Welcome to Grand Rounds: Dissecting Grey's Anatomy, a roundtable on Grey's Anatomy featuring Snarky's Machine, Tasha Fierce, Everett Maroon, Redlami, and s.e. smith. This week's Grand Rounds is hosted by s.e. smith, so, without further ado, let's begin!
For a recap of this week's episode, check out Snarky's Machine's lowdown on I Fry Mine In Butter.
s.e.: 1. Pushing and skipping steps (and consequences for same) were big themes in this episode, as they have been throughout the series. How do you think that will play out over the course of this season as the characters struggle to recover from the shooting?
Tasha Fierce: I think we'll see more people who seem OK now break down because they're taking things too quickly and not allowing themselves to fully process what they went through. Especially Derek, with his risk-taking behaviors—it doesn't seem like he's really facing what happened to him. I could be wrong, but that seems like a storyline ripe with possibility.
Redlami: While some of the characters are obviously still off-balance in the aftermath of the shooting, I think we're starting to see more subtle effects on some of the characters who at first didn't seem as traumatized. For example, Mark's paternalistic sheltering of Lexie is backfiring because instead of seeing him as her protector, she's reacting to his lack of confidence and his unawareness that her reaction to the situation is entirely healthy. And if Richard takes Derek up on the invitation to go speeding it could further destabilize an already shaky situation.
Everett Maroon: I think we'll see more back and forth between this skipping and wanting to relish every moment. Torres and McSteamy spelled it out for us, with McSteamy pushing to go, go, go before the next bolt of metaphor hits anyone, and Torres explaining that skipping steps almost cost her the relationship with Arizona. And I'll note that McSteamy himself took a play from the Torres Slow Down Playbook when he let Lexie chew him out (I wonder if she'll read the riot act every week now, since she's done it in both episodes so far this season) but didn't deliver his monologue about happiness and undying love. I think he realized he'd be skipping whole flights of stairs if he had. So I expect to see more of this tension between careening forward and crawling. It's a dichotomy that gives the writers all kinds of room, so why not keep going back to it?
Snarky's Machine: Callie and Arizona seem surprisingly healed considering they were protecting children and were confronted by the shooter. I suspect based on the "frowny/edgy" discussion they are headed for more romantic woes over the course of the season. More importantly, I wasn't exactly sold on their magical reunion in the last hour of the finale. So many unresolved issues. Callie still wants kids and Arizona is still not interested in raising children. I'm not sure the writers are doing these conflicts justice. Mark and Lexie are both behaving erratically, though I was much more annoyed by Mark's behavior, which veered dangerously close to harassment, but was all-around patronizing. There's no real reason for him to want to marry Lexie. They haven't been a couple for very long and I do think they broke up for the right reasons. I think the writers are trying really hard to give each character a journey, but unfortunately, in order to do some they are resorting to some problematic stereotypes and story arcs—both Cristina and Lexie being subjected to domineering, patriarchal men, etc.
2. The big tension moment of this week's episode was Dr. Yang's scene in the OR. What was your reaction to the way various characters responded to her in that scene? Also, Cristina's characterization throughout the series has revolved around her identity as a surgeon; how do you think her inability to be in the OR is going to affect the way she thinks about herself and interacts with other characters?
Tasha Fierce: Meredith did what she does when Cristina needs her—she sat with her until she was ready to move, which is in my opinion the best thing to do. The other doctors couldn't really do anything since they were trying to do the surgery, but the fact that they pushed her so hard to get back in the OR and that Owen didn't see how hesitant she was about the whole thing just screamed lack of knowledge of how PTSD affects people. It's been borne out before that Cristina stuffs her feelings but still gives little signs that things are not OK, Owen should have picked up on that. I know they thought they were just doing what was best for Cristina, but I think the other doctors were preoccupied with the excitement of the surgery.
Redlami: There was a lot of wishful thinking by Teddy and Owen that once Cristina got back into the OR, she'd be fine. Their unwillingness to see how affected she was was very literally dramatized by nobody noticing her fall to the floor. But Owen seems to be slowly getting the idea that Cristina needs a different kind of support than the pushing he's been doing. I'm hoping this gets resolved in a way that gets her back into the OR because I don't want to think Cristina's toughness has been an act all this time.
Everett Maroon: I think Cristina Yang needs to put John Carter on speed dial, pronto. He can help her more than anyone else in the actual Grey's Anatomy universe. And paging Dr. Hunt, please: You are a PTSD survivor, not a PTSD therapist. I was frowning as Webber caves in to Teddy and Hunt, but it was interesting to see the old love triangle looking a hell of a lot more like a menage-a-trois. I don't think many people would stand a chance against an insistent Teddy/Hunt suggestion team. Arizona needs to get them on her side so she can have her pastel paint on Torres' walls.
But back to Dr. Yang. I really don't see her outside of an OR for long, because it is more than a career to her, it is nearly the sum total of her identity, and I don't think she's ready to clear her schedule for bowling. But she needs some real healing, and I think the writers pointed us at more than just the spree shooting incident; I think she's been carrying a lot of pain about Burke ever since the demise of that relationship. She looked pretty green when the patient and her husband were talking about him. I see her continuing to talk with her bestie Meredith, but I hope she starts leaning on Teddy. Her relationship with Hunt seems more solid than last season, but it's still tenuous, as suggested by her return of her wedding ring to him. Perhaps we're reaching the point where Yang stops being such an island unto herself.
