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Grey's Anatomy - You Can Look (But You'd Better Not Touch) - Review + Poll

So this was not what we expect from a mid season premiere…is it? If you tuned in last night to see Alex being strip searched on his way to the cells (oooerrrr!) you were probably deeply disappointed. If you tuned in hoping to see a whizz hot bang terrific episode then my goodness you were given a treat!

Grey’s Anatomy bounced back onto our screens after it’s extended mid season hiatus with an unconventional yet strangely satisfying ‘special’ episode. You Can Look (But You'd Better Not Touch), written by Tia Napolitano and directed by Jann Turner rewrote the rules on cliffhanger resolution. I guess at a time when the unexpected is happening all over the world ABC and Shondaland decided to break the unwritten rules. Instead of putting us all out of our misery the writers decided to prolong it, twisting the knife by scaring the living daylights out of us.

This was a special. In the same spirit as episode eight, The Room Where it Happens, which featured only four of the regulars, suspended story arcs and held an interrogation into their psyche, this week we were treated to an evening in a maximum security unit where "nobody ever intends to be." Locked in with us was a spooked Bailey, so terrified she was melodramatically angry, and avoided the patient at every opportunity; Arizona with unicorns and rainbows shooting out of her ass and Jo uncomfortably comfortable with a permanent expression of “there but for the grace of God go I”. These three doctors were brought in to the unit to help a pregnant (and terrifying) teenager, Kristen, with suspected TRAP syndrome.
I wouldn’t wiki it if I were you, it’s pretty grim. *Pause - as everyone heads to google now that I’ve triggered a gore fest*

And that was it. Stories were suspended as the entire episode centred around these three surgeons and their treatment of Kristen.

After recovering from the disappointment of realising we would not get to see Alex strip searched I focussed my attention back on the episode and while it was not a traditional mid-season premiere it was hands down a damn fine episode. The story moved along at a pace quickly enough to keep my attention on just three surgeons. Only at the end did I realise I hadn’t seen the rest of the cast nor in the main was there any reference to them through the unfolding drama. Compassionately written the direction maintained an edge. I was never comfortable.

It would be easy and lazy for me to say that this episode was a filler. On the surface one might say it was but this story was much more. Each of the surgeons was battling an inner demon, played out with Kristen (Jo), Eldridge (Bailey) and the Mother (Arizona). And running through he entire episode was the reality that unless someone stepped forward (yes you Jo) this is Alex’s fate. Maybe not Maximum Security but certainly lock up and withdrawal of both freedom and dignity.

Jo, faced with a panicking Kristen tries to get onside with empathy. Using her background of liquor store raids and sleeping in cars, her efforts are stamped out as she discovers that Kristen had the ideal childhood. Something went wrong somewhere for her. And Jo comes away now knowing that yes people may not intend to go to jail but sometimes stuff just happens.

The one person who knew that more than anyone was the Mother. Stuff happened that she simply cannot explain. Something terrible happened to drive a monster truck through the relationship of Kristen and her mother and the latter is devoid of hope and explanation. This is baffling to Arizona, whose forced separation from her daughter causes her her own angst and pain.

Bailey, spooked from seeing the violent outburst of Kristen, seeks refuge by trying to be chief in a place where she has no business being so. Her efforts thwarted by a Doctor who knows the politics better and who knows there is no way to play the system.

Through solidarity these three surgeons find a way to bring this new baby into the world as calmly as possible and in doing so bring out the humility and humanness of Kristen. It was not a happy ending, which perhaps was expected. But it was a beautiful story told compassionately.

But what of the rest?

In the car at the top and tail of the episode Bailey, Arizona and Jo (who is, again, losing her ability to irritate me) talk about Alex’s ordeal in staccato. This was enough for me. With such a powerful storyline within the episode I was quite happy to have the business of season thirteen on the fringes. Bailey tries hard to tell Jo what Alex has done. She resists, probably knowing that there is something she can do that would prevent the strip search. But knowing it would cost her. Arizona presses Bailey hard and the two people in Alex’s world that really need to know what he’s done finally know. Meredith’s judgement at times like these can be suspect. Arizona’s never is. It’s about time that Arizona was given the chance to step up for Alex.

As a mid-season premiere, You Can Look (But You’d Better Not Touch) was a disappointment. No one waited 2 months for a filler or a special. But I am going to be kind. I loved it. I’m enjoying the lens applied to fewer characters. The combination of Bailey, Arizona and Jo was exactly right at this particular moment. Even Jo seemed to excel as she was finally given a storyline which didn’t require her to whine, whinge or drift aimlessly gossiping. Her partnership with Arizona was natural and effortless. Arizona was given the opportunity to just be a doctor without any baggage and Bailey was able to show her vulnerabilities (“Who are you? I mean how did I not know that you felt this way? What did a prisoner ever do to you?”) within the hospital and her strengths in the car. I look forward to the next ‘special’ if they are anything like this. But for now it’s time to get back to the main event. We need to know if Alex is going to jail.