Sympathy For The Demon-Barbas, the Demon of Fear, returns and tricks Paige into giving him Cole's powers, and plots revenge on the Halliwell sisters by playing them against their darkest fears. Oh great! Barabas again! Another episode where we have the misfortune of watching Billy Drago try to deliver a line without coming off as a tool yet fails! Not to mention, I hate how the writers keep building Barbas as this powerful villain that the sisters can't defeat, so that's why he keeps showing up. Honestly, Barbars was probably the least most interesting aspect of both "From Fear To Eternity" and "Ms. Hellfire", so why the hell would the wirters bring him back? A recurring villain must have a presence and charm to become a enough of a fan favorite for the writers to bring such a villain back for more. But with Drago in the role, it's such wasted opportunity and such a boring villain to watch!
Despite all that, this is probably the best Barbas has ever been used. Instead of his usual M.O., we get a surprisingly well plotted revenge story with a psychological edge. There were actually moments through the episodethat were effectively creepy like the opening where Cole has his hallucinations. Not to mention the moment where Barbas survives the Soruce vanquishing spell and trapped the sisters in the Manor added some genuine suspense that I actually felt scared for them, which is rare for Charmed (at least at this point in the series). My favorite moments was definately Piper re-living the day her father left and Phoebe beating the crap out of Pagie only to then kill her soon after. Seeing a sister kill another sister was shocking, not to mention the moment where Barbas taunted Phoebe as she cried over Pagie's dead body was the first time he felt like a threat. I also loved the when Leo suddenly became Barbaus during Piper's fear, nothing big, but a nice fakeout. I also enjoyed how Prue was brought up to remind us that she was the only one who defeated Barbas the last two times and how much Paige is trying to step up her game to be as strong of a witch as she was. Considering all the on set drama, I'm glad the writers remember how much of a focal point Prue was to the series the first 3 seasons.
With such a strong episode, it sucks that the writers have to continue with Phoebe/Cole's beyond tiresome dilemma. It doesn't help that everytime Phoebe is in the same room with Cole she has some smart a$$ remark. Get over yourself please! Cole was actually presented as a selfless person with and without his powers by giving them up to save Phoebe (and not hurt anyone else in the process) and taking them back to defeat Barbas. The moment where Cole takes his powers back and everyone stares at him like he's a monster again makes me sick. If anything, the way everyone keeps pushing Cole away, telling him he's evil, is probably the reason why evetually gives in to being evil again a few episdoes down. Sigh. Anyway, "Sympathy For the Demon" is a solid episode that makes Barbas seem like a formitable villain and gives us some dark plots to sink our teeth into. Too bad for those poorly done CGI spiders. I guess that portion of the budget was used for Billy Drago's check....shaking head.