Snarky's Machine: I was deeply moved by the way Cristina's storyline was handled and it was interesting to get repeated references to Burke, given the current situation mirrors one in the third season after Burke was shot and Cristina kept his tremor a secret, because it was important that he be "Preston Burke" and that meant being this rock star cardio surgeon. It appears that Hunt is engaged in the same dynamic with Cristina and the lack of sensitivity Owen has displayed with others is notably absent in his interactions with Cristina.
3. We saw big shifts with a number of relationships in this episode. What was your favorite relationship moment?
Tasha Fierce: My favorite relationship "moment" involved Sloan's desire for Lexie. He's trying to protect her, but it really just further stigmatizes her by reminding everyone of her breakdown. I hope he helps Lexie by backing off now but eventually letting her know how he feels about her. I can't see her getting back with Alex. Alex is just not the type of person who can give Lexie what she needs. On another tip, it's good to see Callie taking it slow with Arizona and letting her be the one to get excited about the moving in thing. And Meredith finally telling Derek about the miscarriage didn't turn out to be as hard as she was making it.
Redlami: When Bailey bumped into Alex, her hand appeared to linger on his chest for a moment before she registered that he still had the bullet in him. As Bailey's the only woman Alex never gets the best of, it's one relationship I hope gets further exploration. And I liked the way she made sure Alex knew that removing the bullet was something she needed, not just something she was willing to do for his sake.
Everett Maroon: The Teddy-Owen Project to Revive Yang, as I already mentioned, was interesting. By far my favorite character moments were Meredith talking to Cristina in the OR, holding her hand, talking later on Mer's living room floor, and Meredith finally telling Derek that she miscarried. And oh my god he didn't become an assclown when he heard the news (I am really not with Team Derek), so that was great. I wished Torres would have told Arizona what she told McSteamy—that she's excited to have her partner paint her apartment beige, because it puts Torre's perspective into much more relief, giving it a nuance she didn't share with Arizona directly. And I was touched when Bailey let her guard down with Alex; and let's just note that a Miranda "request" sounds a lot like an order, which is why I suppose Karev answered with a "Yes, ma'am." But I liked that small moment.
Snarky's Machine: This week's episode left a lot to be desired in terms of relationships. I realize the writers are still easing the characters back into daily routines, but there are lot of messy entanglements—Mark/Lexie, Teddy/Perkins, Cristina/Owen—that overshadow the smaller moments of intimacy that existed between other characters. As for Meredith and Derek, I am at a loss for the ridiculous way the writers sought to resolve the miscarriage issue. I also didn't particularly care for the direction Teddy's relationship with Perkins seems to be headed, based on Teddy's discouraging conversation both Arizona and Perkins himself. That said, I'm still trying to reserve judgment, because I do like the way in which Teddy is becoming a more realized character and there is some weight behind what used to depicted as unrequited love. Teddy is beginning to be defined as a woman and surgeon, outside her relationship to Cristina or Owen. I am really enjoying that.
4. Are we all in agreement that Dr. Bailey did not get enough screen time this episode?
Tasha Fierce: YES. We need more Miranda! I love how she made Alex take that stupid bullet out before he could do surgery. I mean, really, no one needs a constant reminder of what happened that day. I understand that the episode was focusing on Cristina and Meredith (as it often does), but I would have liked to see more of what's going on with Dr. Bailey.
Redlami: There's never enough Bailey, but she got some good lines in, both with "god was in a mood today" and "get in there and get your shirt off" (to Alex).
Everett Maroon: I agree! We also saw little of Derek, almost none of Webber, and not very much from Alex. I really would like to see more focus on Bailey, but I will note that twice this season now she's had a chance to tell viewers where she's at emotionally, and saying she carries around the day of the shooting actually felt a lot more stable to me than last week, when she declared she was held together by tape and glue. It sounds like she's progressing. She didn't want her would-be BF to be in a place so far away from her, not able to really relate to the shooting, but she doesn't want to be confronted with the shooter's bullet inside Alex's chest, either. I hope we see more of Bailey next week.
Snarky's Machine: Bailey's screen time was not effectively used and there was a huge missed opportunity to flesh out her relationship with Karev. The two characters have always shared an emotional connection that is largely absent from their interactions with other characters. Bailey was really the only person who could convince Karev to have the bullet removed, not merely because she was his superior, which is the framework, which other characters unsuccessfully utilized. Bailey and Karev have an emotional shorthand, which fills in all the pauses in their spoken interactions. I felt the writers didn't allow their moments together to have the emotional heft hinted at during their various interactions in the episode. I would like to see their relationship—not necessarily romantic—explored, because it's interesting and in some ways reminiscent of Bailey's relationship with O'Malley.
See you next week for 'Superfreak,' hosted by Tasha Fierce!
About your bloggers:
Everett Maroon is a Seattle-based writer, focusing on popular culture commentary, speculative fiction, and memoir. His interests include the interrelationships of characters on Grey's Anatomy, Dr. Bailey, behind-the-scenes politics, and Dr. Bailey.
s.e. smith is a cantankerous, cat-wearing, pop culture-loving, pants-eschewing philistine from the wilds of Northern California with a compendium of largely useless random knowledge and a typewriter that doesn't know when to quit.
Redlami turns numbers into stories and is the resident tech geek at I Fry Mine in Butter.