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'Grey's Anatomy': It's not a finale without a body count

120260_577_pre "Grey's Anatomy" has a history of strong finales. With the exception of Cristina's wedding -- which I'll excuse because that was the year of the writers' strike -- each season-ender has been poignant enough to move me to tears. This year, I was too stunned to cry.

The finale, "Sanctuary / Death and All His Friends," turns the hospital from a sanctuary into a battle field. Mr. Clark returns, still upset by his wife's death at the hand of Webber, Lexie and McDreamy despite the board's ruling that the doctors made the right decisions.

This time, he wants revenge of the "eye for an eye" variety, and he's got the jacket full of ammunition to prove it.

It's been 11 years since the Columbine High School massacre, and only three since the Virginia Tech massacre. Despite the fact that "Grey's Anatomy" takes place in a hospital, not a school, the episode couldn't help but recall those memories. Like a school, a hospital is a safe place. It's somewhere people go to be taken care of and nurtured. To be honest, this episode was hard for me to watch.

Death is a common occurrence on "Grey's Anatomy;" someone dies in nearly every episode. However, it's never been a violent, intentional death at the hand of another human being. I don't know what the body count was from Mr. Clark's shooting spree, but I expect we'll find out next season. What I do know is that Seattle Grace will never be the same.

The good

Even in the midst of hospital chaos, the Seattle Grace doctors never lose their signature "Grey's" style of speaking. Arizona's line, "Do not alarm the makers of the tiny humans," was spot on. Later, when things got more dire, Cristina still sounded like Cristina. "I can't do this if you're in there staring at me with big, sad, don't kill McDreamy eyes." The best thing about "Grey's" is that the characters remain consistent. They may be consistently childish or consistently boring ... but they're consistent.

As always, Chandra Wilson blew this episode out of the water. The range of emotion Bailey experienced in tonight's episode was epic, for lack of a better word. The work that Wilson puts into her role really comes across on screen. You get the impression that the emotions are genuine, when in actuality, an enormous level of thought and commitment must go into each scene.

I was thrilled to see Callie and Arizona reconcile. I've made no secret of the fact that I think Sara Ramirez and Jessica Capshaw are the strongest actresses on the show, and their interactions make for some of the most emotional scenes, and some of the most funny. My only concern is that a reconciliation in such a time of crisis can't last.

Dr. Webber really shined tonight. At the beginning of the season, I was so disappointed in him. We'd invested so much in his character just to see him let the hospital down. Tonight, he proved himself a Chief again, and I hope that while Derek is recovering, he cedes the throne to Webber. When he told the officer, "I'm the Chief -- I'm the former -- look, this is my hospital," I truly believed him.

The bad 120260_467_pre

I've been a fan of Mandy Moore's for years, but I don't think her performance added much to the episode. As this week's big name guest star, all eyes were on her. So why was her dialogue so unnatural and so exposition-heavy? Though the writers remembered to keep the regular characters witty, Moore's character fell flat. I hope she returns for an episode or two next season to redeem herself. After enduring a trauma like this, it would seem odd for her not to forge a relationship with Bailey.

I'm probably going to get reamed for saying this, but I think that the episode would have had more emotional weight if one of the regular doctors had died. Reed and Charles were the only people killed that we recognized, and not only were they the new alien Mercy Westers, but they were also our least favorite Mercy Westers. It almost feels like they were introduced just to be killed.

After Columbine, rumors spread that the shooters asked victims whether they believed in God, and shot them if they said yes. Those rumors were later disproved, but when Mr. Clark asked the hospital staff whether they were surgeons and then shot them if they said yes, it hit a little bit too close to the mark. Since when is "Grey's Anatomy" the show that's "ripped from the headlines"? There are ways to establish fictional tragedy without borrowing so heavily from real tragedy.

This season has been jam-packed with big changes. It seems like a lifetime ago that we were wondering (well, sort of) whether Izzie and George would live or die. Certainly, such a tragic and traumatic event will make even bigger waves. I have a feeling that the Seattle Grace we return to next season will be a very unfamiliar, very scary place.

What are your thoughts on the episode? Were you as shocked as we were by the death toll? Who will you miss the most? Chime in with your expectations for next season in the comments below.

--Carina MacKenzie

Photo: (top) Ellen Pompeo, left, as Meredith and Sarah Drew as April.

Credit: ABC

Photo: (bottom) Mandy Moore as Mary. 

