Since the end of Season Two and Denny’s death, I haven’t been able to say many good things about Grey’s Anatomy. Season Three, as a whole, was full of ridiculous plots – two people impaled by a tree, when they had already done a similar plot involving a steel beam, Meredith Grey being knocked into the water by a little girl, turning blue, and not dying after having an otherworldly conversation with her early-onset Alzheimer’s-stricken mother Ellis (the ever-incredible Kate Burton), who was, in fact, the one who died, and Alex Karev’s fascination with the patient whose face had been marred beyond recognition for awhile- and ultimately led me to give up on watching the show regularly.
I will give Season Three – and the ridiculous Meredith-doesn’t-die plot – some credit, however, for bringing in Kyle Chandler to reprise his role as ill-fated bomb squad officer Dylan, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s dearly-departed Denny, to let us know that Meredith was walking the line between life and death. (Of course, anyone who had any brain cells at all would have been able to figure that out, but any potential offense was buffered by the surprise appearances of two terrific characters.) Season Four…I’m not sure I even remember Season Four, to be perfectly honest.
What I do remember, however, are the finales. Because, for all of the shortcomings that the show has come to reveal, they know how to do a terrific finale, and I take time at the end of every season to turn on ABC at whatever time the show happens to be airing that season, and watch what Shonda and the crew have come up with this time.
Season Six’s finale might be the best one I’ve seen, as a whole. Sure, there were a couple of clinkers that fell short, but overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the performances of every single cast member, and even considered changing my mind about some of them. (Ultimately, I didn’t, but I thought about it, and that was a pretty big step.) The first time I saw the preview for the episode, I decided right then and there that it was an episode I wouldn’t allow myself to miss. I’ll admit, part of me was thinking “…this is going to be one of the worst things I’ve ever seen, and I can’t wait to see how they try to pull this off.” The other part, knowing the show’s track record with finales and the ‘wow’ factor, had a feeling that, even if it wasn’t going to recapture my regular viewership, it was going to be worth those two hours to watch.
I was really glad to find out I wasn’t wrong.
When the first five minutes of the episode revealed two shootings, I was hooked. I literally gasped when the gunman shot Nora Zehetner’s character, and I hoped to God that Karev wasn’t going to die. His interactions later in the episode with both Chyler Leigh’s Lexie Grey and Eric Dane’s Mark “McSteamy” Sloan were terrific, and I was glad to see that the producers allowed him to live. With so many of the original cast members gone, I was starting to wonder if perhaps Shonda and her team weren’t going to try and do what [i]ER[/i] so successfully did for years: initiate a revolving door of cast members, rotating old ones out in favor of new ones who might come with personal fan bases. It wouldn’t be a bad idea, necessarily, but to have two consecutive finales bring the departures of important characters in tragic situation might have been.
As always, Chandra Wilson’s Miranda Bailey shone even in a moment of personal weakness, and the compassion and care for other people that exists underneath her tough-as-nails exterior was prominent. Her scenes with Mandy Moore – in a surprisingly good guest star turn as a young patient – were heartbreaking and painfully believable. Ms. Wilson, and Sandra Oh as Cristina, are two gems among an often-spotty ensemble, and any time either one of these women are afforded some significant screen time, it reminds me just why I devoted two years of my life to being a regular viewer of the show.
Also notable was James Pickens, Jr,’s work as Chief Webber. Pickens is a terrific actor, and I’m not (completely) ashamed to admit that I was literally talking to my television as he held the flask of vodka – “Don’t do it, Chief! DON’T DRINK THAT.” – and cheered (loudly) as he poured it out. Of course, there was also the inkling of fear that he would be yet another casualty of the grief-stricken gunman, but as the conversation between the two progressed, the outcome became clear. It was the only disappointing moment, because it had suddenly become extremely predictable.
As a whole, the episode was striking, engaging, horrifying, and beautifully done, and while I still don’t think I’ll be returning as a regular viewer, there’s a possibility I’ll give it a chance every once in awhile during next season. At the very least, I won’t be turning off reruns when I see them on Lifetime. Yes, there were moments when the overly-dramatic took over – every exchange between Callie (Sara Ramirez) and Arizona (Jessica Capshaw), and the typical “Oh my God, we could have died, let’s compromise and have children because I don’t want to lose you over something like that” scenario – and when I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at the predictability – of course Meredith would have a miscarriage during such a traumatic experience as seeing her man get shot – I was glad that I took the time to watch.
It, at the very least, kept me involved enough not to change the channel during commercial breaks for fear that I would miss something important. That, from Grey’s Anatomy, is a huge accomplishment.
I would also say that Chandra Wilson absolutely deserves an Emmy for her performance, but unfortunately, my pick for that happens to be Cherry Jones for her work in the series finale of 24. Sorry, Dr. B.