By Joe Dyton
Before we get into last night’s “Grey’s” Season Six finale, let’s step back and take a deep breath. I don’t know about you, but I had quite a time trying to breathe while watching that episode. Holy cow, that was intense. It’s been well-documented in this space that I thought the last few episodes of this season (save last week’s ep) weren’t very interesting. At some point, I finally accepted the fact that “Grey’s” creator Shonda Rhimes was saving the very best for last. I didn’t care for that strategy; it didn’t seem right to bore us for the sake of having an explosive finale, but after seeing it I had one thought:
It was totally worth it.
I’ll be honest; I was worried that the finale wouldn’t live up to the hype/anticipation because of how mediocre the last few episodes had been. But it was everything it was cracked up to be and more. I always felt the best episode of the series was the post-Super Bowl “Code Black” one from Season Two. That episode didn’t come close to the suspense that was in last night’s show. Alfred Hitchcock said in horror movies that the terror isn’t in the boom, but in the anticipation of it. That’s how I felt about last night’s finale; anytime a doctor went into the hallway or somewhere they shouldn’t have been, I felt myself climbing towards the edge of my seat. There was plenty to rave about in the episode, but I thought its biggest strength was how well the suspense was built up in each scene. And that was established from the get-go. Reid getting shot was brutal, but she’s a recent addition to the cast. It didn’t surprise me that she was hit; she was expendable But when Alex, who’s been here since the pilot, was shot just a few seconds later; it made the audience realize no one was safe. I thought it was smart to establish that fear right away instead of dragging it out for the first 30 minutes or so.
I was also pleased that even though the finale was two-hours, it didn’t feel like it. Very little time was wasted. There have been a few times that “Grey’s” was extended by an hour and it felt like a chore to get through, but last night that wasn’t so, thank goodness. To be fair, I started the show about 30 minutes in, so maybe it didn’t feel long because I didn’t have to sit through any commercials. But I think I would have felt the same way if I watched it all live. At times, I actually felt like I was watching a movie; it was that tense.
So, that was my quick, introductory view of the finale. To review the rest of last night’s epic episode in more detail, I’m going to break out an old format for a special request I got earlier this week. Without further ado, here are some Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down from last night’s show.
THUMBS UP: To the Chief. Not Derek, Richard! I initially gave him a Thumbs Up for receiving his six-months sober chip, but that was just the beginning for what was a great two hours for him. I admired his bravery and how he was able to sneak into the hospital. There was no way he was going to let his hospital get taken hostage without a fight. And what can I say about his final standoff with Mr. Clark? I loved his “I’ve lived” speech and I really loved how he poured his flask contents on the floor. I have to admit, if I was in Richard’s position, I probably would have taken a sip. No one could blame if he had.
THUMBS DOWN: To the ABC Promo department. Last week’s previews gave away the results of Meredith’s pregnancy test and her reaction to Derek getting shot. Granted, they didn’t show Derek get hit, but when they showed Meredith screaming and Cristina holding her back in that preview, was there any doubt what she was reacting to? I won’t come down on them too hard for showing Bailey being pulled from her hiding spot, because that gave us an idea for what we were in store for, but the other two reveals were inexcusable.
THUMBS UP: To Special Guest Star Mandy Moore’s performance. In the beginning of the episode, she didn’t bring much to the table; she was just good ol’ Mandy Moore. But as the episode wore on and things got tenser, I became more and more impressed with her dramatic acting chops. She really sold how scared her character was when the big emergency was revealed and when she had to assist Bailey in keeping Charles alive.
THUMBS DOWN: To the morbid foreshadowing. I cringed when Derek was complaining about all of his paperwork and wished that something would get plunged in his head just so he could be in an OR. Was there any doubt Mr. Clark was going to find him after that? And then when Cristina joked that she hoped Meredith and Derek would die so she could fulfill her godmother duties, I had a feeling we were in some trouble.
THUMBS UP: To the other strong performances from last night. I thought Chandra Wilson was excellent; but she’s always excellent. She played scared very convincingly as well; and her “The elevators are off” freak-out was very passionate without going over the top. I also thought Ellen Pompeo was great too. I’ve never been overly impressed with her acting; she’s not bad, but over these past six seasons, I’ve never really watched her and thought, “She should turn that scene in for Emmy considerations.” Last night, she got to put on a nice display; of course there was the reaction to Derek getting shot, but she was also good in the OR when she thought Jackson and Cristina gave into Mr. Clark’s demands, her “Eye for eye” bargaining speech was very good as well as when she told April about how it took her a long time to find/want/want to have kids with Derek.
And speaking of April; I have to give Sarah Drew a “Thumbs Up” for her performance too. She was good when she was in shock after finding Reid and even though part of me was hoping Mr. Clark would fire a warning shot in the ceiling to shut her up when she was giving her life story; she was awesome in that scene too. It’s tough to have a bad episode when there’s a good story followed up with good performances like the ones given by Wilson, Pompeo and Drew.
