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Recap / Charmed S2E2 Morality Bites

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Season 02, Episode 02:

Morality Bites

Phoebe has a horrifying premonition of her own execution so the sisters cast a one-time spell that catapults them into the future to try and change her fate.

Prue and Phoebe are in the kitchen when Piper hobbles in on one shoe. A man has repeatedly allowed his dog to do its business all over the front of the manor, and Piper stepped in it on the way in. The sisters have left notes on his door, to no avail. They hear a dog bark, and run to the window. To their anger, they see the man allowing his dog to do his business at the front of their driveway. Phoebe suggests that they should use their magic to teach him his lesson; Prue and Piper are sceptical at first but go along. Phoebe opens a window, Piper freezes him and Prue flicks the dog droppings onto his shoe. After wondering lightly if he saw them, Prue and Piper go to the kitchen to make coffee and Phoebe to watch TV. When Phoebe pauses on the news channel giving a headline about baseball player Cal Greene, she has a premonition of her future self being burned at the stake while Prue and Piper watch. She screams and Piper and Prue come running to help.

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Piper and Prue are trying to calm Phoebe down while figuring out what triggered the premonition when the doorbell rings. Piper answers it and it's Leo. He has the day off since the Elders are making him work that evening and he wants to spend it with her. She declines because of Phoebe’s situation, and he suddenly gets a call from the Elders and kisses her as he orbs out. In the attic Leo is flipping the pages of the Book of Shadows by himself and he orbs out just before the girls enter. The book is open to a spell to go forward in time and they determine that is what they must do to save Phoebe. They do the ritual and disappear.

Piper wakes up in the manor in her future body and a girl enters the room calling her “Mommy.” This confuses Piper, but she has little time to think as the girl hears a horn honk and runs to get her backpack for school. The girl calls to Piper, and at the door, another mom is picking up Piper’s daughter and she verifies that she should take the girl to Piper’s ex-husband's house after school.

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Piper decides that is the best course of action and just as the girl is ready to leave, she whispers a promise to her mother that she will never use her powers again.

A limo pulls up as soon as the girl disappears. A blonde Prue steps out of it followed by an entourage. Prue shoos them away so she can talk to Piper. Prue now owns Buckland's and is excited to hear about how Piper’s future self has turned out.

They discuss why they are in their future bodies and not just observing them, like when they traveled to the past. Apparently traveling to the future is different than going to the past. They realize this means Phoebe’s life really is in jeopardy. On the TV, local DA Nathaniel Pratt vows that he will hunt down every witch in the city.

His arrest of Phoebe has made him a favourite for the governorship in 2010. Piper and Prue enter the attic and are surprised that the book is no longer on its pedestal. Prue begins gesturing emphatically and suddenly an entire side of the attic is nearly destroyed; obviously, her power has grown. Piper sees that the pedestal has overturned and at the bottom is a key to Prue’s safe at Buckland's. They decide that their next course of action should be to head to Buckland's.

In a prison cell with a glass front, similar to Hannibal Lecter’s in Silence of the Lambs, Phoebe is calling out for someone to answer her questions; she touches the glass and is shocked.

Prue and Piper are outside Buckland's when Piper sees a man almost spill his coffee; out of habit she freezes him. The entire area is frozen, an example of how Piper’s powers have also greatly expanded. Leo storms towards them absolutely infuriated that Piper has used her powers. He apparently doesn’t know they are from the past, and says that they agreed not to use magic for the sake of their daughter Melinda. A woman enters the scene and cries “witch!” when she sees everything is frozen. Everything unfreezes and Leo ushers them away before the witch hunters find them. In prison, Nathaniel Pratt visits Phoebe. He reveals to her that she is being burned for murder, and that he is on a mission to wipe out all witches.

In some sort of underground hideout for many accused witches, Piper is trying to convince Leo that she and Prue are from the past. Leo begins to berate her when she interrupts him with a passionate kiss.

Leo realizes Piper and Prue really don’t know what’s going on; he says Piper hasn't kissed him like that in 10 years. Leo explains that everyone in the hideout has been accused of witchcraft, although most of them are not really witches. Pratt apparently does not suspect Piper or Prue of being witches. Leo tells them that Cal Greene killed a close friend of Phoebe's, but got out of prison on a technicality (this friend is later found out in Morality Bites Back to be Phoebe's boss at The Bay Mirror, Elise Rothman, but with the future changed, she ended up surviving the attack). Enraged, Phoebe killed him; she crossed the line from protecting the innocent to punishing the guilty. They want to go and explain to Phoebe, but Leo says he’ll go for them so that they don’t have to use their powers. Piper agrees and she and Prue plan to head for Buckland's.

