Friday, March 27, 2009

Grey's Anatomy, "Elevator Love Letter": A more-than-decent proposal

Spoilers for last night's "Grey's Anatomy" coming up just as soon as I knit a scarf...

Okay, the series is on a real roll right now. I can't really forgive the ghost sex or the interns starring in their own David Cronenberg movie, but if the rest of the season is as good as the last few episodes have been, I can at least try to forget that stuff.

Start with that horrifying opening sequence with Hunt trying to strangle Cristina in his sleep. Even though I knew it was coming -- Kevin McKidd had been making the talk show rounds to promote the episode -- it was still riveting because of how dead Hunt's eyes were and how Cristina wasn't able to get a sound out or even really struggle because of his size/strength advantage. Seeing her flail around, or some sort of insane look on his face, would have made the scene feel over-the-top and cheesey; this felt disturbing. I don't know if this is how PTSD actually manifests itself, but it seemed that way. And after being stuck on the sideline for too much of this season, Kevin McKidd and Sandra Oh are killing right now.

I thought Derek's proposal -- and Meredith's behavior in response to his earlier attempts -- was very grown-up and sweet, and reflected a relationship that's grown to be about more than the stupid will-they-or-won't-they drama. And the moment when Derek finally came out of his stupor and started telling off the oncologist was well-played by Patrick Dempsey, who's been doing some nice work during this arc.

Izzie's impending surgery, meanwhile, gave every member of the ensemble something good to play, whether it was Callie and George revisiting their divorce or Bailey being the only doctor who could control her emotions enough to visit Izzie, or, especially, Karev telling Meredith that he should have looked into the ghost nonsense much sooner. (You and Shonda both, buddy.) Every time I watch Justin Chambers get a showcase episode like this, I think about how lucky he is -- and we are -- that the "Cold Case" producers decided to can him after a few episodes, which allowed him to land this more demanding, high-profile gig.

"Elevator Love Letter" wasn't perfect. The storyline about the perpetually-dying old woman was way too obvious in the exact way the tone was going to shift from comedy to poignancy, and I think the time may be coming for me to write a screed about how every ABC drama is apparently required to use the same cutesy You Are Watching A Funny Scene Now music over anything even vaguely comic (which, again, is a network-wide problem, not something that's "Grey's"-specific), but overall, very, very strong.

What did everybody else think?


Pamela Jaye said...

I still don't notice the "funny scene" music.
The dying lady was okay, if obvious, though I wasn't clear, with all the "flying around," whether she kept trying to die at SGH (in which case, *someone* at SGH should have realized this) or she's been dying in various cities for years.

And even after havig seen it twice, I can't remember whether Mark was her doctor (if so, why???) or just brought in because he was the easiest person for Lexie to grab. The lack of non-star attendings makes this sort of thing annoying (was she dying from a terminal case of plastic surgery? if so, Mark did a terrible job)

I'd like to cheer the reappearance of one of my favorite Grey's cast members - the elevator. how i have missed you, oh elevator. looks like you were saving up, though! good work!

Honestly, I was so thrilled with the episode there's hardly anything to say. I did love when Callie called Mer at 3am, and when even the interns clogged the hall outside the OR (though I wondered who was working)

And I love the fan who suggested that Cristina handcuff Owen at night. But seriously - is there a treatment for PTSD of the sort that Derek mentioned? (I did love Owen's comeback on that, though - except for it reminding me of some character not wanting to upset the surgeon who was about to operate on their beloved - wish I could remember who that was. Denny? George's Dad?)

I hear that the elevator scene was not the last scene "so that Shonda would not vomit." For once, though, it seemed as if Mer & Der had a relationship based on something other than his McDreamyness.

And yes, Justin was awesome.
I also recommend removal of ceiling fans. Just now I think of Owen and helicopters and Romano springs to mind. But that would be making light of a very good storyline, by using a very silly one (and isn't it odd that, of the two, ER would be the non-serious?)

I read in the writers blog comments that we have to wait a month for the next ep! but at least I can watch ER finale in peace. (except that if I didn't, I could watch a Grey's rerun in sparkling HD, which can only be done live)

and I hate to say this but, in seaason 3, after the M&M on Denny, George threatened to call Izzie's mom to babysit her - and from Izzie's reaction, it seemed Mom would actually come (unless, perhaps, the psychics told her not to), so that fact that Izzie could very well have died on the table, with her mom 3 hours away (by car)... yeah, I'm the only one who would wonder about that.
I don't really wonder about Izzie and her mom, the way I wonder aout Alex and his "might as well not have" a father and status unknown Mom.

