Friday, November 07, 2008

Grey's Anatomy, "Rise Up": Hahn solo

Spoilers for last night's "Grey's Anatomy" coming up just as soon as I get some cadavers...

I don't think I ever need to see Jeffrey Dean Morgan's face or hear the words "Denny Duquette" ever again. I appreciated that Erica Hahn said virtually everything about Izzie's continued employment that a lot of us were howling about back during the original storyline, but since Izzie's obviously not going anywhere, why keep picking at this particular scab?

Unfortunately, Dr. Hahn is going somewhere, and will not be seen on the show again. Given that this was the last episode Brooke Smith before was abruptly fired, I suppose we're supposed to assume that Erica will resign in disgust, off-camera, but not report the hospital to UNOS. What a lame exit. Unless Smith herself was causing problems, ala Isaiah Washington -- and that's not at all what I'm hearing -- then it's self-defeating to dump her without giving her a proper on-screen departure. Even if the ABC executives were all grossed out by two girls kissing or whatever (because, you know, who wants to see that?), this episode provided the perfect opportunity to get rid of the character without actually having to bring up her sexuality again. Even if you ignore the apparent close-mindedness of the move, it was just a stupid business and creative decision.

Beyond those two irritations, there was actually a lot to like about "Rise Up." Start with Bailey and McDreamy's case, which was the season's latest great showcase for familiar TV faces of a certain age -- in this case, Bonnie Bartlett and George Coe. In a weird way, "Grey's Anatomy" is starting to turn into a latter-day "Love Boat," in that "The Love Boat" used to feature three stories an episode breaking down along demographic lines (one young couple, one middle-aged couple, one older couple), which not only provided something for everyone in the audience, but also provided occasional employment for aging actors who were no longer in demand for steady work. Based on how the Emmy guest actor nominations are dominated by familiar faces who have a lot of friends in the Academy, I wouldn't be surprised to see next year's categories dominated by "Grey's" guests like Coe, Bartlett, Bernadette Peters and Daniel J. Travanti. Coe's despair at his wife's impending death -- and Bailey's own refusal to let go -- was one of the season's most touching moments, and one of the rare times when the obvious parallel between the patient's problem and the doctor's didn't bug me.

Meanwhile, Kevin McKidd got to tear into Cristina and Karev for treating surgery like a competitive sport when it should really about lifesaving. These sorts of lectures, which the show does once or twice a season, are always walking a fine line -- yes, it's appalling on an objective level how the docs behave sometimes, but the competition is also one of the show's most distinct and entertaining aspects -- but this was a good one, and made better by Cristina standing up to Hunt and telling him he might not want to be so quick to judge.

So, a mixed bag, with real-world idiocy and the resurrection of a storyline I despised marring what was otherwise another solid episode for this "Grey's" comeback season.

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

Really expected to see more re:Hahn's departure. Couple of good oportunities in which she could have quit, or been fired, and they were wasted. Particularly when she was in the cheif's office lambasting him for not doing anything about Izzy. He could have fired her right there.

By the end I was resigned to the fact that we'll get some follow up in the next episode about how Hahn decided (off screen) that she wouldn't be returning to Seattle Grace. Lame.

I agree, too much Denny in this episode. Leave the man to rest already. The single moment at the end was great. "You need to leave so I can move on", beautiful.

Christina's explination of 'why she is the way she is' felt... cheap. One or two lines about her father, and we're supposed to accept that as the reason why she treats patients like obstacles to conquer? Didn't sit right with me.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Travis, I don't think anyone had any idea that Smith was going to be fired when this episode was written.

Anonymous said...

The ending with Izzy (Denny vanishing then re-appearing behind her, her horrified look, and him asking her "are you sure you're alright?") felt like a horror/ghost movie. Are they trying to say she's literally having hallucinations and has a mental illness or brain tumor or something?

Anonymous said...

Alan: That would explain it, thanks. Guess this show was already 'in the can' as they say. Had I not known the pending outcome (and assuing they do next week what we all predict) her sudden departure wouldn't be a surprise.

Anonymous said...

