“CHARMED” RETROSPECT: (3.22) “All Hell Breaks Loose”

May 2011 marked the 10th anniversary of when the “CHARMED” Season Three finale episode called (3.22) “All Hell Breaks Loose” first aired. Not only did Shannen Doherty direct the episode, it also marked her last appearance as Prue Halliwell. Below is an article I had written about the events that in the episode: 

“CHARMED” RETROSPECT: (3.22) “All Hell Breaks Loose”

Many fans seemed to be of the opinion that the youngest Halliwell sister, Phoebe, was to blame for the death of the oldest sister Prue, in the Season Three episode, (3.22) “All Hell Breaks Loose”. It almost seems as if many wanted to use her as some kind of scapegoat. I am sorry, but I find this idea extremely hard to accept. I wonder if any fan of“CHARMED” has ever stopped to consider that Prue bore most of the responsibility for her own death? I wonder if many fans had forgotten how the whole mess in “All Hell Breaks Loose” had started in the first place?

It had all started because Prue forgot the very lesson that the sisters had learned in the Season One episode, (1.16) “Which Prue Is it, Anyway?” – the best offense is defense. The episode “All Hell Breaks Loose” started with the sisters being attacked by a demonic assassin, Shax, while they were protecting a Dr. Griffiths from him. Although Shax managed to seriously wounded both Prue and Piper, Phoebe used a spell that vanquished Shax . . . temporarily. And Leo healed Prue and Piper in time.

Unfortunately, the sisters were uncertain that Phoebe had vanquished Shax. Even worse, Prue forgot the lesson of“Which Prue Is It, Anyway?” and insisted that she and Piper leave the manor to track down Shax. The sisters could have remained at the manor and prepared themselves for another attack by Shax. Instead, Prue dragged Piper out of the manor and when they encountered Shax again and vanquished him – well, Piper vanquished him with her second power, their actions were videotaped by the media. This turned out to be the very incident that set in motion the events that led to Prue’s death – not Phoebe’s decision to find and save her half-demonic love, Cole Turner aka Belthazor:

Prue: Maybe the spell needs more than one witch to have it’s full impact. Okay, come on.

(Prue gets up and then helps Piper up.)

Piper: Come on? Where?

Prue: To find him so we can finish him off while he’s still hurt. (to Phoebe) Look, you just stay here with Griffiths, alright. If Shax comes back, say the spell to fend him off, okay? Ow. Come on.

(Prue and Piper go outside. Leo looks at the Doctor, who’s in shock.)

———-

[Cut outside. Prue and Piper are running down the street.]

Piper: Maybe Phoebe hurt him worse than we thought.

Prue: No, he’s gotta be around here somewhere, he wouldn’t leave without getting what he came for.

Piper: Do you really think he’d attack us in broad day light? Evil is usually more insidious than that.

(They stop.)

Prue: Ah, okay, shh.

Piper: What? (The tornado comes up behind them. They turn around and gasp. The tornado dies down and Shax appears. He throws an energy ball at them, and Prue deflects it back with her power. It hits him but doesn’t harm him.) Blow this! (Piper holds out her hands and blows up Shax. He disappears.) Okay, is he dead?

Prue: Well, we didn’t really say the spell.

Piper: Well, maybe we won’t have to. We don’t always. We’re lucky nobody saw us.

Prue: Alright, let’s just get back to Phoebe. Come on.

(They walk back towards the manor.)

———

[Cut to down the street. A female reporter and a camera man are watching Prue and Piper. She turns back to the camera.]

Reporter: Back to me, back to me, back to me. (The camera man points his camera at her.) Okay, um, I’m not exactly sure what just happened, but whatever it was, you saw it here… live.

In the following scene, Phoebe announced her intentions to help Cole. Prue and Piper’s protests against the idea seemed to be more about her getting emotionally involved with Cole, rather any demands that she hang around in case Shax was not dead. In fact, Piper seemed to believe that she had killed Shax:

Leo: How’d it go?

