The original demon is back in this brilliant episode, and after stealing Cole's powers he is powerful enough to shrug off the very spell that destroyed the Source. Now THAT is trouble!
Some reviewers have complained about Barbas and the acting of Billy Drago. Not me. The guy is a genuine creepy demon, and his valium-induced and somewhat self-amused style is truly unique among the catalogue of Charmed bad guys. He absolutely oozes vengeance in this one, and I love it when he loses it after Phoebe tempts him (great scene).
The genius of Barbas is that not only do the sisters have to conquer him, but they also have to face their own inner demons in doing so. In this episode we find out that Piper is afraid of her baby having to grow up alone, understandable, Paige is afraid of being isolated and trapped, and Phoebe is afraid of actually being evil, again, also very understandable. We see a great piece of Charmed history when Victor argues with Grams and leaves the manor. I love it when Piper overcomes her fear and blasts Barbas- "Preying on an expectant mother's fears. That's a good one, but not THAT good." I love how angry she is there and that for once a Charmed One made the mistake of talking before attacking, allowing Barbas to shimmer out.
Paige carries this episode for the most part. Her desire to be as good as Prue is fleshed out from the beginning. In fact, this episode is sort of a memorial to Prue; she is mentioned constantly. The only annoying part of the episode is putting up with the sisters harassing Paige over empowering Barbas. They were all manipulated by Barbas, and it isn't like Paige knew what could happen. Stripping Cole's powers was actually a dang good idea that should have been thought of sooner. This episode put it to rest that it won't work. The abuse towards Paige helps build the sense of isolation that she has. So, at least, there is a good reason for it in the script. The scene where Phoebe cries over Paige's body after killing her (this is the first of two episodes in a row where Paige gets killed) while Barbas hunches over her, whispering to her in consolation and then raising the dagger to kill her is one of the best Charmed scenes ever. Amazing.
The final showdown was no let down. Fortunately, Barbas chose to kill Paige first. Pulling a Prue, she is able to orb a spilled potion off the floor and into Barbas' mouth. Then, of course, it is always great to watch Cole vanquish someone. Poor Cole. Someone perhaps should have thanked him in the end, but we are starting to see where this is all going. This is the 2nd time that Cole's powers nearly killed the sisters.
Fantastic episode. Among the 20 or so best of Charmed, and the best of Season 5 until Centennial Charmed.