Now that the pilot has come and aired, establishing the premise and characters, the show can really get underway with their stories.
The episode kicks off with a janitor being attacked by a mysterious black goo, which is almost Venom-like. After this, it switches to the sisters, who are debating how to handle the spirit board’s warning at the end of the previous episode. When they accidentally summon Harry (or Meghan Markle as they like to call him, which is actually a very fitting nickname/code name), he warns them that spirit boards are easily manipulated by evil spirits.
Conflicted about who and what to believe, they decide to make a truth serum for Harry to take. The truth serum idea is a nice call back to the original Charmed‘s early days, specifically their eight episode,”The Truth Is Out There…and it hurts”. While Macy goes to the university’s lab to get an ingredient for it, she learns about the goo attacking people, which is a subtle way of intertwining the subplots, as Macy tells Harry about it.
Despite this the truth serum is finally made and placed in a thermos, which of course Macy mixes up with Nico’s. I found the thermo swap to be too convenient and cliche, but the scenes where the truth serum kicks in were hilarious. The transition from the truth serum affects being hilarious to character building was done well, especially with the choice to have Nico reveal she cheated on Mel with her ex-fiancee. In fact with this moment and subplot, we actually learn more about Nico than we have about any of the sisters. Once this moment is over, the truth serum isn’t addressed again, in fact its abandoned all together—in the original Charmed‘s truth episode, the effects of the truth spell were clearly laid out, in this series, it’s not laid out at all—which is sloppy on the writers’ part.
Meanwhile the girls’ suspicions of Harry are raised when Macy walks in on him wiping the janitor’s memories, only for the janitor to die shortly after. Their suspicions are confirmed when they conjure Marisol’s spirit from the spirit board and she says he killed her. Of course this is way too easy and Maggie is the first to experience doubt when she can’t get a read on her and believes touching the Prism of Souls is a trap. Later, when they return to the manor and see Harry throwing Marisol off the second floor, they have to figure out which one of them is lying. Ultimately Mel, who was the most convinced that Marisol’s spirit was real, figures out that the spirit of Marisol is actually an impostor demon, like Harry said all along. While the outcome was obvious, the doubt throughout the episode was presented well.
The minor subplot revolving around Maggie and how her powers are affecting her social life was a highlight of the episode. Throughout the original series, a major focus was how the Halliwell sisters balanced their magical and personal lives, so it’s great to see this element explored in this series.
The episode ended with Harry explaining to the sisters that the goo is a form of the Harbinger, the demon whose arrival foretells the beginning of the apocalypse, which he mentioned in the pilot. He then tells them that the Harbinger needs a host and it is shown that the Harbinger has chosen Angela Wu. I felt this was a strong note to end on as it continues the series’ story arc and provides a purpose for Angela.
Overall this episode was a major improvement over the pilot, although there are still some kinks (the acting, character development with Mel and Macy, development of powers, etc.) to be worked out, hopefully they will be worked out over time.