It’s kinda weird, this ‘thing’ I have with Grey’s Anatomy. I don’t really watch many regular TV shows and of the shows that I do watch (or have ever watched) none of them have been hospital dramas. But there’s something about this show that keeps me coming back each year. Some of it has to do with the writing. (Or at least the writing in the first few seasons). But most of the reason why I tune in has to do with the characters. Creator Shonda Rhimes and crew have crafted a cast that, despite their unimaginable situations in love and life, seem to stay true to the integrity of the way that the respective characters are written.
Grey’s season finales have traditionally concluded with me scavenging for details from any Internet resource – credible or not – about what’s going to happen next season. Will Izzie get kicked out of the surgery program? Has Burke left the apartment (and Christina) for good? Will Meredith and Derek stay together? Yet having just completed a marathon session watching this, the seventh season, I find myself asking only one question: When will the writers bring this story to an end. Clearly it seems to have run its course. (Read on to understand my rationale).
Ending a show like Grey’s is certainly no small decision. With Lost no longer in the ABC lineup, I’m not sure if they have any other guaranteed ratings winners. (Perhaps they do – as mentioned, I’m not an Entertainment Weekly-reading television fan.) My guess is that ABC will probably throw as much money as they can at the show to keep it going. I believe that Shonda Rhimes and ABC thought that they could draw Grey’s fans into watching Private Practice. And while I’m sure PP is a must watch for many Grey’s fans, my gut instinct is that somehow it wasn’t able draw the kind of cross-over success that Shonda or ABC had hoped. No, ending this show will not be easy. It’s a decision that will – both financially and professionally – lead to a lot of television executive-hand wringing. But for anyone who has stayed devoted to the show, clearly this is a ride that needs to come to an end.
Please don’t misunderstand my sentiment. Grey’s is a show that lasted seven seasons with at least one more season certain to follow. That’s quite an accomplishment considering the depth of the storyline. Seven seasons at twenty-two shows per season. Quite an amazing ride. Through the first four or five seasons, the show managed to stay fresh and daring. Now it’s my hope that the show will end on a note that (unlike just about every series finale in recent years) stays true to its audience.
Having just crammed twenty-two shows at forty minutes a show in my brain, my thoughts are rather random. Therefore, please forgive the somewhat unconventional way that this post takes shape. Writing about the show tends to be a therapeutic ritual for me. I need to spill my thoughts somewhere. I think the weak storylines this season explain a lot about why I feel the show needs to end, so I’ll talk a bit about those. But I’ll also spend a lot of time talking about the principal cast of characters, because I feel strongly that another big reason why this show needs to end is that there’s really no major character exploration that remains to be done.
Bailey’s New Beau
I don’t like him. Period. I’m not a female, so I feel a bit odd judging him and their relationship. But his unforgiving, “I’m right and I know I’m right” overconfident attitude just turns me off. Bailey’s love life had been this unexplored country for so long that I think the writers are trying to overcompensate by putting her with characters that aren’t compatible with her. Let me be clear: I’m not insinuating that Bailey isn’t deserving of these love interests. She is. And I’m as anxious to see someone who works as hard as Miranda Bailey end the day with a love life that is fulfilling. But this isn’t it. And with this now being the second love interest of hers that I’m shooting down (well, third if you count Tucker – ugh, what a punk), I’m wondering if I’m not being too selective about this. But I very much believe in Malcolm Gladwell’s theory expressed in Blink and I don’t think that I am. Some may ask the question, ‘Well, if it’s neither of these characters, then who should it be?!!’ Well, honestly I don’t know. But just because I don’t know doesn’t mean that I’m wrong. I imagine him as a reflective guy – maybe a bit conservative – with a freaky side. Maybe a bit on the country side. But he’d have to be confident. Ultimately this isn’t my job. This is for the casting director to figure out.
