Season Nine so far is an absolute blinder. If you tolerate the creative license – which, let’s face it is a necessity with this show - Love The One You’re With continued on the journey through new territory with new characters at new locations, proving that a show can mature gracefully with both style and substance. I continue to enjoy being triggered in unusual ways by rich deep storylines and by actors given material that really tests their metal.
It seems that Grey’s Anatomy has finally grown up, no longer are stories zipped through accelerated time (mostly). Characters are not expected to move on quickly. If anything, Season 9 is allowing us to see deeper into the doctors’ real vulnerabilities and take us on their journey to exposing them and healing their wounds. You might say that we’ve always been allowed to see Meredith and Cristina do this, but gone is the Grey’s melodrama. Now we have untheatrical truth, in almost all the characters.
The devastating plane crash of last season’s finale remains the focal point of the plot for 903 as the victims of the tragedy are forced to make a decision: financial or moral gain. Okay, this was no Sophie’s Choice but it was a decision of enormous personal consequences.
And this is where I have to switch my mind over to the aforementioned creative license. The pot of money offered was huge. They all said it, but I don’t understand what they would have lost if they had accepted it. Surely it's a legal requirement for air crashes to be probed by independent investigators? Especially when there was loss of life or injury? In that case if the airline company were found culpable surely the doctors’ moral victory would be in individuals of that company being arrested and charged with manslaughter? Yes the docs might have reason to then go after a bigger pot of money - but they all said the amount offered was already huge. I struggled with that technical point, as I also struggled with the relative ease of Zola’s adoption, and other glossed over plot points over the years. But I can forgive it because the execution of “the decision” was flawless, the writing, the directing and the acting.
This was comprehensively demonstrated by the outstanding Sara Ramirez who sparkled through this episode, delivering an abundance of feeling through an entire range of emotions. Callie was not on that plane but no one can deny that she is as much a victim of the crash as any of those who sat and starved in the woods for 5 days (is it 5 days, can someone confirm?). That is not to deny the pain and suffering of those who did but to reinforce the point that there are always indirect victims in any tragedy. And Callie is it. No one knows that better than Derek. And arguably no one has collectively lost more through this devastating event... and yes I anticipate some arguments J
|The many faces of Callie.|
She is losing or has lost the two most important people in her life, and if one assumes she is still estranged from her mother then it’s only logical that there are not many people left for her to lose. She made a decision that was her own personal ‘Sofia’s’ Choice (no pun intended) and suffers the consequences of a decision that was the right one for her wife’s life and limb but the wrong one (I’m sure only for now) for her wife’s spirit. Sara Ramirez carried her character through this episode exceptionally well. Presented with a script that required her to move from comedy, to teasing, poking fun, to professional leader of more junior doctors, to devastated partner and emotional collapse in 42 minutes she glided effortlessly; seamlessly taking us with her, and we believed it. Completely. Few characters have ever been required to do that. It’s usually Meredith, occasionally it’s been Cristina. Both those actresses have done it very well and Ms Ramirez is surely now deserving of equal status not just in storylines but in acting accolades as well.
Callie’s journey does not stand-alone of course and three other doctors remain uniquely attached to her and this story arc. Arizona’s painful road to recovery was gut wrenchingly played out with a superb, understated performance from Jessica Capshaw. In her first scene if looks could kill then Callie, and most of the viewing public, would be six foot under by now, in a grave above Mark probably. What a shame it’s taken the writers over 3 seasons to give JCap the high quality material she can quite clearly deliver on screen. Where was this writing in Season 7? Saying that however, I like to look at the upside, I’m a glass half full person, and say that perhaps this performance and hopefully the concluding performances of this story allow us to really highlight the breadth and depth of Arizona Robbins and the scope of JCap’s talent.
|If looks could kill|
After the shiny happy people of Season 8 we are suddenly right down to business with this couple. Arizona who, one would imagine, found herself sitting in a pool of urine for 5 days in the woods dipped to the bottom of the humiliation toilet bowl by facing this same issue in her own bathroom, with only Callie, her ‘MFEO’ wife, as both the focal point of her incalculable rage and, seemingly, her only savior.
