Kevin McKidd was given a tall order this episode: balancing the comedic hijinks of the Avery/Webber clan (Bailey is like a little Webber sister so she’s included) with the processing of the four most reticent characters on the show. Some of it worked

The comedy worked. It was a little broad, incredibly lewd and sometimes silly, but the silliness never had anything to do with the case (GIANT TESTICLES). Instead it was about these big, bold characters playing off each other and trading puns like it was their job (and I guess for the actors it is!). Debbie Allen and James Pickens Jr. were clearly like “don’t worry, we got this” and led the charge balancing the romance of the storyline with the jokes. Chandra Wilson was maybe a little broader but it’s allowed because she got to make lots of references to cojones and also further Bailey’s story of being at a crossroads and unsure of what to do as a surgeon.

Also Avery and April made out a lot and then prayed to Jesus. I’m down with it because they’re attractive and Sarah Drew and Jesse Williams may be genetically engineered to be two of the most charismatic actors on the planet. I’m fairly certain if you had them do a three-way with Bloody Face I’d still be all “mm hmm git it girl” and Drew would be all “mm hm I am–BLEED ELSEWHERE BLOODY FACE OR AT LEAST REVEAL YOU ARE SARAH PAULSON SO ALEX CRANZ HERE CAN FEEL VINDICATED.”

“Or you can just make out more. I can watch that too,” said Bloody Face.

Unfortunately in McKidd’s bid to balance the heartbreak and the humor he came out heavily on the side of humor. I don’t know how it was on paper but the A-plot ended up being those huevos grandes with a healthy B-plot of Meredith geeking out over a tumor. Which, I don’t know, I’m down with her geeking out over a tumor. Ellen Pompeo has been on the ball all season presenting us with a healthy, adjusted, but dark as hell Meredith Grey. It’s a pleasure to watch and wonderful when you compare her to season one. The big changes in both the performance and the character are enough to make you giddy simply because they are so dynamic. And she was working across from Patrick Dempsey with more chemistry than I’ve seen between the actors in a while. The joy Pompeo brought to her scenes was infectious.

Also Tina Majorino was there. So again, I was down with it, but it also seemed sort of a waste that the A-plot was some season 7-8 C-plot and that this was relegated to B-plot and that Derek’s actual plotline–accepting his present fate and resisting growing a beard and moving to the woods–was shoved somewhere waaaay down in the episode.

Because this episode was, ostensibly, about characters accepting their new fates post-crash and working to move on. Meredith had her tumor and Webber/Avery clan had their huevos and Cristina had her new hospital and her new Meredith and her new attractive male boss whom she bangs and then gets upset with when he never bothers to learn anything about her.

Cristina. Babycakes. Holder of my heart for you endlessly cutting retorts, stop with the boss banging. It does you no favors, it does us no favors and it holds you back. Proves you’re regressing and unwilling to change. Yes, I get it Yang of my heart, you are the Cristina Yang. Your resolve face rivals Willow’s. You abort fetuses when your husband wants babies and you don’t and you do surgeries when people tell you not too and you are up there with the Blob when it comes to immovable objects (only less a giant blubbery mutant).

Also the Blob would not wear such a fetching hat.

And that’s fine. A character can have incredible resolve and be uncompromising and still be dynamic. The only thing that kept me from going all two-year old and bonelessly sliding off the couch in a fit of melancholia during your scenes was your relationship with Mr. Feeny. This–THIS is the mentor Cristina has often sought and it surprises me how much I enjoy watching the cantankerous young surgeon teach the cantankerous old surgeon and then the two of them share an Old Fashion. There’s a glimmer of something more to Cristina in her scenes with him. A woman who can open up to a person without going through hell a back with them. A woman who can find a kindred soul and neither cling to them unhealthily or recklessly throw them away.

Which means he’s probably going to die soon.

Her husband meanwhile was directing himself…okay that was meta. Kevin McKidd directed Kevin McKidd playing Owen Hunt and Owen Hunt spent the entire episode exhausted and staring wistfully off into space. Like literally. The episode closes on him staring up into space.

Why is he so blue? SPACE IS LOOKING BACK.

I’m not entirely sure how successful the story was. I understand, intellectually, that it was about Owen letting go of the past and moving on so he could finally find a restful night’s sleep, and I liked how on the surface his story was built off of Callie and Derek’s. But there seemed to be something lacking in his normally soulful gaze. The angst was given over to a feeble melancholia that simply doesn’t suit the character.

It worked better on Derek, but like his wife he’s in a “FUCK YOU ALL I AM ALIVE AND WILL LOVE IT” phase. I mean he even accepted everyone talking about the time he killed Jessica Stein and grew a manly beard and ate a lot of cereal! Which is totally fine! Derek refusing to regress and instead be happy and working and open about his struggle to deal with the new life the plane crash gave him is another example of that dynamic character growth. There’s no sullenness there. Simply resolution.

And sweet sweet kisses.

You know where there IS sullenness? Arizona freakin’ Robbins. Woman has a right. An above knee amputation isn’t something you shake off. It requires radical life adjustments and is always met with both anger and depression. Coupled with the character’s extreme independence and reluctance to show emotion and you have a recipe for a downtrodden, angry and horribly, horribly devastated woman. Something Jessica Capshaw shows with absolute force.