Another reason why I don’t like this guy (and perhaps the writers are setting us up in this way so that eventually they can give us the guy that’s right) is that their relationship is based on sex and that’s just not Miranda. Yeah, I caught the line where she said when she was drunk that right now she was just ‘gonna go with it’. I get that they’re trying to give Miranda a season where she doesn’t have to play ‘mother’ to everyone. But in just the opposite way, she’s having her sexual needs fulfilled while completely ignoring all the other stuff she needs. Hopefully the writers see this. They have to. How could they have someone as spiritually complex and prolific as the person who talked to Callie about what a marriage and commitment really is and who coordinated the union between Callie and Arizona not want a relationship that is more fulfilling?
The only way to finish Miranda’s storyline and leave the fans satisfied is to cast the love interest perfectly. She has a beautiful son. She has a job where she’s pretty much on a trajectory to be Chief of Surgery someday. This is the only area that needs closure. (And also, the right man would help her deal with her still remaining post-traumatic stress disorder.) Speaking of which…
The Continuity From Season Six’s Tragedy
Maybe I’m a bit strange, but I felt that the way that season six ended was so riveting and so shocking that the only way to do season seven would be to jump an entire year from the events of the tragedy or spend almost half of the season dealing with the emotional issues. I felt like the writers took a bit of a shortcut here. If the writers are that courageous and daring to put the entire hospital in peril and kill and injure cast members, then at least have the courage to deal with the aftermath. I get that ‘people need to move on with their lives’. But things moved along a bit too fast for me. Before I knew it the cast was back to snarky comments at the lunch table and skipping the hallway to those Danny Elfman-like plucks of the violin strings. I wonder if there might have been a more elegant way of dealing with this.
Oh Alex… king of the old ‘bait and switch’. Just as we start to feel sorry for you, you hurt someone else. Just as we begin to even entertain the idea of letting a virgin lose her flower which she’s kept for over twenty years over to you, you scare her with her clothes half off and probably make her wonder if she ever wants to have sex at all. Even saving kids from Africa who need surgery can’t make us stop hating you. You have it down to a science. I thought with Izzie gone that I wouldn’t derive so much pleasure in despising you. But you manage to elicit the same response when I see you kick dirt on people you barely know. You’re like a well played ‘bad guy’ wrestler, Alex. You work the crowd and then you turn your back on Hulk Hogan just as he’s about to make the tag in your corner. I can’t even keep track of all the people you hurt this season. And I’m not even counting the thing with Meredith, even though that was dumb too. I was hoping you’d go to Africa and maybe return a changed man. But then I remembered I wouldn’t have anyone to hate on the show. Oh Alex – of all the assholes in the world, you sir, are the assiest. And I don’t care about your poor family back home with the brother who wants to kill your sister and the mother who needs medical treatment. Nothing excuses the crass way you treat your co-workers. The only fitting way to end your story on the show would be to have you fall head over heels for a woman who was just as rude and as insensitive as you… only to have her do a Preston Burke and leave you at the altar with all of Seattle Grace Mercy West watching. (Ahh! This truly is therapeutic!)
Initially I was really digging Jackson. Of all the Mercy West idiots, he seemed to have some talent and seemed to be fairly intelligent. But he began to lose me when he had the idea (much less the follow through to actually execute on the plan) to ‘bat his eyelashes’ to get the chance to work on more surgeries. Clearly this is the guy that the ladies who aren’t already overwhelmed by McDreamy and McSteamy are tuning in for. But the smart ladies have to be questioning whether your mental aptitude is anywhere near your physique. The writers did a horrible job integrating him into the cast. He just seemed lost. He didn’t fit anywhere. The only place he seemed to fit was with his sole surviving Mercy West co-hort April Kepner. Maybe I need to be more inclusive, but somehow neither one of these characters fit into the overarching storyline.
Jackson worked under just about everyone’s tutelage this season, from disaster recovery with Owen Hunt to heart surgery with Teddy to working in plastic surgery with Sloan. I’m surprised he didn’t join Christina at the bar to try his hand at waiting tables. Owen was completely right in his assessment of Jackson’s lack of commitment and one would think that with the ‘Avery’ name that someone would guide him a bit better in his career. Or maybe that’s just it. Maybe he’s been living his life to fulfill the legacy of his family and he doesn’t have the passion for surgery as his family wants him to. Whatever the reason, his storyline stinks. He can take off his shirt every episode to please the female watchers, but even that grew tiresome for female watchers of Mark and Derek after a few seasons. At some point they have to direct this character, or else why have him on the show.
