I have to hand it to Shonda Rhimes – the woman knows how to get my attention. But shoot, couldn’t she have attached a disclaimer to the beginning of “Perfect Storm,” last night’s Grey’s Anatomy finale? “The following program is rated TV-MA. It contains near-death experiences of pivotal characters and sob-inducing cliffhangers. A GLASS OF WINE (or several) IS ADVISED.” That’s not too much to ask, right? Just to ease my tension a little bit?
Then again, I should have known. Last season, she left us with the majority of the cast injured or dying after a freak plane accident in the middle of nowhere. NBD. It’s just that, as each season comes to a close, I assume that maybe the drama is losing steam. Let’s be honest, there have been some pretty questionable storylines to come out of Grey’s in the past few years – even the leading lady herself has admitted that certain moments are more far-fetched than she’d like. But whenever I begin feeling cynical, that I may not care as much about the upcoming season, Shonda drops a bomb in the finale and leaves me in an emotional funk akin to a post-breakup Ben and Jerry’s binge. Last night’s flavor was Phish Food.
Season 9’s finale begins with a slow-motion scene of Derek and Cristina sprinting down a darkened hall while Meredith’s voiceover explains a dire predicament in which everything that can go wrong will go wrong. “A Perfect Storm,” she calls it. “I just never thought it would happen to me.” Really, Mer? The show is named after you. Of course it would happen to you, silly girl! It would be easy to dismiss the notion that Meredith may not survive the episode because, like I said, she is the show’s namesake. But if Josh Schwartz could kill off Marissa on The OC (I’m still a little bitter), then it is certainly within the realm of possibilities for Mer to kick the bucket.
Rewinding the clock five hours, a storm is raging around the hospital, to say nothing of the chaos within. Shonda sure loves her symbolism. We find Hunt saying goodbye to Ethan, his almost-adopted-son, spurring the inevitable relationship argument with Cristina. He wants kids, she doesn’t, same old story. Meredith is in labor, ready to push, but that would be far too simple. Instead, Baby McDreamy (Mer wants to name him Sebastian – uh, no) needs to be removed via C-section. And then, obviously, the power goes out! Surgery in the dark, anyone? I played Operation as a child, it can’t be that hard, right? Arizona is already reeling from the guilt of her infidelity with Lauren aka Peyton Sawyer. What’s she doing here, anyway? Go back to Tree Hill. Karev and Jo rush to help Arizona keep the tiny-human-makers (am I the only one that thinks that term is more creepy than cute?) pacified whilst the ventilators, naturally, lose battery. Bailey attempts a surgery, but backs out at the last minute, still traumatized from the repercussions of her infection.
The eternally wise and wonderful Richard Webber takes over Bailey’s surgery and goes all Mr. Miyagi to counsel Cristina through open heart surgery by flashlight. After a fire-em-up speech like only Richard can deliver, all the lights in the OR are turned off so that Cristina the Heart Whisperer can use her auditory senses to listen and find the bleeder. Damn. She praises Richard for making her a better doctor and Bailey’s hottie hubby Ben tells him that he pulls greatness from people. That’s not an ominous sign at all…
The C-section goes as planned, but a few seconds pass before the baby cries. My blood pressure spiked right along with Meredith’s, but JK, the baby’s fine, we can cross him off the potential-death list. Derek hurries his swaddled babe off to the nursery and leaves Ross and the mousy intern to close. Cue the dire predicament when everything that can go wrong will go wrong. Meredith sustained internal bleeding from her fall in the previous episode, and she attempts to give Ross directions while he’s frantically searching her abdomen for the source of the bleed. If ever there was a scene to make me less excited for pregnancy, this is the doozie. Just as she begins to tell Ross what she wants to name the baby, she loses consciousness. BUT WHAT IS HIS NAME?! Anything but Sebastian, please. I dunno, folks, it’s looking grim.
In the meantime, a bus has crashed outside of the hospital and caught fire. I immediately hate this. Buses=death when it comes to Grey’s, remember poor George? RIP 007. Confirming my fears, Hunt and Jackson rush to help and descend into the fiery inferno to rescue passengers. Both manage to make it out as gasoline leaks around them, but Jackson hangs back to search for a passenger’s daughter. The bus explodes, and April registers an 11 on her usual hysterics scale from 1 to 10. Despite her engagement to her sexy, yet innocent paramedic, it’s obvious that she only has eyes for Jackson. All mocking aside, my eyes welled up in that moment, bereft that Shonda had just killed off my precious eye candy. SIKE! Jackson emerges seconds later, a beautiful, sweaty silhouette against the flames, carrying the young girl. That’s two off the potential-death list.
Bailey, the only surgeon left that can help Meredith, has a Hulk-like moment and smashes the medicine cabinet she had been desperately trying to open, clearly frustrated by the chaos occurring around her. Back in Nazi Bailey mode, she rushes off to the operating room, and I automatically felt better about Mer’s chances. Richard goes to check on the power outage, and finds his electrician Frank collapsed of a heart attack while sparks sound in the background. Call me crazy, but I’m pretty sure those sparks should be a warning. Richard sends Frank off to the emergency room and intends to restart the power himself. Uh, hello?! I still hear sparks! I know Richard’s getting up there in age, but c’mon, am I seriously supposed to believe he didn’t hear that? UGH SHONDA.
Cristina and Derek talk somberly about all the tragedies which Meredith has survived, only to be confronted by a crying Bailey as she emerges from the operating room, trailing off, “She’s…” Jaw drops. The two rush to Mer’s side in a sheer panic, only to find her awake and well. Sheeeesh, Bailey. She comes in to say, “I’m sorry for scaring you..” Damn right. Three off the potential-death list, and my stomach turns because, at this point, it’s fairly clear who’s going to bite the dust.
In the last few minutes, Callie realizes that Lauren is wearing Arizona’s scrubs. Oops. An emotional argument ensues, and it becomes clear that Arizona simply cannot move past the amputated leg thing. At this point, I’m ready for them to break up, simply so we can move past the leg. On the opposite end of the relationship spectrum, Karev finally admits his love for Jo and the pair delivers the kiss we’ve been waiting for all season. April tearfully asks Jackson for a reason not to marry her paramedic, and Mer decides to name her child Bailey. I’m not sure how I feel about Bailey for a boy, but it’s mildly cute, I won’t fight it. The on-again-off-again saga of Cristina and Owen is decidedly off, Cristina and Owen both realizing that she alone will never be enough for him without a child.
Bailey, finally out of her funk, frantically searches for Richard, desperate to apologize and tell him how much he means to her. Cue the sobfest as the final shot pans over Richard’s body, lying lifeless in the basement as sparks continue to shower around him. I am holding out hope that he will somehow survive come next season, but the track record for survival of main characters isn’t ideal. I honestly think I could have handled Mer’s death over Richard’s. If that was indeed his final episode, it will break my heart that he wasn’t given a better exit. For the most part, Shonda has given us time to mourn the other main characters we’ve lost, but I’d hate to see Richard go out so suddenly, forgotten in the basement.
But props, Shonda. You’ve already got me booked for another season of Thursday nights with the whole gang. Next time, I won’t forget the wine.