Good day to you all. I know what you’re thinking – “where the hell have you been/oh God not you again” (delete as appropriate). Yep I’m back with a review after a forced hiatus. To be honest from your perspective it’s a good thing I missed reviewing a couple of eps because one or two things have caused me to throw mugs of tea at the TV, strut around in a strop and condemn the writers for ineptitude. Harsh? You’re right. I’ve enjoyed this season 9. It is one of the best in the Grey’s modern age (the MAGIC era seems sooo long ago now). And the low points have been very few, though noticeable. In an effort to catch up I will plough through 912 review and make references to previous.
Grey’s Anatomy Season 9 is flashing past us like a high speed bus straight out of a Sandra Bullock movie. We are at the half way point and, as if they haven’t suffered enough, the staff at Seattle Grace Mercy West have met the full force of the enemy and go into the second half of the season drawing battle lines with the money men. Or to be more precise the “efficiency money surgeon” aka Alana Cahill. Hat tip goes to the writers this season who have generally succeeded in giving Grey’s a fresh appeal whilst keeping our comforting familiarity. 912 Walking On A Dream was no exception as regular characters were challenged in new ways and new characters reminded us of the challenges of being new doctors, unsullied and unleashed.
Arizona kicks off (no pun intended) by leading us into a world that most of us will never have to experience – pain from a source that is no longer there. It’s conceptually weird yet frighteningly real for sufferers. Had you told me a year ago that Jessica Capshaw would be given such a storyline I would be skeptical about her chances of delivering the kind of performance that would do it justice. And yet here we are. I have been impressed with her ability to bring an understated depth to this wounded character, consistently. As frustrating as Arizona’s character is, by portraying her in this quiet and very subtle fashion it’s a very honest performance. As a stand-alone solo character story line taking us through the journey of a regular character with an amputated limb is fresh yet respectful television. But Arizona is not alone. She’s in a marriage and she’s a mother and this is where the story arc gets frustrating. This couple have never communicated well – though lets face it, which couple on Grey’s can ever boast that – but I think the writers are missing a trick here by forcing the viewer to fill too many of the gaps themselves.
So far the only real communication between Arizona and Callie we’ve seen is a quick chat on the bed in the hotel at Bailey’s wedding – “Callie, please don’t run.” The irony of that statement was not lost on me. But that’s it. The writers could be getting Callie into Arizona’s head, communicating, talking, amputating her almost cement like pride. Because as much as Arizona is being written true to character – keeping everything locked away within – their storyline would be so much more insightful if they used Callie to bring her out. But I fear as the episodes move on that this will not be. Their solution will be re-igniting their sex life when Valentine’s day comes around because fixing ‘horny bear’ Callie is the way the writers habitually repair this couple.
Side point: did anyone else think when the ‘survivors’ all had dinner together last week that that was a promotion of Callie and Arizona to lead status? And, speaking of that dinner...yay! Meredith outs herself as being with child and the whole Grey’s Anatomy universe trembles with excitement with loud exclaims of “FINALLY! It’s about time Shonda!” Well MerDer fans anyway.
Meredith eventually got back on a plane, loaded with pregnancy hormones, a sycophantic intern with verbal diarrhea in tow and a bun in the oven. And who doesn’t like overly emotional Meredith. It is a bit weird, all the crying, especially from someone who doesn’t cry much (we will forget about the
crying wailing in 824 when Lexie died, not EP’s finest moment). All the way through season 9 so far we’ve seen confident, capable Meredith, to a point where I was unsure how they would take her character forward, and whilst I still am pre-occupied with this (hope it’s not just pregnant Meredith) the usually put together new attending was shown at the mercy of her hormones to Derek’s delight, Shane’s dismay, and our entertainment. I felt for Shane. As irritating as his character is sometimes there was no way he was going to do anything right with a hormonal time bomb as his boss. It reminded me of watching “cold turkey pregnant Callie” jumping on a man’s pelvis with Owen whilst barking orders at April in her caffeine withdrawn state – one of the better season 7 moments. I didn’t think Ellen Pompeo was comfortable in this ‘eratic’ format. She is generally at her comedy best during the dry one-liner ironic humour, but it was enjoyable to watch all the same.
In more ways than one this episode saw the return of Derek Shepherd, NeuroGod. Callie’s hand, full of ping pong practice had its first outing and in true Shepherd style started big and bold. Of course the surgery was never going to go wrong (I don’t think my heart could take another ‘Callie confidence beating’) but it was reassuring to see him back in the game, taking risks. Patrick Dempsey’s presence in the show hasn’t diminished despite his character’s absence in the OR which illustrates how well the writers have done well with his storylines. Derek was also back to his arrogant self in other ways (we all secretly like his overconfidence anyway), which I hope aren’t to his cost. The introduction of Alana Cahill to the staff as the efficiency surgeon has brought out the firecracker in him again, immediately resenting her interference.