The kicker for me was the fact that he was willing to use his smile and bat his eyelashes to get in on surgeries, but later on has the integrity not to want his name attached to the clinical trial because it will hurt the chief’s chances.
In my eyes, April’s character illustrates everything that is wrong with the show. I thought it demonstrated just how selfish the residents were when you look at how they treated April. Sure, she was a bit overbearing, but so were many other characters on the show and for some reason they find themselves sitting at the “cool kids table” while she’s on the outside looking in. Sure, I found her character to be annoying every bit as much as the way she was probably asked to play it. Yet in light of the events that had taken place a few months ago, wouldn’t they have been a little nicer to one of their own who had lost so many?
I’m trying to recall where April’s decision making was critical to saving a life in the time that she was there. Let’s not forget – not only has she not really contributed gainfully to the saving of lives, but her lack of analysis actually killed a guy and she was fired last season (and the show actually reminds us of this again this season during a discussion that she has). Yet of all the residents, she’s selected as Chief Resident? (This storyline deserves its own section.)
Perhaps I don’t know a lot about medicine, but I do know a fair amount about management. I understand that the writers wanted to make the storyline a bit more intriguing, but this whole process of selection confused me.
For one, the writers never took the time to really illustrate what the job was. Perhaps I am just forgetful and need to be considered for one of Derek’s Alzheimer’s trials, but who even did the job previously? I remember Miranda getting assigned a promotion, but I can’t recall which one. At first, Chief Webber gives signs that the person who shows the greatest innovation and creativity will be awarded the role (as he keeps hinting to the residents after they complete some medical impossibility.) By those standards, April shouldn’t even have been in the running. But yes, I know – Owen was given the responsibility.
Perhaps I misunderstood and they’re painting the role as some administrative lead – one who will assess the talent and assign them to roles as they see fit. And even by those standards I don’t see how April can get the role. In a management situation where you’re dealing with talent (that is, valuable and hard to replace talent that can up and leave the hospital putting its reputation at risk) I would have thought that Chief Webber, with all his years of experience would have handled this a bit better. After watching Callie and Arizona almost leave the hospital for Africa, he has to realize how critical it is to keep the good doctors happy. Why leave such an important decision to Owen? Strange indeed. What if by doing this he causes unrest and leads to either Meredith or Christina (or both) leaving the hospital? April is overbearing enough when she’s just working alongside them. Imagine how life will be for the residents when she’s assuming a role over them? Does the chief, in all his years of experience, not see the unrest that is sure to come? And perhaps he should consider wining and dining his talent a bit better because….
I’m not quite sure if the goofballs that showed up to be mentored were the new class of interns like Meredith’s class or like Lexie’s class a few seasons later. From what I could gather, they were all just passing through. (And the way that they cast the show, the actors would have to be much more attractive to get regular roles. Alex’s intern is about the only one that had a shot.) But looking at the bigger picture, considering the fact that there is now only one hospital in the area, wouldn’t they have seen a new intern class by now? OK, I’m talking about the show as if it’s a real place. But even from a writer’s perspective, doesn’t this give the show a chance to live beyond its current arc? Why not throw nine new faces in the mix for some intermingling with the cast? Perhaps a sharp girl who’s interested in cardiothoracic surgery to kick Christina’s competitive spirit into overdrive? I think they’re missing an opportunity here. Or perhaps they know the show is winding down and they don’t want to introduce too many new faces?
Callie and Arizona
Grey’s has always been known for its groundbreaking storylines on race, gender, and sexuality. But at this point, I almost feel the preachy writing wearing on me. I think they needed to deal with the fact that everyone wasn’t going to accept the union of two women. But it was dealt with in a way that was almost too heavy handed. I don’t know… In many ways I can’t relate, so it’s hard to comment. I thought the union was tastefully handled.
