After a month-long hiatus, Grey’s Anatomy returns this week with the first of four episodes remaining in season 7. Creator Shonda Rhimes has confirmed that this year’s season finale will center heavily on the remaining three original interns — Meredith, Cristina, and Alex — and this new installment, “It’s a Long Way Back,” serves as the catalyst for this shift in focus. Coupled with Callie’s struggle to recover from the accident, the latest trials and tribulations of the Big Three serve as the foundation of a strong episode, written by one of my favorite GA scribes, William Harper. I love his work, because he deftly combines vintage qualities of Grey’s (snarky humor, sparkling ensemble scenes, clever twists) with characterization that rings true. Let’s take a look at these characters we’ve known for so long and assess their current situations.
Wow. Where to begin? Sometimes we do something with the best of intentions only to have it blow up in our faces. You just know that trouble in on the horizon for Meredith Grey. Fueled, I think, by both compassion and guilt in her encounters with Richard and Adele (who, in her unstable mental condition, mistakes Meredith for Ellis), Meredith secretly intervenes in the Alzheimer’s Trial, making sure Mrs. Webber gets the active agent rather than the placebo. The problem is that there is no guarantee that the drug will do any good, while it’s almost certain that Meredith’s transgression will come to light, jeopardizing her career, Derek’s career, the trial and their marriage. Yikes! Oh, Meredith! What have you done?
Meanwhile, Cristina has been ostracized by Teddy (for no rational reason, I might add — only Dr. Altman’s wounded pride), but she’s taking it in stride, caring for Callie with a prickly tenderness that illustrates just how far Cristina has come as both a doctor and a person. I love the Cristina/Callie friendship and their dynamic here is perfection, alternately hilarious and heartbreaking.
Questions remain, though. Is Cristina “in the game” for Chief Resident? Is she really suited for the position, regardless of her surgical prowess? Can and should she make amends with her mentor? Has she equaled or surpassed that mentor as a surgeon? And what about those baby “anvils” that were falling from the sky like so many rocks? Dr. Yang is at a crossroads. What will she do?
I love this subplot, because it’s classic Karev. Owen puts him on the spot regarding his “plan” in the quest for Chief Resident. Improvising quickly, Alex proposes bringing children from Africa to Seattle for life-changing surgeries. He pesters a cranky, wealthy patient for money. He arranges for pro bono medical care and ground transportation. He gets himself into a heap of potential legal and financial trouble and then manages to, through the generosity of the aforementioned patient and some dumb luck, emerge unscathed.
Best of all, as it often happens in such cases, somewhere along the way, Alex begins to actually care about these kids. What a pleasure it’s been to see his growth over seven seasons. What an ironically delicious turn of events that Pediatrics is his calling. He’s still far-from-perfect, but he’s got a good heart. Way to go, Karev! Look at what you did!
Callie, et al.
I feel like the show has been Callie/Arizona/Mark heavy for about seven episodes now, but it’s impossible to talk about this episode without including the resilient Dr. Torres. As we witness her recovery (and that of Baby Sophia, who went from “featherless, beakless chicken” to super-duper cute in record time), a family is formed. Callie finds wells of strength and a will of iron because she wants so desperately to be a mother to her daughter. Arizona and Mark find a way to get along because that’s what Callie and Sophia need them to do. Even Grinch-like Dr. Stark is transformed as his heart grew two sizes over the course of three months.
And I found myself moved by Bailey’s words: “You’re right. You are absolutely right. Cars are not safe for children. OK, neither are bookcases or squirrels, strong winds, people who sneeze. They’re all going to get your baby. But honey, you don’t feel this was because you were in an accident. You feel this way because you are a parent.” Anyone who has ever been the terrified new parent bringing a baby home for the first time knows how true those words are and that it does go away in time. Well, most of it. Some of it never does.
Sprint to the Finish
One episode down, three to go. Will there be repercussions for Meredith? Where will Cristina find herself professionally and personally? Will Alex actually get Chief Resident? And how will Sophia Robbin Sloan Torres fare in her new home with her three parents? Voice your opinion and vote in the poll!
The next all-new episode of Grey’s Anatomy, “White Wedding,” airs May 5 on ABC.
(Image courtesy of ABC)