It took me around a week to digest, in addition to wanting to wait to write this until I talked to a few friends/relatives/acquaintances who still haven’t gotten around to it, so here it is, my less-than-100% attempt to wrap up this season of Grey’s Anatomy, or at least to discuss some of the bigger facets of the big honkin’ two-hour finale.
There are two monsters to get to, so let’s run through the “lesser” storylines.
- Mark asks Lexie to move in with him. I’m surprised as how much I ended up liking them as a couple after crying foul when she first fell into his arms.
- Owen finally stops having nightmares about Iraq, and he and Cristina finally become a couple once again. It’s a good thing she took down her ceiling fan so as to not incite his wrath and another game of Choke the Cardiothoracic Surgeon. And thus, Kevin McKidd continues rocking the world.
- Dr. Bailey receives her fellowship in pediatrics, but is faced with a tough decision when her continuing-to-be-a-douchebag husband makes a threat – accept the fellowship and he will divorce her. Realizing that she simply cannot participate in a busy fellowship as a single mother, she turns down the offer and goes back into the surgery path the Chief set out for her, thus making pediatrician Arizona do something we’ve never seen her do before – cry. It feels terrible to see Dr. Bailey give up her dream because Tucker is such a fucking asshole, and I would have really liked to see a new side of Miranda, but the Chief’s plan also makes sense, as we can see Miranda rise in the ranks and end up running the entire hospital. Think Dr. Cox on Scrubs, only less sardonic and more black.
- Meredith and Derek finally get married, sort of, in the hospital’s locker room, trading cutesy demands on post-it notes, until they both say “I do.” I’m glad we didn’t have to get another weepy, overwrought wedding for them, and I’m also glad the show has deigned themselves worthy to have Meredith and Derek actually act like their characters instead of the pod people they have sometimes become over the last couple seasons.
Okay, the big stuff. Izzie is asked to make a choice between operating on the tumor, which would almost 100% likely destroy her memory (and maybe even her ability to speak), or get the experimental IL2 treatment, which may or may not dissolve the tumor. While everybody fights over what to do, Izzie chooses to go with the IL2 treatment (from Beloved’s Kimberly Elise) until her cancer survivor friend, who is on the IL2 treatment, suddenly collapses, dead, after two years on the stuff. And thus, Izzie has no choice but to go into surgery, but just in case she completely loses who she is or becomes a vegetable, signs a DNR.
Post-surgery, she seems far better than the test Derek performed that temporarily shut off the right half of her brain, but then she starts losing short-term memories, basically ending up having a Memento situation where memories only last mere minutes. And in continuing with the post-its motif, Alex and Cristina put up post-its with reminders to Izzie. (My favorite? “Your memory sucks.”)
After arguing with Alex once again, Izzie asks him to get everything off his chest, and finally he explodes, expressing his disappointment that this is definitely not how the marriage was supposed to go. This would seem a terrible thing, but Izzie manages to remember it later on, proving that she is getting better.
Until her heart stops, and as she goes into surgery (despite her DNR, as Alex completely ignores it), we see inside of her mind, and instead of all the Denny-on-the-beach stuff we’ve been privy to for the entire two-hour block, we see her get off an elevator, wearing what she was wearing when Denny died in her arms, only to see George, in full Army regalia, standing on the other side of the elevator doors.
If you’re reading this, you already know what George is doing there. It’s because he was John Doe, the patient who had, in trying to save a woman from certain doom, gotten hit by a bus and dragged down the block, rendering him unidentifiable.
As I’ve mentioned, I tend to steer clear of spoilers, but I do read what is reported as actual news, and this includes Michael Ausiello’s weekly write-ups in Entertainment Weekly. Since it was unclear (and still is) whether or not T.R. Knight was coming back for another season, I knew that they were leaving his story open-ended, with him joining the Army and getting injured. But oh, Shonda Rhimes and the rest of her GA writers pulled a fast one on us, using the press to both inform and mislead, and I have to give them a lot of credit for this. Just as it was reported that Brennan and Booth were going to finally hook up on Bones, only to be ambiguous about it in the dream state season finale (and, from my understanding, something similar happens on House, although my wife and I still have two episodes left but some things are just hard to avoid on television blogs), we were completely thrown for a loop. Yes, George did technically join the Army, and he did get injured, but not in the way that anybody expected.
And no, I knew just about as much as Meredith did, which would be the fact that I had no idea that John Doe was George until the moment he traced “007,” his nickname, on her palm. And it was the moment that this show has been aching to have for its entire season, something buzzworthy in addition to being emotional, and playing with our heads without being assholes about it. I was dumbstruck.
Are Izzie and George dead? Well, just like, say, the end of The Sopranos or the final moments of the movie Limbo (to give only two examples), the point is that it’s ambiguous and there’s no way of knowing if they’re going to live or going to die, and to cite evidence to prove one side or the other is simply your emotional perspective and not the actual truth. It’s the Schrödinger’s Cat finale, where they are both alive and dead. And if you think you have the answer because of some bullshit, you’re only going to disappoint yourself and look a fool to others.
Overall, I really ended up liking this season, and while I can understand it simply doesn’t live up to the memories people had about the first two seasons (and some of the third), I would prefer that people live in the moment and enjoy it for what it is now – something a little more grown up, something a little more bitter, and something a little more depressing. (But not as depressing as it was in a good deal of s3.) But, then again, I’ve never been 100% involved in this series and have always considered it a guilty pleasure with a lot of fluctuating quality. But the big stories really paid off (even Ghost Denny), the three-week events were completely addictive (both the Eric Stoltz story and the Archer Montgomery craziness) and I’m finally happy with where Meredith and Derek ended up, even if Derek turned into a major fucknut a few months ago.
So good job, Grey’s Anatomy. I really enjoy a lot of what you’re doing right now, and I hope others feel the same way. And goddamn, did you do a good job of making me love Karev after years of hoping he’d quit the show.