The Musical Episode
I heard from friends and colleagues during the course of the season about how bad this episode was and I think they may have been overreacting a bit. But it bears mentioning that Grey’s episodes go by so fast that by the time the credits roll, I feel like I’ve only been watching for about twenty five minutes, yet for this one I kept checking the time remaining counter and widening my eyes by realizing how little time had passed.
If there’s one positive thing I will say about the episode, it’s that I was surprised by the direction of cast members who were called upon to sing – in particular, Owen. I’ve got to give it up to Kevin McKidd. I just learned that he’s Scottish and his accent was super heavy when I saw him on a late night talk show. He’s completely convincing as Owen and not only is the brother acting in English, but singing too? You may get me to like you yet, Mr. Hunt. But not so fast… I’ll get to you in a bit.
I thought it was interesting and somewhat experimental to have the cast singing. What was strange was the fact that (with the exception of ‘How to Save a Life’) the songs felt rather out of place. Sara Ramirez/Callie is a Tony award winning actress and this episode shows that she can sing, but somehow I feel like her voice came across as if it’s too classically trained – particularly for such an emotional episode. And that kinda goes for all of the actors who participated. (I guess I’ve seen Rent one too many times.) I didn’t hear the kind of emotional voice inflection or riffs that I would have expected to hear considering the situation.
This episode was risky for several reasons. I like Grey’s and over the years it’s introduced me to some great music. However, it’s gotten to the point where every time music starts to play I feel like I’m being sold to. And this episode in particular felt like one long commercial for an album. (And I’m pretty sure they did release an album of these song renditions.) But this episode was also risky because you’re using minimal dialogue, yet trying to deal with the potential loss of a loved cast member and an unborn child. I think they were going for the whole, ‘Family Ties episode where Alex’s friend dies and he’s acting in the dark’-level of abstraction. But in the end, it just felt weird.
Okay, there was one point where I might have been close to shedding a tear. When the baby was born early and looked completely underdeveloped and started coding while they were pumping air into it’s tiny body, Mark Sloan is standing there in tears completely heartbroken at the potential loss of his child and of one of his best friends. You’ve gotta feel for the guy.
Amazing that a guy who started off being such an idiot can manage to be one of the best characters on the show – to me, at least. Mark is a man’s man. For some reason, he commands this huge amount of respect from me. And he’s one of the storylines that I actually liked this season. His commitment to Lexie and her happiness regardless of whether she decides to be with him or not shows just how much he’s matured over the years.Let’s not forget – this was the guy who cheated on his best friend with his wife.Also, I thought his ability to deal with the situation with his child while respecting Callie’s relationship showed a ton of character. The moment that he had with Arizona, comforting her as she thought about her deceased brother not getting the chance to dance at her wedding, kinda sealed it for me. And I’m super happy for his character finally having a child – a noble aspiration for a guy who appeared to be very selfish and shallow but is evolving and now trying to stay on the straight and narrow. I think he deserves a woman who’s less airy than Lexie, but if that’s what Mark wants, that’s what I want for him. (Would be nice to watch them end the show with him falling for a woman closer to his age…. one who was a bit more mature… someone who could match his confidence with even more confidence… a woman with a bit more sass….)
Lexie reminds me of the freshman who is teased for the first two years of school, yet by her junior year completely forgets this and treats the “underclassmen” like crap. But, she’s a Grey – she has to be screwed up in some way, doesn’t she? Lexie is another weird character. She has moments where she shows growth. But most of the time I just find her to be the way too in touch with her feelings doctor, but not in a beautiful Izzie Stevens kinda way, but more so in an annoying way. She has a photographic memory (and isn’t afraid to make you feel dumb by flexing it). But in the end you realize that despite her ability to remember entire volumes of information that she doesn’t have the talent that her sister has, isn’t specializing in anything at the hospital and is almost as annoying as April.
