At long last, we finally meet our very first Elder as but as the Charmed Ones learn a little bit more about the magical world they belong to, the episode also reveals some of the unintended tragic side effects that come with being witches.
Like last week’s Halloween episode, the bulk of the emotional weight in “Exorcise Your Demons” falls on Mel, who feels responsible for Angela’s current status as a vessel for the Harbinger of Hell and is desperate to save her. The episode opens with a flashback to six months earlier, with Mel encouraging Angela to come forward with her sexual harassment allegations against Professor Thaine. Marisol promises Angela that regardless of what she decides, the Veras would be there to support her.
Two days of harboring an increasingly powerful demon in their attic has all the sisters on edge and frustrated that the Elders are taking their sweet time getting it out of their hands. Even Harry isn’t quite sure why the Elders haven’t arrived yet. But as they sit tight and babysit the Harbinger, Niko and her partner Trip drop by for a surprise visit as part of their investigation into Angela’s disappearance. The sisters are very unconvincing in their attempts to assure the detectives they know nothing about Angela’s whereabouts. But the mysterious noises in their attic do nothing to dissuade Trip from thinking something’s up. Luckily, Niko and Trip’s visit is cut short by the arrival of the Elder, who looks nothing like the Albus Dumbledore-esque figure the sisters were clearly expecting.
Instead, the Elder, Charity, is fashionable, desperate to give the Elders’ branding a facelift, and spends her non-Elder time running an investment fund helping women in developing nations start businesses. And if that’s not enough, it seems she has a history of sorts with Harry.
While Charity may have surprised the sisters by being a cool, feminist Elder, her next bit of news is anything but. Dropping a bombshell on the sisters, she reveals that the Elders don’t think Angela can be saved and have instructed the Charmed Ones to destroy the Harbinger — and Angela — in a ritual killing that must be performed that night during the full moon or risk the Harbinger becoming too powerful to destroy.
Mel is outraged at Charity’s cavalier attitude towards killing a human being and tells Harry and the Elder as much. But it seems there’s another reason the Elders are looking to take out the Harbinger with little regard for Angela’s life. Charity reveals her delayed arrival was the result of another Elder assassination, upping the total to three since their mother was killed. The Elders want to eliminate the Harbinger and whatever human vessel it currently has before more witches are killed.
Elder assassinations aside, the sisters are more surprised the learn their mom was an Elder, something I — and Harry — thought they were already aware of. Also learning that their mother was a close friend of Charity’s, Mel is steadfast in her belief that their mother would never allow Angela to be killed. However, Macy voices her support for the Elder’s ruling, justifying it as the rational approach as Hilltowne is full of people for homecoming weekend.
After chastising her sisters for allowing their emotions to cloud their judgment in thinking Angela can still be saved, Macy heads off to the lab where she runs into Galvin, who gets a criminally small amount of screen-time this episode. The two proceed to have a romantic chat about utilitarianism. Still heated from her argument with her sisters, she poses the quandary to Galvin as a hypothetical and is surprised when he says he doesn’t think he could kill the threat if there was a chance they could be saved. While Macy attempts her spiel about statistics and rational thought, he reminds her that emotions can be just as important before segueing beautifully into asking her to the homecoming tailgate. Unfortunately, Macy already has a date with a demon.
Meanwhile, the episode also acknowledges the fact that we’ve yet to see college freshman Maggie actually attend class. Unfortunately, it seems her competing witch and Kappa priorities have left very little time for academics, leaving her at risk of failing World Lit. Unless she can pass the midterm — on Dante’s Divine Comedy, no less — she can consider herself on academic probation. Luckily, Lucy and her flirty boyfriend, Parker, also take World Lit and the Kappa president offers up Parker, who happens to be a middle school Dante scholar, as Maggie’s new tutor
With Charity and Macy ready to sacrifice Angela, Mel tries to find proof Angela’s soul hasn’t been destroyed and is able to do so with a little help from the Book of Shadows. However, this newfound information has no impact on Charity, who warns Mel that it’s still too dangerous to try to save Angela. Sensing Charity may be a lost cause in her effort, Mel takes matters into her own hands and smuggles the Harbinger out of the attic and into the warehouse housing the Kappa homecoming float. Charity is livid that Mel would disobey orders upon arriving in the empty attic with Macy and Harry, to which the Whitelighter all but says, “Welcome to my world.”
