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Throwback Thursday - Charmed - All Hell Breaks Loose

Throwback Thursday, a weekly article in which we look back at our favorite TV episodes from over the years.

Halloween is only one day away and what better way to celebrate October 31st than with a very bewitching show for Throwback Thursday? This week, I will be highlighting the sensational third season finale of the cult classic show, Charmed. As fans of the show will know, the third season finale changed everything for the show. It happens to be my all-time favourite episode and it's an episode I regularly rewatch from time to time.

To begin, Charmed is my favourite show of all-time. I grew up watching it and obsessing over it, endlessly trying to create my very own Book of Shadows replica so I could watch the episodes with my Book of Shadows handy to help the Halliwell sisters against their fight with evil. I have probably re-watched every single Charmed episode more times than I could count. I usually debate with myself which episode of Charmed is my favourite and I always come back to this episode - All Hell Breaks Loose.

While the series finale, Forever Charmed, was an almost-perfect farewell and for a time it was my favourite episode, I realised that it doesn't top the third season finale. The stakes in All Hell Breaks Loose are incredibly high, featuring exciting and life-changing moments in the world of Charmed. Plus, to me, it has the absolute best season-closer, twisting the tradition of the Halliwell Manor doors closing by having them violently slammed shut by Shax, smashing the windows and panning out to leave the audience gob-smacked by the events that have occured.

"I think we made it. I'm sure we made it, do you think we made it?" - Piper
The episode starts really well, with the Charmed Ones hurrying into the Halliwell Manor with Dr. Griffiths in tow. We don't know what's going on, but we know there's a demon after them and they could come at any minute. I literally don't have to watch the episode to know the opening off-by-heart, I have seriously seen this episode too many times. Anyway, Phoebe goes upstairs to check a Book of Shadows entry on the demon that's after them - Shax, the Source's Assassin. While she does, Shax bursts into the Halliwell Manor in a tornado of wind, knocking Prue and Piper to the ground. Shax appears and is about to kill Dr. Griffiths, but Prue pushes him out of the way and is hit by Shax's ball of wind, causing her to smash straight through a wall. Piper gets up and is hit by the same ball of wind. Phoebe saves Dr. Griffiths in time.

"Evil wind that blows. That which forms below. No longer may you dwell. Death takes you with this spell." - Phoebe

I never understood why Piper didn't just freeze Shax from the floor when she sees Prue get thrown through the wall, or even better, why didn't she just freeze him the moment Shax came through the door. I know it would have been boring to have Phoebe come down and all three say the Vanquishing spell together and poof, Shax is gone. But it's a very large plothole when Prue or Piper could have used their powers and saved themselves the trouble. That isn't even the most major glitch of the episode (or series) so I'm not going to delve into that, but main thing is here is that the whole sequence is pretty exciting. Of course Leo was going to heal them, but for just a second you worry. You see the blood and it looks bad.

Prue wants to finish Shax off while he's weak but it ends up leading to Prue's ultimate downfall. Unknown to Prue and Piper, the local news are in the area filming and catch Piper blowing up Shax on live television. Now they're exposed, something that has never and should never happen to witches or any magical being of any kind. I remember the first time watching this episode when it aired on LIVING in the United Kingdom and I was gobsmacked yet again! It's when the camera reveals they had been seen by a cameraman and a reporter that I was just like "okay, this is too much excitement for me." I honestly thought this episode was God's gift to the television world. Have I stressed enough yet how much I adore this show?

"That's what gives you a second chance, that's what gives us a second chance." - Phoebe

Phoebe and Cole's storyline - I could have done without in this episode. It just felt like a way to get Alyssa Milano out of the way to let Shannen Doherty and Holly Marie Combs to have Shannen's final episode together. It was a shame to have Phoebe miss out on the most exciting stuff, can you imagine how much more exciting the whole exposure storyline would have been with Phoebe trapped in the Manor too? I did love the Phoebe and Cole relationship in season three, in fact, besides Piper and Leo of course, Phoebe and Cole had the most interesting and entertaining relationship in the show!