Credit: ABC

Comments () | Archives (321)

Television shows are not supposed to give us any new insites into human nature, or medicine, or gun violence. They are mearly for entertainment purposes. I am confused as to what you wanted from GREY's Anatomy Ted. And yes it was to get viewers to tune in, that's their job to get people to watch the show.

i work in an Emergency room . this scarred the hell out of me. I just thought of all the ways someone seeming innocent could enter and start the same deadly rampage. Meridith would work through a miscarrige i have seen doctors and nurses work through many serious illnesses. and yes we would "lose it" just a little before we acted. Most hospital windows can't be opened so Bailey couldn't exactly hang out one to get help. some cell phones dont work inside. and remember each one was trying to not attract attention so the shooter would not return to them. and yes the police were getting 911 calls. That is what Richard listened too and then disappeared into the hospital. It was well done as tv shows go.

actually, i stopped watching it about 30mins. into it... it was starting to look a little too much like a combination of two House episodes... season 2 finale where House got shot by the husband of a patient who killed herself, and he got shot twice then, though the aim was not to kill him... and another episode where House and some medical staff and clinic patients get taken hostage by a guy who just wants to be diagnosed... this guy has a gun and he tests each new medication on "13" first, which leads her to near death...

both these episodes rated high on the ratings when they aired so possibly G.A. saw a way to go with this one... i was kinda hoping some people would go but not so dramatically, geeze... what's with the mass murderer theme here???

I agree that this episode was hard to watch......as the viewers, of course we did not know what to expect, but when we see Mr. Clark execute Reid, I was in such shock that I had to pause the DVR for a minute and walk away. I am a big fan of Grey's and the way that, in each episode, there seems to be a patient in an over-the -top medical emergency, but to bear witness to a cold-blooded murder was utterly mind-boggling.
I do not know what the atmosphere will be like once the next season begins. There will undoubltedly be grief, fear and maybe even a sense of panic amongst the regular doctors, my only hope is that the consistency of personalities will continue. My heart went out to Meredith, suffering a miscarriage brought on by the turmoil she was in watching her beloved on the brink of death. I know she is a very guarded individual, I just hope she is honest with McDreamy about having been pregnant. She needs to allow him to share that loss with her. I have to admit, I also think that Chandra Wilson as Bailey was powerful. Yes, she made have caused a few brows to furrow when she denied she was a surgeon, but if we can recall, she was always one to make compromises and even keep secrets in some instances to further her ambitions and spare others. All in all, this was one of the most gripping season finales I have ever witnessed in any TV drama I have seen in ages. Kudos to the writers and directors of Grey's.

I would have to agree with lila - YES, April is an extremely annoying doctor/girl/character/actress!! Her obsession with Derek is becoming absurd! Enough is enough.
I hate to admit this, but in the scene between Derek and the shooter - where April comes running out (blabbering as usual), I was screaming at her
"You stupid girl!" and was almost wishing the shooter would shoot HER!

This episode of Grey's Anatomy was one of the most intense shows I have ever watched. It was a nail biting, edge of your seat story line. I could hardly move or breathe. I was in shock, being a nurse I felt they did a great job on the story line. Sadly this type of tragedy could happen anywhere at anytime.

To Evie's post...As a physician, I will say that when faced with a traumatic event such as this you do at times fall apart. It becomes our job to save lives and be strong for our patients but we are only human. When faced with a situation such as this, it is only normal to break down. You don't know if the man will come back in the door and in Bailey's case she didn't have all the tools she needed to save the intern. So i think they acted accordingly. Remember physicians are human too and they have emotions...personally I would not want to be treated by a physician that lacked emotions.

Season finale was good but there were several flaws
SWAT shooting Clark once and Clark is then able to wander away. In real world the rest of the SWAT would have taken him down in a matter of seconds
Bailey could not have called 911 or gone down the stairs for help?
It is also incredible that Clark somehow managed to enter the OR that Christina was operating in

I totally agree w/ Joy:
"The season finale had a lot of gaps...Seattle SWAT was able to hit Mr. Clark just once...and only in the shoulder? Please...Then Meredith operating WHILE she's having a miscarriage? Seriously."

I found the whole thing rather ridiculous. Mr. Clark manages to move around the entire hospital unimpeded and conveniently interacts with all the major characters while the only law enforcement presence seems to be in the parking lot. And how in the heck did he get into the O.R. without Meredith and Alison noticing? Secret entrance? Lurking in the shadows waiting for an operation? Again, Seriously?

I have never been a huge fan of the show because there was always too much whining and too much about relationships back and forth, not much about actual doctoring. But I too was rivited to the screen for the show. At the end, I became very annoyed at the six minutes of commercials every nine minutes of show. Of course, by the end they know they have you, so you suffer through, but I felt exploited by that and it began to annoy me considerably during the last 45 minutes. The show was outstanding and Chandra Wilson held my heart in her performance the entire time.

