Monday, April 11, 2011

Charmed: Ms. Hellfire (2.9)

There was always an odd dichotomy to the character of Prue, and it's something the show has played around with in the past. There's the fiercely protective and conservative side, which is released at the office and in her insistence in being professional and working hard. Then there's the free-spirited, sexual and fun side, which isn't seen as often but is clearly screaming to get out. And by the flesh-o-rama outfits that have crept into her wardrobe this season, you can tell she's getting riskier. Charmed played around with this concept in Which Prue Is It, Anyway? last season, and the same is reflected here, both in her undercover stint as a leather-clad assassin-for-hire, and in her discovery of a new power: the ability to be in two places at once.

Even with its greatness, the shadow of Aaron Spelling looms all over the episode. First there's soap veteran Antonio Sabato Jr (who I notice recently played a character named Jagger Cates, which is just awesome) as a sleazy/hot criminal kingpin; a good girl seduced by darkness and jewelry; and numerous shots of Shannen Doherty stalking through nightclubs in revealing outfits, all in slow-mo naturally. It's a ridiculously trashy episode, but at the same time crazy fun. It even has a memorably ridiculous teaser sequence full of smashing glass, gun-toting female assassins and frozen-in-time bullets. Heh.

I also loved the satirical lampooning of annoying faux-witches through the character of Marcy Steadwell. She's a complete cartoon, but hilariously so. And while Barbas still bugs, it's notable that the show has the confidence to bring back villains it assumes are fan favorites. And we have Darryl discovering the sister's secret. While he's still pretty much a non-character, it's the only logical route the show can go down with him. We sure don't need another Andy.

Ms. Hellfire is an obviously busy episode, with stories that maybe aren't given the full weight they deserve. However, it's also unquestionably a lot of fun, with a memorable performance from Shannen Doherty, a glut of funny scenes, and a great soundtrack. B+

Guest stars Billy Drago (Barbas); Courtney Hains (DJ); Hynden Walch (Marcy Steadwell); Antonio Sabato Jr. (Bane Jessup); Lochlyn Munro (Jack Sheridan)
Teleplay Constance M. Burge, Sheryl J. Anderson Story Constance M. Burge Director Craig Zisk


  1. The two things I hold against this episode are: a) Prue being sorrowful over having killed a human one moment and soon after gleefully trying on her clothes, and b) the sisters revealing their secret to Darryl and immediately following it up with, "so we need you to cover this woman's death up for us as long as possible" and him just being all "m'kay". These little bits really stuck out to me.

    But besides that, this episode did a great job of taking the show out of its standard formula and switching things up. Everything from the sisters being shot at and it turning out to be a human they kill to Prue pretending to be an assassin and then really becoming the role was pretty golden.

  2. I think your first point was more a statement on how desensitized they'd become to death, and how they're still sort of superficial and relatable sometimes. Or maybe I'm just defending the early years too easily? Heh.