If this is the Callie and Arizona we get for Season 9 then we are assured of a terrific, emotional, dramatic and heartfelt ride.
The other understated very pleasant performance award this week goes to Mr Patrick Demspey. I don’t often single out his acting skills. Generally I find him somewhat middle of the road as an actor with a more limited range. However this story line is good for him. Derek is a key influencer in “the decision” (and let’s face it only him and Callie really think about it in any depth). He is the one whose conscience is triggered by the offer, who investigates the investigation and who presents the moral dilemma to the group. Here we did not suffer from the arrogant surgeon of old but the wise, thoughtful, generous soul deeply affected by the deaths of his wife’s sister and his best friend, knowing that presenting such a dilemma hits Callie hard. I loved this arc and I am so looking forward to more from his interaction with Callie.
|Hair you could just run your fingers through...oops sorry, carried away there.|
I’m going to call “Jury’s Out” on Alex again. I have to. Otherwise I will spend multiple paragraphs complaining about this terrible, boring, repetitive storyline they are writing for him with the intern.
Dear producers – we’ve done the Intern (young resident) v Attending romance (Meredith & Derek, Cristina & Burke, Mark & Lexie blah blah). We’ve done the “man-whore made good” with naive beautiful Intern (young naive beautiful resident) – again, Mark & Lexie. We’ve even had Callie telling the man-whore to stop sleeping with the interns before, time warp back to seasons 5 and 6. Seriously are you incapable of going in a different direction with Alex. You even acknowledged it yourselves with Meredith “Alex is a diseased man whore....again”. Enough. Buck up. Get creative. You did it with Derek, Callie, Arizona, Cristina, Meredith. Do it with Alex. Please. Sincerely, Brou.
Okay, that’s enough. The jury’s out because I’m remain hopeful that Alex’s story will be flushed out much better in later episodes when the current humdingers, like missing limbs, have calmed down. We don’t want ALL the good stuff at once do we?
The surgical landscape has changed within SGMW. There are four senior doctors out of the picture, two permanently, two physically impaired to such an extent that it’s possible neither will operate again; one resident has left, one is dead. Our fledgling surgical Fellows have to step up, even if they only look 12 doing so (seriously they need to cut Jackson’s hair because he looks barely pubescent), and show us that they are as grown up as this new grown up version of Grey’s. Well I guess we can’t have it all. Because we did regress back a little. Accelerated story lines were not completely left out of this episode as April’s journey back to virgin-hood lasted all of 2 days – or was it 3? Either way it was a farce. I am not one to complain about screen time usually, and actually still not here, but comparing the shorter quality airtime of Callie and Arizona with the longer rather annoying screen time of Jackson and April just illustrates that it’s always quality over quantity that wins all the time. As you all know I have little head space to tolerate Jackson but I have also always said that if he is to stay then the writers have to improve him. Jackson Avery is the character that comes out of this story arc in better shape. Taking Avery down the “good bloke” route is ultimately very boring (yes I know I want it all, I complain about Alex the man whore, now I complain Jackson the “good bloke” is too boring). But the writers are growing Avery up. He might look 12 but he no longer comes across as the immature incompetent. They still need to find a raison d'être for his character but they have at least made him slightly more bearable.
April – oh dear. That’s all I have to say about her. Shame really.
I’m sure I’ll have more to say about Cristina over coming weeks but one of my favourite scenes in the episode was seeing her vulnerable and making friends with her mentors, both actually, but the “he’s like a hundred” guy particularly. This is a nice device to use and I look forward to how it plays out.
|Good to see Cristina smiling again.|
Once again Bailey, (and Richard), operate on the sidelines of story providing us with comedy (but she does do it well) and life messages. Her post-its were particularly entertaining.
So Grey’s has grown up. We are now watching a show where the melodrama has minimized and the realism maximized. Where we can drown in deep storylines and relate to the characters more completely.
S***, am I still watching Grey’s Anatomy?
Ps. I’m not deliberately doing a bingo count on naming films and song titles...honest!