It's official: you have blonde hair, blue eyes, or are extremely attractive, you are not to be trusted.
That's what Charmed (2018) Season 1 Episode 17 taught us at least.
Because on Charmed, the more devilishly handsome you are, the bigger the chance you have at, well, being the actual devil.
Taking a break from playing Alex Manes on Roswell, New Mexico Season 1, Tyler J. Blackburn skipped over to the land of witches and demons for a while. Except unlike his character on Roswell, Blackburn was anything but the good guy of the bunch.
In fact, he was about as bad as they come on a series like Charmed.
It was a jarring juxtaposition for Blackburn, who has historically played the typical golden boy for most of his career. So much so, I was wary of his ability to pull off a purely evil character.
My worrying was fruitless, as Blackburn nailed the role of alluringly charming villain; playing it almost as convincingly as Chad Michael Murray on Riverdale Season 3.
What is it with the CW casting attractive men as cult leaders? A serious theme is forming: don’t trust good looking men, they will undoubtedly steal your soul.
For Charmed (2018) Season 1 Episode 17, that was literally the case.
The general concept of a demon stealing the souls of women to feed his “phallic power” is an enticing one, which is why it was unfortunate to see it overshadowed by the storyline of Harry’s punishment.
Blackburn deserved much more screen time then he received. The duplicity of his arc mirroring reality is an example of what Charmed does so well.
Yes, a soul-sucking demon is terrifying, but the real gravitas of Blackburn's character wasn't his demonic nature. It was the chilling parallel to the toxic environments women find themselves in every day.
The dichotomy between Blackburn's polar opposite personalities highlighted it perfectly; controlling, possessive, abusive men lure women with their charm. Then they gaslight them into staying. It's the age-old promise of “never leaving” in exchange for a woman's self-respect and safety.
"Surrender" may have had women hypnotized to Varamus, but his hypnosis was merely a symbol of the manipulation of women in abusive relationships face every day.
The layers to this episode were endless, and it almost felt reckless to not give it the focus it deserved.
There were no stakes to Harry’s powers being taken, so his rapid aging felt pointless to the narrative. The audience knew he wasn’t going to die of old age, so the amount of screen time wasted on Evan’s in prosthetics was needless.
Harry’s transformation did play as a catalyst for the introduction of Fiona's main storyline. His newfound human body seemed to be a gateway for her to enter his mind--something she desperately wanted.
What Fiona is searching for (and where she plans on taking him) has promising potential. Still, there were plenty of faster ways to achieve the same result. Watching the sisters cry over Harry’s false impending doom was wasteful.
The emotional intent of Harry's aging also felt confusing--was it meant to be played for tears, or laughs?
At times, it felt more comical than anything else.
While the Harry story did take up precious screen time, Fiona herself is the kind of season-long villain the show should invest in going forward. Allister has brought some color to the series, but Fiona is different. She's twisted and complex in her darkness. Leah Pipes is able to manifest Fiona in an eerie yet phenomenal way.
She allows the audience to forget magic isn’t real.
Jada and Mel’s break up felt contrived; it was a result the audience saw coming from a mile away.
The positive aspect of Jada’s betrayal, however, is two-fold.
For one, it leads Mel back to her superior significant other Niko.
It also pitches the Sarcana and the Elders as antagonists for next season. That leaves the Charmed Ones playing for their own team. That could be an opportunity to dive deeper into how powerful the sisters actually are.
With every episode, the writers continue to unveil the gravity of the Charmed One's magic, but there is much more to discover. If Macy's shock over how easy it was to surpass Varamus' spell is any indication, things are just getting started.
That's all I want. The sisters to understand their power--then use it.
Refusing to be used as pawns in a bigger game is something the Vera’s have needed to do since the pilot. Some of the best OG material came from Piper’s questioning of the Elders decisions. Let’s hope Maggie, Mel and Macy decide to break some rules themselves.
All in all, "Surrender" wasn’t a disaster, but it was only half as good as it should have been. Blackburn's cult should have taken the main stage. The Sarcana should have stolen more focus. Harry's plotline could have been let go completely.
Charmed is often unaware of it’s strongest assets. Many times what should be the main story, ends up being pushed back to mere side conflict.
So here’s to show remembering what it’s good at, learning what could be better, and delivering an awesome second season.
- Getting to see Parker’s full demon side was an unexpected (and kind of scary?) surprise.
- Macy’s statement about being “too demon for some, not demon enough for others” was one flawlessly placed metaphor for her biracial identity.
- Don’t you just want Niko to REMEMBER already?!
- I can’t believe Galvin is like, climbing active volcanoes to find a cure for Macy. I still think she should let him know she may actually be okay with her demon side?
- THOSE. BLUE. CONTACTS. THOUGH.
Okay, Charmed Fanatics, over to you! What did you think of this episode? Were you on the edge of your seat or did you see things coming? Are you happy about Mel and Jada's break up, or are you hoping for a reconciliation? Did you like Blackburn's portrayal of a villain? Are you loving Fiona or do you want Charity back?
Sound off below in the comments! And remember, you can watch Charmed (2018) online, right here at TV Fanatic!
Kat Pettibone is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.