It's morning in San Francisco. An interminable opening travelogue is underscored by an abominable alterna-testicle crooning, "Somehow you get through to me something I aspire to be -- somehow you make sense of what does not." Just in case that anvil missed your head, as the shot fades over to the Manor, the alterna-testicle wails, "If there's a muuuuuse I'm missing, it would be youuuuu, no question." The wailing comes to an mercifully abrupt end as the scene shifts to the kitchen. Piper pours herself a mug of the dregs from the coffee pot as she engages in some business-related chat on the cordless with "Bev." Phoebe hustles in and snatches the mug from Piper's hand. Were that my mug of coffee, Phoebe would be sporting a size-ten bootprint on her ample derriere right about now. Piper's far more forgiving than I am, unfortunately. She merely snits a bit after hanging up the phone, then joins Phoebe at the table. Upon Phoebe's inquiry as to Cole's whereabouts, Piper reveals he left early to run an unspecified errand. Chatter about Phoebe and Cole's "big date" follows. Sadly, the date did not meet Phoebe's expectations, as Cole "kept talking about demonic factions the whole time." Piper decides the reason for this is Cole's inability to communicate with Phoebe now that the whole rejected marriage proposal issue is out there in the open, being ignored. Chatter about the whole rejected marriage proposal issue, wherein Piper restates her opinion that relationships do not survive such rejections and Phoebe restates her opinion that her rejection of Cole has no bearing on her relationship with him. Whatever. We heard all of this in the last episode. After urging Phoebe to speak once more with Cole about the whole tiresome kerfuffle -- and won't that be a fun scene when it finally arrives -- Piper rises to exit. She has a meeting with Bev at P3 to discuss a "corporate party" Bev plans to hold. "Big money. Total nightmare," Piper notes. You have no idea, Piper. I'd regale you with tales of division heads dressed as Santa, dead drunk at three in the afternoon and groping anything in a skirt -- account executives, waitresses, secretaries, colleagues' wives -- but I've been trying to scour the memories from my mind for too many years to dredge up the precise details in all their horror. I think you get the idea.
Phoebe leaps to her feet to trail after Piper as Piper strides through the ground floor to retrieve her coat from the parlor. Cole's repeated warnings have had the desired effect on Phoebe. She's now worried about possible attacks during Piper's absence. She fills Piper in on the whole demonic coup d'etat brewing down in Hell. According to Piper, "the only good Source is a dead Source," so she's not terribly concerned that dark demonic forces might finish the Ps' job for them. A parallel involving Al-Qaeda, the Northern Alliance, and the United States is just begging to jump into the recap right here, but the political references are becoming too much, even for me, and besides, I think that parallel will fall apart sooner rather than later. In any event, Phoebe continues undeterred, explaining Cole's theory that "the best way for a faction leader to gain the support of the demonic masses" is to off the Glamorous Ladies. And here's where that parallel would have broken down. I think. Phoebe wonders if Piper's day wouldn't be better spent whipping up a "protection potion" in the kitchen. I wonder why it's taken three and a half years for the issue of protection potions to be raised in the first place. Piper begs off, rightly noting that the sisters need the income from the private party more than they need a protection potion that in all likelihood wouldn't work in the first place. And now I'm thinking about missile defense shields. Jesus. Phoebe argues that if Piper can't concoct something to protect the sisters, she could at least find something to protect Cole. Piper rolls her eyes and allows that a protection potion for a regular old Joe like Cole might be possible, then shifts the conversation back to the P3 issue. Piper bitches about Bev's last-minute designs for the corporate function. Seems Bev's got it in her head that a "theme" would be a good idea. Piper, unsurprisingly, hates themes. Phoebe, however, claims to love them. "My prom theme?" Phoebe prompts. "'Almost Paradise'? Totally my idea." I'd snicker, but Phoebe's managed to insert that hideous song in my head. As a result, I'd rather smack her in the teeth. Piper metaphorically does just that by asking, "This is supposed to impress me...how?"