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Grey's Anatomy - I Choose You - Review




A Grey's episode with an Alex story at it's epicentre almost always produces an exceptional episode. If I think about this episode and only consider the Alex 'tiny human' story it was exceptional. If only the episode had confined itself to Alex. It didn't, and we are the poorer for it and season twelve is the lesser for it. I Choose You, written by William Harper, directed by Rob Corn was an example of brilliant television entirely spoilt by political agenda. I'm imagining a writers room where the brainstorm of the day is "which causes can we raise front and centre in episode three". I wanted to know about Alex. My heart was wrenching for the decision he had to make and I emulated the pride Arizona showed in her former protégée. And then every five minutes I was bombarded by a misplaced and frankly shamefully poor attempt at women's equality. You will find no one more enthused than me protecting the rights of women in the work place and this cause is worthy of raising in a show based around a place of employment with a large proportion of women. However, the very worst thing a show can do is force it down our throats. Yes. I'm angry.

The episode was grounded well enough. Treating twin babies with identical life threatening complications Alex deliberates over a Sophie's choice decision about which twin to save. Doctors prioritise patients every day, whether that be about what treatment to provide or who to treat first. Unconscious as many of these decision are, when the choice penetrates a family we know we're in for heartbreak. Justin Chambers was awesome, so much that I fail to understand why he's so absent from the show most of the time, present in every episode but too often marginalised. One good Alex story is worth a dozen of Jo or Stephanie. The weight of responsibility was heavy on Alex's shoulders as it became increasingly obvious that neither twin was demonstrably sicker than the other. Arizona's welcome intervention, reminding us of mentoring times past when these two regularly shared surgical screen time, proved to be a warm blanket of trust and truth enveloping Alex, giving him the clarity and focus he needed. And then the sour aspect of this story arrived with the now permanently whiney Jo, coupled with extraordinary poor timing, moaning that Alex hasn't promised her babies. It was a valid question for Jo to ask - do you want children - but the execution of it really rammed home the message that this character is immature and lacks even an ounce of lateral growth or awareness. Readers will know that I have never been a fan, so beware of bias, but surely tapping your boyfriend on the shoulder and demanding he explain his previous marital decisions when he's come home for a couple of hours of sleep in between figuring out which child will die is a signal that this relationship is burdened? The retrospective continued of course with the references to Izzie and the cup action from season five - in real life time six years ago but in Grey's life time, seven or even eight. These hat tips to past stories are welcome, even if the current context isn't.

But from here on in the episode stuttered into melodramatic and rather annoying territory which had me seething on my sofa. The writers generally shy away from demonstrating the rather mundane matters in life. Indeed if I were new to Grey's I'd struggle to realise that Meredith has three young children (two under five) and that Callie and Arizona have one pinging between homes. The moment the writers decide to delve into the humdrum they decide to pick an issue - pay equality - and then choose to do it supremely badly. There were so many things wrong with Meredith's story arc that it's difficult to know where to start. Meredith's new contract for Chief of General Surgery has arrived in the post. The first person to open it is Maggie who, by virtue of facial expression, gives the game away that something is not right. Then Meredith fires it under Callie's nose who then does the same, going further by bragging about her enormous salary. Am I to believe that Maggie and Callie are the beacon bearers for demanding bigger salaries. And what on earth was Webber doing confronting Bailey about it? When did this become an issue about gender equality - in which version of Grey's Anatomy are Maggie and Callie men? If I wasn't mad enough the conclusion of this segway threw me into rage. Is the way to encourage equality in the work place getting women to suck up to the boss and demand more money just like men are perceived to do. Why did Bailey say "well done" after Meredith demanded more money? What was good about not being paid her worth in the first place? Bailey gave her the job, the real equality would and should've ensured that she was given the salary she deserved commensurate with the role she was assigned, IN THE FIRST PLACE. THAT would've been equality. Instead Bailey under paid Meredith and expected her to demand more. Shame on you writer and shame on you Shonda. And then, if that's not all, a competent board of directors should know exactly what the pay scales are for senior department heads, even if they don't know individual salaries. Perhaps the real flaw in this story is the severe absence of men in the show to use in a gender equality episode. It's nice to have women in senior positions but if you're trying to make a point about gender equality in pay then at least use men as your benchmark and not two female doctors, one of whom is your sister.

Speaking of sisters… Amelia… kids lick seats! Kids lick everything and you should know this because you live with three kids. Honestly, I like the 'girl power' focus of season twelve, and I'm not a prude, but I don't need to know that Amelia goes commando.

The other major plot line going on of course was the disintegration of April and Jackson's marriage and her descent into bunny boiler territory. This is "shout at screen" television. April appears to imagine that her two tours of volunteer duty taken without discussion with her husband are merely blips in the life of a marriage. Sympathy is most certainly with Jackson who finally shows some back bone and tells it like it is. It's an interesting journey for April but I do hope one that doesn't continue to portray her as deeply annoying. She had just become 'cool'.

The trouble with episodes like 'I Choose You' is that we cannot love them though we really want to. There was so much to enjoy with Alex that I tried to forget the annoyances but this proved difficult. Over all I did enjoy it, despite my angry bluster, the humour and the retrospective nods to Grey's of old were fun to watch. The heart break and heart wrenching moment watching Alex hold the dying baby made it worth while.

But I do so hope that the obsession with 'agendas' and 'causes' will be put to rest now.

About the Author - Brouhaha
Maxine (aka Brouhaha) is a fan of Grey’s Anatomy and writes episode reviews and occasional articles. Her other TV favourites include Foyle's War, Criminal Minds, Bones, TBBT and Broadchurch. She's just binge-watched Catastrophe and loves it! In real life she's a mum, self-employed and can often be found arguing about politics or current affairs, attempting to write fiction and buying hair products. Got a question - go to Tumblr ask!
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