Piper: We dodged another bullet.

Prue: Yeah, with him maybe.

Leo: What do you mean?

Prue: I don’t know, I mean, something still bothers me about the way that we vanquished Shax. Like, I’m not so sure we really did.

Piper: What do you mean? He screamed, he went poof, just like they all do. Third demon in a row, by the way, that I vanquished with my new power, but who’s counting?

(Phoebe walks back in.)

Prue: Right, but if that’s all that we needed, then why was there a vanquishing spell in the book? I mean, hasn’t that always meant that our individual powers weren’t enough?

Leo: Except the book was written by witches with less powers than you guys have. They needed the spells.

Phoebe: Plus, I think if he was still alive, he probably would’ve attacked us again by now.

Prue: Ah, you know, Leo, can you just check to make sure, please? With the Elders?
Leo: No problem.

(Leo orbs out.)

Piper: If you ask me, I think you’re being paranoid. We kicked Shax’s behind. We bad.

Prue: Yes, you’re probably right.

Phoebe: Then I’m hoping you won’t need me around here for a while. I wanna try a new potion on Cole. One that’ll reverse the spell that turned him bad in the first place.

Piper: Phoebe…

Phoebe: I’m not looking for your approval, Piper, just your support.

Prue: Well, Phoebe, it’s sort of hard to give you support when you’re just setting yourself up to get hurt again.

Phoebe: Cole is good inside, I know it. And if dark magic did this to him, then how come white magic can’t save him? I can’t just turn my back, I have to try.

Piper: What do you want us to do?

Phoebe: I want you to use the magic-to-magic spell to send me down there. I reworded it to make it work.

(Phoebe hands Piper a piece of paper.)

Piper: Uh, Phoebe, that’s awfully dangerous. If something goes wrong we won’t be able to contact each other.

Phoebe: I’ll be safe, I’ll be with Cole. And he’ll bring me back, so don’t worry about that.

Prue: You’re banking a lot on that little potion of yours, you know.

Phoebe: No, I’m not. I’m banking on Cole.

Yes, it seemed quite obvious that Phoebe was determined to go to the Source’s Realm and find Cole. But regardless of her determination, there was no way she could have went after him, without her sisters’ help in using a “magic-to-magic spell” to teleport her to the Source’s Realm.

In the following scene, Prue still wanted verification that they or Piper had vanquished Shax. The subject of Phoebe was brought up. Piper expressed concerned that Cole might hurt Phoebe. Prue did not share her concerns:

[Scene: Outside the manor. Prue and Piper are on the sidewalk. Prue is crouching down looking at the ground.]

Piper: What did you expect to find?

(Prue stands up.)

Prue: I don’t know, something though.

Piper: Well, demons don’t usually leave footprints, remember?

Prue: No, but sometimes they leave a residue when they’ve been vanquished. Something otherwise innocuous. Look, I just don’t understand how we could vanquish such a powerful demon without a spell.

Piper: But frankly I’m more worried about Phoebe than Shax. We shouldn’t have let her go.

Prue: Phoebe can take care of herself, Dr. Griffiths can’t. (They start walking up the street.) Look, Piper, I’ve had a bad feeling about this. I’ve had one all day. If there’s one thing I’ve learned since becoming a witch, is to trust those feelings. 

By this time, Piper and Prue had been exposed on television. And their friend in the San Francisco Police Department, Inspector Darryl Morris, had been ordered by his captain to question the sisters about “killing” Shax. Although Prue believed that they had done the right thing by leaving the house to go after Shax, Piper did not:

Piper: Isn’t that illegal? Can’t you do something about that?

Darryl: Hey, killing somebody on live TV is pretty illegal too, you know.

Prue: Okay, it wasn’t somebody, Darryl, it was a demon. And we’re pretty sure we didn’t kill him anyway.

Darryl: Do you wanna try telling them that?

Prue: Ugh…

Darryl: Look, I’ve called for backup, but that’s not gonna help for long. This thing’s gonna get ugly fast.

