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Grey’s Anatomy: Unaccompanied Minor

May 20, 2011

For months fans were warned the season seven finale would not be the full frontal visceral assault observed last May. With expectations tempered I went into the finale hoping there would be some forward motion on all those stagnant story arcs that have languished in the wake of the exciting trinity of Mark/Callie/Arizona. As a person who likes the trinity a lot, I was still eager to spend time with the three remaining original residents: Alex, Meredith and Cristina. While there was nary a grief stricken shooter or gratuitous bouts of Emmy-bait acting, the emotional casualty rate was high. And after the jump, I’ll tell you all about it. If you haven’t seen the episode and don’t wish to be spoiled, do not read any further.

she's the one

Since the staged catastrophe episode I had my money on April as Chief Resident, with Alex as her only real rival. I never thought Mer or Cristina would be Chief Resident, mostly because despite being a prestigious position in the hospital it’s not exactly going to provide opportunities to showcase some of that patented Grey’s overacting. Besides, it damn near derailed Callie’s character development and being fired as Chief Resident was the best thing that ever happened to Callie and Miranda (who eventually went on to be chief resident). April is the perfect chief resident because even though everyone wanted to win the competition because they are competitive as all get out, none of them actually wanted to do the job. April was the only person who wanted to actually be Chief Resident. She’s similar to the vanished Sydney Heron in that regard. I was pleased to see April snag it, because let’s face it, with everyone else acting a fool, suddenly April’s killing a patient due to a simple error pales when compared to her especially naughty competitors. Besides, unlike many fans, I like April. I’ve liked her from day one.

The episode actually begins with Meredith and Alex falling out over his drunken revenge involving blurting out Meredith had tampered with the research study she and Derek were working on. Well there was some stuff that happened prior to Alex getting evicted from Casa Mer and their friendship imploding before our eyes. I think of all the choices the writers made with this episode, Alex and Meredith’s conflict was by far the bravest. Cristina getting pregnant: been there and done that during season 1 or 2. Mer and Der yelling at each other. Yeah, we done already caught that show on multiple nights. Don’t get me started on the number of times the Chief and Meredith have stumbled into conflict because that seems happen at least once every five episodes. I guess fathers and daughters are like that. Oops, did I say that out loud? Forget the race of the actress that plays Meredith for a second, but is there anyone who doesn’t think Mer is Richard’s daughter with Ellis? They’ve been fuzzy on the timeline in terms of when Ellis was knocked up and whether or not she was involved with Richard at the time, but still… It does make you wonder.

Anyhoo, the fallout from Meredith’s clinical trial tampering was a nonevent: Richard couldn’t fire her outright because well, she’d tampered with the study in order to ensure his wife received the active agent and not the placebo. Hard to fire someone who’s trying to save your wife’s life. And Richard definitely wasn’t the man for that particular job. He gave her some half ass suspension, which mostly comes across as time Meredith can spend getting acquainted with her duties as new mom to adorable baby Zola, who Mer and Der were granted temporary custody of. This would be fabulous, except, well Derek’s not actually on speaking terms with his wife since she destroyed his clinical trial and possibly his reputation amongst fellow researchers. Yes, it’s shocking when a man who cheats on his wife (out of revenge by sleeping with an intern he doesn’t realize works at his hospital after meeting her in a bar) discovers the woman he decided to make his life with is not all she’s cracked up to be in the integrity department. Shocking! And so much for Shonda’s oft repeated vow never to break up Mer and Der again. Oops. I guess we got played on that front as well.

Meanwhile – because Grey’s is a soap – Cristina discovers she’s six weeks pregnant and freaks out. For someone who is adverse to pregnancy as Cristina she seems woefully ill-informed about how this whole getting knocked up process works. It must have been especially troubling for her since we were all but told in season two than an ectopic pregnancy/burst fallopian tube most likely left Cristina unable to conceive. Though to be fair it was mostly implied. In any case, Cristina does not want to have Owen’s baby or anyone else’s. I was surprised at how aggressive Owen was given that Cristina has always been fairly direct on the subject of children. It had little to do with her career aspirations, but rather her disinterest in motherhood. I thought the writers could have done a better job of conveying that message because through most of Cristina and Owen’s meltdown it was unclear why they were hollering at each other. I have never thought Owen and Cristina worked as a couple, but I do like them together. Owen is not Burke, but then Cristina is not the same Cristina she was when she was with Burke. Oh yeah and when Cristina came back for another round to tell Owen she was terminating the pregnancy he gave her le boot. Lots of emotional fallout from her drawing a line in the sand. I’m not sure how the two them are going to find their way back from this, but it will definitely make season 8 interesting.

A plane went down in the sound taking with approximately 240 souls. Seattle Grace was the designated trauma center, but mostly this involved standing around in trauma gowns looking uncomfortable as each moment made it clear there would probably be no survivors. I think they were mostly hiding from the traumatized family members who had been sent to the hospital in order to await word about their loved ones. Mark managed to take time to both play Angry Birds and insult Avery. The moments with grieving family were some of the best of the episode. I totally got misty during the mini Six Feet Under minor character reunion portion of the finale when Keith Charles’s mom told Claire Fisher’s friend Anita they’d waited around to make sure the titular unaccompanied minor and sole survivor of the plane crash had someone pulling for her. It was a treat to see Beverly Todd and James Pickens Jr. on the same show again, even though they weren’t playing Keith’s dysfunctional parents. This will only make sense to you if you’ve actually watched Six Feet Under, otherwise it just sounds like I’ve added a bunch of new characters to Grey’s, which isn’t in fact the case.

