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'Grey's Anatomy': Who's checking out?

May 15, 2009 | 10:46 am

Will Izzie and George live or die?

We’ve got roughly four months to ponder that question. For now, it’s just a relief we still care.

To call “Grey’s” fifth season rough would be an understatement. Dead Denny sex, too many half-baked guest star arcs, the unceremonious firing of Brooke Smith, a flurry of headlines surrounding unhappy cast members — this year had it all. It also had a rather frustrating finale in some ways, which I’ll get to in a moment. But thankfully there was enough emotional heft packed into last night’s two hours to justify tuning in again in Season 6.

We knew Izzie’s battle with cancer would dominate the episode. The newlywed debated whether to undergo another brain surgery, ultimately did, and then struggled, heartbreakingly, with short-term memory loss. Just when it seemed she was out of the woods, Iz went limp in Alex’s arms. Naturally, Alex freaked, said to hell with the DNR she had signed and tried desperately to resuscitate her. Meanwhile, Izzie appeared onscreen in her pink Season 2 ball gown and boarded what appeared to be an elevator to the afterlife.

More rewarding was who awaited her when the elevator doors opened: Best buddy George. There had been rumors that the doc — who joined the Army to be a trauma surgeon last night — might find himself in a life-threatening situation. But the way he wound up there was, at least for me, a stunner. In the final hour, Seattle Grace’s finest had been trying to save a John Doe who’d heroically pushed a woman out of the path of a speeding bus only to get mangled in her place. George had been MIA for a while, but, then again, he was MIA for most of the season, so that didn’t seem particularly odd. So when, minutes before the episode ended, the Chief revealed that he’d given George the day off to go hang with his mom before departing for Iraq, and the realization of who John Doe really was began to dawn, my heart leapt out of my chest.

That juicy twist warranted cliffhanger status, whereas I wish Izzie’s fate had been determined, one way or the other, by the final cut to black. After following the Izzie cancer story for much of the season — and especially after enduring all those maddening Denny hallucinations — I can’t help but feel we deserved that much.

The Meredith-Derek ‘wedding’ also felt like a cop-out. In a tender scene early on, the couple decided to finally get hitched in a low-key ceremony at City Hall. Rocked by Izzie’s battle, a reminder that life is all too short, Mer told Der, “I don’t wanna spend another day not being married to you.” And yet, she will. Because, in the end, there was no trip to City Hall, or even a trip to the hospital chapel. Rather, the two decided to write some vows on a Post-it, sign it and consider themselves wed. As Meredith herself used to so often say: Seriously?!

But back to the stuff that did work. Like a pre-injury George helping a pre-surgery Izzie find the strength to continue fighting her disease by reminding her she’s a “doer.” A frustrated and frightened Alex telling Izzie he married her because they both figured she’d be dead in a week. Meredith, at last healed and whole, telling Christina she loves her and wrapping her up in a warm hug. Christina struggling to tell Owen she loves him and planting a big ol’ wet kiss on him, smack in the middle of the hospital. Mark realizing, after Lexie turned down his offer to move in together, that the age difference between them may be too big an obstacle to overcome and deciding to move on (and move in to a new house) alone. And Bailey — oh, Bailey. She opted to leave both her troubled marriage and the peds fellowship program, and then broke down sobbing in front of the Chief. “Grey’s” may have its ups and downs, but Chandra Wilson is consistently remarkable. Seattle Grace is lucky to have her, and so are we. 

Your turn. What did you make of the finale?

–Shawna Malcom