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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
twitter.com/cadlymack

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)

Did anybody notice when Lexi was confronted by Mr. Clark and one of the Swat guys shot Mr. Clark....how did he get away at that point ??? That was a huge writer's mistake ! The officer had him in his sight, shot him ONCE and then let him get away ???! That one part bothered me !

Perez died to in the arms of Bailey. He was one of the members from the new merge. He wasn't mentioned in this story although, he wasn't a big character anyways.

Nice way to weed out some of the "new" people from the merge ;) I couldn't seem to like any of them...not even a little bit.

Meredith telling Christina that she was pregnant BEFORE telling Derek? C'mon ! Then she's miscarrying and standing and operating the entire time?

Some of the performances were a little to "out there" from reality to grasp :/

You guys are beirng really anal. The storyline was awesome and I loved Mandy Moore. Surgeons are humans. They panic and can lose it just like you and I. GA is the best show on T and I cant wait for the cast to earn more Emmys this year. Their performances were amazing.

Although I absolutely LOVED last night's season finale, my girlfriends and I were left wondering what the nail biter was. In the past Grey's has always left us yelling at the tv to show us more, but in this finale we were kind of left in shock by not only the fact that all of us felt as if we were at gun point but that there was resolution. We know that Karev, Owen, and Derrick live and that Reid and Cooper died so... where is the cliffhanger?

We were also trying to figure out what possibly could be the change for next season other than everyone is obviously going to be traumatized. For example, Lexi said she loved Karev but he was looking for Izzy... Is he going to wake up and realize that he can't be with Lexi and want to go find Izzy or is he going to have some brain injuries because he lost so much blood. Is Derrick going to step down as Cheif of surgery and let Webber have it back because it is too much?

Those are questions and situations we came up with but honestly... where is the cliffhanger??

I thought the death toll was rediculous. I though the so called SWAT team was a joke. My small town has more members to clear a building than large Seattle. This episode was so far fetched and unlbelievable, lock down means lock down. Since when do doctors find killers faster than a SWAT team. I am so disappointed, first in the writing, second in the believability, and last in the viewers that have already called radio stations thinking that this could happen to their hometown hospital at anytime.

This show was wow. I read some of the comments. There was a part that should have made people think of gun control. Mr. Clark said "Did you know you can buy a gun at a superstore... just down isle eight?(cant remember what number he said)...... I bought several boxes of ammo because it was on sale." Then he reveals he has one bullet left because he brought his flask. Makes you think even though Mr. Clark had "waited 5 days", he was still able to complete his plan. What does that say about our gun control laws? Are they enough? Will a 5 day wait make a difference if they are still allowed to buy unlimited ammo?

I disagree with the Columbine comparison. I would never have thought about that until I read your article. This was about a widow's uncontrollable grief. I also disagree with the statement that Cristina's wedding was not a strong finish. I was bawling right along with her. Her display of raw emotion was powerful.

I loved Cristina and Callie crying over their cereal. I loved Chief Webber through all of this. I agree with you there. I also TOTALLY agree with you about Bailey in this episode. I am over Callie and Arizona's storyline. I kind of wish Arizona was straight so that she could be paired with Karev, I always thought they'd made a good couple.

Speaking of Karev I am appalled you did not mention the storyline of him being shot, Lexie saying she loved him in front of McSteamy, and him calling her Izzie. I think that the things he said to her thinking she was Izzie will make for an interesting complication in their new romance. Maybe it will lead her back to McSteamy?

I also disagree with the people who state that this show should have been cancelled 2 seasons ago. If you feel that way, then why do you keep watching, is what I would like to know.

The morning after and I'm still stunned and exhausted! Layers and layers of questions and suspenseful moments, I was hanging on to every moment. Amazing how the character remained funny and delivered great performances. The characters have been stretched to areas that I haven't seen, Owen taking a bullet for Meredith, Meredith stills operates while in the middle of miscarriage, Bailey dragging a bleeding body into the hostile halls...which proves that it's all about the medicine and saving lives.

As for Mandy Moore (I'm a huge fan of hers), I don't see how her character could have done more. She did a good job as a patient/victim, I didn't expect her to do anything wild and crazy with her character. Her character was necessary for Bailey's character and situation. Mandy Moore wasn't a strong character, but her character made bailey strong.

I'm hesistant to watch next season, but we all have to see what happens.

This finale was defintely intense. I loved every minute of it and can't wait to see what will happen to Seattle Grace next season. Someone commented about the doctors falling apart. Just because you are a doctor does not mean you are trained to handle a situation of this nature. A shooter picking off people one by one as you struggle to save lives and one by one your friends and coworkers are being shot. The only people in my opinion that could handle a situation like this would be military and police. Hence the calmness of Owen and Teddy. I thought the moments of chaos were true to a situation of this magnitude.

There were some stand out performances for sure. Bailey, Christina, Cally and Arizona had me in tears. Makers and tiny humans, loved it. All in all this was an awesome season finale and I am glad Derek made it, now we have to wait and see how this miscarriage will effect Derek and Meredith.

can we turn down the music at the end - couldn't hear the actors talking....

