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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)

it was really sad i cryed though the hole thing :( but it was awesome

I'm with Lila....April is completely annoying. OMG...she drives me crazy and to have her in the scrub room waiting with Meredith when everyone knows she's crushing on McDreamy...really??!?!?

Oh my goodness, this was an amazing season finale... I loved that they showed how scary a shooting can be and no matter how professional you are, you can still get choked up and freeze in this situation. Although I never liked the Mercy West characters, I cried when I seen them shot, it was an intense situation to witness, I about died when Karev and Derrick were shot. It was sad to see Karev talk to Lexie as if she was Izzie... the look on her face!! I love Chandra Willson's performance. I broke down into tears everytime she did. I am so glad they made the end so emotional it makes you want more, and hate that that was the season finale.


All the same issues with this episode keep being raised, I thought I'd put in my two cents...I'm a screenwriting and acting grad student at NYU..

First, I'm CERTAIN that the writers were drawing parallels to shootings such as those at Columbine and Virginia Tech, but that does NOT mean that it was done in any sort of malicious or exploitative way. The episode was about the tragedy of the fear, panic and horrendous violence that can occur even in places like schools or hospitals, places thought to be safe and even sanctimonious. The parallels are there, but it's not the entire focus.

Second, the SWAT guy shot Gary once, but missed and got him in the shoulder, and then Gary was on the floor and Lexie was in the way, she was right between them. Hence, the SWAT guy waves at Lexie to move, but she doesn't start to move until she sees that Gary is getting back on his feet. We are led to presume that by the time she has moved Gary has disappeared around the corner he was standing by. It would have been unrealistic for them to get in another shot while Lexie was standing right there. Big city hospitals are generally massive, it's perfectly feasible to assume that it could take two hours or more to find and take down one singular shooter.

To the claims that the doctors wouldn't have freaked out like this in real life...seriously?? Doctors, or surgeons in this case, are trained in medicine and the high stress that comes with surgery, but NOTHING prepares them or anyone for being trapped in a hospital with a shooter on the loose! It's one thing to save a life, and another to save one when yours is on the line.

To the oodles of claims I've seen that Bailey should have called for help while Charles was dying...um, did you not see the scene in which Richard stands by the 911 dispatcher, and listens to the panicked 911 calls from Mark, Arizona, Cristina, and (drum roll) Bailey? Watch the episode!!

And finally (via my sister the scrub nurse, as well some common sense) any operating room will have multiple entrances, not just through the scrub room where April and Meredith were sitting, so no, they didn't conveniently not notice Gary walk in, he entered (and is clearly shown exiting) out of a different door, which could lead to any number of rooms and hallways that would normally be attached to an operating room.

I for one am excited for Season 7 because I love this show. But if you're not a Grey's fan, why bother bad mouthing? Just don't watch the show!

You ppl need to get a freaking life

they could ahve easily killed off derek or karev.. this hospital is Dr. Webber's(and it would have made sense to kill him too) they had a moment at the start of this show about 6 months sober. it would have been a sad moment and a shock after that to watch our old chief fall at the hands of a man whos lost it... or derek could have died paving way for mebber to be the chief once more... where he belongs.
karev would be lost and in her grief lexi could have been with sloan who i was rooting for to begin with....

and why is no one talking about the pregnancy/miscarriage that made me burst into tears?!?!

What disturbed me the most, was the shooter asking, "Did you know you can buy a gun like this at a superstore?" To date there hasn't been a Columbine type shooting in any major hospital. I hope no one watching this episode decides to copycat.

My wife and I have been big fans of the show since it began, but I stopped watching it a year ago. I got tired of the way show became more about who this or that one was sleeping with and the back and forth relationship drama that was always the same story, between the same two people.

My wife continued to watch the show though, and today I had nothing better to do so I watched the finale with her. Acting wise, it was a strong show. The actors all did an excellent job in drawing you into the drama and keeping you on the edge of your seat.

Epic fail for he writers though. As I told my wife while watching it...I hadn't seen the show in a year yet wasn't lost at all in the story lines. This is poor writing if a person can keep up after not watching for a year.

