It's an exhilarating, trenchant hour from Charmed, a rare occurence, even from Season 4s second of half of admittedly solid episodes. The **** really hits the fan, as Paige witnesses Cole using demonic powers, only she's uncertain whether or not she can trust her own eyes. Meanwhile, Phoebe and Piper are too busy swooning, no thanks to some magical aphrodisiacs, about their respective honeymoons, to notice Paige in distress. Oh, and there's an innocent to save, which puts Cole's plan to impregnate Phoebe on ice, and being the evil genius that he is, orchestrates the demon that's after the innocent to attack Paige instead, infecting her with severe paranoia and demonic rage.
To recap this entire episode would take awhile, there's so much that happens here. And it's the small stuff that really rounds off the hour. Little things like the opening scenes with everyone in the club; the sisters sharing a bathroom chit-chatting about their sex-lives; Paige constantly challenging Cole and questioning where his new 'perks' came from; Cole's persistence in tricking Phoebe to eat his poisoned chocolates; Paige doubting herself about what she saw Cole do to Karen, and Cole's efforts in destroying her confidence by shape shifting into Leo and shooting her suspicions down.
The fact that the sisters feel like genuine sisters is a first for this season, especially since Paige is the newest addition this year. Their talks weren't just about demons, they were about trust, sex, maturing, having fun and random chatter. When does the show take time to do this? Not very often. Scribe Kirsta Vernoff allows time for character development, the overall arc, a very involving subplot regarding an innocent, and even gives Phoebe a separate subplot that marks her first ever advice column, which allows Alyssa to show off her comedic talent. Heck, Piper even has onscreen sex! And that NEVER happens. Maybe it was a little overkill, with the odd sounds and Leo's, erm, odd facial expressions, but for once her sex life isn't relegated to off-screen comments. Little things, people!
Of course, it's the colossal advances that really make this episode what it is. Cole's officious behavior throughout the episode is edge-of-your-seat stuff. The attic scenes, of course, are the talking point of the hour. How he teases Paige, throwing fireballs and generally destroying the attic, only to ask if something is wrong, if she's seeing things, as he magically mends the debris, is just my kind of cruel. Julian and Rose are both stunning here. Hats off! When Paige attacks Phoebe and Cole, I loved the exchange they share when Piper hilariously knocks Paige out. When he insists he go down to the underworld alone, her response, 'You don't have any powers!' was fantastic. Not sure why, but I love that bit.
Overall, this is an immensely enjoyable episode of Charmed. Everything feels plausible within the realm of the Charmed universe. Powers are used for practical reasons, whether it be freezing a car to save an innocent's life, or dosing chocolates with blood in order sway Phoebe to the dark side of the force. There's action, there's humour and, most of all, an uneasy risk-factor to the proceedings. Cole may be mostly evil, but he's still a character to root for. Paige, of course, is a very likeable character but could stand to lose everything she's built for herself so far, and Phoebe has just been impregnated with evil, and so we have 3 main characters, all likeable, with genuine stakes. There's going to be severe repercussions and casualties ahead. Can anyone believe I'm talking about Charmed?