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'Grey's Anatomy': Shadows and light

March 13, 2009 |  1:54 am

Well, after many long months and one ill-conceived detour into Denny-ville, we finally found out what’s really ailing Izzie on last night’s “Grey’s Anatomy”: The girl’s got cancer -- in her skin, brain, liver, the works. The kind with a measly 5% survival rate. In other words, get thee to that movie career, Katherine Heigl!

But if, after all the headline-grabbing buildup, the official diagnosis wound up feeling more than a little anti-climactic, I could still appreciate the way it unfolded. Izzie did her best Dr. House, challenging her unwitting interns to solve Patient X’s medical mystery, and then chose to share the bad news with Cristina, that most unsentimental of “Grey’s” characters, in a dialogue-stripped scene that nonetheless packed a potent emotional wallop. It’s a beautiful thing when Shonda Rhimes decides to dial it down a bit, isn’t it?

The normally steady Derek would not be dialing anything down last night. Still reeling from the death of his pregnant patient and the blistering words of her grieving husband, Shepherd was as bruised on the inside as his Sloan-battered exterior suggested. Much of the hype for this episode revolved around Derek’s decision to quit Seattle Grace, but that development was just a warm-up to the drunken devastation he unleashed on Meredith. “You should understand better than anybody else,” he hissed at her about opting to leave. “You wrote the book on quitting, running, hiding!”

The guy gave pushing her away every ounce of cruel energy he could muster. Surely, that crack we heard wasn’t just the bat making contact with the diamond ring Derek’s been carrying around in his pocket for weeks; it was poor Mer’s heart shattering. Still, there was no quitting, running or hiding on her part, which just goes to illustrate one of the crazy little ironies of relationships: Just when one of you finally manages to get it together, the other one has to up and fall apart.

Meredith’s come a long way, but she could still learn a thing or two from the Chief’s wife about whipping a man out of his funk and back into shape. Nobody messes with Adele Webber. Not even Bailey.

–- Shawna Malcom

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