Monday, May 20, 2013

GREY'S ANATOMY Finale Not Quite a "Perfect Storm"

Article first published as GREY'S ANATOMY Finale Not Quite a "Perfect Storm" on TheTVKing.

ABC's Greys Anatomy likes to show the ups and downs of the doctors who work at Seattle Grace Seattle Grace Mercy West Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, their loves and their losses. In the penultimate episode of season nine, the focus is the positive, and delivers a heartwarming story. In the season finale which aired this week, "Perfect Storm," things get much more depressing.

It's understandable that Callie (Sara Ramirez) and Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) still aren't seeing eye to eye. Arizona goes something very traumatic with the plane crash and losing a leg. There is no way for Callie to grasp this experience, try as she might. The chasm between them is just too wide.

Yet, Arizona's tryst with Lauren (Hilarie Burton, White Collar) feels like it comes out of nowhere. Sure, one can see how these bad feelings may still be boiling under Arizona's surface, as much as she pretends everything is OK. That doesn't excuse, however, cheating on your wife. Callie cut off Arizona's leg, but for good reason, and has done everything possible since then to make up for it.

Grey's Anatomy does a pretty decent job of avoiding villainizing either woman in the marriage, making viewers see both sides of the issue. The problem is, we also care very deeply for them, and to watch their marriage fall apart sucks. They have already overcome so much, and to see it fall apart so completely in "Perfect Storm" is not fun. Even if they work hard next year to repair things, it could easily feel like a retread of this season, where their marriage flounders. This is not an arc to look forward to, no matter how well written and performed it might end up being.

 Owen (Kevin McKidd) and Cristina (Sandra Oh) have a situation both similar and completely different than Callie and Arizona. They've come through a lot together, but there's a big divide in their pairing, Owen wanting a kid, and Cristina strongly wanting to avoid becoming a mother. As of "Perfect Storm," it seems like they may no longer be able to ignore this, and it's time to split. I hate to see them apart, but their rift is no one's fault, and they should try to move on and be happy. At least they don't seem resentful of one another, making a break up a little easier than some on the show have been.

Also a bit disappointing is April (Sarah Drew) running back to Jackson's (Jesse Williams) arms. They have their shot, and it really does feel like she, at least, moves on in season nine. Her relationship with Matthew (Justin Bruening) looks to be something good in her life, and something she values. She's just going to toss that away now, after that wonderful, corny proposal last week? That doesn't seem like April.

The final complaint I have is the drama surrounding Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) giving birth. With Lexie dead, Meredith is once more the only Grey in Grey's Anatomy. She's also the beloved star of the series, even though it is truly an ensemble show, and it would be awfully hard to accept she could be killed off without warning. Thus, all of the bad things that happen to her feel forced and false, and the fact that everything ends up being fine makes it even worse, worrying for nothing.

However, Meredith's complications do give both Ross (Gaius Charles) and Bailey (Chandra Wilson) a chance to step up. Ross is the lagging member of the intern pack, and even though Meredith has to guide him through the surgery, the fact that he plays a huge role in saving her life will serve him well moving forward. And Bailey is on her way back to operating even before this, but having her come in and rescue Meredith means a lot, allows Meredith and Derek (Patrick Dempsey) to continue the Grey's tradition of baby naming, and is a triumphant return for the good surgeon.

Too bad Bailey hasn't yet apologized to Webber (James Pickens Jr.) for treating him so poorly. As Ben (Jason George) assures her, Webber knows Bailey, and surely doesn't hold her behavior lately against her. But if Webber dies here, before Bailey has the chance to express her regret, it could be heartbreaking for Bailey. Given Grey's history, Webber could go either way, surviving or dying. I really hope, as much as death can pump up the show when done right, it's the former.

Also, let me add, having Ben back these past couple of episodes has been great. He feels like a natural part of the cast. It's time to bring him home and make him a more permanent fixture on the show. He can continue his medical training at this hospital, not somewhere else.

"Perfect Storm" does give us some things to look forward to in season ten. Alex (Justin Chambers) may finally have found a true love in Jo (Camilla Luddington), as long as she sticks around, as she definitely needs to. He has had such bad luck in love, and Jo is someone who offers a stable option for him, someone who isn't likely to flee or dump him after they commit to one another. Luddington is not yet signed full-time for next season, but that's a move the show should make.

I did like "Perfect Storm," and even the parts that made me uncomfortable or annoyed were extremely well done. Nine seasons in, the quality is consistently fantastic, proving the team behind the series not only knows what they are doing right, but how to keep it going without allowing anything to grow stale. The growth in the characters has been amazing, and I definitely look forward to next year.

I just wish the episode wasn't quite so depressing in the specific ways that it was. It's more satisfying when the disaster is caused by an unavoidable outside source, no matter how many times it happens, rather than imploding character flaws. There's something else to blame for a plane crash, shoot out, or illness, rather than a couple just collapsing in on themselves. This path, unlike the crises, is more realistic, but it makes it harder to root for certain personalities, and Grey's is all about the people; I want to root for them.

Grey's Anatomy will return next fall on ABC.

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