It didn't hit me till - no, it was on Rounds, when Derek said Hallucinations...

and yet, Izzie looks too good for someone that sick.

All of the above being mostly irrelevant,I thought it was an awesome ep - from a show that has, since season 3 lowered my expectations enough to think so. (I'm never going to get why Shonda thinks Derek is so darn dreamy. But Meredith - I love Meredith)

(I have a friend whose sister's husband has PTSD leftover from Vietnam. Grey's is making it sound far too easily treatable. Still I'm glad they chose to hang a storyline on it)

Stef said...

Kevin McKidd is amazing. I loved Rome, and you turned me on to the cancelled-too-soon Journeyman. I wasn't sure how he would fit in to Seattle Grace, but I love what he's doing with the character and he's giving Sandra Oh a really great partner.

Also agree with Justin Chambers, who's been doing nice work the last year or so, ever since they stopped having him just be the bad boy/jerk of the first few seasons.

The voiceovers usually make me cringe so I don't often pay close enough attention - was this the first time someone other than Meredith did it?

Alan Sepinwall said...

The voiceovers usually make me cringe so I don't often pay close enough attention - was this the first time someone other than Meredith did it?

No, they tend to mix it up at least once a season. I know they did a Bailey one in the episode where her son was injured, and I'm pretty sure we got at least one with George, if not also one with Cristina.

Anonymous said...

You may have already answered these questions already, but didn't Rhimes say that Izzie's visions of Denny wouldn't turn out to be the result of a brain injury? And didn't Karev see Denny himself at one point?

dark tyler said...

They've also done a very good episode with narration by Denny after his death, early season 3 I believe.

Another strong episode, this one. Seriously, if they're all so good til the end of the season I'm even ready to forgive the ghost stuff.

55 said...

FYI- the episode's title is a reference to the beautiful song "Elevator Love Letter," performed by a Canadian indie band called Stars. Great song, great band.

Pamela Jaye said...

nope Alex did not see Denny (though it may have looked that way, somewhere along the line) Also, I believe Shonda said Izzie didn't have a brain tumor. (though I didn't read those articles, as I don't trust even Shonda to not spoiler - is that sad? the queen of no spoilers has nothing on me!) and of course mets t the brain is only *not* a brain tummor if you are in politics.

Finally, i think Alan got all of them except for the season 2 ender (or near-ender) where everyone did the voice-over. I think the only way I can tell who said what was to watch the DVD.

George did the voiceover for the karma ep (I think. it shoud have been) What Have I Done to Deserve This - the one after he had sex with Mer.

Cristina did her in the ban robbery arc. Possibly From A Whisper To A Scream (I do forget which was which) Whatever - It was Thanksgiving of Season 3 and the opening was Cristina & Burke having sex, intercut with her running down a hall covered in blood.

As Alan said, Bailey's season 4 voiceover with her son's injury - I'll have to look up the title, stupid me - Lay Your Hands on Me. (the one with Abby Keaton (was she the first attending to have sex with an intern, or were they doing it on St Elswgere too?))

Apparently Izzie has not done a voiceover

Also Chandra sang in lieu of a closing voice over, somewhere in the recent crossover arc there was no closing voiceover
I believe Denny also did a voiceover, this season, in addition to his closing voiceover in season 3 from his parents' answering machine.

It's the ones I don't remember that scare me.
We've already established that I am addicted, so when I don't know - that's bad

Pamela Jaye said...

the lovely people who contributed to wikiquote say that this is the voiceover for the season 2 finale

Alan Sepinwall said...

FYI- the episode's title is a reference to the beautiful song "Elevator Love Letter," performed by a Canadian indie band called Stars. Great song, great band.

I think pretty much every episode title this year has been named after a song: "Life During Wartime" (Talking Heads), "Stand By Me" (Ben E. King), "Wish You Were Here" (Pink Floyd), etc.

Pamela Jaye said...

I knew this sounded familiar last night

Alex(closing voiceover): Doesn’t matter how tough we are, trauma always leaves a scar. It follows us home.

George: [voiceover] One way or another our karma will leave us to face ourselves... No matter how hard we try we can't escape our karma. It follows us home.

time to go read the writing credits

and we have a winner! Stacey McKee likes to repeat herself.

Linda said...

"Elevator Love Letter" is indeed a very good song.

And Alan, FOR REAL, if they don't stop that doop-dee-doop-dee-doop "funny scene" music, I am going to punch someone in the face. It causes them to choose between drama and comedy in scenes that should be a combination OF BOTH. I cannot understand why that's done; it's such a patently terrible idea.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I cannot understand why that's done; it's such a patently terrible idea.

