Friday, May 23, 2008

Grey's Anatomy, "Freedom": Mojo circus

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?


Anonymous said...

Dead on, as usual, Alan. I thought the Rose bit at the end was odd, too. I was totally expecting a fiery car crash as a cliffhanger — as in, Meredith and Derek are finally together, and now he's in mortal peril! Oh, no! I expected it so much, I feel like I missed a scene at the end.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree although I found myself looking at the clock when George was on the screen.

One other thing... Shonda Rhimes should always be kept to one hour. Her 2-hour episodes are always overboard for me, though this one maybe less than some others have been.

Anonymous said...

I had no idea that being surrounded by concrete had the potential for so many different health problems.

(Not that I ever thought it was good for you)

I liked the idea of laying out the home in candles on the hillside, though. The romantic in me ate that up.

Grunt said...

I'm really pleased that they're going to have a George storyline next year where Lexi has a thing for George. I love Callie, but she was never right for him. Although I wish they hadn't made him such a man-whore first.

kp said...

a decent episode. the scenes with the brain tumor patients was the most choked up i've gotten since alex posted the pictures of the dead in the ferry crash episode.

i almost think too much damage has been done to this show for me to get excited about it anymore. derek and meredith, whose scenes used to captivate me, now bore me. all i could think about during the last scene is how she could have possibly found all of those candle holders.

Anonymous said...

When George, the goofy awkward character who bumbled around girls, slept with almost every female on the show, and when Izzy committed a jailable offense in unplugging what's-his-name, the show failed and never recovered. Haven't watched since.

Anonymous said...

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the finale. I agree that Justin Chambers was incredible. I couldn't understand why Alex was keeping Ava from the hospital, but then really appreciated the weight of it all due to that terrific scene where Alex explains to Izzie why he could take care of Ava. It was was one of my favorite scenes of the season, due entirely to Chambers. Really nice work.

Nicole Marie said...

I also hate the Callie/Erica storyline--for so many reasons! It was so predictable from the very beginning (the actress playing Hahn gave an interview where she talked about wanting her character to be gay), and so as soon as she became friends with Callie, it was obviously going there. Also, I think it kind of perpetuates the damaging stereotype that all gay people are predatory towards their straight friends. Add in the fact that Callie has always been written as extremely heterosexual and it just seems like a ridiculous stunt, much like the George and Izzie pairing last year.

But for the second episode in a row, Alex totally broke my heart, and I thought that was a well earned and great story.

Stef said...

I agree on liking Alex, Bailey, Cristina and George, and even the Chief, again so much more on this episode. Mer/Der are boring. I still like Sloan for comic relief. And I think that while George and Izzie were both horribly damaged by their awful storylines, they do appear much stronger when they are actually focusing on their work. I was very pulled in to Izzie's dilemma about what to do with her patient vs. Karev as her friend. And I'd be happy to have a whole year go by without anyother Izzie personal life story. For the same reason, I was bothered by the little Lexie crush moment - because I don't want to see shmoopy in-love George again, that was pretty awful. And it brought up the "Gee, you've slept with most of the other women on the show, why not the younger sister of the first one you were obsessed with??"

Anonymous said...

Also, I think it kind of perpetuates the damaging stereotype that all gay people are predatory towards their straight friends.

Maybe I'm forgetting something, but when has Hahn been predatory? I thought the kiss in the elevator last week was to mock Sloan.

Add in the fact that Callie has always been written as extremely heterosexual and it just seems like a ridiculous stunt, much like the George and Izzie pairing last year.

This, to me, is the bigger problem. Overall, the storyline is so problematic it has about 87 ways to fail. And like George and Izzie, it probably will.

I was "eh" on the whole episode except for Bailey's Han-Solo monologue, the Alex stuff, and Christina getting her mojo back. Oh, and the opening scene with Christina and Meredith ("Want to dance it out?"). I've always thought Sandra Oh and Ellen Pompeo have just as much chemistry (as friends, of course) as Pompeo and Dempsey.

Agnes B said...

[...]too much damage has been done to that character for me to respond to her with anything but white-hot hate.

I agree, 100%.

