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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)

Even though this it close to home, maybe too close, but I loved this season finale, I cried a lot of tears, it's hard to watch people who you get used to watching get put on lockdown and get shot, especially for shepard and what not. I could feel what Meredith was going through.

This finale really reminded me why I watch this show. For the intensity and the sadness. Though I wish Private Practice and Grey's Anatomy both didn't have the death.

Also Mandy Moore wasn't that bad, but she was just a tiny bit too flat for me.


I loved it! I was on the edge of my sofa the entire show. I don't know if Derek makes it or not.Little Grey's boyfriend( Cureve??)not sure if i spelled that right. He looked like he was going to be okay. It's always a good show but a damn good season finale !!!!!!! I think Yang and Owen will be fine. He came back for her . Took a bukket for her, The need to work it out. I think

Don't know where my post got to. I agree with DC-- the finale was totally unbelievable. The acting was superb, especially Chandra Wilson. I loved the scene where she and M Moore dragged a dying Charles down the hall only to find the elevators had been turned off. Her acting in the frustrating heart rending scene was stellar. As was Sandra Oh's and Ellen Pompeo's in the OR scene with Cristina doing her best to save McDreamy.
The writing? another story. Had this been a police drama and not a hospital drama, Mr clark would have been shot by 10:10 pm and not had another full hour to wander the hospital halls to kill more people. Give me a break. Totally UNBELIEVABLE! all I'm gonna write for now because I don't know where my earlier post from Friday afternoon got to.

This was by far the best episode ever. It was heart pounding a la "24" on steroids! Dr B. and yes even Mandy Moore's characters were awesome. Both ladies did an outstanding job acting. Yes, the entire episode was a bit dramatic with all the kaos but even though they are doctors they are humans first with emotions just like the rest of us. Grey's Anatomy rocks !!!

There are two entrances into any OR!
The Dr's entrance, where Meredith and April were sitting. AND the entrance from the hall where the patient is wheeled in from! You can't take the patient through the scrub room, obviously Mr clark got in the OR from there.

Also, it would take several hours to contain a building of that size even with a single shooter, there is thousands of square feet and hospitals are built like a maze, with different wings and areas with public access areas as well as staff only and back passageways, it could take a day to secure the scene.

I think this is one of the best episodes of any show I have seen in a long time. I knew someone was gonna get shot, but i wasn't expecting a massacre. I was in shock, i had to watch it again.

Stand outs were, Sandra Oh & Sara Ramirez.
I always found April annoying...but after this episode, I don't think the actress is as bad as I had initially thought, oh and I love Mandy Moore.

Don't alarm the makers of the tiny humans was an awesome line.

i think this was such a great, scary, emotional episode that can happen in real life when a man is that upset about loosing his wife, specially if they blame the doctor or surgeons about it. Im a big grey's anatomy fan and i will be definetly be watching the next coming seasons, it was scary but it definetly rocked my PDO hours of getting of from work just to watch this episode that i cldnt miss for anything in the world, great job Shonda Rimes!!!!

OMG. I have watched every episode since the beginning and this one tore me apart. My biggest cry baby breakdown was Dr. Bailey (Chandra Wilson's) scenes. Wow. From where does she bring that all up from? The waging terror never stopped for 2 solid hours. I swear my nails ripped my leather chair. I do agree with the poster who said why on earth are all these people succumbing and falling into collapse? These ARE doctors who fight for the right of others and life. Here is where the creator of the show fell short. There were no heroes. There were only whining incapable fall down characters.

The actor that played the shooter was absolutely, hands down, spot on. He was amazing. Nuff said!

The problem with the swat team member wounding the shooter was not that the shooter lived and got away, but that the officer put a civilian at risk by firing in the first place.

This finale was hard for me, I was shocked, I cry, I was scared for everyone I been watching this show since it came on I even watch the old episode just to make sure I didn't miss anything, I knew Mr. Clark will return because he was not happy with the outcome of he's meeting about he's wife death, Miranda's performance really got too me because after everything she did it was hard for her to face the fact that Charles was going to die, Cristina in the other hand was no joke regardless of everything she stood her ground and took charge, And Meredith I know about most people but it has to be extremely hard to watch someone you love get shoot in front of you and not react but still try to make the best I'm just sad she had lost the baby but due to the event it was a possibility.... I cant wait for next season I'm a pretty big fan of this show..

Maria Rivera NYC

I am of two minds about the writing in this episode. On the one hand, the characters' reactions to the situation were varied, believable, and heartwrenching. (Although the dialogue continues to be sub-par; most grating for me was the hallway scene between Teddy and Owen, in which Teddy sounds like a teenager. Is this writing staff composed of twenty-five year olds, or what?) I could feel Bailey being hit by a mountain of frustration as she realized that what she needed to save her patient was just beyond her grasp. Cristina the penultimate surgeon operating at gunpoint, Meredith calmly offering up her life, Karev deliriously swearing revenge, Weber the weathered war horse -- all perfectly true to character and delicious to watch. I cried pretty much throughout. Grey's strongest point has always been its characters.

