This week’s season finale of Grey’s Anatomy sure started with a bang…literally. I haven’t been all that impressed with some of the episodes recently offered to viewers. It just didn’t feel like Shonda Rhimes and crew were able to capture that lightening-in-a-bottle magic that hooked us those first few seasons. However, starting with this two-hour finale for season six, I am officially hooked all over again.
At the start we learn that Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) is pregnant we watch her share the news with Cristina on her way to tell Derek. They weren’t exactly planning for a baby just yet, but her excitement was obvious. As she walked off to Derek’s office Cristina said, “I hope it has his hair!” to which Meredith responds an affirmative, “Me too!”
As the two hour episode gets into it’s swing, Gary Clark, whose wife the hospital was legally obligated to remove from life support due to her explicitly stated ‘do not resuscitate’ wishes, quickly comes into view as the hospital is abuzz with patients being treated and hospital staff rushing around. Clark firmly blames Chief Shepherd and the doctors who treated his wife (Richard Webber and Lexie Grey) for ‘killing’ her and, we now find, has returned to the hospital to avenge her death.
In search of Derek (Patrick Dempsey) and having been brushed off by several doctors and staff members who gave little to no help directing him, Clark finds Reed in a supply closet. After a couple requests for directions Reed says she has a patient waiting and offers the parting comment, “I’m a surgeon not a tour guide.”
If I’m being totally truthful I’ll admit that, not expecting something so dramatic to happen in the first five minutes, I was definitely taken by surprise when Clark simply raised his gun and shot Reed in the head. And with that, the deaths began. And boy was there a lot of them. Is this Lost or Grey’s Anatomy? Talk about ‘keep you on the edge of your seat’ writing.
It quickly becomes obvious that while Clark is most intent on finding those specific doctors, he’s ready to kill any and all surgeons who cross his path…period. One exception, however, was Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh). In a scene that made the hair on my arms stand straight up, Clark enters an elevator alone with Cristina and explains he can’t find the chief’s office. In a somewhat un-Cristina like way she graciously explains specific directions, of course having no idea who the man is, and Clark simply thanks her and goes on his way.
Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) was also shot when he walked into the supply closet and saw the shooter and Reed’s body but was found by Mark Sloan (Eric Dane)and Lexie Grey (Chyler Leigh) a little while later. In the episode prior, Sloan told Lexie he was still in love with her and that he would even marry her. But as they work fervently to save their friend’s life, Sloan sees how much Lexie cares about Alex. Although, a tear-jerker moment came when Alex, fading in and out of consciousness, mistook Lexie for Izzy and cried, “Please don’t leave me again.” An emotional Lexie only said, “I won’t ever leave you.”
Mandy Moore gave an impressive performance as a guest star. Playing a patient being prepped for surgery, Moore’s character Mary is in the wrong place and the wrong time. Bailey (Chandra Wilson) is in Mary’s room when her pager alerts her to the lockdown situation and Clark shows up on their floor looking for Shepherd but shooting anyone who gets in his way, including security guards. He shoots Dr. Percy who later dies despite Bailey’s valiant efforts to save him because it is impossible to get him to an OR in time.
The drama quickly rises even further when Clark finds Derek and shoots him just in time for Meredith and Cristina to come around the corner and see Derek fall to the ground. The heart-wrenching writing and acting continues as Meredith and Cristina, realizing help will not come in time, worked to figure out a way to save Derek and Meredith cries, “I choose you, I can’t live without you, you don’t get to die on me!”
April (Sarah Drew) arrived on this scene, still in a state of shock as she was the one to find her best friend Reed dead on the supply room floor, and Clark turns trained the gun in her direction. In a few moments that show Sarah Drew’s awesome acting ability she begins to spout all kinds of information about herself, such as her name, age, where she grew up, the names of her sisters, parents, etc., having heard once that victims are sometimes less likely to be killed if the criminal sees them as a real person. And in that case it worked for her.
All the while Dr. Webber (James Pickens Jr.), who was outside the hospital on his lunch break at the time of the first shooting, is not allowed to enter. But when then the requests for help come over the radio and Richard hears the names of the doctors who have been shot, ‘his people’, and the moment a guard is distracted Richard makes a run for it and darts into the building.
At the halfway point a spine-tingling moment comes when Clark finds Lexie, still working to save Alex. Since Lexie was the one to unplug his wife from life support she is high on Clark’s hit list. But by now a SWAT team has entered the building and just as Clark raises his gun he is shot by a sniper. This is about the time that reality exits and the magic of television enters. Had this been real life, this would be the end of the story. But for the sake of dramatic television Clark is only wounded and, though bleeding, simply gets up and walks away to continue his rampage.
