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Grand Rounds: Dissecting Grey's Anatomy: Unaccompanied Minor

Welcome to Grand Rounds: Dissecting Grey's Anatomy, a roundtable on Grey's Anatomy featuring Snarky's Machine, Everett Maroon, Redlami, Tasha Fierce, and s.e. smith. This week's Grand Rounds is hosted by the Mistress of Pop Culture, Ms. Snarky's Machine, and if you've already forgotten what happened last night, she has got you recapped and ready to go. Without further ado, let's begin!

Snarky's Machine: What was the most shocking revelation in the season finale? What emotional connections/disconnections did you feel most surprised by? Do you think that plane crash was a subtle enough metaphor for the emotional crashes of the characters?

Tasha Fierce: I wasn't really shocked by anything or surprised by anything. It was just chickens coming home to roost. My interest was slightly piqued by Cristina's pregnancy and Owen kicking her out, but they've had the baby conversation before, so Cristina's reaction to her pregnancy is not unexpected to me and it shouldn't have been to Owen, either. And I don't think the airplane crash was subtle. Ha.

s.e. smith: I don't know if I was shocked by anything that happened in this episode, actually. It all had a pretty logical flow, though perhaps the best part was that the plane crash was not the focal event of the episode, but the backstory. A nice twist for a medical drama to not use the disaster as the main plot! And, as usual, only one survivor: Meredith.

Redlami: I wasn't so much shocked as disappointed when Henry made his play for Teddy and won out over Andrew. Mainly because I felt Henry should not have been rewarded for being whiny and manipulative all season long. As for the metaphor, Zola seems to be the "unaccompanied minor" who is the one glimmer of hope that can bind the survivors together amid all the emotional ruin.

Everett Maroon: Nothing left me shocked, except maybe seeing that MerDer's new place has the electrical conduits installed before it has a roof. Where's Mike Holmes when you need him? I was surprised by Owen's meltdown over the embryo in Cristina's body...hasn't she been clear since before the beginning that she doesn't want to parent? Where's he get off throwing her out of the house? I'm glad we finally got around to a Henry/Teddy love connection, but her comment to him that she's "falling in love" with him would have had me on a roll. A Kaiser roll, with poppy seeds. Clearly, she's already fallen for the guy. Winner of the best connection, however, was Eli/Bailey. I could get used to seeing the quiet, softer side of this guy! The plane crash is an interesting metaphor, and a little close the helicopter crash on ER. So if it's a parallel to our family of characters, who's the lone survivor? Also, hello, planes don't fly over the actual Sound in Seattle, not 757s anyway.

Yang and Kepner at the nursing station, looking surprised.

Snarky's Machine: Family grief, discord, and disillusionment were the centerpiece of the finale. Where do you think the show is going to take these characters? What is served by essentially gutting Meredith's family (Richard, Alex, Cristina, Derek, and Zola)?

Tasha Fierce: I think it gives Meredith a fresh start to either strengthening her relationship with Derek or ending it. I can see her being a single mom.

s.e. smith: Maybe Meredith will finally have to stand on her own instead of relying on other people to deal with her shit? Maybe she'll actually have to support Christina instead of using her as a prop? Gee, wouldn't that be nice. I suspect, though, that this is going to go back to being The Meredith Show (it is called Grey's Anatomy for a reason), and that ultimately, she won't learn anything from her experiences, and the other characters will rally around her rather than striking out on their own.

Redlami: I found it ironic that Meredith's crisis was set in motion by her dedication to the idea of putting family -- in this case, Adele, who I believe can also be considered part of Meredith's family -- ahead of professional considerations. And as with any family, I predict there will be some healing, some awkward and painful reconciliations, and a lot of festering sores well into the next season.

Everett Maroon: I think this season Grey's has asked what lengths people should go to in fighting for their loved ones, be they bonded by blood, love, or marriage. But in the struggle to hold on to family and make connections, crap pops up like oh, Alzheimer's Disease, car crashes, bullets, memories, and pregnancies. All season long the characters have responded to unforseen events (except I'm sure we all know by now, wear your seatbelt), with little time to come up for air or say, plan. Even the two weddings of the season were rushed, to one degree or another. I think these characters will have to sit in the pool of their decisions next season. Derek said he wanted a baby—well, now he has one. So he better get his ass home. As for Meredith's family, I see her rekindling her connection to Cristina and finding some kind of joy with Zola although please, Malawi lullabies? Really?

Snarky's Machine: What do you think of last night's unintended message to women: stand up for yourself to men and they leave? Do you think this was some misguided attempt to "empower" female characters? What is your own reading on the dominant themes of the show?