Piper and Prue walk out of the Buckland's elevator and people immediately bombard Prue to get her attention. Prue’s personal assistant, Anne, steps in and clears the crowd and helps Prue escape to her office, leaving Piper alone. Piper enters and it is revealed that even Anne doesn’t know who Piper is. Prue discovers from Anne that she never married, and that work has become her whole life.

She has also become a very ruthless businesswoman; in a recent acquisition she made some disdainful comments about "little people" due to be laid off. Moments later, they dismiss her assistant and pull the Book from the safe once they are certain they are alone.

They search for the spell to return in time, but it’s gone. Leo orbs into the prison cell with Phoebe and tells her that she must pay for her crime to stop Pratt's crusade. Phoebe is devastated; she says she could never even think of killing someone. Leo tells her that she might not have, but her future self did and in the process, crossed the line from protecting the innocent to punishing the guilty. Phoebe doesn’t understand, but then Leo hands her a newspaper clipping. She receives a premonition of her lying in wait for Greene, then blasting him in the head with electricity.

Phoebe recoils in horror. Leo orbs out. At the manor, Prue is flipping through the Book and sees that several pages have the corners turned down. Apparently their future selves have devised a plan to save Phoebe, even though many of the spells cross the line into personal gain. Leo enters, and Prue and Piper are upset to find that he didn’t bring Phoebe with him. He tells them that Phoebe has to die for the greater good. Piper is irritated by this and freezes him. While Leo is frozen, Piper and Prue take the spells and leave.

Outside Leo’s house, Piper and Prue are sitting in the car debating whether Piper should bind her daughter’s powers. Finally, Piper leaves the car and walks to the porch;she looks through the window and sees Melinda playing with a dollhouse. Piper glances down at the Binding Spell in her hands when Leo orbs in behind her. He tells her that binding Melinda’s powers isn’t necessary, and that he will take care of her. Piper questions their relationship, and Leo says that they couldn’t make it work because of their powers but they were very happy for a while.

Piper goes back to the car and Prue is upset because she has made her whole life about work, and vows to change. Outside of prison, Prue and Piper look at a big cement wall and glance down at their blueprint of the prison. They make a door in a wall and slip inside. The two enter the prison and Piper freezes a guard that tries to stop them. When they reach Phoebe’s cell it is empty; the guards had come for her minutes earlier.

Phoebe is tied to a stake and Nathaniel is taunting her. Nathaniel turns to the people watching, mainly news media, and reminds them all that this is a lesson for witches and that he will destroy them all. He gives the signal, but Piper and Prue break in just before the fire starts. Piper freezes the room just as Pratt is gesturing triumphantly at Phoebe. They try to break Phoebe out, but she refuses. She says that she realized the line she crossed, and she must die to stop Pratt.

Prue and Piper try to use the logic that Cal Greene deserved what he got, but Phoebe says that she was still wrong to kill him; as she puts it, "the wrong thing done for the right reason, is still the wrong thing." Prue offers to kill Pratt and free her so they can protect the other good witches, but Phoebe begs her not to become a murderer as well.

Piper and Prue concede and step back, and unfreeze the room allowing Phoebe to burn. Prue and Piper sob into each other's arms. Suddenly, they return to the present. Prue and Piper frantically search the manor to make sure that Phoebe didn’t really die. Phoebe walks into the room, and the three embrace. Phoebe says that she felt the flames chewing into her flesh. They don’t know exactly when they are, but Phoebe turns on the TV and sees the news report that triggered her premonition, telling her that they are back where they started. They now fully understand why they were sent to the future and allowed to come back to their own time, to understand that they must use their powers to protect and not to punish. The sisters run to the window when they hear the dog bark and see that the man is allowing his dog to do his business in the same spot. Piper freezes him, and Prue is about to flick the dog's business onto the man's shoe when Phoebe stops her.

She realizes this may have been the moment when they began using their powers as punishment. Piper doesn't think that's its really a big deal, but Phoebe sees that one thing would've led to another, and Cal Greene's death would have been the culmination of their vindictiveness.

Moreover, looking closely at the frozen man there, they realize that he was Nathaniel Pratt, and that their punishing prank would've exposed magic to him frighteningly, triggering his witch hunt revolution in the first place. The girls discuss the other things they want to change about the future. Prue doesn’t want to become a workaholic, but Piper still wants to be with Leo and make their relationship work. The doorbell rings and it's Leo. Piper greets him with a kiss, and Leo explains that he didn’t know why the Elders had sent him up to the attic but only knew that they needed to learn a lesson and they obviously wouldn't have come back from the future if they hadn't. She promises that they did. Piper makes him a promise to work on their relationship always and kisses him as the scene fades out.


