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Grey's Anatomy - At Last - Review

The VERY best episode of the season so far. Grey’s is killing it. Who would’ve thought that Grey’s Anatomy, coming to the end of it’s twelfth season, without the talents of Sandra Oh for two years, without Patrick Dempsey for one, could deliver such outstanding quality. This episode was good enough to be the season finale, yet the finale is still to come. It had everything; humour, grief, darkness, death, marriage proposals, break ups, make ups, sex in the on call rooms, bitterness, bitching, pulling people down, bringing people up, heroes, romance, arguments, arrogance, whining, isolation, happiness and most important of all it was a stellar example, a master class, of how to use the ensemble cast. Was it such a surprise that this was so good? No, not at all. “At Last”, the one where a whole host of stuff was completely shaken up, was written by one of the best, if not the best of the Grey’s writers, Stacy McKee and directed by the very safe pair of hands, that is Rob Corn. And I loved Every.Single.Minute. “At Last” showed us exactly what a great episode of Grey’s is and precisely why it’s still a number one show.

When the episode is so good for the ensemble it’s difficult to know where to start but the obvious place is with Meredith, who, in this penultimate episode, sank deeper and deeper into that dark place she knows all too well. I have previously criticised how Grey’s Anatomy covers the subject of grief. With death an almost weekly occurrence it’s easy to think that an ongoing theme is grief but it’s not. The loved ones of George, Mark and Lexie moved on pretty quick. Of course people grieve not only for those people they’ve lost but also for other losses in life. I could write an essay on the lack of grief in the show associated with relationships. Let’s take one of many examples – in order to fast forward the grief process for Meredith over Derek with an enormous time jump they necessarily fast forwarded an already brief grief process for Callie and Arizona’s relationship. Arizona and Dr Herman have the female equivalent of a bro-mance (feels wrong to call it s sis-mance) and Callie starts to date again. But the writers have changed the ‘grief’ mould with Meredith. After the worrying fast forward we are finally allowed to see a character pushed and pulled through various stages of the emotional grieving process. Meredith is a complete mess and the best bit is that she knows it herself. And though her speeches are intensely annoying, we know they are part of the chaos of her life. She’s so very pissed (off – for my British friends), she’s irritated by ‘happy’, by ‘romance’. She’s jealous of Amelia’s ability to get on with life without Derek to the point that she thinks Amelia is imitating him. She’s not. We know she’s not because we know how vulnerable Amelia is and how far she’s come. The incredible self-awareness Amelia showed with Owen when he had his melt down is a testament to that. Amelia did not deserve to be lectured by Meredith. While we cringed behind our fingers at Meredith’s insensitive and misdirected speech we know that behind it Meredith is carrying enormous baggage. I’ll give the writers a pass on this. I know that part of the reason for the thoughtless rant was to stir up the sisterhood for season 13 but unlike “court room Callie” this time I can see the method in the writing madness. At the end Meredith is angry at the world when Riggs walks into her path and something unexpected happens. Didn’t we all see the blatant flirtation over bacon? Personally I’m rooting for Riggs and Maggie but then I can also live with Alex and Maggie….

Amelia, in the meantime, took Meredith’s words and used them for good, by proposing to Owen. If only it wasn’t Owen otherwise I’d be made up for her.

The sisterhood will hit some rocks in season 13. And why not? All of Grey’s relationships have a lovey dovey season and then hit the rocks, just look at….well all of the other couples.

So, talking of Callie (well I did briefly above)…oh dear. Callie has isolated herself to the lab, apparently avoiding any contact with her friends. Penny is given a great big shove. Did Penny deserve to be so ruthlessly tossed aside by Callie? No, even Meredith managed more compassion or sympathy for her than anyone else in the episode. Penny's departure from Callie's life (we don't know yet if this is a departure from the show) is a symptom of a bigger problem for Callie. Unfortunately the writers boarded this particular story train weeks ago. They must follow through and Penny and Samantha Sloyen are the necessary though for my part, unwanted, casualties. If I were Arizona I’d be doubly angry with that little gesture. Finally Arizona has the opportunity to tell Callie what she thinks which sends the latter away with her tail between her legs. I find it difficult to stay angry with Callie and though I think she did wrong by Arizona she is very conflicted. I wonder if her forced of voluntary isolation is a hint at something to come. Don’t do anything stupid girl…

Alex and Jo finally hit a big rock when Jo finally refused his actual rock (keep it clean please). Stephanie called it ages ago and we should’ve seen it coming from that. We don’t know why. We don’t know if they are broken up – though if you look on twitter and tumblr you’d think they are. She’s said an emphatic no. While throwing the relationship under the proverbial bus is not in the least unexpected, none of the couples are surviving season 12, I like this particular method. Finally this romance is getting some teeth…

Stephanie finally had her Denny moment or is it a Henry moment…as Kyle shuffled off this mortal coil at the hands of Amelia. We all know that Amelia is not to blame but I fear that Stephanie will not accept that. Despite the insufferable moments when she spoke out of turn to Kyle and his family or when she undermined Amelia’s decisions this story finally allowed Jerrika Hinton an opportunity to bring Stephanie to the show. I enjoyed the moment when Jo was sent to stop Stephanie from watching. There was an inevitability about the whole arc but even so it was presented beautifully. And so another lovely partner bites the dust. The fallout will hit Amelia but I hope that by now she’s developed Teflon skin.

The very enjoyable Jackson and April arc was quiet but effective this week. I haven’t written as much as I wanted to on this couple this season but I will summarise by saying that their story is highly engaging. Perhaps, and rather sadly, because it’s the only relationship with proper hope. The ‘almost’ tummy touch at the end was warm and rather lovely.

Bailey and Ben skirted around each other, each trying to out do the other with their friends. Ben’s complete assertion that he is right is rather annoying because frankly he’s not. While I recognise that Bailey is the Chief of Surgery not anaesthesia one has to worry about the person who is. Ben has been suspended because of his arrogant and irrational medical decisions. I wouldn’t want him in charge of putting me to sleep. Much as I like him, he deserves a humbling six months naval gazing.

The ensemble writing master class was really illustrated with Richard. His initial moment in the show was funny and warm but played for the purposes of telling others’ stories not his own. His participation in the episode was minimal but maximised to the very best effect in one rotating scene which ended in the elevator. His thought process was exposed completely in a scene lasting surely no more than a minute, circling from Arizona whining, Jackson and April awkward and Bailey and Ben frosty. As the doors opened his sweetheart appeared and he was over come with gratitude. When handling a show with many characters you don’t need big long scenes for powerful moments. Even few and short scenes can be enormously effective. This writer and director get it.

Unlike some of the other ensemble episodes this season, everyone appeared. Even DeLuca, whose outing was short and incidental. Hopefully season 13 will be kinder to him than seasons 11 and 12 have been to Jo and Stephanie.

I know that many fans criticise the show for too many regulars and often this criticism is warranted with very poor writing. Of course there are episodes which must focus on few characters in order to develop the stories. Sometimes however the writers get the ensemble so right that we can’t decry it because in it’s own way it just works. "At Last" was a joy to watch and I almost wish it were the finale.

Stacy and Rob…. Please write and direct more…and more together.

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, Broadchurch, Catastrophe and despite her better judgement Madam Secretary. 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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