I watched the season 2 premiere of Witchblade with some trepidation. After all, the writers attempted something I had never seen before in television history, something bigger than “Dallas" and J.R.’s death being nothing more than Bobby’s wishful dream. They did a complete reset, erasing everything that happened in season 1. Of course this was convenient considering that the entire cast had been killed off throughout last season. You can’t have a new season without a cast, right?
However, I feared they were painting themselves into a corner. How do you repeat the various occurrences of last season without it seeming like, well, last year’s drama? Would we be destined for a whole year of the exact same stories with a clueless heroine repeating history? How boring! Is this part of some major studio Canadian austerity program? “Hey, we’ll save tons of shooting dollars by replaying many of the same scenes!"
The writers solved these problems better than I feared with an intriguing two hour episode which began at the same time as last season: the day before NYPD detective Sara Pezzini encounters the Witchblade. How they got around this conundrum is best summarized by Sara’s nemesis Kenneth Irons, “A man cannot touch the petals of the nearest flower without influencing the course of the furthest star. Everything is connected. Every action has many effects."
So… the “many effects" thing. Hmmm… Well, did it work? Surprisingly, yes. Sara, Kenneth Irons, Ian Nottingham and the rest of the characters are not repeating their exact actions from last year. It’s kinda like a multipath video game. They are plagued with unsettling dreams which allows the actions of last year to bleed through at times and propel them down a different rabbit hole. This also provides an intriguing explanation for that déjà vu we all experience from time to time.
Sara trusts her “déjà vu" and decides to not confront the mob boss, Gallo, thus saving her partner Danny’s life this time. Kenneth Irons decides to forego a lengthy courtship of Sara with the hopes of controlling her and, by default, the Witchblade. His dreams tell him enough to know that she’s trouble and danger in a really big way. She won’t consent to be controlled by him on any level, so he decides he must steal the Witchblade and kill her right away, a totally different strategy from last year.
Instead of sitting around all season and whining like an impotent jealous boy, Irons decides to confront Sara and the Witchblade with a power weapon of his own, the Lougine lance, a powerful spear that took on supernatural powers once it pierced Christ’s side when he was on the Cross. Their confrontation ends in Irons death. He’s the first to die this season, whereas he was the last to die last season. And it also clearly effects all the other relationships in this show.
Conspicuously absent are Sara's old Captain/surrogate father as well as her nemesis at the station, Joe Dante. Dante and his group of corrupt cops had been on Irons payroll last season with the sole purpose of giving Sara hell. With Irons out of the picture so quickly, maybe they were never hired onto his payroll and won’t have the same conflicts with Sara. I’m inclined to think that’s the case, since when Sara hooks up with one of Dante’s friends this time, he tells how genuinely happy he is to see her. They clearly have a friendly relationship in this scenario, so different decisions may have “many affects."
I love the mental teaser of spotting the differences of this new path, although some fans find it a chore. I toured the newsgroup world hoping to find a Witchblade forum, but didn’t find one. However, people were very opinionated about the show at alt.tv.xena. Gail had some problems with this alternate paths concept, “Well, I got confused and thought they were re-running the original 2 hr movie, forgetting they did a "reset" at the end of the first season."
David Carson directed the new “path" of this two hour in a very cinematic style with complex lighting and effects set ups, far better than the pedestrian technique we saw last year from lesser directors. (Remember, Carson directed the Star Trek feature “Generations," not a fave of most Trekkers, but certainly he has talent enough to acquit himself better than the directors who preceded him on this show).
I’m expecting good things and am pleased we are not at square one with a total reset. Sara seems more comfortable and at ease with the Witchblade, sensing it’s a familiar friend, and it will be great to see Sara interact with her partner Danny in the flesh, instead of the ghost world. So to use an actual film phrase which directs the cast and crew to start a scene over again: “Reset to one!"