I thought there was a lot to like about last night’s “Grey’s” episode, “Stairway to Heaven” (appropriate title I’d say). What made last night’s show so good was the storyline distribution. Last week, there was too much going on and it hurt the episode, but last night while there was a lot going on, the lion’s share of screen time went to the storylines that mattered the most: the fate of William, the serial killer and the young liver patient, Jackson. The fringe stories (Mark’s injury, Cristina and Owen’s relationship and the Denny/Izzie stuff) were appropriately put on the back burner. There’s no rule that says every story has to get the same amount of time in the script. It’s like Bradley Whitford’s character on “Studio 60” said when he and Matthew Perry’s character took over the show. “This isn’t TV camp. It’s not important to us that everyone gets to play.” And while Izzie’s fringe storyline got the most play out of the three, it worked out well (although still annoying) because her problems with Denny occurred while she was helping with Jackson’s case, so there was no time wasted there.
So, if the “Grey’s” writing staff can stick to putting together episodes like last night’s, I think the second half of the season will be very good. To me, the anatomy of a good “Grey’s” episode is a couple of interesting medical cases, some comic relief, a standout acting performance or two and some sort of plot and/or character development. And I felt like we got all of that yesterday; the best episodes are the ones when something is stake (other than patients’ lives of course). We had that last night with Derek and Bailey’s medical dilemmas and Derek and Meredith’s relationship.
After a bumpy start in ’09, “Grey’s” looks like it might be back on track. It’s obviously too early to tell, but there’s definitely some promise with the upcoming crossover episode with “Private Practice” (more on that later). I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
Below are some additional thoughts on last night’s episode….
Here is what I liked about last night’s show:
*Chandra Wilson and Ellen Pompeo’s performances. Chandra Wilson was especially good; she showed a very vulnerable side Bailey that we rarely get to see. I never thought we’d the say the day where Bailey wanted off a case. Her scene when she asked Derek to stop operating on William so Jackson could get his organs was the stuff Emmy Awards are made of. I was also impressed with Ellen Pompeo’s work last night as well as during this whole three-episode serial killer arc. Her scenes with Eric Stoltz were very gripping and even her nonverbal cues were excellent. And it all came to a head at the end when she actually attended William’s execution, as his “friendly face in the crowd.” I was shocked to see her there. Her teary-eyed confession to Derek that she had to go to show him some compassion was just icing on the cake. It’s always nice when the title character actually gets a juicy storyline to sink his or her teeth into.
*The Denny-Izzie storyline is finally starting to make some sense. I still don’t like this storyline mind you, but last night it became clearer what he’s doing there. He’s there for Izzie as a warning sign that she’s not OK upstairs. She needs to get checked out. ABC president Steve McPhearson swears that sitting through this story will be worth it when we finally find out what’s going with Izzie. I thought it was weird he felt the need to say Denny wasn’t a ghost. Oh, you think so, Doctor?
*How the serial killer storyline played out. I assumed that it would work out that either a) William would get away with not having to pay for his sins by getting to donate his organs or b) that William would get executed and his organs would go to waste and poor Jackson would die. I never thought about a “c)” scenario where a third-party would intervene and give Jackson the organs he needed. I thought it was a good way for justice to be served and for the kid to survive.
*Lexie being there for Mark and Sadie coming to Lexie’s rescue. I figured these occurrences go hand and hand, so why not put them in the same bullet point. I enjoyed watching Lexie be at a laid-up Mark’s side as he recovered from a “broken bone.” I feel like that’s one of those key moments where their arrangement could transform from “fling” to “relationship.” And how about Sadie getting Lexie’s back when the other interns were badgering her about potentially being the one who broke Sloan? I was very impressed by Sadie’s resolve here, considering early in the episode Lexie made it a point to tell Sadie that they weren’t friends. That was great stuff all around.
*Cristina and Meredith finally making up (or at least appearing to). It was about time. I was really disappointed in Cristina’s nonchalant response when Derek told her he was planning to propose. I agreed with Derek when he asked her isn’t about time that they wrapped their fight up. It’s a shame it took Meredith freaking out about the execution of a serial killer to bring the two of them together, but whatever works, right? I also loved the fact that when Derek couldn’t get her to calm down, his first thought was to bring her to the best friend.
Here is what I didn’t like about the episode:
*Not enough Sloan. He’s become one of my favorite characters. His injury put him off-screen for most of the episode, but he did make the most of the time he did get.
*The strangeness that is the Cristina and Dr. Hunt relationship. I love Dr. Hunt’s character on his own, a lot actually. But him and Cristina together isn’t working for me. I think once they get past that initial awkward phase of the relationship and define what they are, everything will be fine. Right now, it’s pretty painful to watch though. After the sad display that he put on for their failed first date, I was surprised Cristina gave him a second chance.
*Watching Eric Stoltz bang his head into a pulp against the headboard. That was disgusting. I got a headache just watching him do that. We saw him do it at the end of the episode last week, why couldn’t he have finished by time last night’s episode started and just been lying there bleeding? We still get the point.
*Lexie’s fellow interns. I just find them annoying. The less they’re on screen, the better.
OK, a few random thoughts and I’ll wrap this up….
*I didn’t like or dislike the Chief convincing that soon to be widow to have her husband’s organs donated. I just found it interesting that he “crossed the line” as he put it by asking her to reconsider after he told George that they aren’t allowed to put pressure on people about that. Speaking of George….
*T.R. Knight watch: I think George only got about five lines again last night; seven tops. Part of me can’t blame him for wanting to leave, but I the other part of me can’t feel sorry for him. He gets paid whether he’s the focal point of the episode or not, so why not just collect the six-figure weekly paycheck and call it a day?
*It looks like Alex was losing his patience with Izzie a bit last night. I’m hoping he was just frazzled from working on Jackson and he’s not reverting to his old attitude.
*I had gotten so used to Derek and Meredith playing nice; it was weird to see them bickering last night. I felt bad for Derek, he came into the hospital in an overly-cheery mood, which was a blatant sign that it was going to be short-lived. I thought it showed how much stronger their relationship has gotten now by the fact they were able to see each other’s point of view regarding William. In the past, they would have avoided talking to one another for two to three episodes.
*After such a good episode, it’s kind of a bummer that we have to wait two weeks for a new one. But hopefully, it’ll be worth the wait with this crossover event. According to TV Guide, on February 5, Addison’s brother Archer (Grant Show) has a brain disorder and needs Derek to help him. Then the following week, Addison, Archer, Sam (Taye Diggs) and Naomi (Audra McDonald) will all make the trip up to Seattle Grace. Addison, Derek, Sam, Naomi and Mark all went to college together, so it should be an interesting reunion. The story apparently runs through Feb. 19 and Meredith will learn from the college pals about a certain talent Derek has. My guess is it’s juggling—Patrick Dempsey is an accomplished juggler.
*“Lines of the Week.”
-“We have organs!”
-“That’s a really bad noise.”
-“We’re doctors, not executioners.”
-“I broke his bone.”
-“You’re like the guy who graduated from high school and still hangs out at the football field.”
-“Guys run into this sort of thing on the battlefield, do they?”
-“Little Grey, go away.”
-“Dead man talking stuff?”
-“Am I an executioner, or a surgeon?”
So, what did you all think of the episode? Has Denny worn out his welcome yet in your opinion? Comment below!
Have a question, comment or criticism for Joe? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.