One of the major story arcs last season was Piper and Leo's break-up, problems in their marriage further exacerbated by Leo's promotion to Elder status. What entirely destroyed the story was how illogical it was, Piper ending their marriage because of his absence from their lives, only for Leo to show up every week doing the exact same things he always did. This season, the Avatar arc is doing a far greater job at creating conflict between the two of them, Leo clearly having been seduced by this mysterious new power, but unsure about telling Piper. It's something sort of believable as a source of angst, as you can understand why both parties are feeling distant from each other.
This is another one of those episodes where everything is undone by a convenient time reversal, but that doesn't necessarily dampen its power. One of the most successful elements of the story is Kyle's rapid evolution into gun-toting psychotic murderer, so determined to destroy the Avatars that he's happy to kill his girlfriend's sister in his quest for revenge. Sure, it's a little on-the-nose, but there's a great sadness to the post-time travel scene between Kyle and Paige, Paige completely unaware of just how secretly nuts her boyfriend is.
Like pretty much every other Charmed episode from this period, the demon subplot is complete ass. There's a group of them, and they're invisible, and they spend most of their time plotting in a dank cave somewhere. They attack the sisters, and unsurprisingly get blown up. Nothing new occurs there, and the whole thing feels crazily redundant. Were demons contractual or something? Just leave them out all-together when you have other character-driven material to work with, show!
Parts of this feel like the writers building a bridge to future events, but it's still an entertaining hour on its own, helped by that intriguing tone where all the characters seem to be on the same page in that something major is right around the corner. And Leo isn't making me want to leap in front of a freight train right now, despite getting more screen-time than anybody else. Miracles, people. B-
Guest stars Joel Swetow (Alpha); Patrice Fisher (Beta); Kevin Alejandro (Malvock); Brad Hawkins (Vassen); Elizabeth Dennehy (Sandra); Kerr Smith (Kyle Brody)
Writers Natalie Antoci, Scott Lipsey Director Derek Johansen