As said, it's a plague on all ABC dramas, as if the network executives are terrified that viewers won't know how to feel in response to scenes without an obvious audio clue. It's their equivalent of demanding a laughtrack, I guess.

Pamela Jaye said...

I think pretty much every episode title this year has been named after a song

I've been told, for all the songs I didn't know, that only one grey's ep title *ever* was *not* the title of a song. I thnk it was The Self-Destruct Button (ep 1.07) They could have told me that one was as well, for all those I never recognized.

As sure as almost every ep of Scrubs starts with My, they are all song titles.
I *did* get confused when Grey's was titled My Favorite Mistake.

This year Shonda had me singing Dream a Little Dream of Me as well as that song from Scrubs.

Pamela Jaye said...

oops, I meant to add that I will look for that song, though, since it's "beautiful" (it may have to compete with I'll Follow You Into the Dark, though.

I should point out that my DVR, which I see every day, lists, like everyone else's DVR, the song titles. And so I see the Title, Dream... every day. I like the Mama Cass version. Is there another version? (it's an older song isn't it?)

Pamela Jaye said...

the other people on my Grey's list would like to add - something I forgot between last night and this morning:

Have the old lady sign a DNR!
I'm sure I was screaming that at the TV once or twice.

Johanna Lapp said...

Wiki tells us: Dream a Little Dream of Me was first recorded by Ozzie Nelson (of "Ozzie and Harriet" fame) and his Orchestra. Also by Wayne King and his Orchestra in 1931, Frankie Laine in 1950, Doris Day, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Dinah Shore and Bing Crosby.

Cass was a big fan of show tunes from her own youth.

Kacie @ Mixed Media said...

heh.... nice choice of words: "Kevin McKidd and Sandra Oh are killing right now."

I, for one, am so glad to see at least a little bit of recognition of the past between George and Izzie. Yes, we all hated it, but it ended with no reconciliation whatsoever.

erin said...

I thought it was wonderful. I pretty much cried my way through it, and when I got home from work, I watched it again. I rarely do that. Based on the strength of McKidd's performance (and my love for the character, who has been drawn and acted very nicely) I downloaded Journeyman. It's short (13 eps) so I figured I wouldn't have to spend too much time seeing it. Never saw Rome, but he has such a lovely intensity.

I was absolutely aghast--both times--at Christina's cries after the choking. Sandra Oh is just...remarkable. She keeps surprising me with her emotional notes, and she and McKidd have such a terrific, natural chemistry.

Loved the dancing between AZ and Callie--they were really cute, and I hadn't bought them as a couple before now.

I thought it hit only a few wrong notes (I too yelled about the old lady and the DNR, and I thought the actual elevator location was cheesy, but not the proposal that went along with it). Everyone was just on their game--very heartfelt, very beautiful. Even Derek didn't piss me off. It felt like old-school Grey's, finally!

P.S. And the song "To Build a Home" by Cinematic Orchestra during Izzie's surgery scene is just a fave of mine, ever since the Friday Night Lights ep in Season 2 where they all go down to Mexico. I hear that piano playing, and...hello, Tears!

Pamela Jaye said...

@Hannah: thanks!

@Kacie: did you mean "resolution"?

gotta love "Even Derek didn't piss me off. "

LA said...

Am enjoying the Grey's renaissance. Cristina and Owen continue to fascinate. Their scene in the on-call room was terrific (and hot). Less in love with the elevator scene. As if. Blech.

Pamela Jaye - I can't believe you haven't noticed the "this scene is lighthearted" music. Like Alan said, it's endemic to ABC dramas... Grey's, Brothers & Sisters, Desperate Housewives, Private Practice, they all do it.

Pamela Jaye said...

I really haven't. I've een trying.
I don't watch DH but I watch the others...

Unknown said...

The choking is indeed realistic with PTSD. It's one of the things that makes it so hard to live with someone who has it, that something may set them off, a sound, a flash, a nightmare, and they do things that would horrify them if they were aware.

I'd given up on Grey's Anatomy in season 2 as too silly but Hunt brought me back into the show, both in terms of the Hunt/Yang relationship and the PTSD. Kevin McKidd and Sandra Oh were amazing in this episode. And I'm very impressed with the writing and directing, which managed to take a horrific choking incident and end with a scene where they characters showed how much they loved each other, and it all made sense.

The rest or the show was interesting enough drama. Even the chief stopped being so annoying for a while.

Pamela Jaye said...

I love it! No one ever says the Chief is annoying. But he is! He used to wander te halls getting excited about fallen skydivers and such.