Hell. Yes, we're literally in hell. An overhead camera shot (yes, we're paying attention to your technique, Shannen) rotates and lowers down to five men standing in a circle. The guys are all in spotlights and hooded robes. They're blathering about evil. We learn that they're the "Council" and that they believe that all of the witches in San Francisco are "charmed" now. I'm all primed to snicker and suggest that they get out more, but then I remember this show's dreaded continuity problem; for all I know, everyone in San Fran has superpowers this week. And what's up with this "Council"? Whatever happened to "The Source"? Pick a mythology and stick with it, writers. Then we see that there's a really HOT guy standing in the center of the circle. He looks like the bastard child of Steve McQueen and Brad Pitt. The actor, Marcus Graham, is another refugee guest star from the USA Network -- he played the lead on the series Sins of the City.
Which leads me to a shameless plug: This summer I'll be providing new content for MBTV in the form of Charmed first-season classics and extras, and will also be recapping Sex in the City with the lovely, talented, fabulous Nicole of Third Watch fame. Woo hoo! Nicole rocks!
Anyway, my new boyfriend in the leather pants and the sleeveless black tee (Woof!) is telling the Council that he is a "Dragon Warlock" who has a "passionate hatred" of witches and also "the power of flight." Well, he's one up on me with the flying thing, but we still have something in common, so maybe our relationship will work. Instead of letting the camera feast on my boyfriend's gorgeous face, Shannen rotates the lens around like the scene involves an ER gurney while inserting several fade-edits of the pentagrams on the Council members' robes. Yes, we know you're there. And that the hooded guys are nether-worldly. I'm getting queasy. Stop it, Shannen.
Sidebar. Here's a quick quote from the recent Entertainment Weekly interview with SD about her directorial debut with this episode: "We had all these crane shots and we built dolly tracks all over the place. But a lot of it didn't make it into the final cut." So sit down, imbibe a large gulp of bourbon and take a moment to consider what was actually left on the editing room floor. Shudder.
Then an evil, goateed (natch) Council member tells the Dragon Warlock that they've decided to try a different plan to destroy the Halliwells that doesn't involve the use of force. Another evil, goateed (natch) Council guy snaps his fingers in slo-mo. A bottle/vase/urn thing appears, from which a genie emerges. DW bitches that the Council "can't be serious" about using a genie. Snapfinger Goatee guy is (snicker) stroking an -- ahem -- flesh-colored snake like a low-rent Blofeld from the 007 flicks. Shout-out? Shout-out? The genie, played by French "Third Rock of Crack from the Sun" Stewart, who we'll call "Frenie," channels Jack Nicholson while prattling: "Personally, I think the BEST way to DESTROY witches, is NOT to treat them like WITCHES at all! Treat THEM like humans! Most of your evildoers -- naughty types -- think that it's best to DEPRIVE humans of what they desire. NO! You want to GET them, give them exactly WHAT they desire. You grant them their wishes, it'll lead to their UNDOING!" DW rolls his eyes. I am so picking out china patterns. Frenie smirks. The Council approves his plan. Frenie assures them that "El Genie Grande" will cross paths with the Halliwells and tempt them with three wishes. DW tells the Council that Frenie might betray them by running away once he gains his freedom after granting the wishes. The Council warns Frenie that they will hunt him down if he tries to bolt, because they can track down any non-mortal. Frenie looks uncomfortable. Or rather, among the plethora of expressions French Stewart mugs through -- he seems to be quickly, single-handedly acting out all of the reactions one might see during a daytime drama murder trial -- "uncomfortable" is the most prominent.