“We just want to survive the storm…”
Disaster is a great teacher. So is death. The ultimate educator in some ways. It forces us to put things into perspective–to see things in eight different ways than we would normally see them. When disaster strikes, there is an emotional rawness that we all are forced to deal with in the face of its chaos. The perfect storm that punctuated the stellar ninth season of Grey’s Anatomy brought upon many lessons of fate and interconnectedness. In the setting of Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital, disaster is a given–almost a regularity. I mean, there is constant pressure to save patients from what is likely to be the worst day of their lives. Patients whose days in a hospital are worrisome and–disastrous. But this setting is our lovely doctors’ sanctuary and institution of greatness and legacy. There is a distinct difference when they face disaster. Disaster for them is on a whole other level. Especially when one or more of their own is in jeopardy. Richard Webber, the fallen of their team finds his fate left in the hands of those he taught–the very students he taught how to handle disaster. Are they up for it in the two-hour season ten premiere? It’s a mess, but yes they are! “Seal Our Fate” and “I Want To Be With You” kicks off the milestone tenth season with an emotional bang and some high stakes.
Opening only moments from where we left off, of Callie and Arizona’s falling out, of Cristina and Owen’s second breakup, of the very beginning of the Jolex union, of MerDer’s new born baby boy, of Bailey frantically trying to locate Richard Webber, there is an inherent feeling of impending disaster after the storm. A multitude of fates are hanging in the balance and some are altered by new uncovered elements that are as dramatic as they are surprising. You know, true Shonda Rhimes fashion! It doesn’t take long before a doctor’s fate is altered when Shane sends Heather to find Webber, only resulting in another fallen young hero. As predictable as this development is, Grey’s Anatomy has a way of playing with dramatic arcs to still invoke a great deal of tension and turmoil for everyone. It’s not so much so that Heather predictably walks into her own deadly fate, but how the others will react to this occurrence, when also dealing with Richard’s fate as well. The most intriguing aspect of these entangled fates belongs to that of intern Shane, who clearly did not mean to cause any harm, yet inadvertently sent Heather to her death. The guilt eating at him will surely be a dramatic arc for the character and most likely all of the interns.
The interns. It’s another thing that I love about this wonderfully bloated two-hour season premiere. After they lose a find by way of messy fate and disaster, they pause to realize that while they are all peers, they aren’t as close-knit as they might have thought. Stephanie and Jo especially see this painful reality, Steph with her patient and Jo with Alex. Stephanie’s patient is worried about her home–her sanctuary where she helps people during their disasters while she herself is in the midst of disaster. Jo comes to realize that Alex has a bonded sanctuary of friends by his side: Meredith and Cristina. But Jo isn’t confident in who she has in her corner when disaster strikes. Both make the effort to learn about each other and their peers, Shane and Leah, in the wake of Heather’s death. This disaster’s silver lining comes in a great deal of surprising and very intriguing character development from each of them. Leah even becomes worlds more interesting, much more than she was last season. Stephanie continues to impress with her character development, as does Jo. However, due to Shane’s guilt, he is still somewhat of a mystery. But it is likely his arc this season will reveal a great deal more about him and the others.
Cristina and Owen’s situation is quite the complicated bug. Even more so now with the knowledge that this season will in fact be Sandra Oh’s last. Still in love and very much still enwrapped in each other‘s surroundings–I mean they both work at the same hospital/sanctuary–Cristina and Owen can’t just let go as easily as Cristina made it look in last spring’s finale. Their differences aside about having children, Crowen still seems to be in full swing. At least for Owen, that is. Cristina knows that Owen is just trying to reassure himself, keeping Cristina in his vicinity–maybe to feel like all is normal and okay. The reality of the situation is just to painful for Owen. Cristina has been faced with this sort of pain before with Burke, however that time, she was the one who was left behind, so it is familiar–not any less painful, but familiar–so in that right she feels for Owen. Cristina doesn’t want to change the love of her life like Burke tried to change her–bend her fate. So Cristina is swallowing this bitter pill, whereas Owen keeps coughing it back up and hiding it so he won’t have to deal with it. At least there is no anger amongst them. In that same sentence it would probably be easier if there was. Cristina keeps leaving Owen behind. The end of the premiere, she does it again. This disaster they faced–their relationship is only holding them both back, but Owen isn’t able to see the silver lining in Cristina leaving him to fulfill his fate–something he wants but will deny until he’s blue in the face. The sex between Cristina and Owen here is just used as a crutch, as it usually is with this pairing. Owen is always trying to bend Cristina to his will with sex, but Cristina isn’t bending this time. And what’s the saddest part is that one gets the feeling Owen will keep trying to get Cristina back and she’ll keep pushing him away for his own good.