I gave up on this show 4 or 5 episodes into this season. It really was too painful to continue watching. I'm leaning towards jettisoning it altogether, in favor of Private Practice. It seems like PP gets a lot of hate from all of the blogs that I read, but I enjoyed it way more than Grey's this season. I feel like it has a lot to do with the character dynamics and the spirit of early Greys. Also the strength of Kate Walsh, in spite of the show basically being Ally McBeal, MD.

LK said...

I held onto Izzie, because she is the girl who bakes out her stress and mothers too much, the exact opposite of how every other resident behaves. And in this episode, she redeemed herself. Gizzie was a failure, but believable enough of a royal screw-up. Although I could have done without the repeated "I'm scared of saying no to Alex" lines, she came through in a way that
makes her more likely to be the next Bailey for those kids.
And yes, Hahn/Callie seems forced and could easily blow up into Gizzie 2.0: manufactured premise with nowhere to go but down.
And yet, it was the strongest episode they've had in a long time. I'm even willing to forgive Lexie crushing on George.

Anonymous said...

The end with Derek walking away from Meredith to break up with Rose seems like a bizarre way to write not just the end of the episode but the end of the season; unless they did it for a specific reason. My guess is Derek will have some sort of accident or something will happen at the beginning of next season before he gets back to her. (Which, I think, is a terrible idea. I just think that is where they are going).
I think Lexie & George is a coupling that actually makes sense. They seem like they would genuinely be a good match and the actors have good chemistry.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit this was much better than I expected, as I noted a few of the missteps you stated, as well, escpecially Derek leaving at the end...strange, made me think something's up.

Anyway, I thought the characters finally coming to credible personal revelations were well executed and the acting was superb. Loved Jurnee...kudos to her.

Yeah, I don't think the Callie thing works, sort of like when they tried to match George up with Izzy. Why make a character whose heterosexuality you've made a point of exploiting the last few seasons suddenly decide to switch teams? Makes no sense.

'Desperate Housewives' and 'Brothers & Sisters' have had much better luck integrating their gay characters storylines with lots more plausability.

Musings of a Perkinated Mind said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one to respond to Izzie with utter loathing. Nothing is ever going to redeem this character for me. Nothing.

With that said, good analysis. I pretty much agreed with everything you said, the highlight for me being the Star Wars monologue/pep talk. Fun!

Theresa said...

Overall, I thought it was by far the best episode of the season. I was bugged by the aforementioned annoying things, but I think that the thing that most irked me was the corniness of Derek and Meredith running all over town looking for each other. Hello, we know these people have cell phones. It just seemed like so much contrived drama...oh, wait, I guess that's kind of what this show is all about, huh?

That said, I really did like most of the episode.

erin said...

I thought it was terrific--I was pretty teary through most of the finale, and I haven't cared about any Grey's episodes like that since the first two seasons. I agree about the ending, but maybe Shonda was making the point that Meredith is supposed to be standing strong alone? She looked more lost to me. Regardless--Alex is the one character she hasn't mucked around with, and you can totally tell where his motivations are coming from. He's a really deep, interesting, well-written character.

Not feeling the Hahn/Callie situation, which sucks, because Callie is one of my favorites. I just don't think passion/love works like that, although it's been established she's a very passionate woman. I just don't see it. I think much of next season will be Callie backing away from her newfound gayness, and none of us will be surprised except Hahn. I just think it's unrealistic, but maybe GLAAD would say differently.

Overall, incredibly strong episode. I didn't know they could make such a comeback!

Anonymous said...

Bailey and her Star Wars thing.
The brain tumor couple (hey there LJ from Prison Break!) and their last conversation -- I cried a little.
Alex...everything Alex...sigh.
Meredith's psychiatrist
Meredith confronting the Chief -- go girl!
The Chief demanding that he be allowed to come home to his wife.
Christina getting her mojo back -- seriously...the show is so much better when she's a cocky bitch.
Christina yelling at Hahn (I REALLY loved that)

Lexie stealing the confidential files...are you KIDDING me???
Lexie crushing on George -- can we have a few episodes when someone is NOT in love with him...please? The man has to study for his test!
The whole Hahn Callie thing -- bad...very bad...very contrived. I actually wish they had made it very clear that han was a lesbian from the start -- I actually think that might have been more interesting...but I still think this might be a bad story line, similar to Samantha going lesbian for a while on Sex and the City. It just doesn't work.
The Concrete Boy...thought it was a fine story line until Lola (seriously? LOLA???) came in and kissed him. IRL, I'd have no respect for that guy if he took her back after that...I'm just sayin'...

