It’s been a while and for that I’m sorry. Things got a bit crazy around here over the last few weeks.
In the meantime I can tell you I’m loving the second half of this season and it’s no surprise that the reason for this is Cristina and the wonderful Sandra Oh. If Oh doesn’t go onto great things after this then it’s our loss.
Getting down to business. How are we possibly going to move forward after Zurich? Seriously....I now expect a Cristina Yang spin off based in Switzerland where they print 3D hearts and create holograms of organs. How cool would that be? Episode 10.22 showed itself to be one of the best episodes of recent history, well written, well directed, exceeding the very good Cristina AU episode, which although pushing the story forward significantly was rather a stretch of the Cristina imagination (she would NEVER have a baby so showing her having one was a waste of an alternate reality). Dr Yang has lost the Harper Avery and through the follow up we are treated to a reunion of Cristina and her former lover and fiancé Preston Burke, an inspired storyline, handled exquisitely. I found it enlightening to watch Cristina with Burke (or more pointedly Oh and Washington) and Cristina and Owen (Oh and McKidd). Both acting partnerships worked but one, Burke, clearly has the edge when it comes to chemistry. Bringing Burke back was always a risk given his austere on screen character and the actor’s controversial departure. However it worked well because the episode relationship occurred independently of the hospital, where Burke could have no interaction with other staff or other politics. With the small exception of a nod to Meredith’s relationship with Cristina this story arc was entirely about these two characters and Cristina’s search for the next step. (I did enjoy Meredith’s voicemail reminding Cristina that his mother shaved her eyebrows.) And who would ever doubt that the next step is cardio greatness. Of all the wise words that have been thrust upon Cristina by Meredith and Owen since she lost the Harper Avery I believed Burke’s the most powerful “the fear that my best work was behind me, the pressure I put on myself was enormous”. This is what Cristina needed to hear. There are some defining moments during the 10 years of Cristina: my favourite moment is during Season 7, Adrift and At Peace, when she’s holding the fish. One further beautiful and critical moment occurred in 10.22: as Cristina looked at the heart hologram it was clear (as if we didn’t already know) that she would be leaving.
I suffer an internal conflict on one point of this story. In the AU episode, the second reality Owen is proved to be consumed by Cristina. In 10.22 Burke himself admits that he was consumed by Cristina and indeed if they ever worked again so closely together he would be in great danger of being so again. I believe that one person (man or woman) can have this affect in romantic partnerships but I felt that it took away slightly from the story of Cristina being outstanding at her job. Of course we know that there has always been this tension between a romantic life and surgical genius but really in my mind it’s always only been about Cristina the cardio God.
The nuances in the episode sharpened the story. We watched Cristina blossom as a senior surgeon by discharging Sabine and her family and by reminding Meredith that there was a patient story behind the Harper Avery nomination. The former was a beautiful piece of story telling to end a long (and much needed) patient arc. The overt message being Yang needs to go somewhere else to heal. The underlying softer message was to show the audience how much Yang, the master surgeon that we all knew she would be, has matured into a compassionate patient advocate. She was always compassionate but it’s taken a long time for that compassion to present itself in such a mature way. Teddy would be proud. The following two episodes will be the goodbye’s to Cristina we’ve been expecting since day one of season 10, as we watch the best character and, in my humble opinion, best actor leave the show. I wonder if she’ll ask Alex to take over her position on the board....
I’m joking...in a serious way ....because I’m all beaten down with the Alex story. It’s almost the direct opposite to the quality of story telling that the writers have given Cristina. He’s left Grey Sloan too and no one appears to have noticed. I recently started re-watching Grey’s from season 1 (I’m awake in the night a lot now a days) and I can’t reconcile the Alex from the early seasons to this one. Of course he’s matured but he’s so absent from the storylines. His current story of working in private practice is so divorced from what’s going on that it’s painful to watch him on screen. Potentially this fail is down to the plane crash and the bonding of a number of primary characters in purchasing the hospital. Arizona became one of the ‘core’ by virtue of being in the crash and having won millions to buy the hospital. Jackson’s wealthy family donated a vast sum of money. Richard has now become a board member with his appointment of leading the development of the residents. Alex by circumstance is side lined/benched. It’s only natural his appearance in these last episodes is minimized to give Yang the screen time but what little we had was truly awful. I’m so sad about this. This beautiful, flawed damaged character is in need of surgery himself.