On the other hand, i have to wonder why the writers had to resort to such a far-fetched plot in order to elicit an emotional response of that magnitude -- kind of makes Code Black look like a PBS documentary. I tend not to have patience for publicity stunts of any kind.

Overall it was a great episode, but if you start going over what wasn't believable......Locked down, as they said: no one leaves, no ones enters....how did the shooter end up at the children's side of the hospital if is it was locked, and how did HE EVER GET inside the operating room.....good TV but come on! Just seat, enjoy and don't analyzed it.

1. Jessica and Sara were the best part of this finale. Hands down. I loved their fight.
2. Karev got the best line though, "Eat more bacon, have more sex" It was one of only two times I managed to laugh during the entire episode.
3. Everyone needs to stop expecting law enforcement to be like NCIS or CSI or whatever, because no, normally there isn't an ex-marine there to be a hero. They made it realistic. Things are slower in real life. They got real SWAT guys to tell them what would happen and even the writers were sceptical. It doesn't seem right to us because of the cop shows, not because it wasn't realistic. Plus, why the hell would they make the SWAT guys the heroes? It's about the doctors. They wanted the Cheif to be the Cheif again.
4. There is a huge difference between having a gun pointed at you and dealing well with trauma. They deal with other people's trauma. If they were good with having guns pointed at them, this would be a cop show.

In my opinion it was a very strong finale and it reminded me again why I love Grey's Anatomy. I agree that Grey's now isn't as amazing as in the beginning (sometimes, not all the time), but most shows that are on for that long usually are, I mean, after 6 years, sometimes it's hard to keep up the same level.. However I think this episode was amazing. I do agree with the fact that some things were unrealistic, like when Derek was lying there and the SWAT team came in, how could they not see Mr. Clark? And same with the Lexie/Mr. Clark thing.. how come that SWAT guy didn't just aim for his head? It's obvious it was so that they could fill the entire two hours. The performances for me were really good, especially Chandra Wilson, Sandra Oh. And I have to say that Ellen Pompeo did amazing too, especially in the scenes in the OR when Mr. Clark threatens Cristina. Also, I hope April leaves next season. She's a very annoying character, what with the stuttering and running out "Dr. Shepherd, you're back!" Ai ai ai.. But I did feel for her when she told Mer that Reed died.
I'll admit I wasn't as stunned by Reed and Percy's deaths as I would have been had, say, Derek died, but surprisingly enough I was very, very sad when Percy died, just the fact that it was because of the stupid elevators, made me really sad.
To me the episode was shocking mostly because of the way Mr. Clark just randomly killed people, so ruthless. It was just so sad to think that those innocent people just showed up for work. And they really do practice a noble profession, I mean, doctors save lives.
Anyway, I'm gonna stop ranting now. :)
All in all, I think it was a powerful, intense episode that does show why Grey's Anatomy has been around for so long and hopefully will continue to be around for a while.

It was an exciting, edge of yr seat kind of thing. But I was disappointed that sister grey didn't get killed off. She is such a bad actress. We also need more good looking men on the show. Perhaps James Franco, Kip Pardue...James Franco would bring the ratings up, plus he is a great actor. My hats off to Miranda. I hope her performane gets an emmy. She did an excellent job. I saw the finale twice, and Miranda's performance still gives me a knot in my throat. I hope she gets more lines next season because she is good.

is this the end of Grey's Anatomy?
Though no happily ever afters, all relationships pretty much have been resolved, leaving no cliffhangers for next season...

This finale has got to be one of the best from Grey's over the years. Shocking and unbelievable. Dr.Bailey's was the best of all...i felt so sorry for her that she can't do anything to save Charles life and then watch him die. Dr.Torres and Dr. Arizona have been my fav couple in the show...witty, funny and pretty awesome whenever they appear on screen. They have been solid over the season. Thank goodness for that. I have always been a die hard fan of Grey's and this season is one of the best (apart from Season 2 of course).

I wonder why a majority of people think Dr. Charles Percy's first name is Cooper? lol Overall, I was shocked and satisfy of the 2-hours finales minus the commercials and the SWAT/Polices' action. Is it a TV show, if the SWAT took out Mr. Clark then there will be no drama.

I can't wait to see what happen next season. I kind of like Alex with Lexie but only if Alex loves Lexie but obviously he called for Izzie. I fee bad for McSteamy, he should stay hooked up with Teddy, they're the only one that left for each other. Owens picked Cristina so Teddy should start over with Mark.

Hopefully, season 7 will be another great seasons of drama but yet more happiness. Grey's Anatomy will always be my favorite show as long as they don't kill off the regular. P.S. I'm glad Jackson Avery is still there, he's the only Mercy Wester that I liked lol April need to go! She so annoying ...

This episode really hit home with me. I'm a born and raised Californian but I moved to Columbus, Ga a little over 2 years ago. I quickly found a nurse assistant job at Doctor's Hospital and two days into my career, a gunman went on a rampage as revenge for his dead mother. Two of my co-workers were shot on the floor I work on and an elderly man in the parking lot was shot/died as well. It was a scary day and I'll always remember it. They did a great job on the show. It took me until now (it's like 2-3 weeks after it premired on tv?) to watch it.

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