Mark Twain reportedly once said, "If you don't like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes." That's pretty much the philosophy of this episode of Witches of East End: if you don't like the direction of the plot, just take a pee break and it'll be something different.
Spoilers. . .
Last week, the show dropped a bunch of plot bombs. This week, it went chasing after every piece of shrapnel resulting from that. And by the time you realized something made no sense (which was all the time), it had already moved on to another nonsensical plot point.
We start this episode with the witches casting a spell to try to get Freya her powers back. It doesn't work, so Wendy comes up with another spell to try. Of course, this one requires the presence of Freya's dad. He is, confusingly in a show which has Enver Gjokaj in it, named Victor. Joanna's not on board with that plan, and she's busy trying a spell to locate the shapeshifter. Spells apparently leave behind traces of the person who cast it, ("like DNA," according to Wendy) so they try a spell to lift the trace. That spell is: Magic Blood Painting!
As usual, Wendy's response echoes my own: "It's a little monochromatic." They have to wait and the painting will reveal the image of the person they're looking for.
In the middle of that, Killian's decided to just leave, saying to his mother, "You know I can't spend too long in one place." You and this episode, buddy.
No time to linger! Freya's got to try on a wedding dress and debate the merits of not having powers with Ingrid. And exchange longing glances with Killian. Since this whole thing bores me, it's great that the plot suddenly shifts to Dash calling a fellow doctor to investigate a weird liquid metal that's all over a wall in the basement of Fair Haven.
And this time the game of musical chairs stops on: Mike's quest to prove that witches and Asgard are real! THIS IS THE BEST PLOT OF THIS EPISODE. I love Mike, I love his Indiana Jones father, and I love Mike's plans. Mike shows Ingrid the last diary his father kept before he died. The last pages are the just the same phrase over and over again. Coincidentally, it's the title of the episode "A Parching Imbued."
Well, I can certainly see why Mike believes his father was right this whole time, and not just an archaeologist who was hit in the head with an ancient pot or something. Mike would like Ingrid's help because he knows she's a witch. Well, since that's a problem, Ingrid is all about denial and trundles away with her library cart OF SECRETS.
Noooooo, show, don't drag me away from this! Mike's got an ax in his bag and he knows Ingrid's secret... I don't wanna spend time with Freya and Dash. But even they aren't as annoying as usual, because their idiocy has swung around to hilarity:
Freya: Can I make confession? I never wanted to get married.
Freya: I always thought marriage was too conventional, boring, normal, and the end to any adventure in life.
Dash: Should I be getting worried?
LOL. Yes, yes you should, Dash. Besides the secretly a witch thing, you know for a fact she's made out with your brother. Both of you are such dingbats not to realize this is a doomed marriage.
No time to keep laughing at these two, because Wendy's gone to get Victor so he can cast the spell that might get Freya her powers back. And then we swing to Virginia Madsen/Athena, who is wandering around her dungeon full of torture implements, caressing a photo of her dad, and saying "Soon." Like you do.
In case you were wondering if she was the villain...
Cut to Joanna, who has, while all of this has been going on, just been sitting and staring at her blood painting. It's still got some time to go. But no matter! The doctor Dash called to investigate the liquid metal stuff has arrived in Fair Haven's tunnels, just in time to find Athena gathering some. She tells Athena that she and Dash are investigating it, but Athena, in great matter of fact way, says, "Actually, it's a poison, and it's seeping through the wall from another world." The other woman just goes, "That's certainly a . . . theory." There are a lot of people saying true things in a very hard-to-believe way in this episode. And yet, even this bit with Athena doesn't hold a candle to what's coming up with Mike.
And then Athena stabs her with some of the otherworldly poison, and drags her dead body just out of Dash's sight. From there, Athena shapshifts into Joanna, corners Freya, tells her, as I think I would, to "Shut. Up." and cuts off a lock of Freya's hair before wandering off. Freya calls her mom, who then stalks herself through the streets. Hey, there's like a crowd of people there, why doesn't anyone wonder why there are two Joannas?
Who cares! Victor's telling Wendy that he and Joanna have to cast the spell together. Wendy didn't exactly tell Joanna she was getting Victor, so she begs him to wait while she breaks the news. She says, "Go to my room!" and we laugh, but only for a moment, because we've got to stumble drunkenly back to Mike and Ingrid.
Mike's figured out that "A Parching Imbued" is an anagram of "Ingrid Beauchamp." Why? No time to think about what that means, because Mike has a full proof plan to get Ingrid to admit that she's a witch. His plan?
Stab himself in the leg with an ax so that Ingrid will save him. BEST. PLAN. EVER.
Oh, Mike. You're so lucky Ingrid didn't just leave your stupid bleeding ass right on the library floor. On the other hand, you and Athena should start an East End chapter of the "Insanely Complicated Plans Developed From the Fanatical Devotion to Our Dead Fathers' Life Work" club.
Ingrid does heal him. And then slaps him. After she stalks off, Joanna's decided that the shapeshifter's attack on Freya means she's ready to deal with Victor. This leads to this week's best Wendy moment:
Joanna: I think we need to call Victor.
