It wouldn’t be a Grey’s Anatomy season finale unless someone met his or her maker, and last night’s episode certainly left things looking like the (former) Chief was this year’s unlucky character. Not as unlucky as the plane-crash victims in last year’s season finale, but unlucky nonetheless. No one wants to get electrocuted in the basement of their workplace.
I can tolerate Richard’s death — not happily, but them’s the breaks for a Grey’s fan. That’s part of the deal; characters die all the time. But last week’s episode “Readiness Is All” had a glimmer of old Grey’s in it, of the naughtiness and emotional acuity that made me love the show in the first place. The show has been on a downward trajectory for a while, and this season especially seemed mired in unhappiness and stagnation, until things started picking up in recent weeks, adding a little more intrigue and some emotions other than straight-up sadness. “Readiness Is All” really seemed like a huge step in the right direction. Alas, last night’s “Perfect Storm” didn’t keep pace with the promising momentum of the last few weeks. For an episode with explosions, a blackout, a birth, a death, a long-awaited kiss, and a few love confessions, “Storm” sure was boring.
You know what’s sexy and exciting to watch on TV? Affairs! You know what’s less sexy and exciting? Talking about the affairs. Callie and Arizona’s marriage has been in a weird state all season, but “Readiness” last week finally took that internal turmoil and turned it into action, with Arizona sleeping with Dr. One Tree Hill. (Technically her name is Dr. Lauren Boswell. But sorry, Hilarie Burton. You will always be Dr. One Tree Hill to us.) Big moves, scary moves, bad decisions — these are the things that make shows interesting. Alex finally kissed Jo, which is nice for them, but he had what felt like dozens of conversations with other characters about it beforehand. From the moment her character was introduced, it was abundantly clear she was being set up as a love interest for Karev. Dragging it out for a season with artificial and arbitrary obstacles isn’t building tension. It’s just procrastinating.
Owen thought he maybe wanted to adopt a child, but then the kid’s father woke up from his coma, so it didn’t even matter! And then this week, he and Cristina just talked about it, again, about wanting kids and not wanting kids and am I enough for you? and will you resent me? and on and on and on for the bajillionth time. They broke up, I guess, but didn’t they already break up, on account of them being divorced from each other and all?
We’ve seen Karev bellyache about his terrible luck with women before. We’ve seen Owen and Cristina break up 25 times. And even the episode’s emotional climax, with Meredith and Derek naming their new baby after Bailey, is something we’ve seen before, too: Bailey herself named her son after one of the doctors who helped deliver him, Dr. George O’Malley, back in season three. (That was the dawn of the ubiquity of the term “vajayjay.” Lest we forget.)
If the show’s going to be recycling stories, maybe they could recycle the really good ones. Give Kepner and Jackson a more vivid relationship that’s not just about boning — taking a page from, oh, Cristina and Burke from years ago. (Go away, EMT guy.) Make Dr. One Tree Hill into the new Mark Sloane — the mistress and foci of betrayal who winds up becoming part of the gang. I maintain that Addison should rejoin the show. You can do it, Grey’s! I can still see the sparkle of the glory days in there somewhere! And just as a suggestion, maybe keeping Richard alive would help.