Mel and Maggie are planning their exorcism but reach a roadblock when the page the Book of Shadows leads them to is blank. Harry also appears and urges them to take the Harbinger back to the attic and move forward with the Elders’ plan. However, Mel lays it all out there, telling Harry she can’t kill Angela because she feels responsible for everything that’s happened, having encouraged her to come forward, which led to the chain of events that allowed Angela to become the Harbinger’s human vessel.
With Harry off searching for Mel and Maggie, Charity and Macy have what I found to be one of the most important conversations thus far in the series, digging into the mystery surrounding Macy’s abandonment and giving viewers a glimpse into the world of the Elders. We learn that Marisol never mentioned Macy’s existence to Charity or the other Elders, causing quite the surprise when her daughters became the Charmed Ones. However, Charity says Macy’s existence now makes sense, considering Marisol once asked Charity to perform a “brutal” spell on her, which would lift the pain and anguish Marisol was feeling over a terrible loss. The conversation only strengthens the mystery surrounding why Marisol left Macy and why nobody knew about her to begin with.
However, following her conversation with Charity, Macy decides to help her sisters at the warehouse. She relays the conversation she had with Charity and apologizes for their earlier fight, revealing that a lifetime of constantly keeping her emotions in check can make her come off as cold. It’s a small moment that does so much to highlight how different Macy’s upbringing was from Mel and Macy’s. With the sisters together, the blank page in the Book of Shadows reveals a spell written in Spanish with each of their names written at the top. Harry deduces that Marisol created the unsanctioned spell because she knew they would find themselves in this scenario, revealing that her power was prophecy. As if he wasn’t already, Harry is now completely all in on the exorcism plan.
However, just as they’re finalizing the supplies for the exorcism, a car beeps outside. When Maggie goes to investigate, she finds Parker looking to stash a box of illegal fireworks in the warehouse until homecoming. Has someone not told him what a terrible idea this is? Anyway, they chat about their upcoming tutor session and Maggie opens about her academic insecurities. Parker starts to give her a little pep talk but when he almost spots Angela, Maggie kisses him and then awkwardly sends him on his way.
Further derailing their plans, the containment spell Charity put on Angela earlier has worn off and she’s about to attack Harry when he has Maggie summon Charity. However, the Charmed Ones refuse to go forward with the ritual killing in favor of their mother’s plan. Throughout the first few episodes, Harry’s mostly been relegated to lecturing the sisters and being exasperated by them, but this episode gives him an opportunity to go to bat for them, demonstrating how far they’ve come as Team Charmed Ones. He pleads with Charity with a sense of familiarity that clues the sisters in on this mysterious history the pair have together. Ultimately, the Elder relents.
With Harry and Charity holding the demon back, the sisters perform the spell and with some additional coaxing from Maggie, using her empath powers, they’re able to save Angela and the primordial form of the Harbinger is captured in an empty paint can. However, Trip, who had been trailing Mel throughout the episode, stumbles into the scene and is killed after being struck by a pole caught up in whirlwind created as Angela and the Harbinger fought over control of her body. The detective’s death deeply affects Mel, who feels responsible for having not kept him away.
With Angela no longer the Harbinger’s vessel, the sister’s spin a story as to how she ended up in their house with no recollection of the past week. Afterward, Harry tells the sisters they are finally done with the Harbinger as Charity is taking it somewhere safe. The mention of the Elder prompts Maggie to implore the Whitelighter for details about his life, but he won’t reveal anything other than he was born in 1920. He also reminds the sisters that despite Charity’s support, they defied orders from the Elders, meaning there will be consequences to come.
Despite their kiss, Parker still comes over to study but Maggie doesn’t think it’s a good idea, telling him she got an extension for the test and needs to accomplish it on her own. We still don’t know much about Parker but there’s something about him that makes me very wary. Niko meanwhile is devastated over the loss of her partner and friend. Mel learns that Charity’s “handling” of his death set him up as the fall guy for the crimes the Harbinger committed while controlling Angela’s body.
Throughout the episode, I was waiting for the shoe to drop, revealing Charity to be a secret villain, as there was no way this Harbinger of Hell nonsense was going to be solved by episode 4. Turns out, I was half-right. While Charity isn’t evil, she does lose the Harbinger to a warlock using the power of hypnosis. And thus, once again, it appears the apocalypse is on its way.