The whole exposure storyline kicks off once Prue and Piper see the footage on television. Their reactions were priceless, I always remember Prue dropping the remote and her little "oh". The situation looked so dire and the girls, for once, were completely helpless - even Leo couldn't orb them anyway in case whitelighters became exposed too. When Piper says "what are we gonna do?" I am literally crying out "nothing, 'cause ya fucked!" Seriously, the whole exposure to the mortal world was single-handedly the most desolate situation the Charmed Ones ever experience on the show - there's chaos, there's violence - just no control whatsoever and there's literally no help for the Charmed Ones. Things escalate so quickly and to a point where everything is lost. If I have to pick out my most favourite storyline of Charmed, it would have to be this one - the exposure. One of the glitches I previously mentioned was that later on, during season six, the Cleaners were introduced to prevent magical exposure. That's all fine if they were only introduced because of what happened here, but no, they claimed to have been watching the Charmed Ones since they became witches yet where the hell were they here? Having a day off? Went down to the local pub for a pint and a packet of roasted nuts? I am glad they didn't clean this up because the most exciting part is yet to happen.

"Our lives, Piper, everything that we've worked for could be completely destroyed with... with one stupid mistake. Our entire future, our entire destiny could be wiped out just like that." - Prue

After flinging self-proclaimed witch Alice Hicks from the Manor after she breaks in, Alice decides to get her revenge. Just as Prue snaps her fingers, a gunshot goes off and Piper gasps. Prue doesn't realise until she looks down and sees a river of blood running down Piper's shirt that her sister has been shot. If there was ever an episode where the actresses of Charmed should have been nominated for awards - this one is it. They are now transformed into mortals, unable to do anything to help the situation as it now becomes deadly. Piper is shaking, terrified, and Prue is trying to comfort her, to call for Leo but she's terrified too. She knows Leo can't hear her because he's in the Underworld checking on Phoebe, but she tries anyway because she doesn't know what else to do. The sisterly bond between Prue and Piper is at its strongest here, leading to Prue's ultimate decision to break the wiccan code of not harming innocents as she goes full-on bad-ass. Seeing Prue's desperation as she gets her dying sister to the car to drive her to the hospital but sees the entire drive and road is blocked by rioting people was heartbreaking. Still crying out for Leo, Prue does the only thing she knows will be effective to get those trespassing idiots out of her way.

Prue, Prue, she's our man, if she can't do it, no one can! Woo!

"Prue, I'm cold. I-I-I can't feel my legs. Don't go. I love you." - Piper

Prue takes Piper to the hospital where we have one of the most heart-breaking scenes in Charmed history. Just the line Piper delivers to Prue as she's lying on the bed with the doctors buzzing around her. Prue devastated to see her sister slipping away, crying uncontrollably. Piper tells her "I love you" before the heart moniter flatlines. I can never watch this scene without feeling a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. I just can't watch this scene without becoming an emotional mess. Brilliantly-acted, heart-wrenching - it's another highlight of All Hell Breaks Loose that makes this a standout episode in the show's eight-year history. Charmed was always at its strongest when it showcased the strength of family and sisterly love. Here, we have a family tarnished and a sister dead, seemingly irreversable, leaving Prue in mourning and angry when Leo shows up - the one person who could have healed and saved her. I just thought, if Phoebe hadn't of went down into the Underworld, Leo wouldn't have went down after her which made him unreachable when Piper was shot. If Leo was above ground and came when Prue first called for him, then Piper would have healed and time wouldn't have had to reset (well, they would have to sort out the exposure mess but imagine how amazing a storyline that would have been in season four had Prue lived).

