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Saturday, January 7, 2012

"Suddenly" Grey's Anatomy is awesome

     This week's return of ABC's Grey's Anatomy finds Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) and Alex (Justin Chambers) bringing back a family of car wreck victims. They begin dying off one by one, and Meredith tries to lend strength to the eldest daughter (Stella Maeve), who escapes unscathed, on her eighteenth birthday. Meanwhile, Owen (Kevin McKidd) sends Cristina (Sandra Oh) into Teddy's (Kim Raver) ER to help with a surgery, even though Teddy still doesn't know that her husband, Henry (Scott Foley), died on Cristina's operating table. As soon as the danger to the patient has passed, Cristina spills the beans. 

     Grey's Anatomy is a series that, with a few missteps in the middle, has aged extremely well. At no time is this more evident than in "Suddenly," an exciting, solid, excellent episode, as good as some of the best of the show. The hour has a lot of serious issues, and plenty of gripping human drama, with no wasted time of substandard side stories. What emerges is a flawless hour that will reenergize Grey's fans, if they aren't already. It's a splendid follow up after a too-long hiatus.

     Meredith gets to play to her strengths in "Suddenly," namely, being empathetic. The task ahead of the teenage girl that Meredith takes under her wing is monumental. The coincidence of the birthday, and having to make a decision about extreme measures for her father, just after losing Mom and Grandma, makes the situation all the more daunting. But Meredith is supportive without being pushy, and does her absolute best to help her patient through the ordeal. It's a shining moment for the doc. Which makes Meredith getting baby Zola back at the end of the episode (surprise!) feel like a well-deserved reward for all of her hard work. Not to mention Meredith is acting like a great mom to the 18 year old, so it proves that she is ready for the task.

     Too bad Little Grey, a.k.a. Lexie (Chyler Leigh), isn't so lucky. In "Suddenly," Mark's (Eric Dane) new girlfriend, Julia (Holley Fain, Gossip Girl), is called to scrub in on a surgery with Mark and Derek (Patrick Dempsey). Not only is Julia nice to Lexie, despite Lexie having thrown a ball at her, but she rocks the surgery like a true champ. Then she turns around and reveals her vulnerable side to Lexie, showing relief at completing a tricky surgery during which she was extremely nervous. This makes Julia endearing to Lexie and viewer alike, and proves that Mark is finally with a great women worthy of the new leaf he turned over quite some time ago. It's sad for Lexie / Mark fans, of which this reviewer is one of them, as it means Lexie may not get Mark back. Then again, Julia is only a guest star, so even if it makes Mark slightly less likable, there's still a real chance he will dump Julia for Lexie.

     Dr. Bailey (Chandra Wilson) is also seeing the benefits of having a good man in her life. Ben (Jason George) catches a tricky diagnosis in Bailey's operating room, then sticks around and offers support after the fact. Ben knows Bailey's number, and knows what she wants and needs. This time, he isn't going anywhere. Let's face it: Ben only left last time because Grey's creator Shonda Rhimes only wanted George to star in her other, now canceled, series. With that out of the way, and the manner in which Ben has been reintroduced, as well as Bailey's slow warming back up to him, and making herself available again, their fate together is sealed. It may take a little while, but this couple could see wedding bells before the season finale.

     Alex doesn't fare as well as Meredith in "Suddenly." Feeling guilty over his part in the accident, seeing death in front of his eyes, and ignoring exhaustion, he doesn't know how to quit. Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) practically has to escort him out of the patient area in order to get Alex to take a break. Which is OK. It shows Alex's dedication. It's good Arizona is there, though, because otherwise Alex might have made a very bad mistake, and that's not something he needs or deserves to go through at this point.

    Speaking of returning love interests, with Charlie's Angels already gone, how soon before Dr. Lucy Fields (Rachael Taylor) returns to Alex's embrace?

     Callie (Saraa Ramirez) faces a very hard task in "Suddenly:" she must explain to a patient's family why complications arose. The mistake during the surgery is actually Jackson's (Jesse Williams), but since Callie is the supervisor at the time, she has to take responsibility. For Jackson, it's unfortunate, because he not only has the guilt of making the mistake, but also seeing Callie suffer because of it. But for Callie, the plot is much more interesting. Not only does she have to take the blame for someone else's mistake, though she might share a slight amount since she was the supervisor, but she also has to face the grief-stricken family. It's a very adult decision, to step up and face the music for a subordinate's actions, and one that makes Callie look noble. But it also could very negatively impact her career, something no one wants to see happen. It could also lead to the hospital being sued, something they probably can't afford right now.

     As bad as Callie's situation is, there are those that have it worse in "Suddenly." Owen not only chooses to keep Henry's death a secret from Teddy, but also has Cristina blindly operate on Henry without revealing her patient's identity, then makes Cristina go along with a charade with helping Teddy in surgery. These are very tough decisions for Owen, and his hesitance should not be undercut. He is the chief, though, and making tough calls is part of the job description. Owen chooses the patient's welfare over being fair to his staff. It's the right call to make from an intellectual standpoint. And it may have gone all right if the two staff members in question were not the closest people in the world to Owen. But they are, and Cristina is already unhappy with her husband. Teddy won't be pleased either. Can logic save Owen from both women's wraths? Will they be able to understand?

     For Cristina, "Suddenly" shows one of the worst days of her life. She is smart enough to understand Owen's decisions and go along with them, reluctantly. With a patient open on the table, there is nothing she can do but assist Teddy and go along with the lie. That doesn't make her happy about it, nor particularly forgiving of Owen for placing her in that position. Cristina's confession to Teddy as soon as the patient is out of the woods, even making someone else close, will hopefully absolve her from some of her mentor's anger, as it should. Cristina did not willingly choose to deceive Teddy, and quickly corrected the situation. The two will hopefully be able to recover their working relationship in time. Unless Teddy is out of the picture during mourning, and Cristina becomes Seattle Grace's top heart surgeon, a real possibility given her skill set.

     Teddy hasn't been a particularly interesting or likable character up til now. She comes in and almost immediately tries to get between Owen and Cristina. And her whirlwind marriage to Henry, done purely for insurance purposes, is hokey, even as it blossoms into true love. Yet, in "Suddenly," as Teddy sits crying over the body of her husband, suddenly things take a turn. Viewers' opinions will shift in favor of Teddy as their feel her very real sadness, an acting coup for the underused Raver. People will also rally behind her tale, and her feelings of betrayal. Teddy has stepped it up in a single episode to become a character fans will want to see. It's a remarkable and wonderful turn around, and one that will surely be praised.

     Grey's also sneaks in a slight bit of humor during the whole thing when April (Sarah Drew) is sent to observe Teddy's surgery. With Cristina trying not to talk about Henry, she shifts the conversation into making fun of April. It's to April's credit that she doesn't take it too personally, and puts up with the jabs. But it has to hurt. And it's funny because the things Cristina says are completely true.


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