It was billed as "The Season That Changes Everything". Now that a week has passed since the high-octane season finale, I'm ready to reflect on the season as a whole and consider what might be ahead for season seven.
In my experience our strengths and our weaknesses tend to be two sides of the same coin. One of the strengths of Grey's Anatomy is that it isn't afraid to try new things. The writers were willing to mix things up a bit. Some of the changes were probably practical in nature (T.R. Knight and Katherine Heigl leaving the show, Ellen Pompeo's lightened workload) and others were driven by artistic reasons (an effort to keep things fresh six seasons into a hit show). Some things worked and some things didn't. One of the weaknesses of Grey's Anatomy is that when something isn't working (e.g. Gizzie, Dead Denny, Teddy Altman) it can take a very long time for "course correction" to take place and sometimes it never does. It's as if head writer and GA creator Shonda Rhimes digs in her heels come what may. Still, on balance, I think season six was a solid overall effort punctuated by moments of true greatness.
Let's be honest. Unlike a procedural drama where plot is dominant, at the end of the day a show like Grey's Anatomy is all about the characters we've come to know and love over time. That's why it was difficult to lose George O'Malley and Izzie Stevens. That's why having Meredith side-lined for much of the season had repercussions. Still, the flip side of that coin is that our Fab Three (Alex, Cristina, and, yes, Meredith when not MIA) stepped up and showed us how they are the core of the show. When I think back to my favorite scenes from season six, I think of these friends who have become family to each other and to us as viewers. Whether they are in the OR or in the cafeteria, they exemplify why GA is still a great show.
One thing I particularly liked was that many players got the chance to shine this season. The Chief was no longer "The Chief" as Richard spiraled downward into alcoholism and then rose again in subsequent recovery. Derek finally had a chance to get his Dream Job and found out that being The Chief wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Miranda and Callie settled into their roles as Attending Physicians. Owen and Arizona were no longer the new kids on the block but were fully integrated into the tapestry of the show. Alex lost Izzie but found Pediatrics. Cristina struggled with life balance but came into her own as she saved Derek's life in the season finale. And, as always, Meredith and Cristina's friendship remained the show's deepest and most abiding "love" story.
Speaking of love stories, Meredith and Derek were finally married and happy (and I really like happy, married them), but I'm hoping for a little more for them to do in season seven and I imagine that the aftermath of Derek's shooting and Meredith's miscarriage will provide that opportunity. Miranda finally got a boyfriend who I'm hoping we'll still see from time to time even though the actor playing him is cast on another show. Callie and Arizona seemingly worked through their baby issues, but I'm wondering if that's truly gone away or has just been overshadowed for the time being. Mark and Lexie broke up and Lexie and Alex hooked up. I think they're the Triangle for next season.
Speaking of "triangles", the arrival of Teddy Altman was a low point for me this season. In fairness I liked her well enough in her first episode "New History" until she confessed her feelings to Owen. Things pretty much went downhill from there. I've never bought for one second that Owen loves anyone other than Cristina or that Cristina would trade Owen for surgery or even that Teddy was a Badass Cardio Goddess (that would be Cristina Yang). Still, the flip side of that coin is that the same writers who gave us the Triangle of Doom (as my friends and I have taken to calling it) also wrote We Matter, The Burke Talk, The Kitchen Scene, The Hug of Life 2.0, "I need for there to be a me and Owen", "That is the woman that I love. You shoot her, you TOUCH her and I will kill you", and "I'm trying to save your guy. Now please go and try to save mine!" Sometimes you have to focus on the good and hope for the best. Like a little peace and happiness and fun for Owen and Cristina in season seven. Pretty please, Shonda?
Finally, I want to applaud GA for the risks it took this year. Stories were told in new ways. To me "Time Warp" was a snooze fest (I know some of you disagree) but "I Saw What I Saw" and "Give Peace a Chance" were success stories. Art imitated life as financial difficulties led to the merger of Seattle Grace and Mercy West Hospitals. Reed, Charlie, and April were a mixed bag to say the least but anything that yields us Jackson Avery can't be all bad. And, of course, the season finale was sensational. It wasn't perfect but it was gripping and pretty darn good overall. Could I quibble here and there? Yes, I could but, again, I'm choosing to focus on the good and Grey's Anatomy at its best is still very, very good.
So there you have it. Season Six is a wrap. Now it's on to Season Seven where I can only imagine what awaits us. As always, share how you feel in the poll and the comments and then join me as the countdown begins to September 2010. Fade to black.
courtesy of ABC)