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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)

A line I am sick of hearing in Grey's Anatomy: "You don't get to (fill in the appropriate blank.)"

"You don't get to cry. You don't get to have a break down. You don't get to [have whatever emotion you're having]." I'm sick of it. I've heard that line over and over and over again, season after seaon on this show, and it's just become annoying.

Other than that, the episode was great. It was truly riveting. The Chief (the REAL Chief, not McDudley) was outstanding in his final talk with the shooter. And the shooter played "Snapped" really well I thought.

But ultimately it was Bailey losing her cool that should be the Emmy nominated performance here. And yes, Callie and Arizona were outstanding as well (and as usual). Also Meredith as she was watching Derek get shot, and when she all but threw Christina out of her way to go to him, that was AWESOME! But perhaps the most tragic figure in this was Sloan, hopelessly in love with Lexi to the point of wanting to marry her, meanwhile trying to save a critically wounded Karev, who Lexi says she loves right in front of him. Heartbreaking. Poor Sloan.

I love how Karev told him to eat more bacon and have more sex, and Sloan agrees to eat more bacon. I mean, I doubt he could have more sex, right? LOL :-)

Finally, while so many are saying that they should have gotten rid of a cast regular in the shooting spree, I disagree. Yes, we knew it would be Charles and Ried who got the axe, but it just had to be those two. They got almost no play all season long, never caught on with me as characters I gave a darn about, and losing both George and ultimately Izzie last year was enough to last me at least through another season. Although.... Hunt could've bitten it for all I care. I'm sick of his PTSD and his indecision over whether he wants Yang or Teddy.

The day any one of either Callie, Arizona, Meredith or Christina goes, tho, is the day I go.

Wow when I was watching last night I could not move from my bedside, I was so stuned when the show first started, I thought maybe someone was dreaming and when the show came back on, it was not a dream from either one of the cast members but a reality that I would not have even wanted to expereience myself, what a great job Shandra did with this ending finale. My son called for me to pick him up,and I told him to wait, I was just that mermerized by the ending,the show was so intense I wanted it to go on forever, like a movie to last at least another hour. kiddos to you Shandra great job

I loved the episode! Absolutely loved it! I am so glad that a "main" character didn't die. I am still sad that George is gone!
Love Greys!!!!

Great ending to somewhat of a slow season. Although sad and inhumane, I thought the episode was very real. GRIEF and ANGER...changes a person. This situation can happen. I work in a hospital and for the most part it is chaotic every single day. Walking in with a gun would be easy. This threat is present in every aspect of our every day lives, from a bank to a convenience store to a school or church to a place of employment. Why should a hospital be any different, especially when emotions run high. I don't like this type of violence, but this is television. A few holes in the lock-down plan and how medical staff responded in an emergency situation, but again this is TV. For those of you who have not worked in a hospital, you might be surprised as to what is actually discussed in an OR and away from patient and family. Great season finale...KUDOS to Chandra Wilson!!

Are surgeons not allowed to carry cell phones? No one is warning anyone until it was late. The unrealistic part: The shooter getting away after being shot once while the SWAT was watching. That part was completely unrealistic.

I cannot believe that this episode is being compared to Columbine. This episode is nothing more than an extension of an earlier episode, and an adenaline-filled two hours of what-will-happen-next.
To say that this wasn't the best entry yet for Grey's is completely false. Who could possibly tear their attention away from the TV? This was pure genius, thank-you, writers.
As to next season, what other major disasters could possibly happen? Meredith hides the fact that she was pregnant, which causes un-marital bliss between herself and McDreamy, Lexie realizes that Karev and Izzy belong together (not to mention that fact that McSteamy was more concerned with her safety than anyone else around them).
Cannot wait for next season......