Christina Yang and Owen Hunt
Anyone who knows me knows how I feel about the character of Christina Yang. She’s the glue that keeps the show together. And in many ways she saved this season from being even less appealing than it was. Her acting in the first few episodes was some of the best acting in the entire season. Perhaps it was because she had the heavier material to work with. I really worried that she had scarred herself mentally into not being able to perform any more surgeries. But knowing that she would eventually make her way back into the operating room (she’s too critical to the show – it was just a matter of when) still didn’t give me complete comfort in the scenes where she wasn’t the ‘Christina’ that we knew. I thought one of the best scenes of the entire season was image of her holding the trout and, without words, looking at Derek and realizing how ridiculous a turn her life had taken.
Sandra Oh seems to be reaching for the Emmy again this season. I struggle with her character’s choice not to have the child (and a part of me wonders if she might have felt differently had the situation been with Preston Burke). But this is the thing about Grey’s that is the most captivating: watching these characters who the writers have committed to a certain behavior pattern react the way that you know they would. Anyone who has watched Christina knows how she feels about children and faith. You would hope that her experience last season at gunpoint would have led to her reconsidering her choice, but it makes sense within the storyline that her character, scared by what happened, would not want to bring a child into this gun-ridden world. We’ll have to see what happens.
I really like Owen (and I didn’t really care for him much at first). He’s a pillar of stability at a time when everyone isn’t thinking rationally. But strangely the writers drew him into a position where he’s in this marriage which ironically isn’t that different from Teddy’s. Well, that’s carrying it a bit far. But, in the same way that the chief mocked Teddy for not knowing her ‘husband’s’ feelings about being possibly diabetic after surgery, how could Owen have married not knowing Christina’s feelings on children? There is a segment of men (and I’m one of them) who find Christina’s confidence, wit and charm to be completely rare and attractive. (Think of how few women have Christina’s charm.) Clearly Owen was ‘lost in a masquerade’ (as the song goes) and didn’t flesh out these critical questions. He was a soldier home from a riveting tour of duty and Christina was a ray of sunshine amongst a cloudy sky. But now it’s gut-check time. Time to decide if he meant what he said early in the season – “I’m not going anywhere.” I wonder if that still applies if the woman that you love has decided that children will not be a part of the family equation. Interesting.
What’s sad is that despite the fact that I like Hunt, I can’t get the image of Preston Burke out of my head. Yeah, yeah… I know what happened with Isaiah Washington and the cast and I can’t at all condone his actions. But I think the chemistry between he and Sandra Oh was pretty amazing. If ever the show had soul mates, Burke and Yang were the gold standard – even more so than Derek and Meredith, in my eyes. (As I did a bit of research while writing this, it was interesting to discover that Kevin McKidd (Owen) has been in five more episodes than Isaiah Washington. I would have bet the farm that ‘Burke’ had been on the show for twenty more episodes. I guess largely because that’s the impact that the character and his connection to Christina had on me.) And while it would be almost completely ridiculous at this point – four years and many events later – to have him show up after leaving her like he did, as a writer it feels like that would be the most fitting closure to Christina’s character’s journey. Even if she only confronts Burke to conclude that ultimately he isn’t the person she thought he was. But I don’t think Christina will ever be quite whole unless she gets to confront Burke. I wonder if Shonda will be able to give us that moment considering the fact that some of the cast probably never wants to see Isaiah Washington again.
Teddy Altman’s Dating Woes
Hmm… Teddy is one of those characters that I don’t have a huge emotional connection to – probably because the writers didn’t have the time to illustrate exactly why we should care about her. About her quest to find a replacement for Owen via eHarmony. About her insecurity reflected through Christina. About many things. Initially I was thinking that there was no way to get us to care about Teddy without investing huge amounts of screen time to a story arc, but then I thought back to Addison. I hated Addison when she came to Seattle Grace. In a way it seemed as if she was just there to dangle herself in front of Derek. But then I saw the episode that would change things. There was a flashback to the scene where she and Derek were having the fight to end all fights after her infidelity. It was about five minutes of screen time, but wow – it made me see Addison differently. It made me understand that a moment of poor judgment can cost so much. And slowly as her story continued and I understood her a bit more, she became less detestable (and even a bit likable reflected through her relationship with Miranda.) But despite the episode in Season 6 where we watched Owen and Teddy during a wartime battle, I just can’t seem to bring myself to care about her character.
