Thursday, February 15, 2007

Grey's Anatomy: Lady in the water

Spoilers for "Grey's Anatomy" just as soon as I look up the airfare from Seattle to Costa Mesa...

Okay, here's where being a guy who's paid to watch TV obsessively and exhaustively gets in the way of me enjoying a moment the way I would if I were a regular viewer. Already, I'm inclined to be cynical about the possibility of Meredith dying, because I know the way the TV business works, and I know how Shonda Rhimes practically breathes through Meredith Grey, and then comes the Big. Shocking. Moment. when Meredith is ice-blue on the table one second, and a healthy pink the next, looking up at Dylan the blowed-up bomb squad hunk and the late Denny Duquette...

...and all I could think was, "'St. Elsewhere' already did it." Followed by "And so did 'The Sopranos' -- like, nine months ago."

(For you non-tube historians out there, one of the greatest achievements of "St. Elsewhere" was an episode called "After Life," in which Wayne Fiscus was shot in the ER and journeyed through Purgatory, Hell and Heaven -- meeting a God who looked exactly like Wayne Fiscus -- while the surgical team -- including the hotshot heart surgeon still recovering from a potentially career-ending hand injury, mind you -- struggled to save him. End history lesson. Now go wait for the season 5 DVD to come out so you can go watch it -- but not before you sit through the "Time Heals" arc from season 4, or the rape arc from seasons two and three, or the one where Boomer's wife dies, or...)

Point is, I'm sure that cliffhanger was immeasurably cool to a lot of you -- especially those of you who pay no attention to spoilers or even hinted-at spoilers -- as it probably should have been, but as the man who knows too much, it left me flat.

Now, "Grey's" has never been about reinventing the medical show wheel, and I'm sure Meredith's brief visit to the afterlife -- and I have absolutely zero doubt in my mind that brief is what it shall be, that she'll be alive, if not kicking, by the end of next week's episode -- will be different than Fiscus meeting God, or Tony Soprano going to the Finnerty family reunion. But when Shonda boasts that "I’m not entirely playing by the rules of TV here," it suggests that either she doesn't watch a lot of TV or she has a gift for hyperbole.

Beyond the cliffhanger -- and, even though I wasn't blown away, I'm all in favor of anything that might send even a handful of viewers to go check out Kyle Chandler's new show -- I'm still not feeling the ferry crash storyline. Izzie with the drill was cool, and the closest the show came to "ER" disaster episode intensity, but then she had to go and ruin my goodwill by turning her inspirational speech for Cristina into another excuse to be a total bitch about Callie. I also liked McSteamy putting his hand on McDreamy's arm in what felt like a very earned moment.

What a strange, frustrating, compelling show this is. What did everybody else think?

41 comments:

Chris Abraham said...

They kept on mentioning how cold the water was so I am guessing they're going to play the "cold water makes resuscitation more probably" card. I know it.

Anonymous said...

I can't decide if you're not giving people enough credit or you're giving yourself too much. But anyone who's seen even 5 seconds of tv knows they're not killing off the main character.

Alan Sepinwall said...

No, I think most everyone assumes Meredith will live. I'm just guessing other people had more of a "Meredith's in the afterlife with Dylan and Denny! KEWL!" reaction, and perhaps rightfully so.

Joel said...

I thought of that Magnum, P.I. episode from 20 years ago when Magnum got shot and walked through "Limbo" to save his ex-wife. He walked off into the clouds, supposedly to die... then CBS brought the show back for an eighth and last season and Thomas had to miraculously brought back to life.

Unlike you, Alan, I enjoyed last week's episode. But this one bugged me a lot, and mainly because of Rhimes' bragging. I stopped reading the writer's blog after last year's finale because she seemed to have her head so far up her own "twosie region", as Zach Braff might call it, that she doesn't realize how silly her plots are sometimes. So, hearing her say that she doesn't follow TV conventions, then seeing her follow a convention as old as TV, makes me wonder what color the sky is in her world.

Oh, and Izzie's speech was great until she ripped Callie down. I mean, her best friend is near death; I don't even know how George's marriage would even be on her mind. Only people at Seattle Grace think like that. Not real humans.

Anonymous said...

nope. my spoiler avoidance was not as complete as I wished it could be. Denny and Dylan slipped thru the force-field. Would have been more fun if they had not.

