When Witches of East End premiered back in 2013, it wasn’t looking to aspire to be much more than some frothy, witchy fun in the vein of Charmed. Centered around “literally” star-crossed lovers and Virginia Madsen hamming it up as a Big Bad, it was entertaining and breezy and very binge-able.
Season two brought a “darkness is rising” ad campaign, which, in many cases, usually drags a show down. In the case of East End, though, it seemed to work out. Everything got a little more serious and a little more adult — even the color pallet seemed darker. As we delved more into sisters Joanna (Julia Ormond) and Wendy (Madchen Amick) Beauchamp’s family history, we got a more mature series of events.
Freya (Jenna Dewan) was no longer in the middle of a love triangle; ex-fiance Dash was finally getting interesting, by getting ever so slightly mustache-twirly; and Ingrid (Rachel Boston) was taking charge of her tumultuous life. Things seemed poised to finally take the elephant in the room seriously. I’m talking, as you probably know if you clicked on this article in the first place, about the curses. Joanna has been punished with immortality, fated to watch her daughters die prematurely and be re-born forever and ever. It’s a heavy bit of backstory that didn’t seem to jive with the tone of season one, used mostly as a plot device to integrate Madsen into the lives of the main characters. The brief brush with that idea (Ingrid joining a cult and going full Dark Willow) became the most interesting thing about the freshman run.
Finally, last week, East End took the plunge and killed off Ingrid and Freya — and Tarkoff’s (James Marsters) line, “I left you a present in the garden,” will forever shut down any reality show premise involving redoing backyards.
As revenge for thwarting his plans to bring the elder Beauchamp sisters dad to Earth from home dimension Asgard, he went and hung the sisters (and possibly rubbed dirt on their feet? How else were they so dirty, while the rest of their bodies seems relatively clean?)
Feeling like a season finale, 2×09 “Smells Like King Spirit” blew everything we had seen before out of the water. There were suddenly endless possibilities. How would this crazy plot twist be resolved?!
It did seem too good to be true for the deaths to stick and have everyone be heartbroken. Joanna herself said her daughters were never reincarnated exactly the same, and to watch her deal with new version would have been awesome. It would have changed the show completely, though; we either would have gotten baby or toddler versions of the girls, or we would have shot into the some speculative sci-fi future with adult versions. Neither idea seems all that plausible, but they are incredibly interesting, and, arguably, what should be the endgame to a show with DNA as evocative as reincarnation-is-a-curse.
Instead, the deaths amount to nothing more than a fake-out. They’re nothing more than a way of motivating our heroes to allow the king of Asgard onto Earth so he can fix everything (and pave the way for whatever crazy-pants secret plan he has). In fact, the deaths are so unnecessary that a sequence of Joanna and Wendy failing to stop Tarkoff last week could have easily served the same end that this event does.
The fact that this punch is pulled so early in the series and is resolved with no real lasting implications (literally no one has died after seemingly everyone and their mother did last week) is a real let down. I realize any resolution that didn’t involve instantaneous resurrection was unlikely, but it still seems like a waste to me.
Witches of East End is still fun and all, and the final few episodes of the season may have me retracting all of the above statements, but right now I’m feeling just a little blue that this series is playing it a little too safe with its incredibly compelling central premise.
What did you think of episode nine’s cliffhanger and resolution? What do you think we can expect out of the rest of the season? Let me know in the comments!