Some of the struggle that I have caring about Teddy has to do with the fact that I really don’t know what her motivations are besides being whatever Owen lets her be – friend, lover, co-worker, confidant. Maybe it’s just the way that Kim Raver is playing the character, but every time I watch Teddy speak, I think, “Why isn’t she saying what she truly feels?” She always appears to be holding back. Even her act of altruism by marrying the attractive dying guy with the bad insurance seemed genuine but a cheap rip-off of something that Izzie would have done – and in much more heartfelt and dramatic fashion, might I add. What also didn’t help her character was the way that she couldn’t quite read her ‘husbands’ expression and reaction as she shared dating info with him. Seemed a bit insensitive to me for a character the writers are trying to get us to care about. OK, perhaps it’s difficult for someone with such little experience in love to connect the dots.
In a way, the job of head cardiothoracic surgeon at Seattle Grace is a curse – like being on the cover of the Madden Football video game – it’s just a matter of time before something happens to take you out. First Burke. Then Hahn. Now it’s time to find out what happens to Teddy. I think the one thing that keeps me from caring too much about Teddy is the fact that at any moment – even at 3am – if someone prank called her and said, “Teddy, this is Owen. I’ve changed my mind. I’m packed and we’re going to Denver – meet me in front of your house in six minutes,” the only thing I think she’d say for certain is, “OK, but I’ll be wearing a green nightgown because I don’t have time to change”. She seems like her emotional attachment to Owen is her only driving force – or at least the only one that we know about. And for a Grey’s character, having that kind of needy quality is unattractive.
The other problem I have with Teddy is the fact that she appears to be feeling the pinch now that Christina’s talent and experience under Burke are making her more valuable than perhaps even she. Teddy seems to keep using this, “well, if you don’t do xyz, then I can’t teach you” chip and it just looks weak – especially because we know the attachment that she has to Owen. Yes, Christina in her “I know I’m right” attitude can be a bit overbearing, but to me, a competent teacher would be able to control that. Teddy can’t. And how many years does Teddy have on Christina that makes her so much more qualified anyway? Is she really that much more qualified? Christina trained under Burke – part of the time where he couldn’t even use one hand and she had to do the work for him. That has to count as like two normal years for a regular resident. I don’t know about Teddy. I think we can care about her a bit more, but they have to get her away from Owen and develop a storyline that doesn’t involve needing a man.
Derek and Meredith
The strangest part of this entire season (to me, at least) concerns the relationship of Derek and Meredith. I guess I just haven’t been paying attention to how shallow their relationship must truly be. How do two people spend so much time around each other – in bed, in the elevator, in the operating room, in the Chief’s office, etc. – yet not know each other when it concerns the things that matter most. Everyone knows the history that Richard Webber has with Ellis Grey. How could Derek not have discussed the situation with Adele Webber with Meredith? And despite the way that the writers portray Meredith and Derek to be this idealistic couple (notice how almost every character says they want what Derek and Meredith have) Meredith doesn’t feel that she can convince Derek to secure Adele’s medicine through some other means – or for that matter even confide in him about her desire to do something to help.
How are we this far into the relationship of Derek and Meredith – post-it wedding and all – and not yet have the house built? It was over two seasons ago when Derek was on the plot with that bat hitting the wedding ring into the night. The house looks no closer to being complete now than it did then. Perhaps I missed something? Or perhaps the writers are trying to illustrate how the marriage, like this house, is still unfinished?
