”Grey’s Anatomy”: Bailey is out for revenge
I figured that George’s meat-faced dad, Mr. O’Malley, was dead for sure last night. No way he was surviving the episode — no way! What’d I stake my claim on? Two words: fall finale. Last night was our last tango in 2006. Grey’s is on hiatus until January. It was an easy bet that something heavy had to happen, to keep us sweating till 2007, and yet I was dead wrong. The fat man pulled through. ”Yang does beautiful work,” as Dr. Hahn put it. Good for Mr. O’Malley. Only I think I wish he were dead. Or better yet, near death. Nothing wrong with Grey’s giving us a cliff-hanger for Christmas, is there?
Just as last week’s dark and twisty episode would’ve been a little bit better, in my opinion, if it hadn’t aired on bright and shiny Thanksgiving, I would’ve liked this absorbing yet definitely anticlimactic Grey’s more if it weren’t the last one until all the way after I get drunk and — who knows? — maybe defend my fine Meredith against a random hater in a macho bar brawl on New Year’s Eve.
Other than that, decent episode! The show belonged to Bailey. In the second scene of the night, beginning in silence except for out-of-the-ordinary and very effective and serious whooshing background music, Bailey got angry and mouthy in the Chief’s office because it looked like the Chief was gonna let Burke and Cristina, who sat there quietly next to Derek, off scot-free. ”Sir!” she cried. Bailey wanted ”justice.” We know why, though the Chief and Derek did not. Cristina, of course, erased Bailey’s name from the OR board a few weeks back to protect her scam with Burke, and Burke backed it up to Bailey’s face by telling her (i.e., lying to her) that he ”couldn’t use her.” The more you think about it, that was a good and ugly scene. I’d argue it’s the betrayal of the season, especially since it looks like Cristina’s huge double cross last week might not be so bad for her and Burke’s relationship, as they took a promising (and, notably, wordless) ride together on the elevator at the end of last night’s show.
Given the stakes, I’m with Bailey: She should be pissed. Burke, as Bailey explained to Derek late in the evening, selfishly forced her to question her abilities, and it put doubts in her head every time she held a scalpel. I buy it. That’s not good for anybody! Bailey wins the point! Okay, so maybe — as the Chief pointed out — nobody died on Burke and Cristina’s dirty watch, but still, Chief, if you undermine an honest, upstanding surgeon, isn’t that worth 30 days in solitary, or something? Cristina and Burke need to suffer some kind of punishment, if only because their ruse was a major plot booster out of the first ten episodes, and the show shouldn’t just drop it now and go back to hunky-dory (and more physical therapy for Burke) now that the jig is up.
The Chief was especially weak and wrong, I thought, in his last scene, as he tried to convince Bailey that ratting out Burke showed courage on Cristina’s part, proving that Bailey had trained her well, and, besides, Cristina’s transgressions weren’t as bad as Izzie cutting the LVAD wire. I’d say this is poppycock. To me, it looked like all Bailey got out of her exchange with the mush-headed Chief was the crushing realization that she’s the thread that connects all her screwup interns. Here’s hoping the writing gang keeps this Bailey-at-sea subplot alive in ’07: It’s meaty, and it feels like the perfect way to dig away at the ongoing confusion between Bailey the Nazi and Bailey the softie mom (to both her baby and her interns).
And Bailey, as a character, does seem a little confused lately. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if it’s wholly intentional on the writers’ part. Elsewhere in the episode, it was a pleasure to see Chandra Wilson getting season 1 ornery again, even if, for some reason, she didn’t really follow through. For instance, we all enjoyed watching Bailey tell twitchy, overprotective George that he wasn’t allowed within 50 feet of his father anymore. It felt like old times — she was merciless, and totally right — even though in George’s next scene he was at his father’s bedside spazzing out again, with nothing to worry about because Bailey never called him out on breaking the 50-foot rule. Didn’t that feel like a dangling plot inconsistency? And if the Nazi is so uneasy about being undermined lately, shouldn’t last night’s ep have drawn attention to George undermining her?
George, to finally change the subject, was out of control last night. I defended his severe behavior last week because his dad was dying, but this week he went bonkers. To the doghouse with him! First he sassed Dr. Hahn in front of his family (and that Hahn the Killer took it just because George pointed out that he hired her was unlikely); then, bedside even after Bailey’s banishment, he screamed at his lunky brothers violently enough to shock his sickly dad into whatever it’s called when you grab your chest and the beeping machines start going wild. That’s when I figured Mr. O’Malley was a goner. The irony of that would’ve been dark: All that work saving his dad from Burke and Cristina, and then George kills him with a temper tantrum? Instead, Mr. O’Malley lived to see the OR, where Hahn commended Cristina’s icy manner in a gabby chat during the surgery — just before something went wrong and the beeping machines started to beep again. First George almost kills him, then the chatty surgeons follow suit, and still the guy is alive. See? He was meant to die.
Or maybe we were only meant to think he was going to die. That’s the recurring trick of this show. It’s nearly always one step ahead of us. I commend it for that. And I did like the scene in which George couldn’t watch the surgery and Burke had to narrate it to him. This was Sensitive-Man TV at its finest. Sometime in 2007 I might focus a TV Watch on what it means for straight men to watch and dig this show.
So what’s left? We met Jake and Pete, 35-year-old twins joined at the spine but ready to bust up over a woman. I noticed during the credits that they were being played by Jason Sklar and Randy Sklar, which made me wonder if they might be real-life Siamese twins. Alas, they got separated at the end, so no. (And my sister Meg, who admits that having watched three episodes now, she might in fact be getting hooked on Grey’s after all, e-mailed me after the show to say that she was proud to see that the two twins from VH1’s Best Week Ever were making it big on network TV.)
Meanwhile, Meredith’s half sister Molly — who I confess I’d kind of forgotten about from season 2 — had a dangerous delivery for her baby, and Mare Winningham showed up again as Meredith’s stepmom of sorts, only Meredith had to tell her that while Mare and Molly seemed ”nice,” they weren’t really her family. I, as you might’ve guessed, found Meredith’s sure-to-be-controversial speech a little heart-tugging here, especially because the episode was bookended by scenes with her and her Alzheimer’s-afflicted mom, and the gist of both was that they were stuck with each other, and only Meredith knew it. Ellen Pompeo, not alone among this cast, is really exceptional when it comes to reaction shots. Present in every one of last night’s ending scenes, Pompeo and her strikingly green eyes carried this show, albeit sans cliff-hanger, ably into 2007. This was particularly true in the scene where she got Izzie and Karev but not George to ”let Cristina off the hook,” and then declared that weary Cristina is her sister and her family. Good to see these two back together. It’s not huge, but it’ll tide us over through the holidays.
What do you think? How would you rate the first half of the season? What about this episode: Were you bummed there wasn’t a bigger climax, or is that just me? Should Burke and Cristina be punished more severely? What’s not to like about Izzie standing up to Mark? And was the Chief’s ”Now I am yelling!” speech perhaps James Pickens Jr.’s loosest, most entertaining moment on the series thus far?