I was shocked by the death toll. I can't believe he killed some many people. Then there is the fact that he "almost killed" so many, seemingly but just interacting with them. I think out of the deceased, I will miss Charlie the most. I was kind of hoping Izzie would come back and hook up with him. He was funny and kind of a smart@$$ and I liked that. He seemed more "real" or reality based than the other "Mercy Westers."

I loved this show,and I love last night's episode better than any! Chandra Wilson did an outstanding job! This is how I think I'd be if a gun was to my face. You could see the struggle of having to admit that she was anything other than the brilliant surgeon that she is. Ellen's scene where she told the gunman "Take me" made chills run up and down my arms. The entire cast was great. I wasn't reminded at all about the school killings and I'm from Virginia. I was too engrossed in the characters and the storyline to think of anything else! Those 2 hours held me from beginning to end. I don't think that Grey lost the baby, or at least I hope not. However, I do think that she thinks so. Best episode EVER!!!!!

I have to also add that I think it's hilarious that people are complaining that things weren't "believable". When is Grey's EVER completely believable? And who cares, it's a TV show, and the crazy stuff is what makes it great.

Wow! I was literally screaming at the tv!!! What a great episode. It was totally violent and even though I avoid violent tv shows and movies this came of like real life (sad as that may seem)and not gratuitous. This show rocks and yes has had some not so great moments but they really pulled it out with this finale. I was Sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo happy it was 2 hours long and didn't realize that until it continued after Derrick almost went to the other side. Great tv, great show, great story, great writers! Can't wait till next season.

I have to say, I agree with Carol White. My only real gripe was with how inept they made the cops look. I get the doctors freaking out because I would. I liked the pyschology that was built up about saying you were a surgeon or not (bailey was excellent). It is not just remincint of what we all heard about with the Columbine tragedy. This was the reality for Jews during the holocaust. Deny your religon and you may live. It's not the easist choice to make.

I also liked the psychology and challenge of the doctors encountering the shooter to humanize themselves ".. I heard if you give personal information it makes you more human" (shadow dreamy). Would you be able to talk yourself out of being shot by somone holding a gun point blank at you? It at least made me think.

I think we do a dis-service to our police and rescue force when we make them seem incompetent. I get wanting to show that Webber and the doctors were the ones to get the job done, but I don't think we constantly need to step on the police in these types of episodes to get the point accross. It certainly doesn't make my day better to see our police and emergency crew constanly portrayed this way. Dudley do-right, not to the rescue??

Other than that, I loved it. I had it recording and was up late watching the whole show. I couldn't take my eyes off it. I think my jaw was literally dropped for at least 1/2 the show. That is an A+ to me!!!! (well A for the cop thing...)

At the start of this season I was a little put off by the joining of Mercy West and Seatle Grace. There were times when I didnt want to watch the show, but true to my Greys, I kept on watching. Last night I was truly shocked by how quick Reed was killed off, but more upset of the possibility that Karev might die. We already lost a few big charactors on the show (Burke, Izzy, Hahn, George) I was not ready to lose another one. I dont think I would have wanted to watch anymore. I am hoping that Karev and Shepard make it thru the beginning of the next season. I kinda figured something bad was going to happen to the fact that Meradith was pregnant. She doesnt seem like the mother type. I just wonder how long she's going to try to keep it from Shep, and wether that is what will kill the relationship, since hello.... the have been going great for far too long.

I have to put in here that my favorite scenes were that that had Baily in them. She is an excellent charactor, and I love the way she did everything she could to try and save Dr. Cooper. Props to u Baily, we all love you.

Does anyone know who the actor was that played the main cop or swat leader in the show last night. He looked really familiar.

I didn't see the show, but certainly get the idea from the article and posts.

All these people writing at such length about the phantom that is a television program and expressing deep human sentiment over individuals who are made up characters.

Would you spend so much time and emotion helping the lady next door if she fell down her back stairs?

How do you say it? Get a life!

I have been watching for about two years now and last night was riviting. I agree that Chandra Wilson as Bailey did an outstanding job. Acutally, I was very impressed by everyone last night. If I remember correctly I think four people died but 7 people were shot. Derek , Karev and Owen survived. Derek does a good job as Cheif but he is not as good as Dr. Weber was. The only thing kind of hard to believe was when Meredith starting losing the baby she just went right along with fixing up Owen and nothing else was said about the miscarriage. At the end it was like nothing had happened and she had never been pregnant. Kinda weird. Linda J

I really liked the show, I'm glad that I recorded it so I could look at it later without the commercials,I got more out of it, anyway, again I really liked this episode.

Yes, last nights show was hard to watch, not because of Colombine but because it happened in a hospital where I worked. The gunman came into the hospital, found an isolated office and took everyone hostage. When we learned of the lock-down we had similar reactions; its a drill, that doesn't mean on this floor, that doesn't mean me. When we found out what was happening we got very quiet very quickly. We knew the people being held and we were frightened for them. Also, I knew that my daughter, hired by a local neighborhood newspaper for an internship, would be outside recording the events. I worried for her as well, what would happen if the gunman came out shooting? We were fortunate that the only death was the gunman. He had left a suicide note in his car indicating that he didn't have the nerve to kill himself so he was leaving it to the police. One of the hostages had a heart attack and was quickly stabilzed and hospitalized after it was over. That floor of the hospital was never the same. Walls and halls were torn apart and rebuilt so that no evidence of the situation was left to remind us of the trauma.

 
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