Spoilers for last night's crash-tastic episode of "Grey's Anatomy" coming up just as soon as I find my "Radio Days" DVD...
Figures. A couple of days after I complain about Shonda preparing to do another disaster episode, it turns out to be by far my favorite episode of the season. In other news, I wore a heavy sweater and a heavier coat for the Thanksgiving drive yesterday and lost five pounds from sweating in what turned out to be a 70-degree day. (I blame Jack Donaghy.)
In doing some pre-emptive complaining, I focused too much on last year's underwhelming ferry crash three-parter and completely ignored that two of season two's highlights were the train crash episode and the Super Bowl bomb two-parter. It isn't that Shonda can't write disaster episodes; she just fumbled last year's.
As with so many things "Grey's," there wasn't a lot of reinventing the wheel going on here. "Homicide" and "China Beach" both did variations on the story of a dying man being kept alive only by unusual pressure (a subway car for "Homicide," a pair of pneumatic pants for "China Beach"), and one of my favorite Peter Benton episodes of "ER" featured him missing his mother's birthday party because he had to save the life of a skinhead with a knife in his chest.
But as with so many things "Grey's," the ideas mattered much less than the execution. James Pickens Jr. and Chandra Wilson were superb throughout their two stories (Pickens doesn't get nearly enough credit for the gravity he brings to this often-silly show), and the two paramedics trapped in the rig came off as real people and not object lessons for how one of the doctors should be improving their life. I do wish, though, that when Meredith started babbling about her role in the soon-to-be-widow's story, the Chief had simply said, "Meredith, this isn't about you," but the rest of the storyline was put together so well that I didn't get too annoyed.
There was an urgency to these proceedings that was missing throughout the ferry crash episodes, which seemed less about the disaster at hand than about Meredith's latest fugue state. Here, there was a nice balance between plot and character. We got a glimpse of Bailey's marital troubles, but it didn't slow the momentum of her case, any more than Karev trying to juggle two women distracted from the heart patient. After last week's iteration of Life Is Just Like High School, it was refreshing to see all the characters acting like grown-ups -- or, at least, like college students -- and the George/Izzie time was virtually nil.
There's still time to screw this all up -- none of these stories may turn out to need two full episodes -- but this was the most I've enjoyed this series in quite some time.
A few other brief thoughts:
-Great job by the makeup department on Seth Green's exposed artery. I couldn't even look at him in the final scene, even was before it became obvious that it was going to burst in mid-flirt.
-For a few minutes there, it seemed that the swastika plot was heading in a direction where it turned out Gale Harold regretted the thing and was just ashamed to have any black doctors see it -- which would, in turn, explain his concern about his black partner -- but the later scenes suggested he was unrepentant. Where are they going with this?
-Geez, Jane Doe: if a guy risks his career to slip you into the viewing room, the least you could do was not strike up a conversation with the girl next to you in which you quickly admit you're no supposed to be there and who snuck you in.
What did everybody else think?