This was almost exactly the episode of Grey’s we would have expected after last season’s finale – an upswing in drama and disaster (but nothing the characters couldn’t deal with), relationship issues, emotional revelations, just the right balance of lying and bare-bones honesty. If anything surprised us it was that the writers didn’t really deliver an emotional gut punch. That has been Grey’s Anatomy’s standard operating procedure up ‘til now and not only was it shocking that they didn’t follow through, it was a little disappointing, too.
Twilight detractors (bear with me, I’ve got a point) have always pointed to Stephanie Meyer’s lack of lady balls as one of the saga’s main failings. Her inability to kill off ‘beloved’ characters is without parallel. That’s not something that one could ever say about Grey’s Anatomy, until now. Yes, most of the cast has survived a lot of horrendously tragic season finales, but look at everyone who didn’t survive. George, Sloan, Lexie, Denny… Beloved characters to a one. And now, at this crucial moment, with this one death that could have really mattered, the writers pull their punches.
Yes, folks, you’re reading it right. Webber survived. Who didn’t? Brooks. Okay, we liked her. A little. But, as you know, the interns have never made much of an impression on us. Except Wilson. If they had killed Wilson, we may have been a little upset. But Brooks? So much meh. She was an occasionally fun character, coming out with strange little comments, and her growing mentor-mentee relationship with Derek could have become interesting. But she was so much the bit player that we can’t imagine mourning her loss or even missing her. We think Tina Majorino did the very best she could with a limited profile, so we don’t blame her for this, but we doubt we’ll even remember Brooks a few episodes from now.
And yet it’s not as though her death will be entirely worthless – where the big emotional impact will come into this arc is in Ross’ reaction to it. Not only does he blame himself for her death, he’s right to. In allowing his professional rivalry to gain precedence over his professionalism and humanity, he caused her death. Unintentionally, yes. Indirectly, yes. And yet it’s still his fault. Watching him unravel over coming episodes should be interesting. Especially as he is, by and large, a loose cannon of sorts. He’s not a predictable character, and his reaction to all of this won’t be predictable either. He appears to be going down the ‘atonement’ route at the moment, with a sideline in reckless self-endangerment. But his approach may be different next week. This may be one of the more intriguing arcs to watch this season.
Other stories carrying forward from last season were less exciting. Alex and Wilson are by no means fizzling, but nor are they lighting up the screen with their simmering sexual tension anymore. Over the next few episodes we expect to see them coming up against wall after wall. And most of the walls will be ghosts of Alex’s girlfriends past. Wilson is already struggling with the fact that two of her fellow interns have been with Alex before. It remains to be seen if that’s something she can get past.
Callie and Arizona’s complete relationship meltdown was surprising only for the force of Callie’s vitriol. Taking Sofia away from Arizona and turning into the bitter spouse overnight, while potentially justified, is selfish and inconsiderate parenting, and doesn’t really seem like Callie. We’re not sure where this arc will go. Though with showrunners allowing Webber to live, maybe this marriage will be the major casualty of the storm.
Jackson and Kepner fared no better. Jackson became more and more surly as the episode progressed and a few home truths soon showed Kepner why. We think he was harsh, and wrong, but we see the reason for his anger – he thinks Kepner only wants him now because she almost lost him, and that she never wanted him when he wanted her. That’s fair. But we think her feelings for him were real and had been building long before he nearly died. His point about devotion and marriage was well articulated, but we think April learned the wrong lesson from it. Instead of deciding, in a snap decision, that Avery was right and she actually did want to marry Matthew, she should have gone about showing Avery just how she felt. We don’t think that’s the end of this particular love story, but we may have to put it aside for now.
No particularly new strands were kicked up this week. The most notable moments were all a little sad and a little sweet. The final throes of Owen and Cristina’s relationship were poignant and made all the more so by the constant reminders that, after all is said and done, Cristina would actually be a fantastic mother. The way she behaves at Derek and Meredith’s house tells you that – she’s great with the children, she’s calm and loving… If only she could see it, she’d have everything she wants. Though maybe we’re projecting, somehow. The other brief moment that stuck with us came when Webber finally woke up after surgery, just in time to hear Meredith say, after an episode of railing against him for what his choices (selecting her as his next of kin) have done to her, that she was his family. He’s never looked happier.
We’re hoping that this won’t be a season of pulled punches and missed opportunities. We expect a little more than that from Grey’s. But we’re not quite sure what else to expect. What we do know is that we’ll be tuning in next week to find out. – K
Quoteworthy: “When you know, you know.” – Meredith