Review: Grey's Anatomy Mid-Season Finale - 'Risk'
4.0Overall Score
Reader Rating: (9 Votes)

The uptick in quality this season on Grey’s Anatomy has allowed the show to return to what it does best in these later seasons: a soap opera-thirtysomething style show that likes to examine the “ever after” part of romances. Yet because the show is still, functionally, a romance/medical drama couples are still going to get pulled apart and outlandish tragedies and triumphs are still going to befall them.

“Risk” is a great example of the shifting priorities of Grey’s Anatomy. Some of the old magic is still there–a cafeteria scene perfectly nails that easy rhythm of friendship early Grey’s did so well, but it’s got an acute grasp of lived in romantic relationships too. Meredith and Derek’s big fight–as silly as the reason may be–is a fight a married couple is going to have. Especially when that couple is made up of two workaholics with egos as big as their hair.

For so long Grey’s has been concerned with whether or not couples will get together that we never pause to wonder if they should. While Derek may be critical to establishing Meredith’s mental health early in the show he’s still a famous neurosurgeon with a superhero complex. He’s got the same back story as Batman and he’s positive that every time he swans into a room he’s saving lives and if he loses one he blames himself for the loss. Meredith, on the other hand, has languished in the shadows of extraordinary surgeons for years and she’s finally ready to step out into the sun and earn her own accolades. Meredith and Derek’s professional desires are at complete odds. To the point that when he petulantly phones the President’s aid at the end of the episode it feels like an inevitability.

Callie and Arizona are inevitable too. For the first time since season 5 they have lives entirely apart from one another, but they still find that one quiet moment to come together and simply soak in the familiar comfort of each other. While the music of the scene is overwrought the emotions at play are not. Callie, often given to big and loud feelings, is muted in her defeat, and Arizona, too often a stony-faced is instead there with a gentle smile and soft expressions of concern. It’s such a quiet–such a still–moment. And it’s a perfect way of showing us just how inevitable these two women are to one another. They don’t have to dissect their separate plots or rehash old grievances, they can just step away from all the bad and be there for one another with soft, encouraging words.

If they hugged it would make it all better.

If they hugged it would make it all better.

Until Arizona breaks the spell and asks Callie if she misses her. Then the truth of what they are is roaring back, but the emotions are still muted. They may miss one another but their still too hurt to find their way back. So they smile sadly and Arizona walks away.

And meets up with her good friend Amelia. Which…when did they meet each other? Do they know one another? Why are they acting like more than passing acquaintances when they’ve never even shared a scene together? Was some important back story scene cut? If you cut away all those burning questions their scenes together work really really well. It’s a nice fusion of stories that have otherwise existed on other sides of the hospital, and it gives Amelia an actual plot beyond introducing her to the show or orbiting her brother and his wife.

Also who doesn’t love a plot about the new kid on the block performing a miracle surgery on Geena Davis’s brain meat? It’s a nice break from the other major medical plot. April and Jackson’s baby. When I asked that Stephanie be given a storyline I did not expect it to be “tell your ex his baby will not survive.” It’s a little dark, but will do a nice job of accomplishing the apparent ultimate mission of this season: breaking up every single established couple.

Someone hide Bailey and Ben. I don’t think I could handle them getting the thirtysomething treatment.

Notes

  • The break up of Meredith and Derek has been one of the best things the show has ever done. Particularly how her flashbacks and reflections informed her need to push him away so neither of them would ultimately resent the other. You’re a rockstar Meredith Grey.
  • It is difficult to express how pleased I am with Arizona’s plot this year. Who knew she was an actual character!
  • By the end of the vet plotline I really need Callie to take Owen down a notch and explain to him how when he is upset he can’t just yell at her. Like come on man, you’re better than that.
  • They’re setting up something between Owen and Amelia and as much as I should want to hate it it is actually not so bad? Particularly because she would be able to train him into being nicer to his coworkers.
  • Maggie and Meredith are officially besties and if you disagree just remember that Maggie had her choice of general surgeons to ask for a consult and she sought Meredith because she’s the “best.”
  • Not the best? The two old farts that judged them so hard in the gallery.
Just look at 'em. Bunch of old men.

Just look at ’em. Bunch of old men.

  • Who wants to take bets on when Jo finally snaps over all the middle-aged women invading her home?
  • “Stop stealing my orgasms.”
  • Next Episode: And that’s all she wrote! The second half of the season starts next year. See you in January.
  • CM

    If the Greys writers ever paid attention to their own timeline, the Arizona/Amelia connection would be that they were at Hopkins together.

    Not sure if that’s what they’re going with.

  • Aaah what a monster of a cliffhanger! And now we have to wait over 2 months for another episode. This show’s always been good at season/mid-season finale episodes and this was another one.

    This season has really pulled me back in, I thought the show was starting to get a little stale, but it’s hitting on all cylinders now. This was as good of a Meredith-centric episode as the show has ever had, and the music was also classic Grey’s – they used songs I loved already (“Run” by Marsha Ambrosius when Maggie tries to confront Richard about taking Derek’s side, which also was a great interaction between those two) and introduced me to something new (“Home” by Aron Wright when Maggie and Meredith perform surgery on Holly). Also usually I hate flashbacks because I think it’s just lazy writing/production, but they used them tastefully in this episode and they all really just added to the overall emotion.

    A great episode of Grey’s is like a piece of classical music, it has movements, conjures up a multitude of emotions, and always leaves you wanting more. I’m glad to see that Shonda Rhimes is obviously not letting this show deteriorate in it’s later stages like so many of my other favorites (Seinfeld, Dexter, Friends, The Office, etc etc)