Now, I’m getting off the fence and siding with Bailey here. Did these five brilliant surgeons think that suing their employer and winning a total of $75m would have no effect on that employer? Or on their colleagues and friends? The plane crash lawsuit has skated around the boundaries of reality, even my one year of law school can figure that. And now the claimants in this lawsuit are faced with the fact that their award for painful damages comes at a price others may have to pay. This is not rocket science and I love Bailey for driving that message home. This sets us up for our second half season drama and for a season finale. The (threat of) hospital closure would be an appropriate end to either the season or the show.
I’m enjoying the partnership of Bailey and Meredith. Unlike the solo bravado of Jackson or Cristina these general surgeons working together feels more natural and realistic.
Side point: Bailey and Ben – cutest Grey’s wedding ever? Ben was hot!
The most entertaining subplot in 912 came from the ever-reliable Cristina whose hunger for pushing the boundaries poked through her new found teaching maturity and amused us all in the conference room. Gotta love Cristina, an unlikely hero of sick African kids. Taking time off from having sex with her ex-husband Cristina reminded us that she remains focused on one objective in life – cardio God - and had us in stitches watching. It was also good to see her in the OR with Arizona and Alex. Though to be quite frank it was more of a relief to see Alex in the OR at all. More on that later.
Unlike season 8 where we watched the slow painful destruction of their post traumatic stress marriage the Cristina and Owen of season 9 is a mature insightful one, specifically from Owen. Though Cristina along with Meredith are the two residents from their cohort who have matured the most. I have never been a big fan of Owen but his character has softened where the writers have shown him to be more sensitive and insightful that we have seen in earlier episodes. His stepping in to help Arizona is stroke of writing genius, on the surface it’s through his experience as a trauma surgeon and seeing patients, and friends lose limbs but underneath he sees something of himself in Arizona, wounded pride, unable to ask for help.
Having agreed to keep the Africa project our new efficiency money surgeon started to poke at the stalwarts of SGMW. She turned on Webber. Realism aside I am looking forward to the development of this story arc, in the hope that we get to see some nasty goings on – Grey’s is always so nice. Cahill, without doing appropriate homework turns on her former teacher by issuing a veiled threat about his surgical hours. And the whole of the Grey’s universe stops screaming with joy at Meredith’s pregnancy and shouts indignation at the impudence of this interloper who insensitively jumps on grieving Richard. Well I know I did. I became defensive and aggressive. Bring it on lady!
Side point: One of my favourite sequences not only of Season 9 but of the entire show was of Richard at Bailey’s wedding, especially with Meredith. This was exquisitely written and directed. Meredith and Webber have not always been steady but this moment showed they were family.
I’m grateful for the relative low key participation of Jackson this week. For his own safety I feel he should stay low key or I’m likely to take a swipe at him. I want to erase his appearance in last week’s 911 all together. He was disrespectful to a senior attending, Arizona and he trampled all over April. Uncool. And really, can someone tell me when he became such a great surgeon? He nearly killed someone in season 8. Someone get him a new mentor now!
And whilst we’re on the subject of irritation. Wilson. Please leave.
I’m grateful that Alex was back in the OR this week, relieved, happy, yes, all of those. Two consecutive episodes of the Alex and Jo ‘forced friendship’ show were enough for me to seriously consider ditching Grey’s. An episode without their manufactured fake artificially sweetened friendship was a welcome relief. We know where this is going – from friends to lovers. There is no substance here. Jo’s sob story does not move me the way Alex’s did and still does. The cupboard remains bare for a decent meaty Alex storyline. It’s almost as if the writers have lost all will to either challenge the character or the actor. The character of Jo Wilson is bland and affected, in some instances too Izzie like. The other interns are infinitely more entertaining and significantly less feigned. And by the way where were Leah and Mousey (Brooks) who in my opinion are the best of the bunch, with the most potential for character depth. I missed them. Shane does have some interesting qualities. I think he is genuine (e.g. when worked with April in outpatients) but he’s also just a little bit creepy; his monologue about Meredith’s second tri-mester particularly so. The other intern, sleeping with Jackson, is quite forgettable.
Dear Jo (actually Dear Writers) – one month getting drunk with Alex does not a sister/brother relationship make. And stop calling Meredith Medusa. It doesn’t work.
Dear Alex – it may surprise you to learn that you are no longer an intern. Therefore you don’t have to behave like one any more.
Finishing up I must mention April. Of the season six in take April showed the most promise. Her shooting scenes exposed not only character but also great performance from Sarah Drew. Since then the writers have disassembled her character, in the same way they have done to Arizona up to beginning of season 9. Drew, a very strong actor, has been given sub standard plot lines to work with during season 7 and 8 particularly but this week (and in 908 Love Turns You Upside Down) we finally saw her stand on her own and it was a joy to watch. The very best bit was the final moment of recognition when she realizes that the paramedic had asked her out. There was no nervous fluster or self degradation. Just recognition and joy. While I concede that Sarah and Jessie do have a nice chemistry, after last weeks “I’m sleeping with the intern” I’m officially rooting for April and Matthew (he’s the paramedic, I had to google).
In summary this was a highly entertaining mid season episode marking a strong beginning to the second half and exciting new story lines. Grey’s Anatomy remains fresh and decidedly watchable.