All in all, I enjoyed it. I still really like Grey's...I don't expect to be intellectually stimulated with realism all the's not what I'm looking for in this show...LOL.

Anonymous said...

Also....want to add...
I wish they had played some of the George Michael song that is the title -- LOVE that song!

KaveDweller said...

Thanks for the name of the brain tumor girl.....I was trying to figure out where I knew her from. Of course, according to IMDB, the only place I could know her from is Full House. Which is sad.

But I thought it was okay. I actually liked Mer/Der at the end until the odd thing with him leaving. And that is amazing, because I HATE Derek.

Sara Ann said...

Was no one else bored by Karev's storyline? Don't get me wrong, Chambers did great stuff with that final breakdown, but everything leading up to that felt predictable and repetitive. We already knew he was the child of an alcoholic, and I'm pretty sure they've discussed before how he took care of his mom more than the other way around (and even if they haven't, it's a big enough TV cliche we could have put the pieces together ourselves), so all I could think during every one of his scenes was, "We know, it's his mother all over again, WE KNOW." Then he left her alone with a big ole knife. Well, duh.

I can't be alone in this reaction...can I?

Jennifer said...

Wow, I think everyone is painting the Callie-Hahn situation in black and white. I was really impressed with the direction their storyline took, and I am looking forward to it come fall.

I think Rhimes' intention was Callie saying, "I care deeply for this person, so I'm willing to give it a chance." That her newfound love interest a woman is just a side note (and what caused Callie's initial hesitation). Sexuality is not black and white, there is a lot of grey area (omg, totally pun intended), and I applaud a show for exploring it!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Alan! I knew I knew the actress playing "brain tumor girl", but you giving her name...well, of course it led me to the IMDB. I'm usually much better at recognizing people, but where I know her from is a fantastic indie movie, Eve's Bayou (1997.) I do not think anyone will be disappointed if they rent it. She's probably about 8 or 9 in this film, but her performance is fantastic. Also, the director, Kasi Lemmons, was Jodie Foster's FBI training partner in "Silence of the Lambs." Alan's on the lookout for this actress; I can only imagine the great things she will accomplish.

KaveDweller said...

Sara Ann - I agree that the Karev storyline was a little predictable, but I was just happy it gave him something to DO. I would like if next season we got to hear a little more about what is under his layers.

Anonymous said...

JennJaroch -- there's another Silence of the Lambs link, too.

Did you remember that Hahn is the girl that Buffalo Bill tells to "put the lotion on the skin?"

Jurnee Smollett was also in "The Great Debaters", which is just now out on video if you missed it at the theaters last Christmas.

Anonymous said...

Re: Derek going off and getting killed now

nope - that was ER

i loved Alex as well. FINALLY!!
he's not nearly as "over it" as he proclaims

Der leaving, Mer screaming: apparently Shionda hates warm and fuzzy. but i can live with that. What bothered me more was her giving it away in advance. All the meataphors have been flying right over my head since I know already how it ends.
bad move.

really good ep, though, file stealing notwithstanding.

Johanna Lapp said...

Was it just me, or was there some connection between Bailey's chat with Cement Man about Han Solo and McSteamy steering Callie from the threesome idea to Hahn solo?

Anonymous said...

Renton: I *do* remember Hahn from SotL. She's very hard to forget.:|

I also can't forget b/c I use lotion so much that my husband quotes it at me constantly. He has a "strange" sense of humor. ;)

In fact, if you want to see a very on the edge, but fascinating movie watch Brooke Smith in Series 7. It's part surreal black comedy; part reality-TV spoof; part thriller.

Thanks for the tip on The Great Debaters. I'll definitely rent it esp. now that I know Jurnee's in it. :)