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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

"Stand Up" and Take a Bow, GREY'S ANATOMY

Article first published as "Stand Up" and Take a Bow, GREY'S ANATOMY on TheTVKing.

ABC's Grey's Anatomy completed the first half of its tenth season this week with "Get Up, Stand Up." It's the day of April's (Sarah Drew) wedding, but her co-workers and friends are distracted with their own problems. Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) and Cristina (Sandra Oh) are still fighting, Alex (Justin Chambers) isn't sure he can come to terms with his father, Jimmy (James Remar), Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) turns down yet another job offer, Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) is upset that Callie (Sara Ramirez) still doesn't understand her, Bailey (Chandra Wilson) and Ben (Jason George) bicker over why Bailey had issues at work, Ross (Gaius Charles) continues to overstep his boundaries, and Jackson (Jesse Williams) considers taking a big risk.

If that sounds like a lot, it is, and I didn't even mention everyone in there. There are smaller stories about Owen (Kevin McKidd) urging Derek to serve his country, Bailey getting back to being a teacher, Webber (James Pickens Jr.) beautifully handling a staff member's break down, Alex pledging to spend his life with Jo (Camilla Luddington), Edwards (Jerrika Hinton) being out of sync with Jackson, and Leah (Tessa Ferrer) deciding to back away from Arizona, some of which tie into the more central bits, and some that don't, plus patient stuff, too.

Grey's Anatomy has built a tapestry of a lot of different strands, and in this structure, in which all of the arcs from the fall run must come together, they somehow manage to serve just about the entire cast without feeling rushed or crowded. It's a delicate feat, to balance so many varying plots, and yet, they do it expertly, delivering yet another fantastic installment.

April's wedding should be the focus. It's her big day, one that will potentially change her life forever. She does get a nice moment when Owen tells her how much of the staff showed up, but other than that, she's constantly battling for attention. April has learned to stand up for herself over time, and she attempts to in "Get Up, Stand Up." However, there are just too many things going on for her to grab the spotlight for more than a moment at a time, unfortunately, which means this is not her perfect wedding.

Jackson's proclamation, which almost doesn't happen, is inspired by his patient, who loses the ability to speak, as well as some advice he once received from Mark's mom. It's cool that these bits are tied together, with events in Grey's Anatomy rarely standing alone, built from much precedent. "Get Up, Stand Up" ends without April answering Jackson's declaration of love, but no matter which way she goes, at least Jackson made his feelings known. Which, consequently, surely destroys Edwards.

Arizona and Callie and Bailey and Ben have problems in their own relationships, and in both cases, it stems from not being on the same page. While this episode is one of revelations and discussions, neither member of either couple that is suffering manages to really make themselves understood in the hour. I want both unions to survive, but the only way they can do so is if Bailey and Arizona take some inspiration from Jackson and speak up for themselves. Then, their partners can decide if they can accept those feelings, or if it's time to move on.

Shepherd is likely going to throw a wrench into his own marriage when the President of the United States calls and asks him to accept an assignment. He has been the good husband, allowing Meredith a turn to be first, but how can one say no to the country's leader when he literally calls? Surely, Meredith will have to understand the extenuating circumstances, but something tells me she won't take it so well, especially with her study floundering.

At least Meredith should have Cristina again to fall back upon. Cristina and Meredith are best friends, so it's been rough watching them at odds. But it's also understandable, as their lives have diverged in important ways recently, forcing them to grow apart. I think they'll always have affection for one another, and now that they've aired their gripes, they can work past them. However, I don't think they'll ever be what they once were. They served purposes in one another's lives that they no longer can, and by necessity, that's going to change things.

Ross acts like a total jerk, speaking over Cristina at a press conference and insisting on doing a surgery that he can't handle. This pot has been brewing for quite awhile, ever since Heather's death in the season opener, as Ross becomes driven and overworks himself, and it cannot help but boil over. He's put too much stress on himself and he inevitably breaks. While we can see how this comes about, it's regretable and sad. Now, he needs rest and healing. Whether that happens with a reduced workload on the job or Ross being fired, he has to stop for awhile.

Is Ross finished being taken down, though? His mistake could very well cost Jimmy his life. Alex doesn't like Jimmy and is ready to be done with him, but Jimmy is still Alex's father. Alex will feel something about Jimmy's death, and should be angry at the man that killed him, or almost killed him, if that's how this plays out. Just as Alex thinks he's out of the family drama, this could very well pull him back in.

All of these things are wonderful character moments, expertly acted and extremely well written. I am constantly in awe of how the show maintains momentum and quality year after year, but it has. What's more, it has earned the right to tell stories that took a very long time to develop, paying off the fans who have stuck with it for a decade, and growing characters in ways shorter-running series do not have the opportunity to do. It does not squander this privilege.

It's one of the few shows I make effort to try to keep up with on a weekly basis, rather than marathoning it some weekend right before a finale. "Get Up, Stand Up" proves just why Grey's deserves this type of devotion, just as most of the episodes throughout the past couple of seasons have done, too. Series should go out on top, but this one still seems like it has a lot of life left in it.

Grey's Anatomy will return in February on ABC to air sans reruns through the spring.

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