Jackson and April are another mess. There are a lot of conflicted feelings there. Jackson and Stephanie are still a thing and April is engaged, until a diligent Matt sees April’s devotion to another man. It takes some hard-hitting words for April to finally wake the hell up and realize that she wants to great halves, but one more than the other. Jackson’s final words to April are very telling, but even more so are April’s actions when she proposes to Matt. It’s like she heard Jackson’s words backwards or something. April does the same thing that with Matt that she did with Jackson in last season’s finale: She went after something she couldn’t have. The cycle starts all over again. One hopes they’re not wrong when they infer that Jackson and April are endgame. For now, April’s faux silver lining is Matthew. It’s an ongoing disaster with Japril.
Callie and Arizona. The emotional death they both experienced in the Season 9 finale seems too staggering to repair. And as opposed to the other arcs, there is no light of hope at the end of this disaster. At least not yet. Both pairs of the praised Calzona are complete messes at the moment and Callie is trying to sort out the many raging emotions going through her head. Given that this is the second time Callie has been cheated on, she must have the question of what is it she’s doing wrong to have this happen again. But anger seems to be possessing Callie more than any other emotion. She takes off from Arizona, with their child and barely looks back. Surely, everyone is waiting for the word “divorce” to come from Callie’s lips. And for Arizona, her mistake came from a more troubled aspect that has nearly nothing to do with Callie, who unfortunately ends up at the receiving end of Arizona’s frustration and trauma. Arizona’s fate is very much up in the air at the moment while Callie takes refuge at Meredith and Derek’s home. The most painful element of this arc is that Sofia is already being put in the middle of Callie and Arizona’s dysfunction. And Callie is reacting with anger at this point. The possible damage that could be done as Calzona goes down this painful journey will likely be staggering. You’d be lying if you said you weren’t extremely curious of how Shonda and writers will fix this. Or if it even will be fixed. Just know that it will get worse before it gets better.
Meredith and Derek just can’t have a quiet moment to themselves and their newborn baby boy, Bailey Jr. without another disaster crashing in on them. With a conflicted Bailey and Cristina both at each other’s throats about how to treat the fallen Richard Webber, it is uncovered that Meredith is legally the one who must make the final decision in this scenario. It’s probably the biggest surprise in the premiere that Webber has put Meredith down as his family–the main one to make the call on his life–his fate. While Bailey feels most in charge her mentor’s fate and does all she can to fix the mistake she feels responsible for, there are other forces at work here. The season premiere does a good job at using past elements to fill in blanks of present conflicts. All of them dramatic and pivotal. Between Catherine’s frantic barking of orders and surmountable pressure placed on Meredith’s shoulders (after giving birth and nearly bleeding out on the table, no less), the taunting life and death scenario holds some riveting tension that at some point is lessened by Meredith, Cristina and Alex’s humorous, but important talk of who has the last call when it comes to their fate in a life or death disaster.
Webber’s narration may have been a pivotal alteration to mislead some viewers, to believe his fate would be more deadly than it was. But in reality it nicely produces new areas of storytelling for whom some might consider to be a character that’s run his course. In the first hour, Webber’s narration reinforces the ominous nature of fate, while in the second hour Webber’s narration highlights the perks of having your people–your fellow heroes by your side. Out of the cover of darkness and disaster to the educating illumination of light. The death and disaster these doctors all tread through help them find their people–their sanctuary in their setting prone to disaster. It’s like the series is looking at itself and highlighting its seemingly unavoidable nature of disaster and pointing out the various silver linings within all the mud and chaos. I think it also says something that most of the patients our doctors tended to in the premiere were also heroes in their own right. They have their own purposeful bonds to things. It’s another great thing about Grey’s Anatomy, its confident willingness to be unbelievably corny in highlighting the bonded heroes who find silver linings in every terrible disaster that happens to them–and it happens to them a lot!
Disaster teaches many lessons in these two season openers and then some that are still left to be taught. Our heroic doctors find where their fates and sanctuaries lie, or in who. RIP Heather Brooks. And hello to a new season of ABC’s best drama series! The two-hour season ten premiere, “Seal Our Fate” and “I Want You With Me” gets 4 out of 5 stars!
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© Patrick Broadnax 2013