Last night’s two-hour premiere of Grey’s Anatomy was, in most ways, a quintessential Grey’s. The hospital was inundated with patients from a massive disaster (this time, a mudslide, but it could have been another train crash or ferry crash or plane crash or sinkhole), but some of the hospital’s own doctors were also in grave danger! (This time, the Chief and Heather.) A birth, a death, a marriage, a divorce, a wise old lady, and a bunch of makin’ out: It’s Grey’s Anatomy, as it always was! Well, almost.
Grey’s has killed of a tremendous number of its characters, and last night the show killed off one more: Tina Majorino’s Heather Brooks. Unfortunately, I have almost no idea who she is — and trust, I have seen every episode of Grey’s Anatomy. The show more or less admitted last night that Brooks was a nothing character when her fellow interns couldn’t come up with a single story about her to tell her mother. Meredith got all misty-eyed talking about George’s death — a hugely, majorly sad moment on a show that traffics in just that — and she might as well have just said, “You were no George O’Malley, Heather Brooks.”
It’s not just the newly deceased Heather, either. The entire crop of newbies right now has yet to make an impact, with the possible exception of Jo (Camilla Luddington), who is memorable only because she interacts the most with one of the real main characters, Alex. Go ahead, just try to name the other three interns. It’s impossible.
Which is strange, because Grey’s Anatomy could make me care about Shane, Stephanie, and Leah if the show really wanted to. (Those are their names. Mystery solved.) Successfully introducing new characters is something Grey’s has done well dozens of times. Callie Torres? Instant caring! I tried and tried not to care about Arizona, but the show sucked me right in. Addison was introduced as a sort of villain, but then everyone cared about her so much she got her own spinoff. Mark Sloane. Lexie. I came around on Teddy. Teddy. Henry. Jackson. Owen. I’m the only one, but I love Kepner. I miss Joe the Bartender! Don’t ask me to make a list of the patients the show has made care-worthy — it’ll take forever, and I’ll never stop crying. (R.I.P., Bonnie, I still love you.)
Sandra Oh is leaving at the end of this season. Meredith and Derek are now happily married with two babies, so their drama is off the table at least for a while. Bailey’s married, successful, and no longer being sued for anything. The Chief will no doubt recover from his injuries and resume his normal Chief-ness. Alex and Jo are fine, but we’ve seen Alex “finally meet his match” ten or fifteen times by now. (It was Addison, FYI.) Callie and Arizona will have a protracted separation and then get back together. Kepner and EMT guy will not go through with their wedding, and she and Jackson will resume their shenanigans. The show is running a little low on intrigue and shorelines, which means it’s time to make these other characters a little more compelling.
Or just kill them all off and bring in some new people, Charlie-and-Reed style. That works too.