To call the second season of “Witches of East End” a bumpy ride would quite possibly be the biggest understatement about a show that ditched understated a long time ago. Based solely on interviews from the cast, “Witches of East End” is a crazy little labor of love, and that comes out in spades in the two hour season finale. Hopefully it truly is just a season finale, because oh boy.
And that’s not just because Edgar Allan Poe makes another appearance in this episode.
Alright, it’s a little bit because of that, but it’s also mostly because of the fact that, faced with the possibility of being trapped in 19th century Maryland, Freya and Wendy turn into Tweedledum and Tweedledee. This is said with all the love in the world, but with all the proverbial crap hitting the fan, these two are channeling “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” with all of their one-liners and goofy jokes.
It would seem that because “Witches” is no longer as “light” as it was in the first season, it’s not allowed to be a funny show. But those two do everything they can to prove that theory wrong.
The Freya/Wendy parts of the season finale are atonal from the rest of the episode from the beginning, but at least in the first part of the episode, they don’t feel just plain wrong. Freya not understanding the concept of a magical key or the fact that Edgar Allan Poe only looks like Killian to her (and the audience) pretty much completes this season’s transformation of her character from “Killian’s love interest” to “Freya the Great.”
And for that, we can all be grateful.
It’s been a whole season in the making, and credit must be given to Jenna Dewan-Tatum for how much fun she’s clearly been having this season, the writers for realizing that Freya could use a little more than just Killian, and even Madchen Amick, who’s gotten the chance to interact with Jenna more as a result of this and bring the laughs.
On the flipside, the promotional materials for this season were not lying when they said “darkness is rising.” Ending the first episode part of the season finale with Tarkoff making good on his promise to “make” Joanna love him is pretty dark. Having him force her to go back onto opium and sexually assaulting her (so he can “have [her]”) is a whole other level of darkness. It’s just … inky blackness.
For an episode all about 1840s shenanigans to turn into a cautionary tale against the evil that men (literally) do, that take a lot of guts. The question, however, is: Is it smart?
The second half of the finale cranks the show’s insanity up to 22 (from 11), but oddly enough, that insanity comes in the form of the victimization of its female heroes.
(Sorry, Frederick, but your plight is you’re own doing.)
Think about it. The king’s physical and mental torture of Ingrid pairs nicely (for lack of a much better term) with the fact that Ingrid is pregnant either due to Dash’s deception or the Mandragora’s hypnosis. Then, he does the same with Wendy, his own daughter, and the only saving grace of any of this is that he is supposed to be the ultimate evil, so him doing this is wrong (just like Tarkoff).
But then Wendy also gives up her last life for Tommy, and Dash switches bodies with Killian (to escape prison, but also to do some shifty things with Freya), and it’s basically a sickness.
Making the strongest women on this show the biggest victims is such an interesting choice. In theory, this is the type of thing Ingrid and Joanna especially should be able to “take,” but there is nothing but hurt that comes from witnessing this. These women who the audience has grown to love and respect are all of a sudden absolutely powerless, and it’s terrifiying. This is especially glaring when the biggest flaw of the season has been the victimization of Ingrid, Joanna, and Killian (because it’s not just the women … just mostly them) has yet to get any true closure.
In a world of witches and demons, that doesn’t excuse these characters not reacting to these very human traumatic incidents. Ingrid and Killian honestly need all of the therapy in the world for what they’ve been through, and now, so will Joanna.
When all is said and done, the Beauchamp ladies are able to save the day and stop the king, but it’s a victory that seems hollow in contrast to all that has happened this season and all that the episode sets up for a possible third season. There’s every chance that this could be the intent of the season — winning comes with a price, and despair is always around the corner. But this being the intent doesn’t make it any less hollow.
In case the hollowness has brought the mood down too much, take a look back at some of the casts’ favorite moments in the show and share some of your own in the comments: