halliwell); Wes Ramsey (Wyatt Halliwell); Anthony Cistaro (Dumain); Leland Crooke (Candor); Denise Dowse (The Angel of Destiny); Soren Oliver (Baliel); Steven J. Oliver (Asmodeus); Ellen Geer (Elderly Piper); Gordon Wells (Elderly Leo); Ivan Sergei (Henry Mitchell); Victor Webster (Coop)
Writer Brad Kern Director James L. Conway