I personally thought this finale was great. Definently made for the seaon that had it's ups and downs. Who would of thought it would of been Reed and Alex to get shot first. Of course they had to put those two together because Reed liked Alex and made sure everyone knew that. I am sort of glad she is gone because I didn't care for her that much. I was also glad to see that Dr, bailey showed a lot of emotion and almost like she cared about the people she worked with. then again I wouldnt of wanted to drag his body down a hallway to a elevator that was not even working. It would of been nice if they could of tried to put Lexie and Sloan back together not just in the same room. Cristina and Owen should of had a better ending. I mean he came back into the hospital to make sure she was okay and even got shot. That should of met something to her, but then again it is Cristina so we can't let her get to overally excited. I mean when she found out she was going to be a possible godmother she almost got to excited and that would of been a big step for her. As always Meredith and Derek don't get their happy ending. I really thought with a baby on the way it might of made the show just alittle more exciting. Nowwe probably will have to go through a whole dressed stage with her and we have already been there and done that. Like she said she waited to long for him so I really hope this does not keep going on for next season. Maybe when the time the shows airs she will be actually pregnant and fool us all. Overall, it was a good finale and it was one that actually kept me awake the whole time it was on.

Well this is the only show i watch. I was stuck to the tv on this one. It could so happen. I too was amazed at how the doctos "freaked out". But it is tv nevertheless. I am still hooked on the show. How did those SWAT teams get their training? one shot? COMEON!!!

Intense and rivoting. Loved it, yeah some things could have maybe been done better, but it's TV, who cares!

Looking forward to next season. Look forward to Thursdays every week for Grey's and Private Practice. Yeah!

WOW!!! What an episode!!! I think I went into shock when Reid and Alex were shot. BOOM!! Wasn't wxpecting that. I have to say it was the most disturbing/attention getting season finale of any show I have ever watched. I was glued to my seat. I also felt sick to my stomach. I thought ALL of the actors did a great job. Yes, they were in shock and yes they fell apart, but they are human and we all get freaked out once in awhile. This was definately a better season then last year. I did think the whole SWAT just shooting Mr. Clark one time was a bit unrealistic. Other then that, Kudos to the writers of the show for another great finale. Can't wait until next season.

As a Health care worker myself and the way the show was handeled with the gun control and the correlation to what is really happening, I think this touch on how society lets people buy guns so easily,it's all about money people nothing going but the rent, this type of hospital unreality actually goes on inside the hospital among the doctor's and the nurses, there is no concern of anyone but themselves and who is sleeping with who, my concern is the dumbness of how the police was so laid back and not really doing what they should have done. After Derk called the police and told them that there was a shooter in the Hospital, the swat team should have moved in right away so the body count would not have gone up. The ending was great although I would have like to have seen the shooter do some long time for the murders.

Amazing what people take for good good writing and good drama. This episode may be one of the worst television shows ever produced. Dialogue that made one shudder (that nonsense about the cows blood) and in fact, there were moments when you wish this guy would have shot some of the actors. Good writing should always be invisible, but Shonda Rhimes couldn't help but tag everything with drama in CAPITAL letters. Far-fetched, unrealistic, nonsensical and in fact, boring in some places, this season finale, so like the finale on Brothers and Sisters reveal that while writers possess greatest in telling their stories, they often have difficulty in creating powerful, realistic endings.

spoiler alert

@evie, i agree with everyone falling apart. i was sitting there thinking "they're in a HOSPITAL right? with ORs and IVs and extra blood and gauze. not at the public library or a resturant" so, yes, that was a little grating. it was also grating to see that they have not "matured" much. i can't believe it took cristina that long to realize she could do mcdreamy's surgery considering how she's always the first to jump on a surgery. i'm all for keeping the characters consistent but shouldn't they grow a little as well?

i thought it was odd as well that meredith didn't grieve for her miscarried child. or is that the cliffhanger? did she or didn't she miscarry? i hope she didn't and she knows it and that's why she just threw out the test like it was nothing. it made me feel as if she just threw out the baby too. i'm not squeamish or a right wing pro-lifer but it was an odd choice for a character who was freaking out about her husband dying not 10 minutes before and who is usually just overwrought about everything.

what else?
yes, bailey was brilliant. she doesn't get to freak out much so i didn't mind it when the elevators weren't working and her yelling could have alerted the shooter. i thought if anything was going to bring her to her knees that should have been the moment.

i love that webber ran into the hospital (but i saw that coming). his character needed to have a hero moment. a *little* conflicted about him convincing the guy to kill himself though. he let the shooter off easy imo and saved himself. so much a for the hero moment. but i can't imagine that i wouldn't have done the same. i like my life. lol

all in all a solid finale.
looking forward to next season.

