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 the fantastically delicious Everett Maroon and if you're jonesin' for a recap before you plunge in, Snarky's Machine has got you covered over at I Fry Mine In Butter. Without further ado, let's begin!
Everett Maroon: Grey's sure does love its dichotomies. Using the night shift/nighttime as a foil against "proper" behavior, most of the characters revealed something about themselves or their motivations in this episode. Whose revelation surprised you the most? What were you happy to learn, and what was the most troubling?
Snarky's Machine: I was troubled by the trope-happy framing of Teddy as the world class surgeon/hapless singleton. In Callie the hapless singleton role seems appropriate and directly ties to class; Callie comes from an extremely class-privileged background and at times seems to be very attached to having someone else exert dominance in her life. (Her father. Mark. Arizona.) Whereas Teddy Altman is a freaking VETERAN! While the circumstances under which she entered the military have not been made clear, I can't believe she joined to escape a failed romance. Even if that were the case for Teddy, based on the way she is positioned as thorough, kind and a tad eccentric, I'm not buying her Bridget Jones routine. That said, I do always enjoy Teddylicious moments!
Redlami: I was amazed that Meredith did not know the meaning of "cojones." But seriously, what surprised me most was Mark's reaction to Callie's request for a "sexual palate cleanser." Instead of reacting as the leering horndog he's been in the past, he actually looked horrified at first, which suggests that he genuinely cares for Callie as a friend and didn't anticipate that she'd turn to him for physical comfort.
s.e. smith: I have to say, I kind of adored April's determination to cling to normalcy, making French toast at 6 PM because it's 'breakfast' for her. I had a tough time with Teddy's storyline; I feel like online dating is almost always framed as something tragic and pathetic and Grey's didn't do anything to counter that stereotype. I was also a little troubled that the hospital apparently allowed almost all the attendings to just disappear for the evening; surely you want someone on call for emergencies!
Everett Maroon: Weigh in on Dr. Stark. Is he a mad super-genius, overentitled, frighteningly detached, what? And what does Chief Webber think of him?
Snarky's Machine: Dr. Stark. Grey's has done something that is both clever and problematic with his characterization. He feels fully realized and is the kind of person the Chief would hire to wash the taste of Arizona's abrupt departure from his mouth. He is a temporary replacement (the actor who plays Dr. Robbins is on maternity leave) and with that in mind, the character is exactly as he should be. That said, I find the "informed nastiness" via Dr. Stark's physicality very problematic. Is Dr. Stark really that much of a jerk? Would his behavior be framed as such if he looked like - say—Mark or Alex? In terms of how each interacts with staff—particularly staff that's new to them—there's little difference in their communication style. Personally, I like Stark. He feels authentic. He's obviously a well established attending who has little time for the crybaby antics of 4th year residents who from his point of view need a lot more hand holding than what he probably is used to.
Redlami: I think Richard had to hire someone in a hurry to replace Arizona, and Stark probably looked good on paper. I think the Chief views dealing with his obvious character flaws as just another part of his residents' education. In a sense it's refreshing to see a doctor who actually acts like a doctor and doesn't want to spend every waking hour at Seattle Grace. But I think he's mainly a plot device—does he even have a first name?
s.e. smith: I love it when I have totally different takes on things than other members of the Grand Rounds crew: Ugh, I hate him! He thinks he's such a surgical god, taking the fame and glory and recklessly disregarding his patients. He is an embodiment of the worst stereotypes about surgeons. And I think Webber recognizes that, but that he's going to allow his residents to learn from it.
Everett Maroon: As Snarky's Machine likes to note, Grey's has a way of using a patient story to mirror back the emotions of the residents. This week Dr. Avery gave "instructions" to Lexie that sounded a lot like an explanation for his erratic behavior—what do we make of his explanation about guilt and life?