I didn't have a problem with the lesbian aspect of the Callie/Hahn story. And I thought both actresses played it well. (And as a visually impaired person, I remember the leaves on trees revelation as a child)

What bothered me about the whole storyline was that Hahn became "Graced"... meaning she began acting like all of the others at Seattle Grace by sharing too much personal information and leaping into self-reflective, self-absorbed diatribes directed at perplexed people who were doing seemingly otherwise normal tasks, prior to being interrupted, telling you all of her feelings and flaws. I do find that type of dialog entertaining (though it's always strange how people start with the super serious revelations that normally would take hours (and usually a few drinks) to get to, and it fits a number of the characters (Izzy, Meredith) but NOW EVERYONE does it. I liked Hahn much better when all we knew was that she was a top-notch bad ass surgeon.

One more thing.. I think they are underusing McSteamy. Is he going to get an interesting storyline?

Anonymous said...

Personally, I'm sick of these increasingly common scenes in which -- after all kinds of terrible behavior has gone unnoticed -- one character finally has to tear into all the others about their personal and professional deficiencies (which, in most cases, are the only things that make them interesting). It's as if the writers and producers are lecturing us, the audience, for wanting to be entertained.

Anonymous said...

I loved the scene with the elderly couple and the dying wife, heartbroken husband, Bailey and Shepard. Honestly, on this more than any other medical drama, I think the patient of the week stories are outstanding. Much more interesting to me than, oh say sixty percent of the nonsensery going on with the regular characters, Bailey excluded.

Pamela Jaye said...

Ah you made it - and without ER even! (good, cause I haven't watched it yet)

If I see Denny one more time, I will scream. But for this episode, I could deal with it. For me, it added something. (but really, if I see him again - he's come back from the dead more times than a character on Dark Shadows)

Hahn screaming to the Chief - it was good but it was not nearly as impressive as the main point of this plot:

Izzie having to face the human results of her decision to steal a heart.

To quote Hahn (on the same matter, but to Burke re: *his* aftereffects: being shot) - Karma Rocks!

No amount of the "punishment" SGH meted out to Izzie could do what this patient did to her (the doctor who cares "too" much about her patients (and I loved her comment about *that*)). She had to experience it.
Although her comment to Mer - "How much Denny are *you* experiencing?" was very funny.

Cristina and Meredith - and Derek's "solution" - just too funny. Mark does need a storyline of his own, but he was awesomely funny in this one. I love The Ellis Diaries. I love Cristina being totally oblivious of Mark hitting on her.

Hunt and his PTSD - three nights of no sleep? I've never seen true PTSD and can't say this is accurate, but I could understand his throwing himself into his work, and his looking at the SGHers as frivolous.
And then, when Cristina walked in and sat down, I knew (about a second before) that she was going to tell him. (although I didn't know the details). I wasn't sleeping when Mer was "dead" and Denny was telling her that Cristina watched her dad bleed out waiting for the ambulance when she was 9.
I also had a funny feeling that she'd know the patient's name too.
Awesome scene.

I also appreciated that Meredith cut off the end of the year that American Dreams Dad (and Grey's director) missed out on that heart. On a show where Lexie's intern year has already had two Octobers, it was a good move to say May 14, two thousand....
(I really expected that Hahn was going to be installing an LVAD - but what we got was *so* much better.)

Bailey and Derek - They have had so many awesome scenes, from the train wreck elevator scene, to the did I latch the baby gate, to the I was a geek in a band uniform, and more. And I also loved that it was acknowledged that Bailey is still working on her marriage. It was a nice crumb to drop for us. And the couple ("Goodbye, my love" had me crying even before she died) was a nice vision for her to work toward having.
And does Bonnie really look that old? I didn't recognize her at first.

Interns in the basement like something from Flatliners - learning the only way they could (no IV's in med school?) But when did Cristina inherit Graciella? Isn't she Izzie's? And I've heard Hahn say that Izzie is "inclusive" (back when she was reaming out Cristina for excluding her interns and doing everything herself).

I loved George and the dummy far better than that stupid talking elevator on the Private Practice Pilot. (even if the chief should really, really have better things to do). It was too funny when "the dummy" called Alex on his bedside manner.

I loved that Mer loved The Ellis Diaries and actually learned something from them (and wouldn't mind at all if Ellis came back - even if only to voice-over her diaries). I miss Ellis. (I loved that you thought Ellen was a different actress when she had scenes with Ellis.)

