Witches of East End has the strength of being a cable drama that doesn’t have to bend over backwards to accommodate for a 20+ episode season. The shorter, 13-episode format works to the strengths of many shows, who are able to present a more focused season with cohesive storylines. We’re officially past the midpoint of this second season, and it only seems as though the show has little to no idea of what it’s trying to do.
What appeared to be the season-long arc of the Mandragora’s reign of terror was quickly and poorly wrapped up, moving us into Frederick’s mission to help his grandfather find a host (who isn’t Frederick) on this side of the portal. It’s not that this isn’t strong. It’s that it’s come out of nowhere. Frederick’s return was peppered with suspicion from the onset, then the show went the opposite direction and made him trustworthy then it went back to making him suspicious. Now he has a serious girlfriend (Anna Van Hooft) we’re only just hearing about, and I guess we’re supposed to believe that he’s conflicted about this mission.
Tarkhoff (James Marsters) is an old friend of the family who comes over to help Frederick with his mission. When he invites himself to a dinner, he’s there to supervise Frederick dosing Joanna with a potion that will hopefully weaken her enough to keep her out of her father’s way whenever he puts his plans for Ingrid and Freya into motion. Frederick doesn’t go through with poisoning Joanna, using his unique and singular link to his grandfather as a strong reasoning for Tarkhoff letting him live.
The story itself isn’t a bad one. It’s believable that Frederick would come there under false pretenses and begin to feel badly when he sees how much his family loves him. It’s that the show executed it so poorly that it loses a lot of its urgency. If Frederick’s been at this for so long, why not 1) draw out the suspicion of him further or 2) start from the beginning with him being untrustworthy and all of us knowing about it? Throwing it out here now gives the impression that the show’s struggled with its decision to do so and decided fairly late what it wanted to do about it.
To add to the what? going on there’s Wendy and her husband, Ronan who resurfaces in town with an art show devoted to her to try to win her back. Despite their isseus, Wendy still kisses him at their fancy gala, though she does end things in the end. It remains to be seen if Ronan will be back to cause more trouble (and get more of Wendy’s hair). Like the rest of the show the problem lies in the execution, not the concept. The show seemingly forgot about Wendy’s season one love interest, and it’s dropped the ball on developing Tommy and Wendy’s romance which has apparently advanced to love since we last saw them. If Wendy has problems with love and romance, thinking that she’s only going to get hurt in the end, I’d like to see that actually happening rather than it being introduced and resolved in the space of forty minutes. I’d also like to see Tommy.
It’s disappointing that the show skips so many steps when it comes to its main characters, giving supporting characters like the Gardiners (mostly) well-conceived and well-executed storylines. Obviously the show’s capable of good work, but it seems to be picking and choosing which characters to do it for. Killian begins to catch on to something strange in his relationship with Eva. Leaving warnings for himself on foggy mirrors and recording secret videos, Killian tries to confront her which (obviously) goes badly. Dash gets the more in-depth storyline of the night when he invites Ingrid to the art gala on a sort-of date and is confronted by Kyle Hutton’s father.
Dash and Ingrid’s progressing relationship could be a strong point. On one hand it makes narrative sense that the show would take advantage of the dramatic mine of a relationship between the two following Freya and Dash’s failed engagement. But the two seem to lack romantic chemistry that would make the pairing viable. But it doesn’t seem to matter either way since we’re getting Dash/Ingrid no matter what, and the two end the episode with a liplock.
But Ingrid’s surely going to be in for a world of shock when she finds out what Dash has been up to. When Kyle Hutton’s father suggests that Dash had something to do with his son’s disappearance, Dash kills him to keep it quiet. Despite all the secrets he and Ingrid are sharing, he doesn’t tell her about killing Hutton. It’s not that Dash doesn’t tell her, it’s what he does tell her. This big fabrication about just wanting to make up for killing Kyle, thinking that he could by saving his father, how he even thought about bringing William back to life. That’s what makes Dash look particularly dangerous, that he’s not only a killer but that he’s a liar who also manipulates, charming Ingrid with some story about how he was always trying to fix his family and keep things together for everyone.
Luckily Dash is interesting though the show’s already threatening to make Ingrid’s continued trust of him annoying. From what she knows of him thus far it makes sense. Dash has been nothing but great with her, and the one misstep she witnessed she chalked up to him losing control in trying to protect them both. But with Freya now suspicious, it’s looking likely that the show’s going to go the well-trod route of having Ingrid remain ignorant of her new love interest’s worst qualities right up until he does something truly terrible. And in the meantime we’ll get to see her and Freya fight about it.
- What was that thing on the back of Ingrid’s head? It wasn’t doing anything, and it was poor decoration.
- Why would the King tell Tarkhoff to kill Frederick if he knows that he can’t live without Frederick?
- This was a bad episode for Freya and Ingrid. I can hardly remember a single line either of them had. And all Freya got to do was walk around and stare at Ingrid and Dash occasionally.
- What is this aversion these people have to calling people to help them with their problems? Killian probably could have handled Eva better if he’d told someone. Freya or even Dash. Well, probably not Dash but certainly Freya, who he now knows is a witch and knows has more experience than he does.
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