Snarky's Machine: Well clearly it is his fault his sibling died or at least he feels responsible. I swear I remember this story back when it was called My Bodyguard. I'm not finding this story arc particularly convincing or engaging. I'm not sure why Jackson even needs to have a "troubled" past. Grey's seems to squander every chance to explore what it is like to be the biracial male grandchild of a famous white surgeon (with a prestigious award named after him) via a less stereotypical lens. Jackson's story arc also seems like the plot of an adaption of a John Irving book starring Jeff Bridges.
Redlami: For several weeks we've been getting teased that something's up with Jackson. The appearance of night terrors, Lexie's inquiries (prompted by Owen) and Jackson's statement about survivor guilt suggests that we'll soon be treated to a comic book origin story revealing a deep dark secret in which his decision to go into medicine was prompted by his responsibility for the death of someone close to him.
s.e. smith: I think the point he raises, about not wanting to talk about it but needing people to know how he feels, is an important one a lot of people in the real world don't always get. Just because you don't talk about something doesn't mean it didn't affect you, and guilt on this level is something that will stay with you for life, even if it's not rational and you know that on some level. I'm a little bugged that the show feels a need to assign a dark past to this particular character, given that they haven't done much to flesh him out; it feels like the sum total of his characterization. Like Snarky, I feel like the show squandered a chance here.
Everett Maroon: Cristina Yang gave us another dose of her post-surgical life, moving on from shopping binges to alcoholic ones. What's our latest take on Dr. Yang's story arc, and what does her evolution as a character say about misapplied intensity?
Snarky's Machine: Cristina is trying to "find" herself. I don't necessarily have a problem with it. When would she have had time to be a young adult or experience anything other than medical school and being the smartest person everywhere she goes? I would like to see characters be a little less judgmental, because I do think it's important for Cristina to find her way. I actually enjoyed her little visit to Coyote Ugly.
Redlami: Cristina throws herself into whatever she does, and right now I think she's taking a crash course all the aspects of life she's missed while singlemindedly pursuing her career goal as a surgeon. She doesn't seem to realize or care that she's no better prepared to be a bartender than a stylist. Unlike Owen, who's still in denial about how deep Cristina's problems are—telling her to go out and get a job? seriously?—Derek seems to be the only one who understands that there's no sense in trying to "fix" her, that what she's going through needs to take its course.
s.e. smith: Again, Grey's appears to be taking the 'watch Yang go wild and craaaaazy!' tack to make viewers feel like something is horribly wrong, when really Yang isn't doing anything that out of the ordinary. Dr. Altman made a good point; people in medical training don't really have an extended opportunity to explore other careers, let alone cut loose on that level, and it's not entirely an irrational response after a lifetime of being very focused on and on task.
Everett Maroon: Do we think Dr. Bailey made that phone call to Ben? What happens next for McSteamy and Torres?
Snarky's Machine: She did not. Bailey liked the idea of wanting to do it and not judging herself for the feeling. McSteamy and Torres? The pained look on his face when she asked him for "sorbet" was pretty telling. He loves Callie dearly, but it's clear he is not looking to be her sole source of emotional or romantic support. I think it was very healthy of Mark, though ultimately, I don't think they should have done the nasty. What will Lexie think?
Redlami: Bailey's babbling about Ben was probably just a reminder that she's a woman with needs, but that and her drunken rant about finding a man who understands fistulas might also be an indication that she's ready to let someone help her shoulder the emotional burden she's carried since the shooting. Or at least that she's ready to date again. I think Mark and Callie will back away from the "with-benefits" aspect of their relationship as they realize they're still in love with their respective exes.
s.e. smith: Eeep, I hope not! Bailey is above drunk dialing, and I suspect once she sobered up she made a call on not going ahead with that. I had a tough time with McSteamy and Torres; I kept hoping he'd stick to his guns and not go there, and ended up feeling pretty disappointed by where they went in this episode. Judging from her facial expression on the morning after, I suspect she's regretting what happened too.
About your bloggers:
We'll be back on 3 December with 'Adrift and at Peace.'
Snarky's Machine is the founder of the pop culture site I Fry Mine in Butter.
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.
Tasha Fierce blogs about politics, fashion and whatever she wants at Red Vinyl Shoes.
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.