For those of you who read my review of 804, It’s All About Men you may remember my warning. The same applies here...beware below: unedited, opinionated rant. Ok, I’ve reigned myself in somewhat, but objectivity has been challenging this week. Sometimes being a super-fan of a show is...just...frustrating and this week irritation bubbled over so much that I spent the vast majority of the weekend growling every time I thought about the episode and writing this review. I hated 811, This Magic Moment.
Now. Just because I hated it doesn’t mean it was a bad episode of course. There were a few mildly ‘magic’ moments, there was a spectacular surgery, plenty of humour, superb acting, and I am certain that at least one particular ship-dom are ecstatic with the new happy family. But beyond that, overall this episode was weak, inconsistent and failed to provide any logical story development. And Season 8 was going so well too. I was left wanting; confused, irritated, and deeply unsatisfied. I get the feeling this may not be the popular view, so let me get on explaining why I thought this an extremely poor episode and leave you all to argue your case against me below.
Follow through of stories from 810 was completely absent. There was no fall out from Avery’s mistake in surgery. Really none. To the point that two weeks after his erroneous performance (we know this because of Bailey and Ben – more on them later) he is trusted enough to not only operate on a Siamese twin baby, in a highly pressurised situation, but is actively encouraged to ‘race’ by his mentor; a fact, which Arizona (more on her later) quite rightly made a stand against but which was irresponsibly ignored by Chief Hunt (more on him later). I know what you’re thinking – Grey’s takes this liberty, reality is often suspended in this show, and you’d be right. But this episode was littered with these incidents, which merely makes it poorly written and executed.
Apparently Teddy is allowed to continue operating despite the fact that she is clearly, and understandably traumatised by the death of her husband. Her bullying of Cristina was unacceptable and despite Chief Hunt knowing this, he allowed it to happen, which clearly would put the health of her patients at risk. Whilst I fully understood the motivation behind this continual replaying of Henry’s unsuccessful surgery, in what hospital in what country would that be an acceptable practice. And then there was April. Unpopular as this opinion is, you all know I love April. And I was rooting for her to speak up. Her silence could only hold for so long until she blew, and delivered a rare moment of common sense in the episode. And what happened? She was ruthlessly put down. In 810 April sat and listened, as she was humiliated. In 811 she sat and listened and was shot down. I can only hope that the writers are building this up to something brilliant and worthy of Sarah Drew. As is usual practice now Sandra Oh knocks it out of the park with some exceptional acting and whilst I found the constant replaying of the surgery irritating and the writing unpalatable, the final scene with Oh and Kim Raver was quite brilliant. Both actresses shone.
Are we meant to guess how it is that Zola was returned to Meredith and Derek? Now before you all shout at me, I am ecstatic that Zola is back. I maintain there is seriously no cuter sight than Derek with Zola. I would willingly support ABC giving him a new contract solely on the basis of many and frequent McDaddy scenes. But surely we viewers deserve an explanation don’t we? Or are we just supposed to accept that the judge just ‘changed his mind’?
Now apparently Ben claims to know Bailey well. In his mind, after being reunited for two weeks, they are ready for the full on moving in together experience. In fact he knows Bailey so well that he thinks it’s ok to discuss it with her whilst she is performing surgery. But WE also know Bailey. We know that she is cautious, scared and does not make snap decisions. We also know that she HATES discussing her private life in the hospital, never mind in the OR. So how can it possibly be ok for Ben to bully her and then finally have the cheek to mock her because she wasn’t focussed enough to spot the missing swab. I am bewildered. I cannot decide whether this is shoddy characterisation or the building up of a plot for Ben. It must be the former, because in the end Bailey gives in.
Now these scenes weren’t all bad. Firstly we were treated to Bailey scenes in the first place, and let’s face it they’ve been rare in number this season. Secondly I loved the dynamic between Meredith and Bailey. This 'at work' partnership has so much to offer and I’m glad that the writers are exploring it more and more.
When will Alex get a break? This constant knocking him down is seriously tiresome. We know that Richard Webber can be a cheeky sod. He’s played the game before – with Owen – back in season 6. And whilst I love the fact that he’s become SGMW’s version of Yoda I fail to see why the target was Alex, nor what was gained by this ruse. I was cringing. And Alex! Since when does Alex give away surgeries? He never ever gives away surgeries. Ever. And even if he did, who wouldn’t give up surgeries to Yoda. Perhaps if this was the only ‘gag’ of the episode it would sit comfortably with me, but it wasn’t and so added to the catalogue of errors. Imagine, Chief Hunt reiterates over and over about rehearsals for this surgery, and then Alex voices his doubts and rather than really pay attention to why he’s voicing them Owen simply makes it open season to the other surgeons.
Chief Hunt. Is he really qualified to be chief? Let’s go down the list again. He apparently condones the ‘racing’ by Mark and the incompetent Jackson Avery. He allows Teddy to operate on peoples’ hearts whilst repeatedly interrogating her ‘student’ when she should be either off work coming to terms with her loss OR concentrating on the patient who is still alive and whose heart she has in her hand. Apparently whilst he insists on being in control of the Siamese twin surgery it’s ok for the surgeons beneath him to chop and change with no explanation. No. Owen is as incompetent a chief as Jackson is at operating on bones.
And what of Arizona, Pediatric surgeon. Finally we get to see the strong confident surgeon whose been missing for almost an entire season. And instead of allowing the head of pediatrics to run the show, instead of allowing the viewers to see her shine at work on HER patients she is marginalised and undermined. Yes, she was bossy, and over controlling. But weren’t they HER patients? She was invested in them, she is the pediatric surgeon. Perhaps I’m naïve, perhaps this was the job of the Chief of Surgery? Or perhaps this was another flippant and trite example of poor story telling. Having said that however amends were made with the brilliantly executed scene between Callie and Arizona at the end. What a relief that these two characters are being left alone to enjoy their relationship.
But as I mentioned at the beginning, the episode was not all bad. Meredith and Derek are now a family with baby Zola. Only 8 seasons and there we have it. I still think she’ll be pregnant by the end of the series but hey ho Zola is adorable!
Lexie provided us with our connection to the patients and Chyler Leigh with her usual well timed comic delivery. Indeed my favourite moment of the episode was the look on Mark’s face when Lexie spoke to him, as he realised what she was saying, just as he’s talking to his girlfriend. This story is a slow burn and I’m enjoying it a great deal.
This Magic Moment was not such a magic moment for me. I found the episode infuriating with a lack of follow through on story lines and poor characterisation. The series over all is proving to be a winner, I do hope that this contribution is merely a blip.
Up, down and weird...
Big up AGAIN to a Sandra Oh and Kim Raver. The writing of their final scene saved the storyline and the acting was exceptional.
Big down to the writer, Zoanne Clack, who produced an episode of sketches rather than story.
Weird – did anyone else notice that Jackson Avery was the only resident to actually perform surgery on the twins...
Worst line this season: Ben to Bailey “...I know you don’t have room in your life for joy”
Yes. I finished on a downer. Sorry. Unfortunately that’s how I’m feeling.
Screen caps still not available.