I find myself constantly astounded by her work this season. She’s taken a character we’ve never really been allowed to know and put her in a place most people cannot know and still made her recognizable. You see glimpses of the perky pre-crash woman in her fragile smile in the mirror and moments of the hardass who one time made Lexie (RIP) cry in the squint of her eyes before she attempts her first step.

Capshaw has only a smattering of lines this episode–instead forced to deliver her character’s story in silence and it absolutely works. Many times when we’re stuck watching a character process things quietly we don’t see their inner dialogue. We’re left to form our own dialogue and paint it onto the blank slate they provide. But Capshaw is speaking a virtual soliloquy in her scenes.

She’s got three really good scene partners though. Karev wrestles with his own guilt for part of the episode, and when he realizes he’s been absolved by silence he still reaches out to Arizona. They’re two characters who don’t need words and the way they talk about the peds department is quietly cathartic for both characters. He chose to stay out of guilt but she’s quietly forgiven him for his perceived transgressions.

Meanwhile Ethan Embry is all words. THIS IS OKAY. IT IS ETHAN EMBRY. I used to stare at his photo in my That Thing You Do soundtrack and sigh loudly over his dreaminess so I could be biased. Whatever. He’s solid as the prosthetist bringing the casual professionalism that such a job requires. He understands her, not because of some innate connection but because it’s his job. Which means he can walk away when she’s cruel to him and he can come back and hold her shoulder and stare at her in a mirror when she’s ready to open up–effortlessly empathizing with her when no one else really can. Embry makes what could be a one-note character a little more multidimensional and it is a glory.

But again, biased. Dat face. I just threw my underwear at my computer. It was uncomfortable and startled my dog.

Sara Ramirez has the harder job as a Callie at the end of her rope. Callie’s reluctance to go home–her willingness to give up–is, again, natural. Her wife has been using her as a verbal punching bag for over a month. That’s got to be grueling–especially when Callie’s whole support system has been shattered. All she has left of Mark is an apartment filled with his smell and all she has left of her wife is a soulless shadow content to tear Callie apart in a mad grasp at spreading her own pain to others.

And yet, despite everything, Callie stays. She protects Alex and she protects Arizona and she stays. Then just when you’re sure she’s had enough and can be pushed no further a flicker of her wife shines and invites her to sit down and watch some stupid show. It isn’t make outs or cuddles or even a one-armed hug. It’s two women sitting at arm’s length on a couch ignoring all the anger both of them carry and it’s devastatingly simple and, a little, romantic.

What does it say about a relationship when this is romantic?

Notes

  • Alex’s face when April gleefully shows his giant testicles. My brother has made that EXACT face when we once looked up terrible dude injuries online.
  • Jessica Capshaw was on maternity leave for the first four episodes. Which is why she isn’t in them much screen time wise. Holy hell. Can you imagine what she’s going to be like when she hasn’t just pushed a baby out? I is ready for it.
  • Callie is the new dude bro. First her new friendship with Derek (WHERE IS IT THIS EPISODE I MISS IT ALREADY) and now her drinking buddy Owen. With whom she has mad chemistry. Can they do another alternate universe episode where those two have angsty “I’m in love with someone else” sex? And then they can have angsty “I’m married with incredibly blond babies” sex with their respective partners. Just a thought. No need to pay royalties on it Rhimes.
  • The interns are still entirely background characters but they’re slowly being fleshed out. Tomb Raider (the chick Alex HASN’T banged that I named for the character she plays in video games) is the smart one who gets too involved. Tina Majorino is the “Lexie and Meredith had a baby or little sister they didn’t know about.” Smash Williams is the Cristina with a dash of machismo. And uh…there are the other two. They’ll get real characterizations at some point.
  • No, but Avery and April. I’m loving it. Like I’m not fully invested because they’re basically just sex friends, but I’m loving it.
  • Other Avery and Webber? Also great. If just for Avery and Webber having a pissing contest and Webber totally winning and then Bailey telling him he has giant balls.
  • I need Other Avery to find out her son and April are banging. She will be DISPLEASED as she clearly would think her son is too good for the girl who can’t pass her boards.
  • If Feeny doesn’t die can he come to Seattle when Cristina eventually does? Not every episode. He can be like Other Avery.
  • So Sofia. Where the hell is this kid? Like when Callie gets loaded with Owen and Arizona is getting her residual limb casted? WHERE DA BABY? Also where is the baby when Arizona is home alone and apparently can’t make it to the bathroom alone? Basically I think she actually stopped existing and would like confirmation please.
  • To make myself feel better here is a picture of Zola and a carrot.

  • Two Weeks Later: No new episode next week because of the Country Music Awards. Just because I watch Nashville does not mean I want to see you face CMAs! After that Cristina and Meredith have their big solo episode where Meredith has to come to terms with Lexie’s death and Cristina probably watches Mr. Feeny die or lose a malpractice suit and decides to move back to Seattle.
  • Memi Moura

    Loved your review. And I´m renaming Arizona: from now on I´m gonna call her Arizona Freaking Robbins

  • USofCalzona

    Your reviews really are amazing. They always get to the heart of what we’re all thinking.