”Grey’s Anatomy”: Facing tests
Wow. So relieved to see that so many of you on the message boards joined me in hating Addison’s sojourn to SoCal last week. To lay it out cold, Grey’s still hasn’t got its groove back after the February ferry debacle, and yet — and yet and yet and yet — who doesn’t hold out hope for the season finale next week? What Grey’s fan doesn’t think the show can turn itself around in one great last new episode? The show — even now, at its lowest, and even as it piles on eye-roll-worthy twist after twist and asks us to believe that the Chief’s wife, Adele, at 52, is preggers with some other guy’s kid — somehow instills belief.
Yes. Next week will be wonderful.
In the meantime, we’ve got last night’s episode, which was not wonderful. It felt, at best, like a sushi slice of ginger, something to cleanse our palates between last week’s worst episode ever, and next week’s best episode of all time. And the clearest sign that even the people who make Grey’s knew last night’s show was a nonevent was the fact that they so very dramatically ended it with the Chief finding Adele passed out on the floor from pregnancy complications, the very same scene they teased us with in the coming attractions last week. Are you even allowed to do that on TV — tease next week’s cliff-hanger? The other scene they leaked last week featured Derek smiling at another woman at Joe’s. (She kind of looked like Emily Mortimer as the ”avian bones” lady on 30 Rock.) That didn’t go anywhere either, and the whole non-seduction was over in a flash, as Derek looked amused by the lady’s advances but ultimately turned her down. He should’ve turned her down, for sure, but I gotta say, if you’re gonna tease the thing in the coming attractions, you should do more with it on the show, or else we’re gonna feel a little bit yanked.
To be fair, the coming attractions last night for the season finale indicate that next week’s best episode of all time will feature Derek using the bar come-on to make Meredith mad. By now even Meredith haters out there have to wonder: Hasn’t this woman suffered enough in season 3? The show definitely nose-dived the minute Shonda Rhimes decided to go postal on her lead character: Shonda dropped Meredith in the drink, she shipped her out to the afterlife, she killed her mom, she killed her stepmom, she slapped her in the face, and Grey’s is worse off for all of it. Meredith is a much better ”dark and twisty” character when there’s no melodramatic cause to feel sorry for her. Admit it, haters: She is not as much fun to loathe lately, because now she actually has heavy-duty reasons to whine.
The show just keeps dropping bricks on her head, which is less fun than when she was merely self-involved and worried about guys. This week’s disastrous Thatcher moment was arguably worse than last week’s: The goofball stumbled into the hospital drunk and, blaming his kid for his wife’s death by hiccup, messily disinvited Meredith to Mare Winningham’s funeral (”She was all I had!”) in front of the whole hospital. Boo hoo hoo. Pre-slap, Thatcher’s breakdown last week was affecting, but that was the only 30 good seconds we’ve gotten out of this doofus from the beginning, and last night’s breakdown merely confirmed that he is the worst character in Grey’s Anatomy history.
Meredith, however, remains compelling week in and week out, even as she cedes territory to Izzie or Addison or whoever else is around to wrestle the spotlight away from her. Last night had two redeeming moments. In one of them, Meredith blankly tried to persuade George, who was wielding a train metaphor, not to go across town to Mercy West, which had offered him a gig, even as she herself had just decided, post-Thatcher-commotion, to not bubble in a single answer with her No. 2 pencil on her all-important intern exam. Now, almost everything I just described strikes me as a little phony. The Thatcher freak-out? Bogus. Meredith throwing the test? Ditto. Meredith giving up on being a doc? Double bogus. (That’s almost as bad as expecting us to believe our lead character’s gonna drown during February sweeps, and sure enough, the Chief gave her a do-over on the test toward the end of the night.) But the moment worked. Why? Because Ellen Pompeo — yes, the great Ellen Pompeo — sold it. I’ll leave it at that.
The evening’s other good bit featured Addison. Don’t go, Addison! In a rich little throwaway scene last night, she bemoaned to Callie her fate of being ”barren” yet stalked by pregnant women like the Chief’s ridiculous ex-wife. ”You’re an obstetrician!” Callie shot back, and the whole brief exchange, with its notion of a baby doctor haunted by babies, struck me as witty, ironic, a little bittersweet, and almost perfect. I’d trade that one little scene for all of last week’s L.A. hippie-medicine superepisode.
I’m not compelled to write too much more — if the show is so obviously saving its energy for next week, then so shall I — but I suppose I gotta talk a little bit about George and Izzie. This is simply a horrible pairing that should’ve been long dead by now. It hurts that next week’s awesome episode of Grey’s Anatomy can’t just drop it. You don’t get the sense that George really loves Izzie; you do get the sense, in this regard at least, that Izzie is a little bit unstable and crazy. I never thought I’d miss her pining away for dead Denny, but that’s preferable to this. And I don’t think this is either actor’s fault; I blame the writers, who, especially since February sweeps, have exhausted so much of the show’s potential that it makes you wonder what season 4 and beyond could possibly hold. When you have George and Izzie, oldest friends and series pioneers, still obsessing over their hook-up in the same episode where you throw in yet another fraught pregnancy (Adele? really?), it’s time to wonder how many more hook-ups and pregnancies and soap-opera twists the show can mathematically sustain.
That said, next week will be wonderful.
I’m not being a joker. I’ve been ragging on the show for the past couple of weeks, but I’ve been with it long enough (i.e., all through the amazing first and second seasons) to truly believe that it could get great mere minutes before the final fade-out this year, despite lots of evidence to the contrary. You know what I mean?
What did you think of last night? I didn’t talk about Cristina and Burke: Will they go through with the wedding? (Why’d they plan it for the day after the intern exam anyway?) And I didn’t talk about Ava: Aren’t you glad her teeth are back to normal? Her memory returned — she apparently lived on the side of a mountain with a woodworker she wasn’t crazy about. Why won’t she go back to him? Does she just like hanging around Seattle Grace? With her homespun wisdom, she is starting to remind me of Tom Hanks in The Terminal. And what about Bailey? She had one great line (”All rocks, very typical”), but wasn’t she rather defanged last night? Callie revealed she was running against Bailey for the job of chief resident, and why did Bailey make a sad puppy-dog face at the news, as opposed to steeling her jaw and biting Callie’s head off?