How the Charmed reboot updates the Power of Three
Charmed … again
Charmed is sacred territory to those who still invoke the Power of Three, so not everyone has been too eager to embrace the CW’s self-proclaimed “fierce, funny, feminist” reboot. Even some of the original stars weighed in — and not necessarily to offer their blessings. Jane the Virgin’s Jennie Snyder Urman teamed with Jessica O’Toole and Amy Rardin to conjure this new take on the Charmed Ones, three sister witches who battle demons and other forces of evil. Network head Mark Pedowitz hopes fans will “give this new pass a chance,” but there are still some vocal skeptics. With the television upfronts, we now have a trailer and new details about how the revival separates itself from the original, while also paying its dues to what came before. At the very least, doubters will have a better idea of what’s coming.
Maggie vs. Phoebe
Reboot: Maggie (Sarah Jeffery) is the bubbly youngest child of the Vera family. A student at Hilltowne University, she’s hoping to gain membership to a sorority — but her newly awakened powers might put a damper on those dreams. Maggie learns she has telepathy, something she believes must be a prank when the thoughts of her fellow sorority hopefuls begin overwhelming her.
Original: Phoebe (Alyssa Milano) was always the “problem child” of the Halliwell sisters. She maintained a bad-girl edge most of her adult life, until the death of her grandmother compelled her to reconnect with her sisters. Phoebe’s power of premonition (which later grew to encompass other abilities) would often warn the Halliwells of impending danger or pinpoint a new innocent life to save. In addition to the change of power set with the youngest sister, fans will also note the siblings of the reboot all bear names beginning with M instead of P. Instead of Halliwell, the reboot’s family name is Vera.
Melanie vs. Piper
Reboot: Mel (Melonie Diaz) is the social justice warrior of the family. You’ll notice in the Charmed trailer how she punches a man in front of a bunch of Time’s Up signs. But she loses her way after her mother’s death, sending her on a path to prove it wasn’t an accident. When a stranger arrives on her doorstep with shocking news, she now has to go from being the eldest sister to the middle one. With the power to freeze time, Mel seems like the one to galvanize the other sisters into accepting their collective destiny, while that was Phoebe’s M.O. in the original.
Original: Piper (Holly Marie Combs) also had to endure a familial shift. She had always been the middle sister of Phoebe and Prue, but when her big sister died at the hands of a demon, she became the eldest. She too wielded a time-freezing power, though her ability could not move past rooms or doorways, whereas Mel seems to be able to freeze everything. (As Piper’s powers grew, so did their range. And there were some episodes that contradicted this Wiccan rule.) Since the Halliwells were older than the Veras, Piper began working in restaurants before owning her own club, P3 — named after the three P-named Halliwells.
Macy vs. Prue
Reboot: Macy Vaughn (Madeleine Mantock) is the mysterious third sister the Veras never knew they had. After a family tragedy, the geneticist comes knocking on their door, revealing herself to be a long-lost sibling kept secret by their mother all these years. Mel initially shuts her down, since she can’t handle another shocker. The change in last name suggests she has foster parents. With telekinesis as her gift, Macy also seems to be a conglomerate of Prue Halliwell and Paige Matthews.
Original: Prue (Shannen Doherty) always felt pressured to be the breadwinner of the family, forcing her into a career at Buckland’s Auction House. As the eldest sister, she was also considered the most powerful. Prue was killed off in a demon attack in the season 3 finale, paving the way for the introduction of Paige (Rose McGowan). Patty Halliwell, the sisters’ mother, had Paige with her Whitelighter, an angelic guide for witches. Because it was forbidden, she had to give Paige up for adoption.
Harry vs. Leo
Reboot: Harry Greenwood (Rupert Evans) seems like the Veras’ version of a Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He poses as the chair of the women’s studies department at Hilltowne but is really the family’s Whitelighter. There’s no “orbing” to be seen so far in the series trailer, but he does seem to have a few magical tricks, including vanishing the sisters’ restraints.
Original: Leo Wyatt (Brian Krause), initially disguised as a handyman, served as the Halliwells’ Whitelighter before becoming part of the family. A Whitelighter is an angel assigned to a witch coven by the powers that be (a.k.a. the Elders) for guidance — and also healing after supernatural attacks. Though relationships between witches and Whitelighters were forbidden, he shacked up with Piper anyway. The two later married and gave birth to half-Whitelighter children.
Marisol vs. Patty
Reboot: Marisol (Valerie Cruz) is the mother of the Charmed Ones. A witch herself, she cast a spell to bind her daughters’ magic so they could live normal lives. She was in the middle of unbinding their powers when she was attacked and killed by some supernatural force.
Original: It was actually the Halliwells’ grandmother (Jennifer Rhodes) who bound the sisters’ magic to protect them from a warlock. After her death, her spell broke and awoke their abilities. Patty (Finola Hughes), the girls’ mother, had already died years earlier in a demonic attack. Both women would return throughout the series in ghost form to aid the Halliwells.
Nico vs. Andy
Reboot: Nico (Ellen Tamaki) is a police investigator who’s been in an on-and-off relationship with Mel. It appears from the trailer she’s also looking into the death of Marisol.
Original: Prue was in a similar entanglement with Detective Andy Trudeau (Ted King), who eventually died at the hands of a demon.
The Book of Shadows
Reboot: The Veras are given a Book of Shadows, their mother’s tome of witchcraft, by their Whitelighter. It’s a guide for them to “protect the innocent and vanquish demons.” One hope, considering the diverse casting of the Vera and Vaughn sisters, is that the reboot will delve more deeply (and authentically) into different kinds of magic, like brujería and voodoo.
Original: Each coven maintained a Book of Shadows, an encyclopedia of spells, potions, rituals, artifacts, and supernatural entities passed down from family member to family member. It just so happened that the Halliwells’ Book of Shadows was the most powerful. Magic in the original series came with all sorts of rules, like good witches couldn’t use their magic on other good witches, no evil force could physically touch the Halliwell Book of Shadows, and any spell cast for personal gain would rebound with karmic consequences. Some inconsistencies arose as magic became more complicated over the years and rules were broken and tweaked by the writers.
The home of the new Charmed Ones is almost a mirror image of the Halliwell manor, which was planted on a place of power. It rested on the prison of the Shadow, which took the form of a living black cloud.
The attic too holds similarities to the original. In both, this is a place where the sisters gather to perform spells, consult the Book of Shadows, and kick demonic ass on occasion.
In the original series, Phoebe was playing around with the family spirit board when it spelled out “attic,” which had always been blocked off. She found the door mysteriously open, leading her to stumble on the Book of Shadows and discover her Wiccan legacy. In the reboot, the sisters attempt to contact their mother through the spirit board and are irked when they find the pointer moving on its own.
Bad taste in men
Demons are a real threat — reboot or not. When the Charmed Ones’ power is activated, it attracts evil. Pitch-black eyes were a common marker of demonic entities in the original series, and the new trailer teases a scene that looks like a nod to the original. Piper had been dating a guy named Jeremy, who turned out to be a warlock. He only revealed himself when he confirmed their powers had awakened so he could then steal them. Maggie seems to be having what she hoped to be an intimate moment with a guy, who also turns out to be evil.
Rhyming is so 2000-and-late
Whenever the Halliwell sisters rhymed, magic was bound to happen. But the Veras are going for more of a Latin chant to vanquish demons.
Taking down demons
Once vanquished by the Halliwells, evil entities would vanish or disintegrate in a puff a smoke — a safeguard from the demonic underworld to not tip off the real world to the existence of magic. The same seems to go for the evil haunting the Veras.