THUMBS DOWN: To the personal storylines during a time of crisis. This Thumbs Down is two-pronged. Part of it goes to Rhimes for putting it in there; to me it was the only weak link in the script. I know she really couldn’t let the season finish without resolving some of that stuff; but when a shooter is roaming around the halls of Seattle Grace-Mercy West; I don’t want to see Cristina asking Owen if she loves her or Teddy, or Mark asking Lexie if she thought more about his proposal and especially Callie and Arizona picking up where they left off on the baby battle. Like I said, I understand why Rhimes put that in there; if the whole two-hours focused on the shooter, the episode would have been even more heavy-handed than it was. Just for my viewing pleasure, I could have lived without that.
The other prong goes to Arizona and Callie. At least Mark and Lexie and Owen and Teddy put a lid on their drama when they realized there was a crisis. It blew my mind when Arizona brought her and Callie’s troubles again once the hospital went into lockdown. I thought Callie said it best, “You want to talk about this now?” I couldn’t have said it better myself. This was the pimple on what was otherwise a flawless episode.
THUMBS UP: To Charles’ final words. It was a heartbreaking scene, but I thought it was a great send-off for a character I didn’t care for very much. Remember this is the guy who shamelessly used Izzie to get ahead when he first started there. Anytime someone can make me feel for a character I don’t like, they’ve done good work. I felt awful when he asked Bailey to tell Reid how he felt about her knowing that she suffered the same fate.
OK a few more random thoughts and I’ll see you in September…
*I can’t help but wonder if Lexie really loves Alex or if she was caught up in it all. She didn’t seem to be bothered when he called for Izzie, so maybe she does. I was definitely impressed with Mark’s ability to keep Alex alive while having to watch the gal he loves pour all of her emotions out over someone else. Talk about a true professional.
*Believe it or not, Rhimes said in her original script, Mr. Clark shot Bailey, but she couldn’t go through with having the soul of the show being wounded, so she re-wrote it. Here’s a link to more of her thoughts about the episode: http://www.greyswriters.com/
*I did not see Mr. Clark ending up in Derek’s OR coming. Not one bit. When Owen got there and just nonchalantly said it looked like Cristina had things under control and he’d check in on her, I assumed Cristina was obviously having trouble, but he didn’t want to alarm Mer. I couldn’t believe it when Mr. Clark was in there and forcing Cristina’s to stop operating. To me that was easily the most suspenseful scene of the episode; Bailey and Charles hiding in Mary’s room was a close second.
*It would have been nice to have seen Meredith and Derek’s reunion at the end of the episode. After him being shot and her miscarrying (another shocker; given that she found out on the same day) and us sitting through two hours of nail biting suspense, wouldn’t it have been nice to end things with Meredith giving McDreamy a big, “You’re OK!” hug? I’d be shocked if the Season 7 premiere picks up where this one ended, so I guess we’ll have to imagine how that scene played out. Speaking of Meredith, I was impressed by her strength. She threw Cristina aside like a rag doll. I guess we all get a little stronger when the person we love is in danger.
*Line of the Week: “I’ll be your eye for an eye.”
*Honorable Mentions for “Line of the Week” (Strongest considerations are in bold.)
-“I’m a nurse.”
-“You stop crying.” (I think I liked the exchange more than the line actually.)
-“I hope it has his hair.”
-“Don’t alarm the makers of the tiny humans.”
-“Did he weep like a (witch) baby?”
-“I wanna see the (witch) baby tears.”
-“I was doing charts, now I’m shot!”
-“Correction, (I) loved it here.”
-“…because that would be the worst break-up ever.”
-“There’s no hum.”
-“Me or you.”
*I was a little surprised Arizona gave in and decided she’s ready for children now. Much like Lexie, I wonder if she got caught up in all of the day’s events and said something she didn’t mean.
*So, given the fact that Owen ran back into a locked-down hospital (nice job by Teddy getting in the way of the cop by the way), entered an OR with a armed man and took one to the shoulder, I guess it’s safe to say he loves/chose Cristina?
*As for final thoughts on Season Six, I thought it was a B, B minus. It started out strong with the mourning of George, but lost its way a bit when the Mercy West crew came in (it just added too many characters and unnecessary plot lines), the stuff with Sloan’s daughter, not to mention the back-and-forth with Izzie. There were some strong episodes along the way, but the second half of the season rarely gave us too many quality episodes consecutively. The last few episodes heading up the finale were tough to sit though from an entertainment standpoint, but the finale more than made up that. This season was a like a college kid who did OK in a course all semester and then aced their final exam that counted for 50 percent of their grade. They saved their best for last, and at the end of the day, I’m OK with that.
I hope you all enjoyed the show and this season as a whole. Thanks for taking the time to discuss the show with me. I look forward to more of what’s to come in the fall.
Joe Dyton is a marketing copywriter in Washington, DC. He is a former assistant editor for The Dealmakers real estate magazine in Hamilton, NJ and a former sports writer and copy editor for The Trentonian in Trenton, NJ. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http://twitter.com/dyton99.