I risk alienating the masses here but I can’t be silent. After a fantastic start to Season 9 we were presented last night with the dud. Now. I’m a fair person. I will allow the writers and directors/editors (because both were at fault in this episode) one failure for the season and this is that one.
It’s easy to remember this episode with fondness and excitement, as the last image we see is Meredith finally pregnant, in the house that McDreamy built, with her arms wrapped around said Dream boat holding a t-shirt for Zola. But that just covers up many evils.
This episode failed on the basis of poor quality of writing (not the stories themselves) and woeful directing/editing. Both of these led to an amateurish feel and a cavity inducing earnestness; stories were predictable and over-sentimental, directing was blunt and unsubtle. I actually don’t know where to start so I’ll dive in randomly.
The breast grabbing guy – of course he has a brain tumour, of course Meredith is going to get Derek into consult and use this as a device to get Derek to get his hand sorted, in the “you’re the only one who can fix this guy Derek” kind of way. I didn’t feel it. Apparently it’s quite easy to get Derek to change his mind about getting surgery. What made this story worse was the unveiling of Izzie 2.0 in the form of Wilson the intern. Someone please tell me this girl is not the love of Alex’s life. Please. I beg you. Alex needs a strong woman, he needs his very own Meredith or Callie, not a baby brunette version of his ex-wife. Please say it ain’t so...
The liver transplant guy - the moment he arrived and his partner started handing out gifts we knew he was a gonna. But to make this worse we had to endure a painful over sentimental speech from him. We were meant to feel emotion in this scene, but all I felt was bile rising. We were meant to empathise (or something) with the intern who cries during the speech but no attempt has been made previously for me to care about this intern, whose name we don’t even know (we do, but great effort is made by Cristina for us not to know). So in fact I didn’t care about him. The message was that Cristina is going soft. Hmmm. I don’t know about you but I want her to be the normal acid tongued blade she used to be. This romantic medical story had a lot of potential, the subject in itself was not the problem. The problem lay in the over-done sentiment.
Derek’s hand – during 906, Second Opinion we had a superb scene between Callie and Derek, a moment of truth for them, which quite frankly has been swept aside. Never have I felt such a disparity between two consecutive episodes that highlight there are different lead writers than 906 and 907. Up rocks the Callie of old, lacking in confidence, all nervous and dithering and then also the Derek of old, a bit of an a**. I ask this question – was the writing bad or did Sara Ramirez just have a bad day at the office? My money is on the writing, because SaRa rarely ever has a bad day.
And speaking of bad days at the office, what’s happened to Arizona? Where is the BRILLIANT understated painful performance from Jessica Capshaw of the early episodes playing Arizona the tortured soul? Now we have this rather superficial ‘fake happy’ start back at work and an unwelcome return of the Season 7 Callie/Arizona awkwardness. Seriously, am I missing something here? I am not an amputee but I can’t imagine any amputee watching this would find it anything but condescending, patronizing and insulting. And since when have Callie and Arizona been ‘back together’ (emotionally) and on speaking terms? I am praying that the writers have more to come here. I am praying very hard that this is paper over big cracks that the writers plan to blow holes in in future episodes. I am praying on my knees that these aren’t Season 7 problems all over again. Though I will confess that it was lovely to see Arizona and Alex back together again – one couple that should never split up.
You know it’s a bad episode (for me anyway) when the Owen and Jackson stories were better than the others. And here they were.
Finally Kevin McKidd gets something meaty to dig his teeth into. I am confused by the crash action but I’m going to go with it as it slowly becomes more clear where they’re going. And KMK did a great job to move from ‘innocent sympathiser’ to ‘angry husband’. He nailed it with the “we don’t work” - the biggest truth so far from either of Cristina or Owen. His speech was probably the best writing of the episode. What I did like about this arc was the use of Webber as ex-chief. Once again he is the oracle in that hospital.
And it seems that Jackson can’t catch a break with the women. After all his years on the show I am finally seeing this character take shape. I did not see it with his relationship with Lexie which was fake and over-worked. But I see a more developed mature character with April. Unfortunately April herself is turning into Season 8 Lexie or more likely Teddy. She has no other story going on and very few interactions with other characters; even her trauma story was over taken by Arizona and Alex. I wonder if the plan is to exit her at the end of Season 9? This would be a shame as up to mid Season 8 April was a strong character (much stronger than Jackson) with a great back story.
And then there was the direction/editing – the shot of the lawyer passing the signed confidentiality agreement was over-shot, Alex eyeing up the intern in the bar was too obvious, Arizona’s fall in the OR was staged and fake. I know it’s a TV show, of course it was staged and fake but the idea is to make it look like it’s not with better angles, sharper edits... In fact her earlier shot in the OR, stretching was also poorly shot. This is a sign of not enough content, which is a shame because there is content waiting to be written here.
So was there anything good here?
Of course! Meredith is pregnant AND the first person she told was Derek. That makes us all happy. Bailey worrying about her Christmas wedding – now that’s an episode I’m looking forward to.
I imagine many will be ecstatic and declare this the best episode ever because we discover that Meredith is pregnant but that is, to quote the show (I forget who said it), a band aid to cover a bullet hole. The episode was written like a bad Christmas movie, found on Hallmark or TCM. And whilst you may think from this review that it was the worst episode ever, it was surely not. But when 901-906 range from pretty damn good to brilliant, then expectation for 907 is high.
There was one thing that I took some bizarre pleasure from though – the squeaking wheel chair - which reminded me of the film “Thoroughly Modern Millie” a very dark comic musical, set in the 20’s featuring white slavery – “Sad to be all alone in the world” Squeak Squeak. (If you’ve not seen the film then I guess you had to be there!).
I finish on a quote, which is probably relevant for both my review and for this episode – from Kingsley Amis...
“If you can't annoy somebody, there is little point in writing.”