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Grey's Anatomy - The Room Where It Happens - Review

One of the reasons for Grey’s continued success and why I love it so much is the aptly chosen quality of music. Over the past thirteen seasons the music has often made the episode soar and at times the season. It has made pop stars out of unlikely bands and it’s made viewers cry tears they never thought they would.

The Room Where It Happens, written by Meg Martinis, directed by Debbie Allen, took us on an emotional character journey like no other and it was only possible because of a quite outstanding sound track. So good, that after the first five minutes, before watching the episode, I had to rewind the episode to the beginning to listen again. The opening scene as the staff prepare the OR was one of the best ‘scene setters’, and frankly this was thanks to the cello and piano of Booklyn Duo, covering Drag Me Down. A significant improvement on One Direction I must say. (Check out Brooklyn Duo’s version of Hallelujah).

This was not a conventional episode. Every season Grey’s treats us (mostly they are treats) to an episode which challenges our viewpoint. The makers of our show do not like us to always take the same route to work. Occasionally they push us along the scenic route, where in this case, the ongoing season stories were suspended for 43 minutes as the writers took us deeper into four characters. Meredith, Richard, Owen and Stephanie stepped up to the OR table at various stages of sleeplessness or irritating wakefulness, in the case of Webber, to operate on a seriously injured and thus very sick patient.
The narrative was essentially about Loss; the loss of a mother, a sister, a husband and a voice. Thanks to Webber, the patient was a manifestation of their loss and though him these characters worked through their pain in order to save him.

“After that I started changing the rules and it made me a better surgeon”

First up, Richard Webber, who although Stephanie imagines Brandon or Joanie, sees in his own thoughts his cello playing mother, Gail. Who is Gail and why do we like her? When he was ten he witnessed his mother dying quickly through pancreatic cancer, a silent deadly illness that sneaks up on its victim unannounced. While Richard teaches the other impatient doctors humanity and as the patient’s condition gets worse through multiple traumas Meredith pulls rank on Richard. It is a moment of arrogance and while she’s deeply annoying we know it has come from a place of significant fatigue. Richard works his way through to eventually acknowledging that personalising the patient makes him a more empathetic surgeon. I love that Webber takes this as a teaching moment with Stephanie.

“You don’t stop until you save them or you find out that they’re dead”

Finally we met Megan Hunt, the long and still lost sister of Owen. We see Owen work through his frustration and determination to save the patient, seeing the patient as a symbol of his fight to find his sister. It was cute watching them squabble until I grew irritated. I know, she’s trying to be that annoying little sister. But we had that already with Amelia and Derek and I was over that pretty quickly. It is now very much established that Megan is missing and not necessarily dead. I predict her return in the second half of season thirteen.

“If you got something to say, speak up!”

Stephanie’s is the only story I felt the viewer was short changed with. While the writers should really be concentrating on building up Jo I’m not complaining that they are focussing on Stephanie. Stephanie lost her childhood to severe illness and got through it by reading, medical reading. It transpired that the weight of that as a child robbed her of her ability to speak up (though I don’t think she’s had a problem in previous episodes). I didn’t quite understand it and would have appreciated more depth in discovery. Still, I enjoyed watching the little Stephanie kick her butt into talking.

“You make up someone, someone good. Whatever you need. To keep you going.”

And so we come to Meredith who gets increasingly belligerent and impatient, disagreeing with everyone until we discover who the patient is and that he has kids. In Meredith’s eyes he is now a manifestation of Derek and while trying to keep her tired wits about her she relives the horrific moment she had to tell her children that their dad is dead. Through this memory Meredith discovered the strength to fight through the exhaustion and seek a solution, a partial liver transplant. Meredith has always taken strength from adversity and this situation is no different. This time, with not a dry eye in the house, it is Zola (and Bailey) who pushed her forward. What a beautiful touch at the very end to introduce a short Derek scene into the mix, with ferry boats, a broad smile and a twinkle in his eyes. Grief is a strange beast. It roams around and creeps up on you suddenly when you least expect it. And here it hits Meredith hard. But you know Meredith, her power and self only grow through adversity.

Though this episode did not bring any story forward it did lay some ground work for stories and themes ahead. We were reminded of what a strong anchor Richard Webber is in the show. Megan was introduced as a potential antagonist. And Stephanie grew in confidence and maturity.

All of this happened against a backdrop of beautiful haunting music. Besides a lot of classical cello were were also treated to Broods singing All of Your Glory. Maybe this isn’t a seminal episode but Broods was surely reminiscent of Ingrid Michaelson, Katie Herzig, Anna Nalick, and Priscilla Ahn all artists associated with pivitol plots.

Besides the annoying fact that they picked an actress almost 10 years Kevin McKidd’s and Martin Henderson’s junior (Isn’t she only supposed to be 2-3 years younger?) I thoroughly enjoyed The Room Where It Happens. While I’ll be glad to see the cast back next week I do hope they consider doing something similar later this season.