Last post until after Memorial Day, most likely. "Grey's Anatomy" season finale spoilers coming up just as soon as I alphabetize my M&Ms...
Mission accomplished -- mostly.
Shonda Rhimes said the strike gave her the opportunity to take a look at what needed fixing om the show. Most of the stories written about this epiphany implied that it mainly had to do with the need to finally get Meredith and McDreamy together once and for all, but "Freedom" suggested that Shonda is aware that the problems went far deeper than her main couple, and that she was determined to fix as many as possible to start next season with a clean slate.
I don't care about Mer and Der at this point (if I ever did), and their reunion ended on an odd note, with Derek leaving temporarily to break up with Rose. (It's an honorable decision for the character, but it sucked some of the air out of the episode's final moments. Better that Derek had already broken the bad news to Rose, even off-camera, beforehand; he already seemed to want Meredith back even before she made her big speech.)
But I did, at one point, like George and Bailey and Cristina and some of the other characters, and Shonda finally recognized that an entire season of watching them mope was a terrible miscalculation. So Cristina gets her confidence back (and, as an added bonus, finally realizes she should be teaching her interns, albeit in cold Cristina style), George fights to get promoted to resident status (no idea if it's possible in mid-year, but it's not like anything else on the show is realistic), and Bailey gives up the clinic so she can focus on surgery and getting her family back together. (And while I hated seeing her marriage fall apart, a story where Miranda tries to fix it should be a much better use of Chandra Wilson's talents than the clinic, which was always just an excuse to give her something to do since Shonda didn't know how to write personal storylines for the character in the healthy marriage).
Add to those developments some very good guest star acting (especially by Jurnee Smollett as the surviving brain patient; I've had my eye on her since she was a 10-year-old on an "NYPD Blue" episode, and she's going to do great things as she moves into adulthood), a hell of a performance from Justin Chambers (Karev being one of the few characters I didn't grow to hate this year), and some good humor (Bailey's Star Wars monologue) and I could definitely see myself watching a show like this next season for more than masochistic reasons.
That said, some caveats. First, I'm already on record that I don't want Callie and Hahn to be a couple. Not to ruin the stereotype about guys loving to watch girls make out and all that, but this seems much less a natural progression for Callie than, like the clinic was for Bailey, something the writers came up with for an underused character to do. Also, I don't care how many speeches the writers have Bailey or Webber or any other authority figure give about how much Izzie has grown over the years and how she deserves a responsibility like the clinic; too much damage has been done to that character for me to respond to her with anything but white-hot hate.
But this was at least a step in the right direction, something more than just lip service to all the things we've been complaining about for a long time now.
What did everybody else think?