I like Derek and I think Meredith is a spoiled brat who grieves over her past too much. But I found myself actually losing respect for Derek. How do you not huddle with Richard and find a way to make this situation right? Is his professional career (with all of its accolades already) that important that he can’t sit down in that room and figure out a way that his wife stays employed – even if that means at least considering a move to cover-up what she did? Certainly I think if the shoe was on the other foot, Meredith would have done whatever it took – lied, cheated, stole, etc. – to make Derek, her night in shining armor, happy and to keep him safe. Derek barely seems like he cares. He has this, “Oh well, I guess this means you might be losing your job. Such is life!” – kinda attitude. And the little ‘Preston Burke routine’ he pulls at the end, leaving the house, is totally uncharacteristic of what we know about Derek. Derek doesn’t seem like a guy who grabs his stuff and leaves when they going gets tough – particularly when they’re in the middle of this adoption. After all, he’s the one who brought this whole “adopt a kid in a week” idea to light. Just seems strange. Even if only for a night.
How It Ends
Clearly all bets are off in terms of how this show ends. With so many members of the principal cast having left due to contractual issues, professional differences, etc. Shonda appears to have left the main ‘bible’ she references that she first created for the show a long time ago. But the one question that remains is, ‘How will Derek and Meredith end up?’ I think fans would rage in the streets if the show ended without them together. Honestly I don’t really care in some ways. Yet in others I would wonder what all the years of crap and back and forth were all for if this doesn’t end with them being miserable together. Without question, I am sure that Meredith and Derek will have the last scene in the last shot of the show. They almost have to. And with Patrick Dempsey indicating that this upcoming season would indeed be his last, I have to wonder if that last scene isn’t less than a year away.
The Golden Years
As I was zipping through the queued up episodes on my TiVo, I realize that I’d picked up so many repeat episodes that air on Sunday nights. Initially I was just deleting them, but as I played a few and fast forwarded through them, I began to reflect on what I consider to be the show’s best years.
In a way, it’s really unfair to expect the writers to keep the storyline as incredible as it was in those early seasons. Season one was largely discovery, but by the time season two and three picked up, it was some of the shows truly memorable moments. I remember how amazing the story was with Burke and his failing hand how you wondered how long he and Christina could go before someone would find out he had a problem. Or the Denny Duquette storyline where you wondered just how far across the line a doctor would go and abuse their power for a patient they loved. Or the many storylines with George O’Malley (who I think is sorely missed) and how he dealt with his father dying… or with his friendship/more-than-friendship with Izzie. I zipped past scenes with Meredith trying to stop a bomb in a patient’s body. Or even what I consider to be one of the last great story arcs – where Izzie learned that she was dying and how she dealt with it. But even that storyline showed the writers getting a bit desperate for a way to close the loop.
There were some great conflicts that provided immeasurable tension in the previous seasons. But like a lover who’s lost the thrill, I just didn’t feel that sense of anxiety with any of the storylines in either of the past two seasons. (I’ll throw out the season six finale because I don’t think it was worthy of the previous great and well planned out finales.)Like the season where we finally met Addison as we learn that Derek is married. Or the finales mentioned above with Denny Duquette and Burke’s hand and especially Burke and Christina’s wedding. Those finales were all great because they put the coda on a season that had a common theme. It was the culmination of a storyline that made you feel like 21 episodes invested made the 22nd all worthwhile. And while season six did telegraph what would happen with Gary Clark and the shooting, it took a season that was running at about the 35 mile per hour residential speed limit for twenty episodes and just kicked it into a 220 mile-per-hour horror ride that you couldn’t have prepared for.
I guess I have come to expect a certain level of excellence (and that word is completely appropriate, because it was television excellence) from the show after watching some of those older storylines and if the pieces are no longer there to give me that, well, that’s ok. After all, every show runs its course. But what interests me most now is to see an ending that is true to the fan’s expectations. And I don’t mind if they pull out all the stops. Go crazy. But maybe in the same way that the Sunday night re-runs are inviting me to ‘go back and start all over again,’ I’d invite the writers to go back and get inspired by what they’ve done in the past. It feels like this is the end. And I think the fans are fine with that. If I had one request of the writers, it would be that they start at the end…. how they want these characters to end up. And then just create 22 gems that put the coda on what has been a most enjoyable series.