I'm also a police officer and find it sad that they didn't put the same research and realism into the handling of this matter by police as they do in getting the medical jargon spot on. There is no way a SWAT member would shoot once and allow the person to get away. He would have quickly fired multiple shots, and that would have been the end of it.

I was also a long time ER fan, and this was VERY reminiscent of some of their finales.

Overall...good episode but only because the actors made it that way. actors = success, writers = fail

Absolutely riveting season finale! Can't wait until next season!

I took a huge break from Grey's Anatomy for awhile, due to the plunging storylines and new characters. I was a huge Izzie and George fan, and was devastated to see them go. However, this finale totally redeemed Grey's. I haven't seen a finale this great since Denny died.

Reed getting shot was such an intense scene- I really believed that Mr. Clark didn't mean to kill anyone - he was just emotionally unstable and wanted to punish those responsible. Reed was killed because she was just another surgeon not giving him the answers he needed. It was supposed to be brutal and sudden to reflect Mr. Clark's state of mind- he literally snapped. From there, he took random shots- notice that he didn't shoot Charles in such a brutal way. Charles still had a chance.

I can understand why the characters shot/killed were selected. Christina was spared on the elevator because she provided Mr. Clark with the information he needed, and was polite to him. After that, he shot when he felt threatened or frusterated.

The "chatty" doctor, the one who is in love with McDreamy, is unbelievable. I can see why she was spared this episode, but she has no place as a doctor. Derek had Mr. Clark under control until she came barreling out of his office. Her hysterics were understandable- she found Reed, her best friend, dead, but she hasn't been a consistently good doctor from the start. Nothing she did this episode was honorable- she completely lost control and needs to be gone next season. The only way I will buy into her weak character is if she leaves Seattle Grace willingly, realizing that she can't handle what happened to Reed.

As for the rest of the characters, bravo. Dr. Bailey was unbelievable. Her quick thinking- getting Mary to "play dead" , and pretending to be a nurse, probably saved their lives. Charles got shot yes, but there was no way the shooter would have let them all go. The tears running down Bailey's face were heartbreaking- she knew that it would be a fight to save Charles, and she didn't give up until she knew it was over for sure.

It's easy to gang up on Mandy Moore, but I love her in all of her roles. This was a very "Jamie Sullivan" role for her. I would have been the same if this was a real life situation- she assisted Bailey, but had no idea how to. She was compassionate and they gave her just the right amount of air time.

I've written way too much already, but I wanted to give credit where credit was due- the other characters were phenomenal. Christina, Little Grey and Arizona- such a presence!

Chandra Wilson was exceptional. Derek was believable. Emmy for her? I have not watched the show recently because it became very boring and very very predictable. All things considered, I still watched the full 2 hours and enjoyed it. Bravo for keeping my attention and that of my spouse. We may tune in next season to see if the writers are having a better day......, or not.

I am embarrassed to say I watched this until the end. But, this is definitely THE END for me. All my friends have said they quite watching Grey's Anatomy a year or so ago. I was the only hold out. But I'm done now, too.

There are a million cop shows and lawyer shows out there if we want to watch crime and killing sprees. This was, at one time, a show that was different, a show that relied on excellent writing rather than body count, gratuitous violence, splat appeal. Last night they proved to fall into that same old trap: appealing to the lowest common denominator of American viewing audience.

Bye, bye, GA. It's been real. Too real.

