Bonfires and Vanities
“Bonfire and Betrayal”
ABC, Wednesday, 10 PM
Written by Maggie Friedman & Rina Mimoun
Directed by Dan Lerner
I would like to retire to Eastwick. They sure have a lot of parties there. We opened with a street party in the pilot, continued to an open-air hanging a couple weeks later, and last week had full blown orgies (politely conducted by inebriated WASPs) in the streets. Now we get an episode centered around a “celebration” of the burning of over a hundred witches, back in the day. Roxie keeps flashing on a funeral, and even Bun picks up stray vibes about it, but the tour must go on, yes? The appropriate ritual for this commemoration of the slandered dead seems to be to stack coffins and set fire to them; even Mr. Van Horne shows up with a donation. I shudder to think how these people celebrate Independence Day. Do they take down grandpappy’s musket and go huntin’ Tories?
So, Roxie is conducting tourist tours with the still-wobbly Bun, Joanna is binging on ice cream and feeling sorry for herself, and Kat is giving her the kind of advice you’d expect from a woman who put up with Raymond all these years: grovel to get your man back. Joanna eventually tries just that—but Will doesn’t want to take her back. He’s moved on. Joanna, of course, can’t take this with dignity, so she resorts to mind control again, and gets her just desserts—she learns that Will has moved on to Kat. See what you get for eavesdropping? Joanna does not react well to this, and steams off looking for Kat with blood in her eye.
At which point I am asking myself, “Self, is this really all there is to this show? A bunch of hapless women using powers they hardly even acknowledge, much less control, and which bring them nothing but grief?” And self answered, “Yep.” So at this point, I’m beginning to wonder if the point of Darryl Van Horne being in town is so that he can remove those powers from Joanna, Kat, and Roxie, freeing them to live normal lives. I doubt it, because this show is too conventional for that surprising a twist, but it would have the virtue of novelty.
The pace picks up a little when Pastor Dunn kidnaps Joanna, in revenge for her newspaper story that ruined his life. He plans to kill her, which if he thought about it for one minute, would guarantee an even bigger story about him in the paper. But then, nobody in this show is blessed with an abundance of brains. In deference to the Bad Writing rule that supernatural powers come and go only as the plot requires, Joanna’s Jedi mind trick doesn’t work on Pastor Dunn, which anyone who watches Heroes could have told her would be the case.
On the other side of town, Roxie is saving Darryl Van Horne’s life. Seems that Chad didn’t bolt the statue down right, and Roxie rushes in just as it’s toppling over on him. Van Horne fires Chad but chats up Roxie, so it’s a wash as to whether she’s happy or sad. She’s so happy she saved Darryl’s life, possibly averting her funeral vision, she quarrels with Chad. Uh-oh. Can we see where this is headed? Like we didn’t see it last week.
Meanwhile, Joanna finds that even though her Jedi mind trick doesn’t work on Pastor Dunn, her newly (as in ten minutes ago) discovered telekinetic powers do. Does she use them to bring the roof down on Dunn? No. Does she use them to short out the electric drill he’s using? No. Does she even use them to topple the coffin he’s drilling on top of him? No. She uses them to acquire a chisel—smart—and cut her ropes—also smart. Then she gets dumb again and trips over her own feet on her way out of the garage. Dunn retrieves her. I hurl popcorn at the TV screen in disgust.
The coffin winds up on top of the coffin stack with Joanna inside. I was rooting for the bonfire, but alas, Roxie and Kat show up in time to figure out from Pastor Dunn’s broad hints that he’s stuck Joanna in the fire. When will the bad guys ever learn to shut up? Roxie argues with Will the fireman over whether to put out the fire, and Kat bursts into tears, which causes a rainstorm. Which puts out the fire. Cute. The only witch with actual useful powers, and she hasn’t even clued into them yet. Various reconciliations ensue, Van Horne makes sexually suggestive remarks, Bun wobbles. All as per usual. Meanwhile, a fuming Chad attacks the statue of Darryl Van Horne with a crowbar; it falls on him and kills him. Was anyone surprised?
Once again, the most interesting character is the one used the least: Darryl Van Horne. He had one good scene with Bun; Veronica Cartwright and Paul Gross, like the pros they are, invested otherwise banal dialogue with a purring subtext of menace. Nicely done.
Eastwick came in third in its timeslot, with 5.1 million viewers and a 3.3/6 share. That’s fewer overall viewers, but an improved share, so I’d call it a wash. It came in behind a cop show re-run and a World Series game, both of which skew to a largely male audience that would probably not have been watching Eastwick anyway.