Last night's Witches of East End managed to spin its wheels — and to blow unsatisfyingly through a couple of storylines. How did it do this? By killing people. On the other hand, Freddie Prinze, Jr.'s character is still alive, and allergic to shirts.
After last week's mostly enjoyable outing, "A Few Good Talismen" was a return to form. How uninteresting was it? So uninteresting that there are no GIFs today.
This show was so close! So close to embracing a tone that worked. Last week was fun and campy, and this week started with an impressively gruesome image:
It's a flashback to Freya and Ingrid being burned as witches in 1693. We know they'll be reincarnated, but that's still horrifying to look at. Sadly, the episode doesn't continue in this vein. Instead, it ends with this:
Boo. All the boos. Boo forever on this.
And not because of the "girl crying in the rain" cliche. In the background there are EMTs trying to save the life of the detective Ingrid went on a date with last week. His name's Adam, but it doesn't matter. He's dead. Oh, Adam, we hardly knew ye.
He's dead because Ingrid thinks she might love him — so she breaks it off so that he won't fall victim to her magic life debt. Which is sad, we're told (told, and not shown, because this show's allergic to giving us background in any form other than infodump monologues), because Adam and Ingrid have been flirting for a long time and never gone for it. But then the friend Ingrid impregnated via fertility spell collapses, and may lose the baby and die. So Ingrid thinks she's in the clear and embraces Adam. Who immediately bleeds from the nose and drops dead. Her friend's fine, by the way.
Above: the exact moment I hurled a flip-flop at the screen.
Does that seem like a lot for one episode? Because the show could have developed this relationship and conflict over some more episodes — this was only episode four. We've barely spent any time with Adam. His death here meant nothing, the audience had no connection to him at all.
So that's love and death burned through. How about hate and death?
The dude with the stalker wall from last week is the one who turned Freya and Ingrid in to the witch hunters in 1693. And back then, Joanna lost her shit and cut his ear off. Which pissed him off enough that he stalked Joanna to 2013 and murdered the principal who acted as Joanna's character witness at her... arraignment? preliminary hearing? Where we are in her murder case is unclear. Joanna, after previously telling her daughters not to kill, puts a red hot poker through him. This is after he says the shapeshifter is still out there, and isn't him, even though he took the principal's shape and also hates her.
As red herring, this character was also burned through really quickly. He was revealed at the end of last week's episode, tracked down, revealed to hate Joanna, explained to not be the shapeshifter, and killed, all at once.
To its credit, this episode did at least have a central theme. Early in the episode, Joanna says they don't kill. By the end, that's revealed as a futile rule, since both she and Ingrid have caused deaths. Good in concept, not great in execution.
Still don't care about Freya's love life, but at least Virginia Madsen was actually in this episode. Under the guise of wanting to reunite her family, she makes Freya awkwardly have to invite her fiancé and the brother she has the hots for to dinner. All the things Madsen says to Freya about "secrets" and her powers pretty much make clear to the audience that she knows something's up with the Beauchamps. Odds on her being the big bad are pretty good. Plus, when the brothers refuse to stay for dinner, Madsen and Freya do get to have hilariously uncomfortable meal.
Also in the "plus" column for the week is Freddie Prinze, Jr. as the adorkable king of the lepidopterists that Wendy seduces in order to steal a rare butterfly to use in a spell on the woman accusing Joanna of murder. In the minus column is his salt and pepper hair, which succeeds in making all of us who grew up on She's All That feel old.
The runner from this episode to whole series may be that the Beauchamps are bad news for everyone. Ingrid loved Adam for a millisecond, and he died. Ingrid's friend that she tried to help get pregnant is in the hospital. There's no way that whatever's going on with Freya's not going to end in tears. Loving these women is dangerous. We also saw Joanna happily killing people she hated and who hated her last week. Joanna put a poker through another dude this week. And Wendy cursed the woman who hates Shapeshifter Joanna for killing her husband. Hating these women? Also dangerous. Maybe the endgame for this show is just a deserted island home for the whole family.