With Season 3, Charmed becomes darker and more personal. And with that, it emerges as probably my favourite season of the entire show’s run. Season 1 and Season 2 were amazing and carefully balanced humour, sisterly relationships and the elements of supernatural, but with this season, we get a welcome dash of seriousness and poignant emotion. This gives Season 3 a necessary drama as we see the Halliwell’s face demons, discover some eventful family history and experience eventual tragedy. Be warned readers, major spoilers will follow in this review.
Prue( Shannen Doherty), Piper(Holly Marie Combs) and Phoebe(Alyssa Milano) Halliwell continue to battle demons, taking down the supernatural foes that come their way in the hope of stopping the spread of evil and protecting the greater good. The burden of this often weighs heavy upon the girls, but as it is their destiny to be protectors of good, they don’t really have a choice. In fact, Prue takes centre stage this season and announces herself as supremely powerful and capable. She may have wanted a normal life at the start of the show, but now with their Wiccan destiny there, Prue has taken it by the horns and has become a very quick study in all things supernatural. She can now channel her power for great potential and is clearly someone you shouldn’t trifle with. Piper has taken her relationship with Leo(Brian Krause) to the next step and becomes engaged, despite the trepidation of The Elders. Through Piper’s deep love, the veil that has protected the union between witches and Whitelighters marrying is lifted and Piper finally marries her beloved. Plus, Piper gains a new power to blow things up with a wave of her hands which she at first struggles to control but comes in very handy when battling evil. And last but not least is Phoebe( who acquires the new power of levitation), meeting someone who will have a deep impact on her life. That person is Cole Turner(Julian McMahon), a charming district attorney who takes a romantic interest in Phoebe which of course she reciprocates. Secretly though, Cole is half demon( his vicious demonic state is known as Belthazor) and has been sent to kill the Charmed Ones by The Triad, a group of exceptionally evil demons who want to assume power. What Cole hasn’t bargained for is genuinely falling for Phoebe and thus putting his mission to kill her in jeopardy. All of this leads Phoebe to a crisis when she does find out the true nature of Cole as she has deeply fallen for him. And though the sisters must vanquish him, Phoebe lies to protect Cole from harm as she can’t let go of him. Yet when her sisters find out it is a hard task explaining this to them, especially to Prue who suspected Cole all along. Add to this The Source getting stronger and gearing up for an attack on the sisters, and we have one hell of a season that comes to a highly charged and devastating finale.
What really gives Season 3 that something special is the sense of consistency in it and the emotions that are drawn out. While Charmed is a heavily serialized show, there is a greater sense of overriding events here. The stories that populate the season are darker and more mature than before and while not every episode is perfect, the majority of them this season are outstanding, well-written and acted with excellence( as many people may have gathered by my mostly high episode ratings at the bottom of this review). The themes of deep love come to the forefront as Piper finally marries Leo and Phoebe falls for the devilish Cole and must consider the consequences. A poignant sense of emotion pervades Season 3 as threats become more personal to the girls and their magic is constantly tested by every force of evil imaginable. There is still the humour there for enjoyment, but a greater sense of maturity added to the mix. We finally glimpse The Source, although he is hooded and enshrouded with mystery. But just from hearing his deep voice and his deceptive ways lets us know that he will be one hellish evil that will challenge the sisters. And with this season thankfully, things we’ve been wondering about are explained. We get to see The Elders and their heavenly domain and the girl’s father manages to patch things up after being absent for so long because he wanted to steer clear of the world of witches and demons. I liked how this season brought these to attention and finally addressed them properly.
The most emotional and sad moment of this season is the death of Prue in the finale. Prue has always been the most assured and powerful sister who has to take responsibility. So to have her die at the hands of The Source’s henchman while trying to save an innocent is such a tragedy and definitely makes for wrenching viewing. As we’ve watched her grow along with her sisters, we’ve developed a bond with her. I have noticed that leading up to the tragedy there are subtle references to death among the sisters that manifests itself in different forms. The finale is one powerhouse of an episode of danger, demons and tragedy that ranks as my favourite episode in the show’s entire run because it takes risks and delivers emotional viewing. And with that, we are left wondering how the show can continue with the Power of Three severed.