"They think we're the demons now..." - Prue

So with Piper dead and no option but to have Tempus reverse time, Phoebe agrees to stay in the Underworld as payment to reset time. Time does reset, taking us right back to the start of the episode just after Phoebe ran upstairs and before Shax bursts through the doors. It was a very clever way of ending the episode - to have the opening scene play itself out but then differ when Phoebe doesn't respond to Prue's calls, thus removing her from being able to save Prue and Piper when they get blasted through the wall by Shax and call for Leo to heal them. No Phoebe and no Leo puts Prue and Piper in a lonely place again, a desperate course of events that again spins out of the Charmed Ones' control. The moment where Shax again blasts Prue and Piper through the wall is again one of the show's best moments. Only now, Phoebe doesn't come running down the stairs to save them, and so we see what happens when she didn't. Shax kills Dr. Griffiths, looks at the death and destruction he has caused, and leaves in a tornado of wind, completely satisfied of a job well done. The Manor doors smash upon his exit, ending the season and the original Charmed legacy forever.

"The End." - Shax

All Hell Breaks Loose is a shining example of a season finale done right. It had everything, including one of the best and most chilling lines of the series, delivered by Prue ("They think we're the demons now"). As far as main character deaths go, Prue's is one of the best in television history. For one, she was one of the three main characters, so to have her actually die was a major development, especially since they never reversed her death - something that a lot of shows do these days when they kill off a character just to have them resurrect or not really be dead after all. Charmed didn't do that. I mean, they couldn't anyway even if they wanted to, but having Prue die was huge, HUGE plot development that forever changed the course of the show.

I do wonder if Prue didn't insist on going after Shax in broad daylight and in turn expose them as witches, then maybe she wouldn't have died. I mean, Shax was hellbent on killing the Charmed Ones as per the request of the Source of All Evil, but every demon is hellbent on killing the Charmed Ones and they never succeeded. If the girls weren't exposed, which led to Piper getting shot and killed and the whole reason for time resetting to before the first attack, then maybe Prue would still be alive.

I know Shannen Doherty would have exited the series regardless no matter the outcome of the episode, but realistically, if they weren't exposed, Prue would be alive and there would have been no Paige. I adore Paige, and Rose McGowan was an amazing addition to the cast in season four, but I can't help imagining what the rest of the show would have been like with Prue instead of Paige.

The third season finale of Charmed had everything in it, brimming with excitement and destruction, spelling the end of one of television's most influential witches. Prue was forever missed on the show, it was such a shame they couldn't bring her back for the series finale, or at least have hers and Andy Trudeau's picture on the wall. Nevertheless, All Hell Breaks Loose was incredible, from start to finish.

I would love to know what you guys thought of Prue's death and the episode altogether. Do you guys have a different favourite episode of the show? A favourite season? A favourite moment? A favourite character? A favourite pairing? I would love to talk Charmed as I have so much I would love to write about the show. I am hoping to maybe do an anniversary article on Charmed, maybe next year for the 10th Anniversary of the Beginning of the Final Season, much like I did for Desperate Housewives when it celebrated its 10th Anniversary earlier this month.

Poll - which set of Charmed Ones do you prefer. The originals - Prue, Piper and Phoebe, or the Reconstituted - Piper, Phoebe and Paige. It's the age-old question, something that has been debated amongst the fanbase for years and years.



My first Throwback Thursday from October 2014. Check out the game-changing third season finale, All Hell Breaks Loose, that spelled the end of a Charmed One and seemingly destroyed the Charmed legacy forever. Rest in peace, Prue Halliwell. The power of three will set us free. Blessed be.


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My sixth Throwback Thursday was the ABC drama Revenge, where I take a look back at the episode that started it all - the Pilot. In it, we are welcomed to the Hamptons by the narrating Emily Thorne, who plots wicked schemes to bring down the sinners who wronged her father. The show premiered with this episode in 2011, and ended in 2015.

About the Author - Gavin Hetherington
Award-winning author of 'Abyssal Sanctuary: Remnants of the Damned'. Gavin joined SpoilerTV on August 9, 2014 and will be reviewing 2 Broke Girls, Mistresses, Orange is the New Black and Salem in the 2014-15 season. Gavin's favourite shows include Charmed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, The Walking Dead, Once Upon a Time, Revenge, Scandal and much more. You can contact Gavin at
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