Previously on Charmed, nothing prior to last week, apparently.
Currently on Charmed, a bored-looking Raige leads a bespectacled prospective student named April and her father on a tour of the Not!warts facilities, and I'll let you in on a little secret: This scene has absolutely nothing to do with anything else that happens this evening. Nothing at all. And during it, they even manage to fuck completely with the continuity, notably when Raige introduces "Professor Drake" to the prospective and her dad as the "visiting lecturer on advanced magical compositions," like, NO, Raige. He's the literature teacher, you idiot. Elder Q should be shot in the face for giving you this damn job. Drake, who'd been flung from his Dixieland-jazz-flooded classroom by some damn thing or another, actually amends Raige's description of his job with, "In this case, magical musical compositions -- that's the use of meter and tempo in spell-casting and conjuring." Pity no one thought to teach the proper use of meter and tempo in spell-casting and conjuring to the benighted Glamorous Ladies of Halliwell Manor, who, despite being the most powerful trio of witches in the world's history, regularly compose garbage couplets that barely rhyme and never scan. And...that's all I have to say about this. Really. This utterly pointless scene finally ends when Drake quite literally shimmies into the opening credits, and I have never been so happy to hear a Smiths cover in all of my life.
Hello, time-wasting opening travelogue with ovary! Tonight's features time-lapse shots of the bay and the city's waterfront section as the ovary groans, "I can't make me love you" a couple of times before dissolving into a series of Whoa-Ho-Oh-Ohs, and that pretty much has nothing to do with tonight's plot, either. Not that I'm complaining much, because with the previouslys, the pointless pre-credits sequence, and the travelogue, we're already a tenth of the way through the episode's running time, and I've reached this point in less than 350 words. Hooray!
The camera eventually dives down amid the skyscrapers to find a visibly distraught middle-aged security guard jittering around the middle of a street, wildly swinging his automatic around as various passersby shriek and duck for cover. The actor entrusted with the thankless task of portraying the guard this evening is Charlie Robinson, an apparent veteran of Night Court. Which I never watched, because it was pure, unadulterated evil condensed into bite-sized thirty-minute chunks of time. However, many on the boards found his a reassuring presence tonight, and I suppose that's all that really matters. Except for the potentially troublesome bit that follows. Charlie, not so much simply deranged as he is crazed with fear and grief, wails, "They'll burn!" over and over again as all those within shooting range ignore his cries in favor of cowering behind various potted plants and such. "We're all trapped!" he practically weeps, before wandering over to a terrified motorist and waving his gun around outside the woman's tightly closed driver's-side window. "I don't wanna hurt nobody, but I need somebody to listen to me!" we hear Charlie plead as a uniformed cop stealthily weaves through stalled traffic with his service revolver at the ready. "We need help!" Charlie weeps, tapping the car's window with the butt of his gun for emphasis. "We need help!" And this is the potentially troublesome bit I mentioned earlier: Few on the boards were able to believe a white cop would simply tackle a frenzied and armed black man to the ground before cuffing him, as Officer Non-Deadly Force now does. I'd like to say that thought never occurred to me, because I knew from spoilers that Charlie is an ex-cop himself and therefore would be extended the courtesy -- if you can call it that -- of not being plugged, Diallo-like, with eighty or ninety slugs prior to his corpse's subsequent arrest, but to be honest with you? The thought never occurred to me because I've long since shut off most of my brain while watching this crap. So there you go.
In any event, Officer Dainty McFluffycakes manages to knock Charlie's gun from the latter's hand during the tackle, and as he hustles the now-manacled Charlie off towards a squad car, Charlie pleads once more, "You don't understand -- the fire! We gotta help Marie!" "They're gonna burn!" he moans repeatedly as he's dragged out of the frame. As Charlie's cries dissipate, the camera pans across clusters of supposedly shaken eyewitnesses before it leaps over to the idle construction site I'm thinking we're meant to believe Charlie was guarding. A few deeply ominous tones hit the soundtrack as the camera shudders in close to land on a couple of half-buried and blackened timbers as the unearthly screams of twenty or thirty people erupt from the ground. That was sort of creepy, actually, but I'm guessing it's because I used to work on the same downtown block that pretty much saw both the Iroquois Theater fire and the Eastland disaster, so I understandably get a little tense when the souls of the tormented urban dead start shrieking at me from beyond the grave.