It may be her last season on the show, but Shannen Doherty still gives one hell of an impact as Prue. Tough, wise, protective yet compassionate, Prue has truly grown since becoming a witch. Doherty brings out that inner strength and sensitive side and works wonders with it. It may be her last season, but Doherty makes sure her part will never be forgotten in the Charmed canon. And I do believe it is very fitting that Doherty herself directed her last episode which is truly a testament to her abilities. On a side note, Doherty also directs another very good episode during the season in which she is sent into a time portal of the Wild West that will keep repeating until justice is served. Holly Marie Combs continues to convey deep emotions and passion as Piper, who is taking control of her life for good. Combs just makes you feel every emotion that Piper is feeling through small and subtle things. Piper is the main heart of the show and her love for Leo is the loveliest relationship as we see their struggles, but ultimately their undying love for each other. It’s very nice to see Piper still in control but not afraid to let her hair down in one particular episode. OK, she may be possessed by a demon when she table dances in leather, but it definitely provides a different and sexy side to Piper and a very memorable moment of an excellently constructed season. Alyssa Milano excellently brings forth the sympathetic yet confused side of Phoebe out as she wrestles with her love for half-demon Cole. You can’t help but feel sorry for Phoebe in that the first guy she genuinely loves turns out to be mainly evil. Phoebe has always been the sister to wear her heart on her sleeve and see the good in people, but here it puts her in jeopardy yet also in the face of her true love. Just like Piper’s relationship with Leo, being in love with Cole proves hard for Phoebe as she is torn about whether he can remain good because he loves her or that he will revert back to being Belthazor. This is the season that really lets all the sisters get a moment to shine. For Prue there is her showing of strength, reconciliation with her estranged father and her tragic death. With Piper, there is her sexy table dance and magical wedding( attended by Grams and her mother in spirit form). And for Phoebe there is her defiance of her sisters and false vanquish of Cole.
Julian McMahon, being the newest person to cast is excellent as Cole. Caught between his desire for Phoebe and his evil nature, Cole is one interesting character added to the show. McMahon embodies the cunning, ruthless side to Cole with aplomb as well as the humane area that wants to be good for the sake of his love. I mean Cole even kills the Triad for the greater good, yet this in turn puts The Source higher up on the girl’s list of enemies and places him in extreme danger as the master of everything evil does not take kindly to people turning their backs on him. It also helps that McMahon has genuine chemistry with Alyssa Milano, which highlights the danger and passion of their union. Brian Krause provides understanding, brotherly care and a sense of determination to Leo as he watches over the girls and fulfills his beautiful relationship with Piper. As recurring aid Officer Darryl Morris, Dorian Gregory is likable, caring and sometimes bewildered by the various cases he investigates that tend to link back to the sisters who he considers family.
- The Honeymoon’s Over – C
- Magic Hour – C+
- Once Upon a Time – D-
- All Halliwell’s Eve – B
- Sight Unseen – B+
- Primrose Empath – A
- Power Outage – A
- Sleuthing with the Enemy – A
- Coyote Piper – B+
- We All Scream for Ice Cream – A
- Blinded by the Whitelighter – B
- Wrestling with Demons – D
- Bride and Gloom – B+
- The Good, the Bad and the Cursed – A
- Just Harried – B
- Death Takes a Halliwell – B+
- Pre-Witched – A+
- Sin Francisco – A
- The Demon Who Came in from the Cold – C-
- Exit Strategy – C+
- Look Who’s Barking – B
- All Hell Breaks Loose – A+
Darker, more deeply urgent and loaded with emotion, Charmed Season 3 is definitely my favourite season of the show.