I was shocked and frozen in my seat the second Reed took a bullet in the head. I couldn't believe it! Alex got shot in the right side so I figured he'd survive until the elevator doors opened and he was lying in great smears of blood. I thought, "Okay. That's it. Karev is gone!"

Everthing else was mind-blowing.
I, too, was ticked off that SWAT wasn't running up and down the empty halls, doing what they're supposed to do, and I was really angry with Bailey dragging poor Charles down the hall with a trail of gore following them. WHY didn't she or Mandy Moore's character chance the stairs to either get away or get help? Callie showed incredible bravery, as did Richard.
The acting was outstanding and I even teared up when Meredith cried hysterically after Derek "flat-lined." The "surgery during uterine bleeding" was a trifle over-doing it but I will be waiting with baited breath for the premiere in the fall, nonetheless!

What's up with all the stuttering in the show's. Do people really speak that way. In real life I rarely hear people stuttering. So why this show?

I had stopped watching pretty much after they moved Ugly Betty to another night. There wasn't enough going on to keep me interested. I saw the commercials for the episode and knew that I had to watch. My boyfriend, who pretty much hates the show, watched the whole two hours. It was the best dramatic tv that I have seen in a long time. Riveting! The acting was just outstanding! It really made me remember why I loved this show so much when it first started. It also brought to mind the shocking ER episode where Carter was shot. It had that kind of impact. I believe that I will be watching again in the future.

Like i have to tell my 7 year-old: this is just television, albeit edge-of-the-seat television. Other than the usual grim evening news, Grey's is the other show i watch, mostly for its decent writing. christina rules. think about some of the other tripe available on prime time. i live in colorado; sorry, but Columbine never crossed my mind last night. maybe hollywood is finally getting the "going postal" mentality of mister(s) clark's eye-for-an-eye, but let's not ask or expect it to actually make a difference, after all.

Grey's is not meant to be a realistic show. It is a soap opera with a medical and human aspect to it. As for the expert technical aspects of the show, remember it is a soap and a very popular one. It have the a lot of potential to reach fans to send messages like gun control when Mr Clark was so easily able to purchase that gun at any number of stores and the bullets being on sale and how he was able to buy so many and they would not fit into his pocket etc. Remember the bomb incident, when it exploded. That would have never happened the way it did. Everyone was right in character last night and the lack of technical expertise was also. My two favorite parts were when Baily thought it was raining because she was crying and when Christina would not stop operating. It was a great show and I hope Meredith gets pregnant again next year.

Lets not forget its a drama series people. It is suppose to be dramatic, and of course its not going to be 100% realistic! It's TV!!!! Do you watch soap operas? How about lost, that's completely ridiculous!!!!! I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. if ya didn't like it why did you continue to watch????? Is your clicker broken???? Intense and crazy! Just what we needed after a season of "breaks" between episodes! I personally cant wait till next season! All of these unanswered questions! wow! GREAT job Chandra!!!!! Even my husband was glued to the tv! WOW! What a range of emotions!

Ok, I have been glued to GA since the premiere episode way back when, but after the wedding thing, I sort of lost interest. Occasionally, if nothing else was on in the time slot, I would flip over...it is sort of like the ongoing soap opera where one can miss a month, come back, watch five minutes and you know what is going on.

I have to admit, the finale rocked. I found myself sitting on the edge of my couch like I was watching a good, thriller of a movie. However, some of the scenes were a little too "seriously" for me...as some one else said the bickering over boyfriend while operating on someone AND Bailey just giving up on trying to save the most obnoxious character to ever grace the series....well, that was not very "hippocratic oathish" to me.....I figured she would have drug him to the stairwell and wheedled him down a few flights. Oh well, he is out of the picture (thank you writers).

I must confess the one character that I did want to see NOT make it, Alex....dang it, still hanging on with Lexie the doofuss whining and crying all over him.....she is so blind, hello girl, look over there at McSteamy, HE is the one for you...duh. Alex....there's always next season.

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