Get real people. It's a TV show. It's not real. They can't make every scene perfect. It's entertainment. All the phones and everything, so what? I was riveted and my two daughters too. We love Grey's Anatomy and as far as we are concerned it's the #1 show on prime TV.

Well, I enjoyed this one. The only thing I dont understand is you have a SWAT TEAM come in and have clear view of Mr. Clarke and only shoots him in the shoulder and then lets him go.............Whats up with that. Doesnt say much for Seatle SWAT TEAM. Loved that Kracv was asking for Izzie. I really miss her on the show. Really wanted them back together. But I understand You cant please everyone. So keep it going. Really enjoy the show.................

This WAS SOOOOOO AWSOME. I know i would've been upset if they left me questioning the episode till the next season but i wish they had anyway I love THIS SHOW and they BETTER have another EPISODE!!

The only real plot whole was when the shooter was shot by SWAT near the middle of the show. The shooter just walks off with the swat team seemingly to forget he was there.

I mean what happened? A cop gets a shot in and takes a coffee break? That should have been the end of the shooter.

Great episode...up until the shooter had to express the liberal views of hollywood left and talk about buying the gun. What did that have to do with any part of the show?

Give me a break.

the worst case of over acting and over writing... I've seen. Pitifully perormed!

Chandra Wilson over acted again!

I couldn't believe they showed Reed getting shot in the head. Thought they could have done better than that. I love the show but felt it was way too violent, nervewracking and depressing to watch. Emotional also, more like a horror movie and that's not what I want to see. Good for Ratings I'm sure, but was there any other redeeming purpose? I'll still watch it but hope there's not that much terrorism going on.

First things first: EVERYONE was in character...no matter how many reviewers on this board want to disagree with that.

Alex wanted to kick the gunman’s ass...in typical Alex fashion.

Bailey held it together more than most people are giving her credit for. She was able to calmly tell her patient to ‘play dead’ and knew that hiding was their best chance of survival. And after Percy was shot she did everything possible while trying to deal with a near death experience. I would say she handled it very realistically. She was incredible in comforting and trying to save Percy. I’ll admit that I cried like a little b!tch when she lost it and realized he was going to die.

Webber finally gathered up his testicles and returned to *his* hospital. About bloody time!

Derrick reached out to the gunman the only way he knew how: by being truthful and apologetic.

Arizona's instinct was to protect the children (duh!) and Callie was great, as always. When I saw her hand hovering over the gun I was praying that she *wouldn't* take it...because I knew someone would get shot if she tried.

Owen and Teddy held it together very well. They braved the halls for their patient when they knew the gunman was still on the loose, and later Owen took a bullet for Meredith for crying out loud! These people care about each other *and* their patients!

-I love that we got back to Yang’s and Grey’s relationship. They are true friends through and through. Yang refused to stop operating even though she had a gun pointed at her head. And Meredith lost her baby while saving Owen. What they were willing to sacrifice for one another was incredible. It speaks volumes about their friendship.

-I was chilled to the bone when I heard the 911 phone calls. Even in voice overs the actors and actresses on this show get their emotions across.

-Jackson Avery totally rocked it. Period. I wouldn't mind seeing him and Yang hook up (anyone else think a love triangle is on the way for Owen/Christina/Jackson next season)?

-Gotta say that I believed Owen when he told the shooter, “Hurt her and I will kill you…”

A chilling and poignant episode. Acted wonderfully. Emmy-worthy.

And to Marti, Trish, and Sherri and anyone else who complained about the kiss between Callie and Arizona: I believe this is a board on Grey’s Anatomy, not what you find acceptable in America today. Stop whining and get over it.

Regardless of how much trauma we as professionals in the hospital setting see, there is truly never a situation when we are completely desensitized by it. I loved this episode because that was depicted beautifully in this episode. I think in crisis-like situations, it's completely normal to fall apart even if you are a surgeon, but it's also necessary to get it back together which is what I feel most of the cast did on Greys. I also think that many of the doctors were falling apart because they couldn't help the people they cared about (getting suplies or to OR's), nor could they stop what was happening.

I don't care who you are or where you work...a shooter is scary no matter what...which is why even military members get PTSD.

Most of the times, doctors and nurses can "fix" siutations. We can bring people back from the dead. But this time, I think the hopelessness of the situation and its brutality threw the docs for a loop, especially once we knew who the shooter was. I don't think anyone froze, choked or gave in. I think they fought for who they could save (like Cristina patching up Derek or Lexi getting blood for Alex or Bailey trying to save Charles).

I was shocked and almost sickened to see the body count. It made my heart hurt...which is what a good show is supposed to do, right? Great episode. I will be watching next season.

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