Grey’s Anatomy Gets Graphic And Dreamy When Doctors Struggle With Nightmares
By Alex Cranz
It is official. It’s done. It’s law. There is now way you can avoid it. Whatever the future holds it must be a part of it. Owen and Arizona must be best friends and chillax in a corner being grumpy and tortured and fair-haired but possessing gentle smiles to put their loved ones at ease. They must talk of waves crashing against the shore and face stabbings and their sort of military backgrounds. They must, like, nod sagely in understanding all the time and be the only one either can turn to in times of crisis. They must not make out. Because she’s gay and with Callie and he’s finally got things going with Cristina. But they must, forever and always, be Bros.
I had no idea I even needed these two undergoing virtual beach training together until it was actually happening on my screen. In retrospect it makes a tremendous amount of sense. While Arizona is bright and shiny and ready with a smile and Owen is dark and taciturn and ready with a grimace they’re both emotionally constipated, proud and prone to doing as much by themselves as possible. They also both struggle with misunderstood results of traumatic events that can be powerfully frustrating. Phantom limb pain and post-traumatic stress syndrome are difficult to comprehend if they’re not experienced and, what’s worse, is that not every amputee or person in a traumatic situation experience them. When Arizona rails against the pain of a leg that isn’t even there and how it could hurt things with her wife that’s exactly where Owen was in late season 6. It’s the same frustration with themselves and their new lots in life. And besides relating to their traumas in very similar fashions the two just freakin’ complement each other. Owen brings out the churlishness only hinted at with Arizona’s other interactions and she makes him kind of loveable–a trait that is SORELY needed after season 8.
Also they’re the two that are least likely to have an episode told from their point of view. Being such private and internal characters its kind of difficult to get into their brains short of surgery or long ranty monologues to their romantic partners. So when they just sort of click it unfurls the two of them at once. They don’t need monologues, just discussions of stabbings. So so so many discussions of stabbings.
It’s enough to make a girl a little giddy–not the stabbings themselves but how something so violent can bond the two. Maybe that’s to be expected for Owen, but this was kind of a watershed moment for Arizona, both for how the audience relates to her and how she relates to her new body. I mean the dreams man. First there’s the trippy as hell one where she’s jogging and rushes to the ER to treat HERSELF and ends up with her leg crumbling like a rocky villain from Star Trek
Then there’s her even more unsettling dream where Cristina and Karev just serenely watch as she slices her leg open with each movement of her scalpel before she ends up ripping her pants off and sawing her leg off with her scalpel.
That’s some cable channel/American Horror Story horror right there. Because it’s not the gore alone that makes it so awful–this is a hospital show after all. It’s the combination of gore, character we know screaming in pain as she commits the act, and the two others just…watching. It’s not often that Grey’s goes to the horror well, but then they do they leap in with abandon and produce something incredibly compelling. Then they go and give us something just cathartic and gut-punchingly melancholic and triumphant all at once.
Because Arizona IS super private. She doesn’t tell her wife what she’s going through and she wouldn’t have even told Owen if he hadn’t found her. She runs from the drama while the show embraces it. But there in the OR she’s overwhelmed by a tsunami of pain and Owen is kicking people out so he can bring her down and even though they’re surrounded by people (Cristina was so confused) it’s just the two of them and then it’s just Arizona staring down at a scalpel protruding from a foot that’s no longer there.
An act so violent is suddenly the grace Arizona seeks.
Meredith gets a similar moment. She’s Arizona’s parallel in this episode. A lighter and happier story with the same foundation. They’re women wrestling not with their bodies but with their minds. Trying to overcome traumas that they have difficulty even comprehending most days. Arizona’s struggle manifests in pain and Meredith’s manifests in uncharacteristic tears and angry fear. But she finally sucks it up and gets on a plane. Because as Bailey noted, you have to just keep moving forward or you end up getting pulled down into the mire.
And Bailey. Unlike Arizona and Meredith and even Shane, Bailey isn’t having to get over something and rely solely on her mind to do it. She’s not wrestling with plane crash trauma or a simple mistake at the labs (seriously poor Shane). She’s been there though–maybe not in the precise place Arizona and Meredith are, but she’s seen things and experienced more awful stuff than a lot of us have. And she’s got no time for them or their problems. This was the return, full blast, or no-nonsense Miranda Bailey. She gets people have issues but she’s got a hospital to work at and protect and that and her patients are always going to go first. So she tells Meredith to get over it and she shuts Derek’s ass down so hard at the end of the episode his beautiful hair was scorched a little.
Only Bailey could have pulled that one off. Yeah, a lot of the other doctors feel the same way. They’re sympathetic to what happened to the plane crash victims and they want them to be happy and emotionally whole, but they also have jobs that are now put at risk. Yet no one but Bailey is going to tell Derek Shepherd to take seat. No one has that kind of chutzpah. Certainly not Chief Owen (he was busy being BrOTP with Arizona anyways) and not old Chief Webber–he’s too busy trying to engage his old student in conversation and getting shut down too.
Last week I talked about how a calm had presented itself between storms. The crash was finally being put behind the victims and they were allowing themselves to grow and move on and now they’ve moved right into another crisis. The ER is being shut down, the hospital is in dire straits (again) and the ghosts of the crash are still present, phantoms of pain and trauma that cling to the victims resolutely and spread out–now touching every single person. Four people survived that plane crash, but no one at the hospital has been left unscathed.
- In a surprising bit of niceness Arizona’s story was told without Callie. She made a few cameos and they were delightful.
- Though they’re trip to the beach felt very Ghost Denny.
- And as cool as Arizona’s leg shattering was the effects were a little…hokey.
- “STAB HER FOOT” and then Alex was like “okay?” And the stabby stabby commenced and it was everything I hoped for and more.
- This might have been the first time Owen and Arizona have ever had a conversation alone? And the first time Cristina’s ever used her name? Can Owen and Arizona now have lots of trauma surgical adventures together?
- April must be getting some off-screen tutoring from Owen because she now dominates the ER and didn’t even blink when put in the position of mentoring her ex’s girlfriend. This April needs to stick around.
- And date the paramedic who overuses the word “creeper.” He’s dreamy. Also this leaves Stephanie to get Avery. When they bang he talks less and this is preferable for all involved.
- Hey that African baby thing is still going on! Nice callback.
- Though it bugs the shit out of me when Africa is referred to like it’s a monolithic country full of sad, starving, poor people. Africa is continent full of many nations. There are lots and lots of places on the continent where things do not suck.
- I barely talked about Constance Zimmer’s arrival. It was good stuff. She’s bitchy and pragmatic and naturally this hospital full of self-absorbed dreamers do not like her. Welcome to the real world sons!
- Cristina maybe gets MVP this week? She learned to love the orphan program and passionately defended it. Mainly for cool cases, but whatever, it was great. Also I liked her bafflement at Owen and Arizona talking to each other like they know one another.
- Next Week: THE MCBABY IS IN DANGER. And Cristina has to deal with people who pray away chronic illnesses and Arizona deals with a patient who was basically her for the first four episodes.