Over at P3, Raige suddenly feels the urge to spray snot across the gyrating yuppies on the dance floor. Phoebe panics while Piper hustles Raige into the back office. Just as Piper shuts the door behind them, Raige sneezes and orbs at the same time.
Casa. The force of the spell lifts Cole from the floor, and he spins as the screen flares into a whiteout. The camera lifts up above the barely-visible Cole, and cross-fades to a swirling overhead shot of the Transamerica Pyramid before slamming backwards to take in the entire glittering city. A fast-moving supernatural fog washes across the skyline, dimming the lights considerably. So, no Charmed Ones means continuous Bay Area brownouts? Whatever. The camera spins once more, and we end up...
...back at P3. Raige orbs back in to a suspiciously darkened office. Piper's nowhere to be seen. "Who turned out the lights?" Raige bleats, pulling on her jacket to ward off the apparent chill in the room. She frowns at Piper's absence, then turns to open the door. It drops from its hinges the second she twists the knob, and crashes onto a pile of debris. Raige slowly picks her way through the ruins of what should be Piper's club until she stumbles across the ruined neon sign. Raige inhales sharply as we plunge into the blackness of the commercial break.
Back from the break, Raige hollers for the Dolt, but her shouting only serves to wake the crackhead junkie wino who'd been sleeping in the wreckage. Let's call him "Brad." Crackhead Brad bitches that Raige has invaded his personal space, and she'd best hustle her ass on out of there before he breaks his foot off in it. Crackhead Brad even produces a switchblade, which he waves in Raige's face. Raige tries to call for the knife with her orbing telekinesis, but nothing happens. Crackhead Brad barrels towards her, but she yanks a little Raige-fu from her handbag of tricks and flips him onto his worthless back. Crackhead Brad goggles and flees. As he scampers up the stairs, the Dolt orbs onto what remains of the dance floor. He's kitted out in a pair of dirty jeans, a grey hooded sweatshirt, and a plaid thermal vest. For some terrifying reason, this all makes him look exactly like Ryan O'Reily on Oz, and I begin nervously scanning the frame for Jericho or, even worse, Betty Buckley. Maximum Security Dolt takes one look at Raige, fails to recognize her, and makes to orb away. She calls him out of the orb by arguing that she must be one of his charges, otherwise he wouldn't have heard her shouting for him. Painfully slow on the uptake here, Raige next quizzes Maximum Security Dolt on his surroundings and his wife before gradually realizing that something demonic is afoot, and that said something likely occurred when she sneezed. She attempts to orb, and fails. Maximum Security Dolt asks suspiciously, "How do you know about orbing?" She just saw you do it -- twice -- you brick-headed tool. Raige, a bit more polite and far more frustrated with the current situation than I, simply orders Maximum Security Dolt to escort her to Piper's current location. "She'll figure all this out," Raige sighs. "She always does." Maximum Security Dolt grudgingly takes her proffered hand, and the two vanish upwards. By the way, the faint beating of overhead helicopter patrols underscored bits of that scene. Nice, subtle touch.
Over in an abandoned and burning rail yard -- no, seriously -- Maximum Security Dolt orbs in with Raige, and the two crouch behind some stacked garbage to spy on the subsequent action. A Lazarus Demon who is not Coolio materializes above the waxy, knife-gouged, decaying corpse of an unfortunate indigent lad, and prepares to -- I don't know. Snack on the maggot-ridden entrails or something. Piper lopes into view from behind some shipping crates and yells, "Hey!" She's decidedly un-pregnant and very Beyond Thunderdome in her distressed black leather bustier. Well, she would be very Beyond Thunderdome were it not for the severe multiple-strand choker she's wound around her neck, the dozens of rings glittering in each ear, and the fringe dripping from her opera-length fingerless gloves. I'd wonder why a mentally distressed renegade witch obsessed with the death of her elder sister would bother with the flashy accessories, but Alterna-Piper needs a nickname. In keeping with the prison theme established by the Dolt, we'll be calling her Cell Block Piper, and we'll be liking it, though of course I'll be reciting "pop, six, squish, uh-uh, Cicero, Lipschitz" in my head for the rest of the evening. Cell Block Piper freezes Not Coolio, then unfreezes only his cornrowed head. "I knew you'd take the bait," she mildly remarks. What she reveals about who she's become through that one statement is by far the most unnerving thing about the entire alternate reality they constructed for this episode. So, of course, it's dropped immediately, and never do the other characters mention that Cell Block Piper's luring demons into the open with the maggot-ridden corpses of prematurely deceased adolescents. Not Coolio is an even worse actor than Actual Coolio is, which simply staggers the mind, so I'll get through this exchange quickly. Cell Block Piper demands that Not Coolio lead her to Shax. Not Coolio pleads ignorance, so Cell Block Piper blows up first one, then the other of Not Coolio's arms. "Go to Hell," Not Coolio sneers. "I'm already there," she predictably replies, before unleashing the full power of her Hands on Not Coolio's talent-free ass. Not Coolio howls and wails and bursts into a cloud of dust that settles onto the ground.