Monday, April 09, 2007

"Where is she?": a rare moment when Grey's Anatomy worked

Let me make one thing quite clear: I'm no big fan of Grey's Anatomy. I sometimes watch out of laziness (a horrible habit I occasionally get with TV), but mostly I don't watch because I generally do not care enough about any of the people in it.

So what of that cast of characters: well, I quite like the perpetually-tearing-a-strip-off-them Miranda Bailey. She's a take-no-shit kinda gal and I like that. I also, for opposite reasons, quite like hapless George O'Malley whose doe-eyed helplessness and unrequited love, his good heart and his gentle demeanour sometimes pushed to action in a crisis touches me.

But the girls: blurgh. Christina is perhaps the most tolerable but she's a bit of a cranky-by-numbers with a soft centre; Izzy riles for her 'so-sexy-but-wants-to-be-taken-seriously quirks; and as for Meredith Grey herself... well the phrase 'wet-fish' comes to mind whenever I see her permanently blank face. How the hell did this character get off the ground? Are they actually thinking of her as a blank canvas? 'Cos if so, please someone paint something on it because that girl just brings out the urge to slap in me.

Most of the males aren't much better. The Guardian Guide has frequently joked about the shows focus on the two doctors with pretty hair not quite getting it together. And whilst I am known for a love of good hair, Dempsey as McDreamy just doesn't really do it for me.

So why am I writing about Grey's Anatomy today?

SPOILER WARNING: if you haven't watched the last third of season 2 of Grey's Anatomy stop here.

You stopped reading?


You sure?


Well, you see I'm always easily seduced into watching fill-the-screen-with-sharks, we-need-some-action double bill episodes of a drama. And Five have been plugging this once all week. So that 'Code Black' double episode - each episode neatly entitled "It's the end of the World" and "(As We Know It)" [see what they did there? I hope Stipe got royalties] - inevitably drew us in.

And you know what, maybe it was the hyper-cued music, or the uber-dramatic action, or the presence of actual decent actors (Christina Ricci), but it worked. We did our usual routine for these occasions (last seen when we could be bothered to follow E.R.'s nigh annual re-use of this ratings tactic) and we climbed the sofa. At one point I was so far backed into the back/corner of the sofa I thought I would end up going up the wall and hanging off the picture rail in our living room.

But the moment I loved best came near the end when McDreamy re-emerges from the chaos and starts to look around the crowds of his colleagues. You know who he's looking for, in much the same way as you knew that once Christina fessed up about it being now Meredith (and not special-guest-star Ricci as Hannah the newbie paramedic) holding onto the UXB in the patient's chest, that McDreamy would stop his surgery for a crucial second in sheer blind love-struck panic.

So here's the thing where I have to pass it over to the always admirable crew of recappers at television without pity (and may I recommend you read their caps for these episodes anyway):

McDreamy makes his way through the crowd with a panicked look on his face. The Chief sees him and walks over. "Where is she?" asks McDreamy, obviously distressed. "You had to be a cowboy," snarks the Chief. "Wh-where is she?" demands McDreamy again. Mrs. Chief is watching their interaction very carefully. "She's right here," says the Chief as…Addison comes careening around the corner and worriedly throws herself into her husband's arms. McDreamy's face visibly drops and it's quite clear that, even though he's not throwing Addison to the ground and walking over her crumpled body in order to go off in search of Meredith, Addison's not the "she" he was looking for. Mrs. Chief picks up on this too and pointedly remarks to the Chief that Addison wasn't who Derek was looking for. The "you dumb-ass" is implied.
Now that's a cracking recap, but for me it was more subtle than that. You see, that moment, that moment when Addison rushes from behind the Chief to McDreamy, his face didn't fall: it froze. From a glance of possible hope and relief to a moment when he knew he could not demonstrably show his disappointment and yet could not fully hide it. The deceptive belief that his boss would have described Meredith as his "she" immediately transformed into the recognition that she would never be described that way to him. And in his embrace of his wife, tight, falsely affectionate in response to her relief at having him with her, safely returned from the explosive danger, a paralysis of his emotions, briefly - so briefly - flickering in his eyes. And that's what the Chief's wife picks up, the hollowness in his eyes even as his physical actions respond to the presence of 'the wrong she'.

And that's when it really tugged at my heart. That's Grey's Anatomy's rare moment of success for me.

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