Once Upon A Time

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Once Upon A Time

Again, no "previouslys" this week, as we're tossed right into the middle of a very busy P3 After Dark. Bland, anonymous techno throbs in the background as Piper Halliwell works the bar, her hair in an upswept tangle. Leo Wyatt appears, looking rather fetching in a pale blue v-neck sweater, and works his way over to her. "I knew you'd come back," she says, smiling, and we know something's a little off, as Piper's a bit too blasé about his reappearance in light of Leo's tortured exit from the preempted wedding in last week's episode. Leo tells her they need to talk, but she counters with, "Leo, you haven't kissed me in over a week. Don't you think that takes priority?" He rolls his eyes and sighs as she steps from behind the bar into his arms. They kiss briefly, but Piper pulls away, sensing something wrong. Leo admits he's come to say goodbye, this time for good. The Powers That Be caught them red-handed trying to circumvent the rules, and Leo can never see Piper again. This episode just started, and I'm already bored. The eeriness dial gets turned up to eleven, as the standard-issue techno rises in volume, blending with the other background bar noise into a overwhelming din. Piper and Leo sound like they're calling to each other from opposite ends of an echo chamber as he backs away from her, telling her he shouldn't even be there. Piper has increasing difficulty making out what he's saying as Leo backs into the center of a group of partying yuppies. He mouths "I love you" and orbs out, to the faux consternation of the yuppie extras. Piper calls for him with increasing panic in her voice as the extras swirling around her are distorted and tilted in a small example of the unspecial effects on this show. Prue barrels through them in slow motion calling for her younger sister, and, once she gets a hold of Piper, shakes her, telling her to wake up.

Cut to Piper's boudoir at Halliwell Manor, as she starts awake to be greeted by Prue's concern. "Leo's not coming back," she manages to choke out through her tears, and Prue attempts to comfort her, noting that "it was just a dream." Piper falls further apart as she insists it was real and curses The Powers That Be, guessing that destroying lives is how "they" amuse themselves. Prue cautions her against such criticism, but Piper isn't having it, noting that "they" "couldn't hurt [her] more than they already have." Prue pulls Piper into a hug as we cut to Phoebe, tooling through town in the sisters' SUV, jamming to what I suppose is one of this week's product-placed musical "artists." The cell phone in the car rings, and Phoebe answers with, "Don't you just love cell phones?" Prue attempts a perky, "Hi, it's me," but Phoebe catches the undertone in Prue's voice. "It's amazing how much stress you can project with so few words, Prue," she notes, and promises to have the car back in one piece momentarily. Prue reveals she didn't call about the car, she called out of concern for Piper. Prue fills Phoebe in on the dream, but before Phoebe can ask for further details, she's startled by something that suddenly appeared in her headlights. She yodels, of course, and swerves to avoid it. It's a little girl, standing in the middle of the street in the middle of the night in her nightclothes, clutching a small jewelry box.

Phoebe curtly cuts the phone conversation short and leaps from the car. Running up to the child, Phoebe asks her if she's okay. The moppet replies with a rant against an unseen antagonist: "You can't have it! Leave me alone!" As Phoebe looks around at the empty air the moppet has been addressing, the child spins on her heel and darts off into the night. Phoebe gives chase as the moppet sprints up the sidewalk and across a yard, only to be knocked to the ground by the unseen force she was presumably screaming at. Garbled and menacing grunts as she struggles to keep hold of the jewelry box. The entity smacks her around; then claws rip open the shoulder of her jacket. Phoebe rushes up and pulls the moppet into a comforting embrace as the moppet sobs weakly in Phoebe's arms. Phoebe makes note of the reddened claw marks on the moppet's shoulder and casts a wary glance around them as we cut to the credits.

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