Witches of East End

“Smells Like King Spirit” is a mixed bag for Witches of East End

I’m not sure why this season feels so long. It’s not really, but it probably has something to do with the way Witches of East End keeps cutting some of its storylines short without doing them justice to move onto something else. Whether its an inability to plan ahead, or a difficulty the writers have with staying on an already planned path is hard to tell. It’s hard to believe this is the plan they’ve had from the start because why? It’s just such a poor one that I have a hard time believing this was the intention from the start.

The stories themselves aren’t the problem, the pacing is. I thought we’d reached a moment where things were going to proceed at a normal pace, after the quick and anticlimactic dispatching of the Mandragora, but apparently not. “Smells Like King Spirit” is another fastforward through promising storylines, wrapping them up as quickly as possible to move onto more interesting fare. 

There’s Eva whose manipulation of Killian is revealed, in the most anticlimactic way possible. In 40 minutes, Freya begins to suspect Eva’s treachery, finds a key component to mind control spells in Eva’s things, tells Killian, Eva’s daughter dies and so does she. Though the show did a decent job making Eva not just a manipulative woman lying to Killian and wrecking things for him and Freya, her character and her death feel meaningless. Why was she introduced? What purpose did she or her story serve? Killian’s grief at her death is shrugged off as being a remnant of her spell despite her profession of love, and now everyone’s just sitting around waiting for Killian to get over it. Killian and Freya are about to kiss before being interrupted by a phone call (so Eva’s spell isn’t that strong), and it’s understood that they’ll be back together (or facing some other convoluted obstacle) before the season’s up. There’s nothing lasting in Eva’s story or even her character, and it’s a disservice to Bianca Lawson’s abilities that she doesn’t get material deserving of her.

Dash’s own love life is having trouble as Ingrid refuses to speak to him, cuing an angry rage that reveals Archibald Browning’s journals and a photo of Past Life!Ingrid which leads to a quick lesson in season one storylines explaining Ingrid’s relationship with him. I mentioned earlier, when Dash and Ingrid were becoming close, that Ingrid’s constantly being put in positions where her own morality is threatening to be shifted by whatever man she’s involved with. There was Archibald, the Mandragora, and she helped Dash hide that body. Though the episode hints at Ingrid also coming to this realization, or at least realizing that she was nearing the same path with Dash, it quickly turns it back around to preserving Dash’s own goodness. Maybe that’s because Ingrid’s goodness is plenty assured in this life, though that’s debatable considering how many brushes Ingrid’s had with the morally objectionable in these past two seasons, but however unlikely it is that Ingrid’s going to go all bad in the course of this show, it’s far more likely that it’ll be Dash gaining a Big Bad designation sooner or later.

Considering the disappointing turn their friendship and romance took, this episode was decent in getting them back to somewhere around there. Ingrid pushes Dash to take control and destroy Archibald’s things, instead of taking a deep dive into the dark magic like he’s tempted to. Though Dash thinks doing so will mean he and Ingrid get a chance at being together again, Ingrid’s very clear that’s not what it means. I’m glad this isn’t becoming about their relationship, or even the promise of it because then that just allows Dash the excuse of lashing out as soon as something were to go wrong with him and Ingrid. I’m not entirely opposed to the two of them, but they’ll need something more than Ingrid acting as Dash’s conscience to make them float.

It’s hard to say how Dash’s story will go from here. He should face consequences for his actions, since that’s something Archibald never really had to do. If that means he and Killian have to get into a badly choreographed magical fistfight (with added slow motion to make it extra awful) and destroy the jar keeping the dead body submerged, then so be it.

The other Beauchamp sibling is having a rough week as well. After not going through the ritual with Caroline, Tarkhoff’s punishment convinces Frederick to reveal the truth of Tarkhoff’s alliances and intentions to his family, while conveniently leaving out his own role. That doesn’t last long as Frederick’s treachery is revealed pretty quickly, resulting in more betrayed yelling and Joanna letting a magical scorpion paralyze him. I’m not sure why we spent so much time pretending that Joanna might actually kill Frederick, the son she’s spent centuries missing, especially not when Tommy was about to be possessed and/or killed somewhere else, but whatever. At least Frederick firmly aligning himself with his family, even if it means killing Tommy and himself, frees of the albatross of this particular storyline regarding his loyalties, meaning we can move onto better things as well.

Like Tommy being possessed by the spirit of his girlfriend’s father.

And Freya and Ingrid being dead. Ingrid and Freya’s bodies strung up in the garden as a “present” is easily most affecting, and most successful piece of the episode, even the season. We’ve spent so much time hearing about how Freya and Ingrid have never lived this long, with the understanding that, because they’re centerpieces of the show, they aren’t going anywhere. It’s doubtful they’re going anywhere this time, with some random and archaic magic as an option to resurrect them before Joanna becomes pregnant again, but it’s still shocking that it’s happened at all, and despite the missteps of the episode and the season as a whole I’m very much looking forward to the next episode.

Stray Observations

  • Why is it dangerous for Tommy to know Wendy’s a witch, but not dangerous for him to be with her and not know? This isn’t a conversation that’s been had about any other couples, not even Freya and Killian back when it seemed like Killian had no magic. And it wasn’t exactly Tommy knowing Wendy was a witch that got him snatched by Tarkhoff it was him being connected to her at all. So why isn’t the argument about witches not being involved with mortals, not about witches being involved with in-the-know mortals?
  • So where did Caroline disappear to after Frederick sliced up her stomach?
  • I notice that Ingrid conveniently left out the circumstances of Penelope’s death and the evil that got her to where she was. What are Dash and Killian going to make of that? 
  • James Marsters was wasted on this show. That being said I’m glad he’s gone because there’s really no reason to be that talented of an actor and stuck with as annoying a role as Tarkhoff.
  • There was way, way too much slow motion in this episode.

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