It’s difficult to deny the Power of Three — even for Grey’s Anatomy. Thursday night’s aptly titled episode, “Reunited” saw a TV reunion for the two strongest anchors of The WB’s Charmed: Alyssa Milano and Holly Marie Combs, as part of ABC's Cast From the Past week of stunt casting. The two actresses played the witchy Halliwell sisters from 1998 until 2006, hosting a revolving cast of sisters and supernatural allies along the way (Kaley Cuoco, Rose McGowan, and Riverdale guest star Shannen Doherty all co-starred at one point or another).
After nearly a full decade of suffering magic-related familial tragedies on Charmed, you would expect Combs and Milano’s Grey’s Anatomy characters to run into yet another fatal disaster on a show as kill-happy as the ABC medical drama. That is the complete opposite of what happens. For once, two-thirds of the Charmed Ones get a full happy ending — no strings attached.
Combs and Milano enter Greys — currently showrun by Charmed producer Krista Vernoff — as Heidi and Haylee Peterson, two new same-first-lettered sisters. Piper and Phoebe Haliwell, eat your hearts out. The Petersons are brought into the Grey’s universe because their sister, Heather Peterson, fell into a construction site, plunging 30 feet into the ground and fracturing her skull. Heather is effectively brain dead. She is receiving treatment at new Grey’s hospital Pac North, the crumbling fixer-upper facility in the shadow of Seattle's glittering, high-tech Grey Sloan Memorial.
Upon hearing this upsetting news, Combs and Milano's characters fall into the kind of reactions their Charmed alter egos would recognize. Combs played Piper, the most pragmatic and maternal of the Charmed Ones. On Greys, her Haylee follows a similar pattern. While crying at Heather’s bedside, Heidi thanks her for being a good sister and apologizes for falling out of touch. It’s very sensible behavior. Then Milano — who played free-spirited Phoebe — comes barging into Heather’s hospital room yelling about crystals and bad energy.
Still, the sisterly bonds prove stronger than the sisterly resentments. Once Heather’s doctor Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.) reminds Haylee and Heidi that Heather needs them, they put their bickering aside to care for their sister. Through tears, the Petersons agree it’s time to let Heather go. Webber disconnects all of the machinery and medication keeping Heather alive, only leaving the meds that are keeping her comfortable. This way, Heidi and Haylee can be with Heather as she passes, but she won’t be in pain. The remaining Peterson sisters are devastated.
Then they get a call. Or, technically, Heather gets a call. In a moment as fraught as watching your sister die, you would expect Heidi and Haylee to ignore the phone. Yet Heidi is compelled to talk to Heather’s friend Ashley. But it’s not Ashley on the other line.
It’s Heather. Heather is alive. A mugger stole Heather’s phone — and that is who is sitting in the hospital bed dying. Obviously, the dead woman robbed Heather and, in her haste to evade the scene of the crime, accidentally ran directly into the construction site drop. It’s a terrible situation. But, in some good news for the Petersons, Heather is fine.
The only drawback is that we never hear Heather's voice during the call, depriving us of catching Doherty, McGowan, or even Cuoco on the other end of the line. Although the Halliwell sisters have had various spates of off-screen tension — both rumored and public — over the years, so a televised Charmed reunion beyond close friends Combs and Milano has always been unlikely.
“Reunion” ends with the promise of a new start for the Peterson sisters, who seemingly became estranged following the death of their mom (which is the most Charmed loss possible). Although Heidi and Haylee argue about whether they should have ever unplugged “Heather” in the first place, Webber reminds them how lucky they are to learn Heather is alive. Heidi and Haylee unite in their knowledge that they could sue Webber, and all of Pac North, for undo emotional distress.
That's a better outcome than an onslaught of demons though, right?