As you say, you can't kill the lead, and also as they say on ER, You're not dead till you're warm and dead

As for Izzie, Callie didn't belong in her little speech. The rest of it, however... the whole scene, with steamy and dreamy and izzie hugging cristina...

it's just unfinished. and I can't feel a lot till it's done (though I'll admit, I couldn't understand why George wasn't getting his Meredith page, till I realized he had to have *his* story completed first. Kid found, kiss averted by the need to be sterile, George was free to be paged.

Derek crying over Mer is still heartbreaking. Her friends (and even Burke/Shepherd bonding) equally so. And Addison? Loved it.

So one more week... I preferred when they could have their arcs finalize the following day. (and did anyone discuss Marti Noxon's addition to Grey's? She and Shonda are writing an ep. Will it be as depressing as season 6 of Buffy? (was this it?))
And yet, it's nice to see her name.

And driving home in the car with the mp3s -- could someone please get Zach Braff to sing more? He may not be great but... I like listening to him.

Anonymous said...

PS -- wish I could remember seeing Fiscus's afterlife, but I do remember his getting shot. And if I'm really really lucky, it's the only St E ep I have on tape...

...somewhere :-/

Pam

Christy said...

I was delighted with the idea of killing off whiny Meredith, not truly believing they would. But the closer to her really being dead they came, the more disturbing I found it. So. Worked for me. Nice to see Denny and Exploded-Cop again.

Are they trying to make Izzie as unpleasant as possible? Are they disturbed that viewers have liked her better than Meredith? Have liked everyone better than Meredith? I'd rather see more bar guy than Meredith

velvetcannibal said...

I think Patrick Dempsey did an outstanding job in this episode. He normally just stands around and looks pretty. This time he looked pretty sad.

Izzie's speech was so poorly written. I cringed through it all, and the sudden turn to George and Callie was ridiculous. I don't think KH believed what she was was saying either. There were definitely other lines that were forced or out of character tonight, but that was the worst.

I still don't understand why this is a three-parter. I think these first two episodes could easily have been condensed into one with a little leftover. Too much wasted time and repetitive nonsense. One of the best scenes was simply ED sitting next to PD in the hallway and putting a hand of comfort on the man's arm. Eloquent, simple, powerful. With another rewrite I think the rest of this could have been like that moment. Guess I'll have to wait until part three airs before I can say for certain.

Anonymous said...

Here's the deal. While Shonda "borrows" heavily from old medical shows, she really relies on General Hospital. I think she gets away with it because not many people watch daytime soaps, or not many people admit to watching daytime soaps. The Izzy power drill thing was a lift from the premiere episode of the General Hospital spin-off, Port Charles, where one of the interns drilled into Audrey Hardy's head during a crisis. Because of that, I saw this one coming a mile away. Matter of fact, after I tally all the GH "story lifts" I'll send you a list. Still like the show but I wonder, in an interview, if Rhimes would be brave enough to list GH as a source (she wrote from home for a long time so who knows what happened in the dark hours of daytime) along with loftier more well regarded shows.

A "Grey's" fan that loves GH just as much.

Anonymous said...

and on the night of one of the best OCs ever.

Joel said...

Here's a funny turn of events: there are people leaving comments on my TV Squad review of the show who think Shonda is actually going to kill Meredith off.

The fact that she actually has anyone believing that Meredith won't make it makes me wonder if I'm not giving her enough credit.

Either that, or Alan was right; maybe I'm much more cynical than the average viewer because I "know too much."

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with the person who says Shonda has her head up her own ass. I swear, everytime she farts she probably thinks she's one step closer to solving the world's energy crisis.

Anyway...

I really haven't liked the last couple of episodes. They just do not feel like this show and don't feel remotely believable. I didn't really understand why Izzie's surgery was supposed to be so life saving. The man was still pinned under a freaking car. Shouldn't someone have been out there trying to get someone to help with that? And I didn't understand why in the middle of a gigantic medical emergency the Chief and McSteamy had time to sit around coaching Izzie on the phone or why doctors like Alex and George were being sent to do inventories on the victims. Every voice-over stresses how "important" and "special" surgeons are and then Shonda goes and treats them like glorified orderlies.

I also still don't understand why Meredith was in danger. Okay, the water was cold, but she wasn't unconscious. And she can obviously swim. So why didn't she just swim back to the dock?

Lindy said...

Put me down as someone else who hated Izzie's speech. I have never understood why Izzie is such a bitch about Callie. Come on, show, give me an even slightly credible reason for Izzie to be so ugly about her best friend's wife.

Old Man Snap said...

Excellent overview, as always, Alan.

One of the amazing things about Grey's is the audiences ability to relate to the characters. There hasn't been one show in its run that I haven't turned off the TV immediately reflecting on my own life and how any one of the characters spoke to me.