This is already way too long and I want to leave room for others to weigh in on their opinion of the finale. Also, I don’t do book report summary style recaps of anything anyway! I found the finale very satisfying and a worthy coda for the season of healing. I think the writers made good on all those promises of emotional shootouts and casualties of the heart. the scene is set for fairly exciting season 8, which I hope will be their last. Go out on a high, Grey’s. don’t be like er.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. evmaroon permalink
    May 20, 2011 11:35 am

    Cristina was right when she hollered at Alex that Meredith always had his back. On the other hand, she did tamper with the clinical trial and put the whole hospital’s reputation in jeopardy, so didn’t Alex have some responsibility to alert someone? Maybe not drunkenly.
    It was really Derek who annoyed me this episode—which granted, he annoys me just by smiling—with his insistent, clear-cut take on the world. I don’t know how he manages his life with all his self-righteousness in the way all the time.
    There was a lot of “we’re in a marriage” language this episode that basically translated to the men insisting on having the conch or the floor or the right to an opinion. But for once we saw the women lashing back, like when Lexy told Mark he was paternalistic, Cristina asking Owen if he was “getting all lifey” on her, and Meredith pushing back on Derek’s evil/good take on the world at large. I think the series asked a lot of big questions this season about marriage, specifically where the institution leaves off and where the relationship between two partners begins. I’m not sure we got any answers, however.
    And go April! She’s going to be the best chief rez evah.

  2. May 20, 2011 12:20 pm

    I thought this was a really ace episode; some vintage Grey’s at its finest in terms of some bold moves and forcing characters outside their normal zones!

    Have to say, I was rather disappointed at how Alex just got hung out to dry there. What the hell else was the man supposed to do, not report tampering that could mess with the trial? Oh, right, that’s exactly what he was supposed to do in the morality of Grey’s world!

  3. May 20, 2011 2:45 pm

    I think Alex is about to go through some major emotional upheaval, which would be great for his character. He keeps showing glimpses of the murky depths, but Grey’s hasn’t really effectively showed how the strains of class experience and his experiences caretaking mentally ill people in his life have informed him as person, because it’s decidedly different than how it shapes him as a doctor.

    As a doctor his boundaries are really some of the best, but as a person he’s very loyal, and I think it was very brave despite being drunk that he ratted out Meredith. He risked everything – his family, his home and I think this is something really powerful for Alex. I hope they explore what this meant for him next season. We already know what it cost him and we already know what others think about.

    Alex is a fascinating character whose class experience and experience with mental illness has not been well developed and it gives him a perspective that most of the other characters lack. Mer and Alex’s deep friendship, which is more sibling in nature than even Cris and Mer, is also the core of the show. it broke my heart to see them end the season on the outs. Alex and Mer are kind of the loves of each others lives (platonic wise) and they can’t really function without each other.

  4. May 20, 2011 3:20 pm

    This was an emotionally wrenching episode, and could just as well have been titled “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” The one light of hope (like the plane crash’s titular “Unaccompanied Minor”) seems to be Zola, and Meredith taking her home.

    Some might take Henry winning out over Andrew for Teddy’s affections a bright spot, but not me. I found his character to be whiny and manipulative and I was hoping he’d be written out at the end of this season.

  5. May 20, 2011 3:28 pm

    I also was uncomfortable with the way both Henry and Owen were behaving. It was a flimsy backdrop in which to construct feminist empowerment.

  6. May 20, 2011 8:12 pm

    Snarky, I really appreciate the way you state, “It was a flimsy backdrop in which to construct feminist empowerment.” That is it in a nutshell with those two relationships. I thought Owen was way over the top, too. But then if he had relinquished himself to his already spoken understanding of Christina’s stance on motherhood, she wouldn’t have had to argue. No drama. But I prefer the more honest approach and not being treated like I need an update on pro-choice/lifer issues.
    Ev, I too have disagreed with the pairing of Christina and Owen. I never got it other than a couple of misfits due to life circumstances finding comfort in being odd. But it does make Grey’s interesting.

    Derek’s disappearance was no surprise and I think time has run out on that relationship. I think Meredith will end up parenting alone. Derek isn’t worth it.

    I was quite surprised at all the relationship fallout. I just didn’t expect it. I did know April would get CR. no brainer.

  7. Q.V. permalink
    May 23, 2011 8:08 pm

    Owen wasn’t really picking up the same phone line as Cristina in their conversation, I liked how clear the “same planet, different worlds” conflict was. Cristina was clear that she didn’t want to be a mother, Owen kept hearing it as she didn’t think she would be a good mother and various variations of other misunderstandings (conveniently, he could refute every one of them!). It was frustrating to see how he couldn’t process the meanings of the words she was choosing, he was so stuck in his own idea of considerate that he couldn’t be considerate himself. I was sad to see the usual cohabitation self-righteous break-up rules apply when he kicked her out.

    The dudes on this show are a reliable crop of assholes when it comes to imagining themselves the curators of the uterus.

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