Piper: We shouldn’t have followed Shax into the street.

Prue: We didn’t have a choice, Piper.

Piper: Didn’t we?

Prue: Sure, we could’ve let him kill our innocent. That would’ve been better, you think? Alright, you know what? Let’s not let this thing get between us, okay? We have enough problems as it is, please. 

Following this scene, Prue and Piper went to Dr. Griffiths at the hospital to make certain that Shax was not after the man, in case they had not vanquished him. Sure enough, Shax appeared outside of the hospital. And Prue and Piper“vanquished” him . . . in front of television cameras again. They were informed by Leo that the Elders wanted them to contact the demon Tempus to set back time. Prue ordered Leo to contact Cole, so that he could make a deal with the Source and Tempus. And then the following happened:

Piper: I don’t know why we’re bothering to do this.

Prue: In case time doesn’t reset itself.

(Prue puts a chair against the door.)

Piper: If time doesn’t reset itself, this table against that door is not gonna help much.

Prue: Yeah, well, then we better start thinking about what would, okay? Because if Leo doesn’t succeed, we’re gonna have to figure out what we’re gonna do.

(They walk into the living room.)

Piper: We’re gonna do talk shows and book signings and movie deals, (Prue picks up the Book of Shadows) and then taken by the CIA and dissected.

Prue: Yeah, how can you be joking about this, Piper?

Piper: Who’s joking?

Prue: Well, I’m not. Alright, I’m scared. And you should be too. Okay, 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 clicks her fingers and a gunshot goes off. Piper gasps.) What was that? (Piper looks down and sees blood on her shirt. Her hands are shaking.) Piper? Piper. (Prue drops the Book of Shadows and grabs Piper before she falls. Prue looks at her hand and it has Piper’s blood on it.) Oh!

One stupid mistake. And that one mistake? I believe that Prue’s decision to leave the manor and track down Shax was that mistake. Piper certainly thought so.

Prue’s decision to leave the house and go after Shax led to the following:

• An erroneous belief that they had succeeded
• Exposure by the media
• Phoebe’s decision to go after Cole after Piper had mistakenly expressed the belief that they had succeeded
• Being exposed for the second time by the media
• Piper getting shot
• The deal with the Source and Tempus, which led to Phoebe being trapped in the Source’s Realm
• Time being reset, which led to a second attack by Shax
• Dr. Griffith and Prue’s deaths

I will not claim that Prue was solely responsible for her death. The other major characters also managed to add their two cents to the situation. The Source’s determination to destroy the Charmed Ones led him to assign Shax to commit the deed. Shax eventually did kill Prue. The media provided nothing but trouble for the Charmed Ones, after they had exposed the two older sisters. Phoebe’s determination to find Cole at all costs, led her to be missing at a time when her presence could have saved Prue’s life. Their whitelighter and Piper’s husband, Leo Wyatt, did not help with his insistence that Piper had succeeded in killing Shax, when the media first caught her and Prue on tape. Cole’s decision to cover his tracks with the Source and the Brotherhood of the Thorn at the end of (3.19) “The Demon Who Came in From the Cold” led to his eventual capture by his fellow demons and a brief estrangement from Phoebe. Piper certainly did not help matters. Granted, she did oppose both Phoebe’s trip to the Source’s Realm, but also Prue’s decision to leave the manor to track down Shax. But instead of maintaining her opposition, she allowed herself to become a pushover by caving in to her sisters’ wishes and opinions.

However, in my opinion, Prue Halliwell bored most of the blame for her death. The episode, (3.18) “Sin Francisco” made it clear that one of her biggest flaws happened to be her pride. Her inability to overcome that pride forced Leo to rescue her from the demon featured in that episode. And in “All Hell Breaks Loose”,it was Prue’s pride that led her to believe that no problem would arise in her and Piper leaving the manor – the one place that the Charmed Ones were at their strongest – to hunt down Shax. Unfortunately for Prue, the end of the episode would prove her wrong.

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