I am still irate that the writers were not warned of Erica's exit (I'm still angry she was let go at all). They could have added two lines to her tirade at Callie - That's it! I'm finished with this place! (and yes, it's true - she has been "Graced." That's a keeper)

Now I'm worried that some famous older actress will be by next week to ask for Erica's Heirloom Scrub Cap or something.

More wonderfulness -

Doctors Working, rather than having sex. People learning (even if competitively).

Lexie thanking the cadavers.

Alex picking the exact wrong day to gift Izzie with a bouquet of dead people to cheer her up. And Izzie apologizing for blowing up at him.

Alex and Izzie wrapped in each other's arms in the opening.

Izzie saying goodbye - finally - to Denny, to look up and see Alex there, waiting for her.

It being sweeps, and nothing blowing up or crashing. At least, not literally.

Did I happen to mention how much I loved this ep?
So much that I actually sat up to write this post.

Anonymous said...

I stopped watching this show for a season or more because of the Denny story. Leave him in the grave please!

It has only recently won me over again and they could easily send me running. There are other shows I could DVR.

Stef said...

I'm confused about the timeline with the Hahn/Smith story, Alan. If Brooke Smith was only recently fired, for some reason I can't fathom, then how long ago was this episode filmed? I thought the reason for why Hahn might leave SGH was reasonable, though not fully fleshed out, but the timing of the writing doesn't seem to make sense. I will definitely miss Brooke Smith, she's really been great in these last few episodes.

The final scene with Bailey, Shephard, and the older couple was just so beautiful in its tone and composition. For all of GA's failings, they occasionally do some things just so right.

I'm currently watching "Supernatural" on DVD, so it was a bit jarring to see John Winchester in that hospital room. Was there gonna be a demon?? :-) I know lots of people got tired of the Denny storyline, but I did love Denny himself and will always look into those soulful eyes when they're on the tv. Demon or no demon.

More McSteamy! And more Hunt! :-)

Dani In NC said...

I'm happy that someone has mentioned the Love Boat comparison. I've been feeling that way about Grey's Anatomy for a while. People have criticized shows like Will and Grace and How I Met Your Mother for doing the same thing, but I think the difference is HOW it's done. On Grey's Anatomy, familiar actors just pop up with no notice instead of being trumpeted for weeks. The Law and Order franchise also does this well.

During the first couple seasons, I barely noticed the patient of the week as I focused on the scenes featuring the regular cast. Now I think the best scenes are in the medical cases. As long as Rimes and Co. can deliver one weepy scene per espisode, I'll stick with the show.

Anonymous said...

Stef - I read she was actually fired in mid-October but it was kept under wraps until this past week.

Anonymous said...

It's shameful that the homophobic Isaiah Washington who assaulted another actor was given a better send-off than the classy Brooke White.

I'm so disgusted with this show and its horrible writers. The only consolation is that we won't be subjected any more to Shonda Rhimes's ridiculously ignorant views on lesbian and bisexual women. The way she handled the Hahn/Callie storylines was just stupid. Her dialog made me cringe.

Denny needs to go into the light already! I'm sick of his spirit hiding in the lockers and popping up everywhere. Somebody contact The Ghost Whisperer and exorcize him asap.

Pamela Jaye said...

Oh, one thing a friend mentioned. Of all people to defend Izzie, perhaps Callie shouldn't have been the one chosen?

Anonymous said...

Exactly. Why is Callie worried about saving Izzie's career after that homewrecker slept with her husband and ruined her marriage? Callie hated "Gizzie" as much as the fans.

Anonymous said...

ha- that's funny anon. brooke white was the mormon on american idol. i think you mean smith!

Anonymous said...

Oh gee. McSteamy has no storyline? Well, I guess they could turn him gay and put in him a "half-gay" relationship with Hunt...that should give him something to do. Then they can suddenly fire Eric Dane without notice. That works!

Anonymous said...

Oh, one thing a friend mentioned. Of all people to defend Izzie, perhaps Callie shouldn't have been the one chosen?

I totally agree. I thought it was the weakest, most unbelievable moment in the show. Callie would never defend Izzie. Ever.

Anonymous said...

