Adultery Isn’t The End In The Grey’s Anatomy Season Premiere
By Alex Cranz
Last season I wrote a little about how Shonda Rhimes and company like to use infidelity to explore underlying issues. It’s her lens through which to examine characters, and each time it reveals a different facet.
It’s heartening to see that hasn’t changed with Arizona cheating on Callie. The hurt the affair engenders is revealing. Because these two have been in a lesbian ghetto off and on since halfway through season 7. The depths of their feelings for one another haven’t been explored as much as they’ve been assumed. Yet two episodes into season ten and we finally, finally get to see how much they mean to one another.
Callie is devastated, and angry, and a tad irrational and lost. Utterly lost. When the righteous fury and the drunken moments fade the real hurt seeps in and you see just how far gone Callie is. She’s not just lost her wife. She’s lost who she is. That’s not all on Arizona. Callie has matured and changed a lot since she danced in her underwear, but those wicked cool jagged edges of who she used to be have have dulled and maybe, as Callie intimates to Meredith, that’s not such a great thing.
Arizona’s own introspection is more limited, but the breakup quickly makes her infinitely more interesting. Her scene with Alex alone seems to warrant it. Without Callie or Mark to play off of (and to whom she’s always Ms. Perky Thang) we get that snarky woman she’s always hinted at being before Seattle. We also see that all those times Arizona has come off as reserved before have nothing to do with her being underwritten as a character.
She simply is that reserved. She plays things close to the vest while Callie’s pain is played big and visible to everyone. Arizona tries to be “mature” and tries to act like what she’s done is as bad as…forgetting to pick the kid up from daycare. But as the episode proceeds, and Callie’s anger lingers and lingers and lingers it chips away at Arizona. Until she’s standing in a doorway sobbing in front of respected coworkers and begging to see her daughter.
It’s just after that, when Cristina hands Sofia over and the camera flashes back to Callie, that you see the extent of the ruin caused by Arizona’s infidelity. There, so briefly, you don’t see Callie’s anger or her loss. You see the love she still feels for this woman who has hurt her so deeply. It gives you hope. Wherever this affair’s fallout takes these two characters you can be sure it will end up being together.
The same cannot be said for Jackson and April. After a couple of episodes where April ran around crying and looking at Jackson like he’s catnip he finally says what we were all thinking. April needs to get over herself and stop being so wishy-washy. His speech to her, where he outlines exactly what April is feeling acknowledges their closeness, but it also shows just how over April Jackson is. For the time being that romantic avenue is closed. Which is totally fine because Jackson can now hang out with Stephanie.
Beautiful sunflower perfect Stephanie and her beautiful sunflower perfect crew of interns. The four actors playing the surviving interns were picked up as series regulars for this season, and in true Grey’s fashion they were inaugurated in the blood of their friend. Which, okay, that sounds pretty bloody. Mousey’s death wasn’t actually that bloody. It was just crispy…and necessary so Stephanie, Leah, Shane and Jo could be real Grey’s characters.
I was genuinely surprised by how not annoyed I was by the focus on them. It seemed natural, and each was finally allowed to be defined. Except Shane. One of last season’s most developed interns, he spent the season premiere being mopey because he put Mousey in that room where she though wandering into a puddle of electrified water was a great idea. Between his brown-nosing and his accidental manslaughter and grief over said accidental manslaughter he is…not the best.
But that’s sort of the beauty of Grey’s Anatomy. He isn’t likable currently, but he could be. Like Meredith. Or Callie. Or even Owen. Characters on this show evolve, subtly, slowly, but ultimately radically. We see that in the grief on Derek’s face when Heather dies or in his willingness to help Callie despite them being so different. We see that in the way Callie and Meredith have grown to understand, respect, and even like one another. And we see it when Bailey breaks and Cristina stands tall and they hug. A real genuine, ten years in the making hug. Few shows can give you such a wonderful payoff so late in their run without it being genital smooshing related.
But Grey’s does. It takes the threads of friendships and coworker interactions and it makes them as vitally important as all those super couples. So when something like Cristina and Owen or Callie and Arizona do end there are those friendships, those interactions, keeping us watching.
- Chandra Wilson shot the second half of the premiere and deftly moves things from the ramped up pacing of Rob Corn’s first half to the breezy and comedic pacing of traditional Grey’s. But it isn’t all so traditional. particularly that bad ass slow motion shot of the new interns. She shamelessly manipulates us into liking them and I appreciate that.
- Meredith is the episode MVP. She keeps everyone calm and rooted. Yes she cheats and uses her baby to accomplish this, but whatever. Four for you Meredith Grey.
- Though three for Cristina and her well earned “I told you so.”
- Debbie Allen was back and on fire and for a second I really thought Richard would die so they would bring her in as chief or something. I almost would have been okay with it. This works to.
- Jo isn’t going to make this romance thing easy for Alex. As every time they try to hook up she realizes he’s slept with one of her friends in the place they’re about to bang in. They REALLY want me to like Jo don’t they?
- Owen and Cristina were a sucker punch. All flirty break up sex and then WHAM the grief of how they’re really over. Like Callie and Arizona that’s a break up that needs time to sink in.
- I know up above I said Jackson should hang with Stephanie more, but she’s infinitely more interesting apart from him.
- The kids playing Sofia and Zola had NO time for their scenes.
- Next Week: Arizona, now realizing she’s SCREWED, tries to get her wife back in other ways. Meredith and Derek realize having a baby is the worst. Alex gets no sex and the universe finds it just and hilarious.