Wendy: Yeah. I totally agree. VICTOR!
Joanna: What the hell.
Wendy: Just think of all the time we just saved.
Freya doesn't really have time to process that this is her long-lost father before they all head out into the backyard to do the spell. It's billed as a "magical transfusion/medical spell" where the two parents give the child their blood. It's also really painful. So painful for Freya, that Joanna ends it. A) No idea how this spell's a "medical spell" when what it does is restore magic. B) They spent a lot of time building up Victor as a doctor who would therefore know how to do it, but the spell's just all three of them clasping hands with open wounds. It's not like it involves a complicated medical procedure. As is typical with this episode, the scene just goes away before you have time to dwell on that.
Ingrid and Freya play a rousing game of "My Day Was Worse Than Yours" at the bar. Ingrid opens with "Intense situation library with Mike" and doesn't get to go on to "He stabbed himself with an ax" or "he knows I'm a witch" before Freya interrupts with my favorite unintentionally funny line of the night: "I met our father today. I met him. He's real."
"He's real." He's. Real. HE'S. REAL. Was Freya under the impression that she had no father? That he was, in some way, fictional, or that she was an immaculate conception? Any other details besides that he's an actual, corporeal being?
In the face of the father she claims not to care anything about, Ingrid dismisses what happened with Mike as "Not a that important." DUDE, HE STABBED HIMSELF IN THE LEG WITH AN AX AND HE KNOWS YOU'RE A WITCH. In some ways, this is way more important than the confirmation that your father is real.
The bulk of the end of this episode is taken up with Freya and Dash's rehearsal dinner at Joanna's house. It's a farce of epic proportions. I really wish we could have seen it from the perspective of the non-magical people there.
Wendy and Ingrid need to test whether or not anyone associated with the wedding might be the shapeshifter. So Wendy's handing out champagne glasses and then snatching them back so she can test everyone's saliva. This episode really wants magic to be DNA.
While Wendy's doing that, Athena's giving one of those classic double-meaning toasts. She's all, "When Dash met Freya, I thought, 'Could I really be so lucky?' as to have one of the people I wanted dead to just stumble into my lap like that. Because I knew I wasn't just getting Freya, I was getting all of the Beauchamps. And by get, I mean 'killing.'"
All of Wendy's tests are showing that the guests are mortal, even Athena's. Now, I know that the chances are that she's just hiding her tracks really well, but I kind of hope that she's not in any way actually magical. That she's doing everything to open a portal to Asgard and go to a "home" that isn't hers. Because it would be amazing for it to be that she's right about everything, except her father had just deluded himself into thinking he was from Asgard and "superior" and that's why he needed Ingrid. I want her to open the portal, and just slam right into a forcefield that keeps out regular mortals.
Great in a different way is Joanna's discovery that Wendy hasn't turned on the oven to cook dinner, and Wendy's response of "You're a witch!" She also interrupts the hushed argument that ensues when Victor shows up, invited by Freya. Ingrid knows he hasn't been around for many of their lives, but she doesn't want an explanation. Freya just wants to to know him. Joanna just looking kind of sick. Wendy floats in, says, "Hey guys. It's getting kind of awkward back there with just me and the Gardiners. Oh hey, you're back," and floats out again. I swear, if Wendy actually dies for good, my wrath will know no bounds.
Mike drops by and drops some knowledge on Ingrid: the snake key from last week isn't the only way to open to door to Asgard. The other key is "A Parching Imbued," which is Ingrid Beauchamp. Mike goes, "You are going to help me open it." Which I hope isn't actually the threat he delivers it as.
The episode ends with Athena testing the mixture she made from the liquid metal/poison she killed the doctor with. She's in her dungeon, talking to her dad's portrait again, and flinging the mixture against the walls. It's a campy delight, and I think the chance to play this absurd villain is the reason Virginia Madsen took this role.
In the first few episodes, this show's "spaghetti against the wall" approach to writing was really frustrating. But now that it's embraced the utter insanity of its premises, jumping around actually prevents the viewer from moving past the "WHAT." stage to the "That's just stupid" stage. The plot holes are so big they're practically features now, not faults. Where did Mike's dad find the phrase "A Parching Imbued"? Who cares? Ax to the leg!
On the other hand, this episode was missing a bit of the energy of last week's. There wasn't any sort of set piece like the battle between Wendy and Joanna. And all the plot points here are clearly to put everyone in the right place for the season finale. Granted, after last week, all I really care about is Asgard. Open that gate up and let the crazy shenanigans ensue.
Finally, here's my ranking of all the plot threads in this episode. "1" is "Keep the plot forever" and "8" is "Send this plot to the great beyond with Ingrid's dead love of her life/two episodes":
1. Ingrid can be used to open the gate to motherfucking Asgard
2. Mike's literally ax-crazy plan to vindicate his father's theory
3. Athena's camptastic machinations in the catacombs
4. Anything Wendy says or does
5. Victor and Joanna's history
6. Ingrid's refusal to ever talk to her father
7. Whether Dash finds his doctor friend's corpse and confronts his mother. Is he evil like her or not?
8. Killian's entire existence.
In conclusion: MOAR ASGARD PLS