Followed immediately by one of the worst. Well, one of the worst if we're evaluating these things in terms of realized potential. Back in the attic, Phoebe flips Raige over, and, heeding the slurred exhortations of the hallucinatory Barbas, snatches up a nearby dagger, plunging it into Raige's chest. Of course, once the dagger hits home, hallucinatory Barbas morphs back into the grievously-injured Raige. Not only does Alyssa Milano's horrified reaction shot leave me unmoved, but then they halt the momentum by cutting away to commercial. Idiots. They should have gone to black right after Barbas morphed back into Raige, and allowed Phoebe's reaction to begin and build through what follows the break.
Says the expert in television editing techniques.
And we're back. Phoebe cradles the unconscious and profusely bleeding Raige's head in her lap, rocking back and forth and shuddering with great gasping sobs while calling for Piper. Barbas leans in to Phoebe's ear and makes with the mind-fuck. Yes, Phoebe did conquer her fear of losing a sister, but that was replaced by what's tormenting her now, wasn't it? "It takes somebody really evil," he whispers, "to kill with a vengeance like that. That's who you are. It's kind of like your greatest fear just sort of came to life." Phoebe's pre-verbal with the weeping and such. Barbas rises to his feet above her with the bloody dagger in his hand. He prepares to jam the thing into Phoebe's neck, and...
...dissolves into a cloud of black goo that presently coagulates back into Barbas form closer to the attic door. Piper, Hands Of Discontent still in attack position, greets him with, "Playing on an expectant mother's fears? Good one." She places her hands on her hips and grits, "But not good enough." She flings out her hands once more, but Barbas blinks away just before he erupts into another cloud of goo. Several of the bricks covering the attic's bay window vanish, and a brilliant beam of high-powered cheese floods the room to illuminate Phoebe and Raige in their Pieta-like position on the floor. Piper kneels in front of them as Phoebe babbles through her tears that she mistook Raige for the demon himself. Piper assures Phoebe that she's not at fault (go figure), and urges Phoebe to confess her fear so that Piper can help her overcome it. "I'm evil," Phoebe blurts, in surprisingly lost and deeply hopeless tones of voice. Where the hell did that come from, Alyssa? Wherever you found it, do us a favor and hang on to it for a while, okay? Piper blinks back her own tears as she insists, "I have known you my entire life, and there's not a mean bone in your body!" No comment, because Alyssa Milano nails her next line. It's only one word, yet she infuses a stammering, "But. --" with far more despair than I would previously have thought possible. "No!" Piper barks, her voice thick with emotion. "Not a chance in Hell." Phoebe locks despairing eyes with Piper over her continued gasping sobs, and the remaining bricks in the attic windows somehow dissolve. Very nice. Shame the rest of the episode had to drag this last couple of scenes down.