Tropes

  • Aesop Amnesia: After everything they did, Prue and Piper still intend to harass the obnoxious dog walker—saying he hasn't learned his lesson. Phoebe says they haven't, either, and spells out the dangers of ignoring what's happened.
  • Asshole Victim: Cal Greene, the man Phoebe killed, was a murderer himself. He killed a friend of hers and got Off on a Technicality. This moves into deconstruction territory - where it's pointed out that Phoebe murdering him with her powers was crossing the Moral Event Horizon. And no matter how guilty he was, it was wrong of her to take the law into her own hands.
  • Bad Future: Where Prue has become a Corrupt Corporate Executive, Piper and Leo are bitterly divorced and Phoebe murdered a man with her powers. And don't forget the modern day witch hunts.
  • Babies Ever After: Piper has a daughter in the future.
  • Big Damn Kiss: How Piper convinces Leo she is from the past. Also counts as a "Shut Up" Kiss.
    Leo: You haven't kissed me like that since—
    Piper: Since this morning, remember.
  • Broken Masquerade: Downplayed. The future Phoebe's actions outed herself as a witch and left people paranoid of other witches being out there, but it's believed that her execution would put an end to this.
  • Burn the Witch!: Of course here it's justified since it's the future, and this trope is likely being invoked (note that in an episode that sends the sisters back in time, they get hanged when they're outed as witches).
  • Chekhov's Gunman: It turns out the man the sisters punish with their powers is Nathaniel Pratt.
  • Continuity Nod: Piper contemplates binding Melinda's powers—recalling Grams did the same for them.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: We don't see future Prue in action but her assistant claims she made a "to hell with the little people" speech.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: All three sisters naturally have different hairstyles in the future. Phoebe's shoulder-length hair has grown to waist length, Prue is now blonde and Piper has curled hair. Amusingly enough this reflects the Halliwells' later appearances on the show - where Phoebe and Prue would change their hair a lot and Piper wouldn't.
  • Fantastic Aesop: Don't use your powers to punish the guilty, rather than protect the innocent.
  • Foreshadowing: Piper and Leo's (temporary) split this season is foreshadowed by their future selves' failed marriage.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Nathaniel Pratt went from harmless dog walker to modern day witch hunter.
  • Future Me Scares Me:
    • Phoebe is now a murderess who is to be executed for using her powers to kill.
    • Prue is a Corrupt Corporate Executive who is estranged from her sisters and with no family to speak of.
    • Piper is divorced from Leo and has planned to bind her daughter's powers.
    • Overall it's implied that the sisters started using their magic for personal gain. One must wonder how Prue got so successful...
  • Innocuously Important Episode: This episode marks the first appearance of a witch-whitelighter hybrid. It was not dwelled on at the time, but whitelighter-witches become very important to the show starting in Season 4.
  • Meaningful Name: Piper's daughter is named Melinda, presumably after their ancestor.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Phoebe has this reaction to finding out she killed someone. She ultimately agrees that she should die for her crime.
  • No New Fashions in the Future: Played with. Most of the clothes we see the 2009 characters wearing aren't that different from late 90s fashion. But Prue is notably wearing a strapless dress that actually did come into fashion in the 2000s, and Phoebe is wearing a pink jumpsuit in prison instead of orange.
  • Ridiculously Successful Future Self: Prue owns Buckland's Auction House in the future.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: According to Leo, he and Piper tried to make a marriage work while keeping their respective powers. They were happy for a time, but the marriage eventually collapsed.
  • Time Travel: This time to the future. Rather than when they went to the past, here they assume the bodies of their future selves. The difference is Lampshaded by Piper.
  • Took a Level in Badass: The Charmed Ones' powers grow really strong in the future: Prue accidentally wrecks the attic with her telekinesis and Piper freezes an entire street. Phoebe, on the other hand, now has a new offensive power.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Leo is noticeably a harder man in the future, due to his divorce and the threats the witch hunters pose to his daughter. It's also implied to be the case for the future versions of the sisters.
  • Villain Has a Point: Pratt's first impression of magic was Phoebe murdering a man in cold blood with her powers. So it's understandable that he'd have a negative view of witches - especially with the implication that the sisters had been abusing him with their magic beforehand.
  • Wham Line:
    Piper: Melinda?
    Leo: Our daughter!
  • You Are Not Alone: Inverted. Prue acknowledges how she doesn't have a single person to say goodbye to in the future.
    Prue: If we die tonight, my tombstone will read, "Here lies Prue. She worked hard."
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