Ignoring the ridiculousness that was the original casting of Phoebe (all personal antagonisms towards Alyssa Milano aside, she ruled with that character and the show would not have been anywhere near as successful or long running without her), this episode is a true example of Charmed at its best. As much as I love Paige, when it comes down to it Prue was an original Charmed One and the dynamic just changed when she left, in particular the unfortunate changes of Piper's role as the older sister - I think the show played a little too much on the concept of the oldest sibling being the caretaker and the one with all the responsibility, because first Prue and then Piper were constantly yo-yoing between being magic junkies and then rebelling against it altogether, with a lot of over-acted whining in between. And frankly, Prue could pull off the whiny act while it grated on my nerves with Piper, who I liked much more as the sweet, awkward middle sister who kept the peace.
Anyway, this episode really launched into the whole sisterly relationship and family orientation of the show. The three actresses throw themselves into their characters with class and pinache - this is probably one of the few episodes where I really can't criticise their acting. Phoebe was spirited, funny and likeable as the young troublemaker, while Prue as the slightly uptight, good natured older sibling brought a different layer to the show. And Piper in particular defies stereotype, as a unique and really lovable character.
The plot is simple but intriguing, and the magic vibe combined with an interesting taste of the San Francisco underground succeeded in creating a fascinating first chapter of the Charmed saga. I would definitely recommend it!