I have watched Grey's since day one. Each year it gets better and better. last season's finale we found that George got killed off and izzie died or so we thought. I cried that entire two hours. But when I watched Grey's season finale I did not expect what I saw. The two hours that I was watching it I cried throughout the entire show. It was rivating, it was emotional and painful.I never expected Mr. Clark to come back because I figured that that was the end of the storyline. Mrs. Clark had a dnr and it did not matter if Mr. Clark wanted the whole surgical staff to keep his wife alive they could not go against procedure. So when I saw him I did not like what I was about to see. I cried when alex got shot when reed got shot and when charles got shot.I think the reason why they took reed and charles out was because they did not always have a storyline and so they were the best choice. When they shot alex though then I started to worry and then derek.All of the doctors did want they could have done. They are human too. Yes, I know that they have tradgies all of the time and emergencies as well but when a man who all he seeks is revenge comes into a hospital which is suppose to be safe and then starts shooting the surgical people and the chief well yes I can see them falling apart at one time or another. If they did not it would of showed the viewers that they were not affected by what went on. Every doctor did what they could do. They called 911 but the swat was not going in and that is why Dr. Webber did go in after having been told not too. You could tell that he loved all of his doctors.Bailey did everything that she knew of to help charlie but when you dont have the supplies you are usually looking at a bad scenario. If bailey had said that she was a doctor she would of been shot and would of not been able to help charlie in the first place. As for Lexie and alex I think that she really does love alex but I also believe that she still has some kind of feeling for sloan. yang and mere grew closer during this time and their relationship is stronger now than ever probably stronger than dereks and mere too. This is my favorite show and I will always watch it cannot wait until it comes back on next season. Kudos to you all. and also it was the best season finale that I have seen yet. Loved it two thumbs up.

There was certainly gun violence commentary - Mr. Clark said he bought his gun at the "superstore" and all the ammo he could ever want. Just like buying giant packages of paper towels and cases of soda pop. As a high school teacher I was thrilled that they didn't hit me in the face with it but let me infer their point. My students' weakest skill is inference - they want to be told everything; how will they ever make their own decisions with any kind of wisdom? I also didn't find it one bit exploitative, Ted. One of my students was attacked yesterday - a completely random attack - as part of a gang initiation. Blood everywhere, and my sweet young man refuses to press charges because the police told him these 2 jerks will never have to really answer for what they did. This was so real-life it was scary. I, too, could not cry; I was too overwhelmed. Nothing new about human nature? When a 17-year-old with a baby who is probably a legacy gang member can get away with this crap? Yes, our world has changed.

Anyone catch the part during the last 15 minutes where the shooter said he just walked into a Wal Mart type superstore and bought his gun and ammo with no questions asked? He said they had rows and rows of guns. The anti gun groups want you to think its that easy but its not. First, department stores such as Wal Mart do not sell handguns and pistols. Yes, some sell shotguns-the type you use for hunting, but not handguns. Thats a totally different game.

Regardless you cant walk into any reputable gun store and walk out with a handgun that very same day. There are waiting rules and the such.

Very unrealistic episode.

What a great Season Finale. I'm not a huge Greys Fan, But The commercial showing my favorite doctor Chandra Wilson being dragged from under the bed. Made it a must see, and boy am I glad I did. Her performance was emmy worthy and i hope they remeber her come emmy time.....I even felt horrible for Dr. Grey and lord knows she usually drives me bonkers. Good Job

It was almost perfect. didn't meredith need a d&c after losing the baby? somebody goofed from a medical standpoint. Did Kereve say Izzy or Lizy
when talking before he became unconscious?Bailey was beautiful and gave 100% to her character. A shout of applause to the cast and to the writers. Lets hope no moron gets any ideas. Can't wait until next year.

REALbarbwire7 has it completely correct! Couldn't have said it any better myself.

I loved the finale.....I could not believe someone got shot and killed the first tne minutes into the show....OMG what are we in for the next one hour and fifty minutes....I could not believe all the main characters being shot...I could not wait for a commercial so I could take a breather.
All of the rational questions and why they did this or did not do this...IT IS A TV SHOW....not a news alert or real news show....I think Bailey was outstanding as was Mer and Derek.....I thought up until the end that possibly Webber was going to be one of the main characters killed off.
I think Mer standing in and saying kill me cause AN EYE FOR AND EYE was great....So glad that Owen went back to Christina...not too thrilled about Arizona and the other one getting back together again....but that was in Trauma so we shall see how this all plays out next season...LEXIE should not go back to Alex...he was referring to Izzy the whole time he was saying he loved her etc etc.....GREAT WRITING...GREAT PERFORMANCES... and great finale.....

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