This isn't necessarily a bad episode of Charmed (although it does have its fair share of cringe-worthy moments); it simply suffers quite a bit due to its placing within the season. Had this story been told during the first half of the season, I would have allowed it more rope, but given that it's clonked between two arc-heavy storylines, effectively terminating the momentum gained by the last few episodes, there's no forgiving the script's shortcomings.
Phoebe and Cole are relegated to sub-plots this week and not very interesting ones either. I did enjoy Cole's assistant taking charge and mimicking Cole while he was away, but it was the only memorable moment in an otherwise dull and predictable story. You can always tell when a writer likes or dislikes Phoebe and scribe Daniel Cerone evidently despises her – she's a whiny, bordering on obnoxious character throughout, with all of her trademark witticisms tossed to the side to make way for more whining. Who works in a kitchen, which they know is busy EVERY morning, only to complain about the noise level and lack of peace?! Shoddy writing!
Leo is finally given something to do. Sorta. While I really loved the flashback – very, very cool – the whole storyline about two old pals coming back to torment Leo because he chose to save the lives of many instead of his friends, felt extremely forced. It highlights Charmed's major weakness with regards to planting plot seeds for them to grow later on in the season. Cole's arc aside, this series has a woeful track record. We're suddenly shown all of these pictures of Leo in the war, all of his merits just because the story calls for it. Had these props appeared in earlier episodes, it would have leant weight to such a flimsily strung together tale.
The writers do aim for dark – these ghosts are nastier than your usual demon-of-the-week. They kill a charge Leo saved minutes beforehand, only to hold Leo down and force him to watch her die. Likewise, they kill Piper, but before they do, one of the brothers reaches into Piper's chest and grabs hold of her heart just to feel its final beat. Unfortunately, the drama is overplayed, and overacted by Brian. The script called for him to be a broken shell, but Brian just can't rein it in and offers up some woeful daytime TV hands-in-face teary moments that you can't help but snicker at, much like the majority of the episode.