I had the same question as you. Why bring up Denny-gate again? Since Izzie didn't suffer any additional consequences for her actions. On the contrary, she was shown to be the only (not even Hahn could do it) who could "save" Hahn's patient (by convincing him to undergo the second procedure)

So, my conclusion is: The purpose of this episode was:
(1) Simply to get rid of Brooke Smith/ Erica Hahn
(2) And take the opportunity to "redeem" Izzie as well.

Grey's Anatomy got rid of a wonderful character, and lost this viewer in the process - not so much for having done that, but for the way it was done:

- disrespectful, no class - i.e. Brooke Smith's firing is all due to Brooke Smith, and her alone.

- and assuming the viewers are stupid with their self-contradictory spin (re "lack of chemistry" when it was the unexpected chemistry in the first place that made them go down this unplanned route. Which they subsequently thoroughly messed up with their writing.)

Anonymous said...

Actually, I thought Callie's defense of Izzie was one of the few believable parts of the argument. She had acknowledged the facts earlier ("she slept with my husband"), so it wasn't like she just forgot about it. The part that stood out to me was the loyalty angle ("she's one of our doctors"). Something that Hahn didn't feel, either because she hadn't been at SG very long or because she never feels that way about other people. It's a little hard to believe that this hadn't come up before, but it could be a real reason for the two of them to break up.

Then again, maybe it was a(nother) case of a good actor selling a line which doesn't make a lot of sense.

Anonymous said...

I could have sworn I'd read an interview with Brooke Smith where she said they told her she'd been fired after the "I can see the leaves" episode, but before they filmed this episode -- wouldn't that mean they had time to modify the script, even slightly, to give her a better send-off?

Alan: I would absolutely love it if you would go back to the Grey's peeps and try to get a better answer from them about her departure -- or interview Brooke Smith herself. The limited comment so far has been of little help. If they really axed her to make their imaginary middle-American viewer more comfortable, I will seriously consider never watching this show again. But if there were other, better reasons for letter her go, now is the time to divulge them. You are always so good about getting us the scoop, is there anything that can be done here?

SJ said...

Is it just me or is "Denny Duquette" the funniest name ever now? Whenever I hear that I get ridiculous images in my mind. What a low point for this series.

Anonymous said...

Egads. I haven't even seen this ep yet, but I couldn't agree more, just the "next week" mention of Denny Duquette had me reaching for the Maalox. I don't know why but if I have to see his smug ever-smiling face again I will scream. That guy was ALWAYS. SMILING. No matter that the situation was. ALWAYS. SMILING. Someone keeled? Smile benevolently. Madly in love? Smile benevolently. Same exact smile, too.

I emailed a friend in horror at the mention of his name. Will definitely have to FF these scenes. Thanks for the heads up!

Pamela Jaye said...

please, please, no *more* Denny.

Is he going to become the sweeps stunt like ER blowing things up?

(he wasn't smiling most of the time, though. which was good, considering what was going on)

I just saw last week's promo (last ep's promo?) "Three years ago, Izzie..."
Someone needs to introduce the promo dept. to Shonda's timeline.

I've thought of going back and watching all the promos I've skipped, for fun.

I won't watch them (before). I never see closing credits. I want my eps all shiny and new.
Which was perhaps why I was so much more thrilled with last week's ep than... whoever. The only reason I had *any* idea that something Denny related was coming was because someone mentioned it.

Profberta said...

Think about this...Katherine Heigl does not submit her work for the Emmy's because she's disappointed in the scripts that she's been given. Could it be that she wants out? Maybe, because of Dr. Hahn, Izzy might lose her license, and Katie Heigl is free to make movies to her heart's content.

Pamela Jaye said...

If I'd been Katie last sason, I'd have felt un-emmy worthy too.

Did anyone (if anyone is still here) see Isaiah Washington's reaction to Smith's "being let go"?

Does anyone actually think there will ever be anything remotely scandalous that will ever happen on Grey’s ever again where someone in the press won't hunt Isaiah down for a "reaction"?

(e's brought to you by copy and paste)

Pamela Jaye said...

abc seems to have just announced the signing of Kevin McKidd. I thought they had signed him already. (and suddenly I'm reminded of how excited we were when Peter MacNicol got upgraded to regular cast on Grey's Anatomy)

so if they have only "lost" one cast member this season and have added what? 3? are they going to have to make a 16 month calendar this year?

How many cast members did Dallas and Dynasty (and more appropriately ER) have?