Meanwhile, Derek is hanging on by a thread and desperately in need of a cardiac surgeon. But Teddy (Kim Raver) and Owen (Kevin McKidd) are outside the hospital in order to get a critical patient into an ambulance to be transfered. So Cristina and Avery are forced to step up on their own to save Derek’s life. Outside the hospital Teddy realizes that Owen really is in love with Cristina and she tells him to go back in and find her. But of course, no one is allowed back into the hospital. So Owen makes a run for it and, in true soldier fashion, Teddy subtly but skillfully blocks the guard just long enough for Owen to make it inside.
Right as Owen returns to find Cristina and walks into OR to help, Clark enters and demands at gun point that the surgeons stop working and let Derek die. Owen tells Clark, “That is the woman I love. You touch her and I will kill you.” When Meredith realizes what’s going on she walks in and tells Clark to shoot her instead of Derek. Ellen Pompeo had one of the best monologues of the season.
“You want justice for your wife right? Lexie Grey is the one who pulled the plug. She’s my sister. Dr. Webber was your wife’s doctor. I’m the closest thing he has to a daughter. And the man on the table…I’m his wife. If you want to hurt them the way that you hurt, shoot me. I’m your eye for an eye.”
Seeing an opportunity, Owen jumps for the gun but Clark fires and Owen takes the bullet. In classic Grey’s Anatomy fashion, Avery discreetly unplugs the machine to make it flat line and appear that Derek is dead. Meredith screams and cries hysterically, unaware of what Avery was actually doing. Finally Clark walks away and they resume surgery on Derek. Cristina, far more emotional throughout this episode (rightfully so) than we’ve ever seen her, tells Meredith to help Owen and says, “I’m trying to save your guy, now please go and save mine.”
Clark needed something to stop the bleeding from his gunshot wound (from the ‘magic of television’ sniper who was only able to shoot him once and then unable to figure out where the wounded Clark crawled off to) and ended up on the pediatric floor where Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) and Callie (Sara Ramirez) are trying to treat a little girl who’s appendix ruptured. In a heart-pounding scene Callie works to keep the girl distracted and calm while Arizona tells Clark, “There are only children on this floor.” Clark asked for something to stop the bleeding and they calmly, but with shaky hands, give him bandages and instruct him on how to patch up the wound. To their shock and relief Clark just says ‘thank you’ and then leaves the floor.
As the extreme stress (for lack of a better word) and trauma of the day mounts further, Meredith is working on Owen’s gunshot wound when sudden cramps come on and blood flows down her leg accompanied by the heartbreaking realization that she is having a miscarriage. In the midst of all that’s happening there is no time to even attempt to deal with the emotions that would normally come with losing a baby. By the time the credits role we still have no way of knowing if she will even tell Derek that she was pregnant.
Clark’s last scene comes when he is finally face to face with Richard Webber and explains his plan to kill Webber and then himself. But with only one bullet left Clark vacillates on how to use it. Richard wisely turns the tables and lessens the appeal of Clark killing him as he explains the amazing, full life he’s had. James Pickens Jr. ties with Pompeo for the best monologue award.
“I’ve lived. I’ve really lived. I’ve failed, been devastated and broken. I’ve been to hell and back. But I’ve also known joy, and passion, and I’ve had a great love. Death for me is not justice. It’s the end of a beautiful journey. So I’m not afraid to die. The question is, are you?”
In the end, Clark turns the gun on himself just before SWAT finally narrows their search and finds him.
Of course it wouldn’t be Grey’s Anatomy without relationship drama mixed in throughout the jarring life or death sequences. Owen chooses Cristina, even to the very grown-up like encouragement of Teddy when she realizes that’s who he belongs with. After being stuck on the pediatric floor together all day during the lockdown and trying to keep track of dozens of sick kids with only a handful of adults there to care for them all, something substantial changed for Callie and Arizona, resulting in them getting back together. Callie decided she could go without having kids but not go without being with Arizona, who realized Callie would be ‘an amazing mom’ and suddenly the idea of having kids wasn’t so scary after the day they had all been through.
There seemed to be a couple happy endings in the midst of all this horror. But it’s Grey’s, so who knows if everyone will still feel the same when the shock of the day wears off.
These two hours of brilliant television reminded me why I got interested in Grey’s to begin with. I haven’t seen an episode quite like this since the expertly crafted, two-part bomb story in the second season. So I tip my hat to Shonda and those behind the show that still holds the capability to be fantastic. One thing is for sure. Grey’s Anatomy’s still got it!
Grey’s Anatomy, ABC
To watch the Grey’s season six finale or other episodes visit ABC.