In the last couple of months, I’ve watched all 8 seasons of Charmed. I didn’t much care for the Prue/Paige switch up. I didn’t much care for the way they axed out Cole. But I kept watching. Unlike the upheavals in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I didn’t buy into it nearly as much after a while. I mean, I “get” the whole Paige deal, both from a practical angle and from a story angle. But, really, did they have to make her quite so consistently, persistently bratty?
The Cole thing really bugs me. To go ahead and spoil things, Cole starts out evil, then he falls in love with his “mark” and becomes good, then he becomes evil to save the one he loves, and then he becomes good by being stripped of his powers, and then he saves the one he loves and becomes evil again—this time through absolutely no fault of his own. And then they “kill” him for it. Except, dead isn’t so very much dead for him. He comes back, less evil, and tries to be good. But they’re just done with him.
The thing that brought Buffy to mind is that it was once revealed that Buffy’s two vampire romances were both metaphors for different kinds of abusive relationships. It was intentional. I suspect, on some level, the Cole thing was the same kind of deal. The message being that love can’t save someone who is abusive.
On the one hand, Cole reminds me a bit of another topic that grates. Cole will do anything to save his love. As a parent, I will do almost anything to help my children. Yet, I define help as being “help my children to be wholly and completely the best selves they can be” and not as “help my children to become normal.” That’s a distinguishing factor. I also define help as “do no harm,” which means I’m not going to risk their health to make them what I want them to be. I stress almost anything because there are trade-offs. I’d rather be poor and raise my children than rob a bank and give them wealth. If an attacker broke into our house and threated my children, then I believe I’d be able to kill to save them, but I could never be an assassin to earn our bread. Almost anything.
Cole doesn’t get the value of almost anything.
If I were a witch, it wouldn’t be like Charmed. I have a tenacious belief in free will. Being a werewolf or a vampire or a human being doesn’t make you a monster. What you choose to do with what you’re dealt makes or breaks you. You don’t have to be evil just because others say you are. You have a choice. Cole’s choices, while misguided, were driven by the greatest power this world knows: the power to love another more than the self. That can be nurtured. That can be harnessed. That’s the stuff of miracles.
I’m all for saving innocents or, rather, innocence. But I can’t help but think that Christ didn’t come to save the innocents. He came to save the guilty. We all fall short. We all make mistakes. We’ve all sinned. We’re all fallen. None of us are truly innocent. But that doesn’t mean we can’t choose to be good and it doesn’t mean we’re not worth saving.
If I were a witch, I wouldn’t magically cure my children. I might try to write a spell that enables Alex to talk, but he’d talk as a person with autism, a person who is one version of autism. If I were a witch, I wouldn’t devote all my energies to saving innocents. I would devote my energies to helping people see the consequences of their choices, so they could make better choices. I would try to empower others, using magic to release the untapped potential in those I meet. But you don’t need magic for that; you need love—the kind of love that values others as much as or even more than the self. Then again, maybe that is magic, maybe it’s the best magic of all.