And no, Jo is not the one for him. I continue to be disappointed with this character, casting and coupling. Firstly as a woman having put three men in hospital Jo should be in jail – if Grey’s had introduced a male character who had put three women in hospital there would be an outcry of ‘he should be in jail’. Secondly she’s so immature I squirm from behind the sofa (more so than with the other residents). In episodes leading up to 10.22 she’s whiny and childish. I celebrate the fact that Callie has a new ortho resident to train, this is really long over due, but the fact that Wilson is all yeehaw about it makes me cringe. And here in “We are never getting back together” she is shown to be incapable of asking for help except from her boyfriend who’s left. I’m completely uninvolved with this character to the point of ‘I don’t care’ that she was failing at her job today. I repeat what I’ve probably said before in that Shonda will continue to force her in the show, they have come too far now not too but they do need a bit of a re-think about how she is portrayed.
All residents are whiny and childish however the Grey’s game has changed now that all of the former residents are fully fledged attendings. The show has moved on.
It’s obvious that not all of residents will return for Season 11. The most tolerable this week was Stephanie who both saw through Bailey and gave her a big boost to her ego. It would be better for all concerned if the Grey’s of Season 11 concentrated on the lives of the attending surgeons and introduced residents only as props to move storylines forward...perhaps the same model as used in the Fox show Bones with the interns.
The other doctor being sidelined currently is Bailey. It must be so hard for her to watch all her charges get Harper Avery nominations or sit on the board of directors of the hospital while trying desperately to find her own success, her own miracles. This week it’s obvious that Bailey has done something which may be seen as unethical and despite the obvious delight and pride in results so far, the fact that this is episode 22 gives me such an awful feeling about season finale. The first of the season finale clouds appears and in a rather sad way I’m hoping we get a Bailey cliff hanger.
As one much loved character departs so we see an attempt by the producers to boost the cast permanently with the guest appearance of the Caterina Scorsone as Amelia Shepherd. This is another smart move on top of bringing Burke back for a one-off. Scorsone can never be a replacement for Oh but Amelia is a strong character with a rich back-story that would add a wonderful fresh appeal to the show following Yang’s departure. I hope she stays.
Toward the end of the episode I swore I could hear a country song in the background in the form of “stand by your man” as April shouted down Webber. April who has worn a look of ‘woe is me’ for the last few episodes finally got some peace as Jackson showed up in the chapel declaring that the promise of waffles would lure him to the pews every Sunday. I’m glad this has been resolved. As someone with personal experience growing up in a Catholic v Atheist household (it is possible, though not always easy) I was somewhat frustrated with April’s lack of respect for Jackson’s point of view. Though I concede that it evened out their struggle and the compromise was nice.
Note: It seems that Shonda can’t go one season without either introducing a baby or covering up a cast pregnancy.
And speaking of babies...not much happened this week with Arizona and Callie but it is worth pointing out that fans are getting what they missed out on twice so far with Sofia and with the miscarriage. These two are into serious planned baby making and bringing us along the road with them, the name game being a perfect example of that. But just like with Bailey though I can’t help but feel that a dark cloud looms overhead.
I’ve not written much about the music lately. The music on Grey’s has always been a key differentiator from other series and has introduced us to many new bands and new music. But...is it me or is there a copious amount of cover versions going on this season?
Episode 10.22 allowed us to see Yang’s future and have confidence that she’s going on to bigger and better things. We got to see where she’s going to live, where she’s going to work, and what she’s going to work on...printing 3D hearts, and it was illustrated with graceful writing and sensitive directing. Bringing back an old romantic adversary was inspired. By showing us all of this Shonda and her crew have shown great respect to fans by reassuring the audience that all will be well for Cristina and that her journey to being a cardiothoracic God is just about compete.
Unless that is, she gets hit by a bus in 10.24....well... it happened to George.