The overall theme of the episodes so far is "Do we really matter?" What would happen if I were gone? Who would notice? Addison's scene with Alex drove this point home.

I think too many critics are quick to point out that the show isn't being original right now, and I think too many critics are quick to take on the "OMG will she die or won't she" angle.

Grey's has always been about the audience's self-consciousness, and, by default, Shonda's ability to weave a compelling story through our own minds. Let's see what next Thursday brings before we talk about Magnum P.I., or, God forbid, Tony Soprano, in the same breath.

Let the metaphor be just that.

Dale said...

Saw the opportunity to comment on ST ELSEWHERE and how it forever shattered my opinion on the potential of televison, the one you mentioned above in particular was mindblowing at the time- only to be outdone by the series finale.


Howie, whatever happened to ya?
(now that you're more popular than ever)

Anonymous said...

Besides being a retread of the great St. elsewhere, the writers and editors screwed the pooch on the entire pacing of the show . . ..

As Meredeath was lost in the water . . the other interns had already returned to the hospital . . .the relatives were already camped out and grieving . . . .Izzy was still working on her drill bit surgery . . . while the morgue was filled with bodies already bagged? Never would the dead ones already be moved from the scene. triage demands the opposite. So the writers just wanted the scene of the interns opening bag after bag . . . .lame excuse. . .with no plausible reality

ER would never have cheated the facts of the time-line like that . . .

Heather K said...

The teaser for next week is what is really suckering them in. It is working the she is dead angle really hard, what with denny telling Mer she's dead. I could see where some people would follow that one.

floretbroccoli said...

I had heard about Jeffrey Dean Morgan filming new scene(s) for GA, but hadn't heard anything about Kyle Chandler.

Now, Kyle Chandler is on a show on another network. What I'm wondering is this -- his lines last night were entirely generic. Do you think he came in to film, or did they steal some scene from his previous appearance?

Matt said...

On the Grey's writers blog, Shonda says that Chandler flew in to do the scene on his day off. Classy all around--the FNL folks for letting him do it, Chandler for agreeing to do it, and Grey's for working it so he could do it.

Augie De Blieck Jr. said...

Let's not forget MacGyver, who had to leave his father behind in the afterlife on a cruise ship or something to come back from the dead.

Am I even close on that? It's been fifteen or twenty years since I watched that episode by now, I bet.

I'm getting old.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Shonda wasn't allowed to watch television as a child.

There's little else that could explain how she celebrates her "rule-breaking," third-rate soap opera.

A three-part "Grey's" is four parts too many.

Anonymous said...

They're teasing all of us who absolutely can't stand Meredith by dangling the possibility of her demise in front of us...Of course, there is no way they'll kill her off. Jack on Lost is more likely to be toast than Meredith (though I sure hope it's Charley, another teaser about killing off a character I can't stand). I think this afterlife thing was just an excuse for Shonda Rhimes to have Denny Duquette on the show again. She seems to have an unhealthy fixation on this fictional character based on interviews I've read.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately Meredith won't be killed off, but the cliffhanger does offer us a great chance to ask "what if?"....This is actually one of the only shows that I could see killing off the titular character and making it work (and work for the ultimate improvement of the show).

floretbroccoli said...

Thanks, Matt. And I thought I was being so clever.

Anonymous said...

I read somewhere else that there will be two deaths, with another one next week and only one of those will stick.. so that to me means Meredith is waking up.

The question then is, who will die and stay dead? Could it be McDreamy who kills himself in despair... a la Romeo and Juliet? or was there enough time to write off Dr. Burke?

If it isn't Meredith or McDreamy then Shonda did not break any rules but instead followed them to the letter.

anon said...

a

Anonymous said...

I remember that "St. Elsewhere" so well...especially since the Peter White character always disturbed greatly because he looked so much like my husband!

velvetcannibal said...

Oh man. One of the many anonymous people just gave me an idea with their talk about an actual death coming up on the show. Meredith is in limbo, right? And the other Dr. Grey just got out of surgery. Do you think Shonda's going to have the other Grey get into some kind of medical trouble too, and then we'll have to endure Dead Mer talking to Dead Mom in the afterlife or limbo or wherever she is?

I don't know if I can deal with that. But the more and more I look at it, the more it seems like a possibility. I hope it won't happen. Especially because I love Kate Burton and don't like the possibility of her leaving the show for good.

Anonymous said...

