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Grey's Anatomy - Who Is He (And What Is He to You)? - Review

There was a time not so long ago when I found Jackson Avery interminably boring. Appearing in season six for the first time, probably up to season nine I found little imagination and spark in a character that ate up screen time about as interesting as watching paint dry. I do not exaggerate. Scroll through my reviews and you will see. But in more recent times the writers have filled his paint pot (how long can I stretch this metaphor) with a good deal of depth of character. It’s a shame it took so long but when they finally put Jackson together with April, and built a history around his family riches the writers gave us someone we could root for. And this week I was rooting for both him and April.

Who Is He (And What Is He to You)? written by Elisabeth R. Finch and directed by Kevin McKidd continued a running theme of season thirteen of focusing particular episodes on one or two characters to the exclusion of the rest, allowing us to dive deeper into ongoing stories. This week we saw April and Jackson forced together as they fly in the Avery private jet to the Avery Medical Centre in Montana where they have to save a child’s ability to speak. Only, the real reason they flew to Montana was for Jackson to reach out to his long lost father.

What is it about ‘fathers’ in this show? I’ll leave that huge question hanging…

Previously I would have been worried about a Sarah Drew and Jesse Williams standalone episode. Their characters’ story has often operated on the fringes of the main event. Could they hold viewers enough to sustain the show? Well, it appears so. I’ve learned that the writing of these ‘specials’ is so bloody good that I have easily fallen into these episodes, I’ve been sucked into their stories. This one was no different.

Catherine Avery decides to supplant Grey for Kepner on a mission to support her son performing a throat transplant on a teenager. Jackson’s not especially happy with April tagging along but soon escapes her and finds himself getting drunk in a bar run by his estranged daddy. Of course, Catherine is wise to her son and tricking April into riding along was done with purpose - giving Jackson the emotional support he needed to confront dad. Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?

It turns out Robert Avery (played by Eric Roberts) appears to be a decent sort of guy - he just couldn’t cope with a particular set of fatherly circumstances combined with pressure to surgically perform, which led to him abandoning Jackson. Oh, how I’d enjoy a Robert/Catherine showdown. Interestingly he said something which I think could equally apply to Ellis as it did Catherine…
“You know your mother. Her expectations are …crushing.”
I did not know what to expect with Robert so was caught off guard with his natural unassuming charm. He was difficult not to like and I could feel Jackson's dilemma.

Jackson is an impossibly good guy - even his flaws are ‘worthy’. It’s hard to get angry with him even when he’s being rude to the mother of his child. But overall he can be dull as ditchwater. So to see him standing up to Robert with such emotional gravitas, tutored by April, was really a joyful thing to watch.

And I like April. Indeed I’ve always liked her and I love the fact that Jackson respects her as a friend and lover, particularly as she tends to be the butt of all Meredith clique jokes. Their coming together at the end was inevitable, welcome even, and it did the characters credit that the following morning they did not dissect the pros and cons of sleeping together. Instead, they had a deeply intimate moment about Jackson’s relationship with his daughter and father - illustrating such maturity within their relationship irrespective of whether they are together or not.

Oh, how I wish the writers could do this for all the couples. How much better would Callie and Arizona have been had they had this level of intimacy? Perhaps Amelia and Owen wouldn’t be the train wreck they are if they had this kind of mature discussion? And don’t get me started on Alex and Jo. That relationship is about as deep as a puddle on a dry day. They can only dream of a Jackson/April connection. I want to say to Shonda - leave JApril alone. Put them back together then leave them. Don’t let one of them cheat. Don’t disrupt them by announcing that one or either doesn’t want another baby. Don’t chop off a leg. Don’t kill one of them. Let us enjoy a proper grown up relationship, introduce proper grown up problems that keep them together not problems that tear them apart. Write relationship drama, not relationship melodrama. But still, I fear for their future anyway. Coupledom is not end game for this show. We know now that no one is safe. No couple has survived. Why should Jackson and April be any different?

Who Is He (And What Is He to You)? was a really lovely episode. I watched with abandonment, never missing the other characters or their narratives. In fact, I can honestly say I didn’t even give those other stories a second thought. With the right character combination, Grey’s writers have found an episode device that allows us to see deeper quicker. Let’s have more of them.


And so dear Grey’s fans I must tell you that this is my last review for SpoilerTV. After a fabulous five and a half years writing about Grey’s, I have to bow out and succumb to an increased pressure of writing deadlines and an energetic child.

SpoilerTV has grown into an enormous global operation and behind the scenes, you could not find a more friendly and helpful online global community, led by Andy (DarkUFO), that I’m proud to have been a very small part of. Thanks, Andy! SpoilerTV only exists because the fans read and participate! Thank YOU for reading and commenting.

I never thought Grey’s Anatomy would last this long. I imagined it would all be over by now. How wrong I was. While many of the original cast have departed, the writers and producers have continually adapted and morphed the show keeping it fresh and competitive. Of course, it is not the youngster it once was but Grey’s Anatomy remains beautifully made, brilliantly written and entirely watchable. What do you think?

Please look out for more Grey’s reviews and news from the team. And remember, when the day comes that Meredith finally departs our screens, having revealed the secrets of her diary keeping, the best thing you can do is grab a bottle of tequila and dance it out.

I've witten a lot of stuff which you can find in the "author" link below but there are a few things which I really like so if you want to read more here you go -
Stacy McKee, Calzona and Making Mistakes
Spotlight on Cheating as a device in Grey's
Loretta Devine

Ciao. x