Charmed makes TV history with this episode, as "the little show that could" is awarded the (slightly overlong) title of Longest Running, Hour-Long Drama Series with Female Leads. Phew. Shame that Brad Kern didn't create an interesting storyline to mark the occasion but, thinking about it, what do I expect from an episode written by the Destroyer of All Charmed Greatness?
Payback's a Witch sees Paige and Billie accompanying Henry to the bank to help one of his parolee's get a loan. The parolee's claim is rejected and he decides to hold everybody there hostage. Paige and Billie need to stop the crisis without using magic, creating havoc. Meanwhile, Wyatt conjures up the Village People and a talking bear reveals the forever-mute-one's feelings.
The hostage storyline is predictable garbage, with a ton of plotholes and acting worthy of a 6th grade production of Oklahoma. Apparently, Brad Kern believes that a car smashing through glass and a helicopter will help maintain the audience's attention. Sadly, it didn't work on me. The main problem with this storyline was the shaky camerawork used throughout. It looks like the director watched a little too many NYPD Blue episodes before shooting and the desperate attempt at being "edgy" and "dramatic" just doesn't work.
Wyatt's subplot is also tiresome. There should have been a more serious way of revealing Wyatt's longing for his popsicle father than all the action figures coming to life. It was a really pointless attempt at humor that just continued to fall apart, scene after scene. Despite that, the closing scene between Piper and her son was excellently written and Holly Marie Combs was awesome. Shame she didn't have more to do in the rest of the episode though.
The best thing about Payback's a Witch is the fact that Paige learns how to heal. Like Piper way back in Love Hurts, it's the pain of almost losing a loved one that causes healing to happen, and it's good to see one of the sisters get a new power which doesn't annoy (I'm looking at you, Phoebe's ding-dong noises).
An episode which could have, and should have, been a lot better, Payback's a Witch has two storylines which fail to immediately capture the viewer and some of the worst leaps-of-logic in Charmed history.