I agree with all the credibility issues raised here today. They lost me last year when George dislocated his shoulder and they put him in simple arm cast....however...
Meredith coming out of the water looking so dead was unexpected... although my view all week was that unless she was hiding under the dock she was already dead due to the kid's lenggggthhhhhy shots and that Denny was no doubt going to convince her to go back to earth...so what am I saying?... Kudos to the make-up people and the lawyers who let Kyle and Jeffrey do the show...and let's get Shonda a Netflix subscription.

Dark Tyler said...

Didn't like last week's time-waster, absolutely loved this one, though. Especially the final 15 or so minutes.

Regarding the obvious parallels this development draws to the recent storyline from "The Sopranos", I wanted to point out what could be the difference between them. Over there, Tony's journey in Purgatory was more like a chance for him to examine himself and to decide what, if anything, should he change in his lifestyle. (coming up with nothing, of course, this being Tony Soprano.)

But here, I suspect that Meredith's journey to DennyLand is essentially a chance for all the others to review their relationships with one another. Throughout the first half of this season, most of them have ended up with more reasons to not like one another, than stuff that unite them. Maybe this is what pulls them together again. Or maybe it's what finally drives them apart, based on Izzie's stupid rant in the end, I dunno.

I'm just sayin'. I could be way off here, but the reality is that Shonda practically killed her lead character in this episode, and yet most of us still care more about the rest of the characters. Maybe that was the intention. We'll see.

Anonymous said...

Can't they just kill Meredith off already and rename the show "Bailey's Anatomy?" Please? Mere could still do the voice-overs, like the woman on Desperate Housewives (haven't seen that in a couple of seasons, not sure if the dead woman still does voice-overs, but you know what I mean). Whiny, self-indulgent voiceovers? I can live with that compromise as long as I don't have to actually see Meredith ever again.

Chuck said...

The creepy kid reuniting with her mom was fine, McSteamy lending McDreamy strength with a brotherly arm-squeeze was nice...but Izzy's speech at the end was jaw-droppingly bad.

Anonymous said...

Everyone keeps mentioning Izzie's speech. Whereas for me, the whole Meredith death storyline seemed totally ridiculous. Um so she falls off a dock two feet above the water and supposedly drowns? Can't the girl swim or at least tread water? It would have been more believable if somehow in her fall she hit her head or got tangled up in something, but shot as it was just seemed stupid to me and frustrating. And seeing Kyle Chandler for two seconds at the end made me realize how much more I'm liking Friday Night Lights than Grey's these days!

Dark Tyler said...

I believe it was the frozen water than stopped her heart, or something. It's not that she didn't know how to swim to safety, it is that she physically couldn't.

By the way, since many mentioned the voice-overs. Boy, even when she is, we still have to suffer through those, huh? Show mercy Shonda!

Dark Tyler said...

"Even when she is dead", obviously.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...

Can't they just kill Meredith off already and rename the show "Bailey's Anatomy?"

How about Addison's Anatomy?" Or "Alex's Anatomy." Those two are the most likeable people on the show right now. Meredith has always been annoying, and after her speech last night, Izzie is jsut as bad.

I spent the whole episode annoyed that they were making a big deal about Meredeth, since there is no way they are killing her. Having Denny and Kyle Chandler back was nice, but obviously some kind of dream/excuse to explore her self-conscious. Of course, I have a friend convinved Meredith is actually leaving the show, so maybe I just watch to much TV.

Anonymous said...

I WANT MORE SEASONS OF ST. ELSEWHERE!!

It's not all Alan's fault, but he sure didn't help.

Just had to get that out.
So, those of you who consider Mer "whiny" -- I'm guessing you didn't like Ally McBeal either, or thirtysomething ;-) (I hear that was whiny too, but i was only 28something, so I had to watch it in reruns, and I didn't love it the way I do Ally and Grey's)

Pam

Anonymous said...

Twin Peaks, Ally, ER, House, Night Stalker, Bones, Grey's, X-Files, Medium---All had bizarro plots and characters but we love/d them. It is TV people!!!

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else think that Meredith went down for the 3rd time kind of on purpose? She just calmly went under, just like she did in the bathtub last week. Derek pulled her out then too.

Dennis Wilson said...

My prediction: Just before Meredith is jerked back from the afterlife, she'll encounter her just-arriving mother on the way in.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the other poster, that it seems to me that Mer was letting herself go into the water. She made it seem like she could just no longer deal with her life. You know, all that success, friends, great house, McDreamy - its just too much too handle. I am glad to see I'm not the only one she irritates.

How about "George's Anatomy" - he's my fave! Let the whiny one die!