The show is now at that point where the writers are fully aware that making one or all of the sisters evil for an episode pretty much guarantees fun. And while Bride and Gloom makes literally no sense, in general it's ridiculously entertaining. Piper and Phoebe 'blinking', Piper attacking the wedding planners, Phoebe shattering Dantalian's hand. The transformations are handled in equal parts with humor and horror. And the moment where Phoebe repeatedly beats Cole and demands that he turn into Belthazor is one of the most interesting and weirdly psycho-sexual scenes this season. Maybe that was unintentional, though.
Holly Marie Combs is firing on all cylinders here. She's owning Piper at this point, at times crazily neurotic as well as compassionate and caring. Holly's performances are always right on the edge of shrill, but for the most part she's been really impressive this season. She looks like she's having a ball playing evil here, especially in that great moment where she tortures Dantalian. Phoebe, too, is pretty badass this week. Therefore, one of the downsides to the episode is Prue's absence. Obviously, Shannen was busy prepping her directorial gig for next week, but the script loses something by not totally depicting Prue being overcome with evil and instead having her restricted to an underground slab for most of the hour.
But while so much of the episode is a lot of fun, it falls apart in those last ten minutes or so. The villains are way too easily dispatched, saving Prue is a less successful retread of the finale to The Wendigo, and all the "here's what I learned" conversations at the end were plain awful. This is the kind of episode that doesn't need a whole lot of moralizing, but the ending pushed it into annoyingly preachy ground.
Generally, however, Bride and Gloom is a lot of fun. Episodes like the upcoming Sin Francisco basically do this exact same story a lot more successfully, but this is an interesting attempt at least. B-
Guest stars Chad Willett (Justin Harper); Una Damon (Dantalian); Tom O'Brien (Zile)
Writer William Schmidt Director Chris Long