Tasha Fierce: I'm not sure if that was the message in Cristina's case or if they were trying to make a point about fathers having a say in the termination of a pregnancy, particularly if they're married. Meredith was kind of standing up for herself, but I think Derek was more put off by the betrayal than by her being a powerful woman or something. I can see either situation playing out the same in real life (well, arguing over abortion/betraying your husband's trust) so I don't see it as some kind of I-am-woman-hear-me-roar type thing.

s.e. smith: I think one of the problems with the finale model is that they want to end these things on a cliffhanger, and thus if these relationships actually turn the corner and the standing-up-for-your-rights creates a deeper relationship with more mutual respect, we won't see that until next season. So as a standalone message, er, yes, it wasn't a great thing to be saying, but I am trying to think long-term about where these relationships are going to go. I feel like overall this season was very empowering in terms of characters holding their ground and not allowing themselves to be pushed around (Dr. Torres, for example!), and I hope we see that play out next season.

Redlami: I saw some women making difficult decisions in order to be true to their principles. I don't see the crises as necessarily being permanent (aside from Lucy leaving of course), but needed in order to make the men aware that these women are not going to give in to emotional blackmail. Owen seemed particularly willing to offer and withhold love and support depending on Cristina's pliability; he doesn't seem to have registered that she's no longer the basket case she was when they married.

Everett Maroon: I would hope that after the asshole men leave, they either grow as people, or the women find better freaking men who don't torture them emotionally to have babies or feel endlessly guilty about wrecking the man's career to save a person's life. I'm glad I got to see so many women stick up for themselves; it reminded me a lot of the first season, actually, but come on guys! They can do so much better. I really wanted it to rain on Derek's pretty head.

Teddy and her Fauxband in his hospital room. She's standing, he's lying in bed looking woeful.

Snarky's Machine: Let's talk painful emotional changes. Rhimes made good on her "emotional shootout" promise. What were your thoughts about the way in which Meredith's reckoning, Cristina's pregnancy, and Alex's crisis of self esteem were handled? Do you think each character's story arc was given further development?

Tasha Fierce: To me it just seemed more like adding more and more loose ends they'll have to tie up next season to effect a sense of anticipation. I think it did give the character's story arcs further development, but it was definitely an "emotional shootout" where they just hit you with what seems like the characters' day of reckoning but is actually just the story arc continuing. Their reckoning isn't over yet and we'll see that next season.

s.e. smith: With Mer-Der especially I've always felt like that relationship is just circling the drain, and I'm hoping this blows it up. I could do without that particular pairing in my life! At the same time, I feel like all these storylines really reiterated things about the characters that we already knew; Meredith often walks a dangerous walk with medical ethics, Christina really does not want children, Alex is often marginalised by the other characters, etc.

Redlami: I think Alex is the character who has shown the most personal growth in the past season, and yet he's still prone to lashing out at anyone who makes the mistake of trying to get too close to the good they sense in him.

Everett Maroon: Meredith seemed pretty self-sure of her action to swap out the placebo for Adele, and I was impressed that the Chief would admit he basically pushed her into it. But I'd like to see Meredith question her action a bit more, just because I don't think she should carry the guilt of her mother around anymore. She doesn't owe Richard anything as far as his affair with her mother goes, but it keeps coming up for her and she makes self-defeating decisions when she's in the midst of it. Cristina gets to be pregnancy-free if she wants to, damn it! After her emotional turmoil this season, doesn't everyone just want to see her happy? I hate that she's sleeping on a friend's couch! Alex's story arc is potentially the most interesting, in that while he's grown as a surgeon these past 7 years, he has been really stuck in his personal life, and he hasn't learned how to meet and keep solid people in his life. I'm hoping that what looks like self-reflection now will turn into a different strategy for reaching out to others. I was glad he told Lucy what he thought of her. Step one.

Snarky's Machine: One word: April. Discuss.

Tasha Fierce: Ugh. She is completely annoying, but that's probably good because I won't mind having to hate her next season, and I won't be uncomfortable with all the other residents hating her even more than they do. At least it wasn't Karev, although I think I'd be able to stand him more easily.

s.e. smith: April! She has grown so much during this season and I'm really pleased with the way she has unfolded, as a character. She's a solid choice for the Chief Resident role and I'm glad she has finally come into her own. As you pointed out in your recap, Snarky, she's also the only one who really wanted to do the job, and I suspect she's going to be very good at it.

Redlami: I was pleased that April was named Chief Resident, as she's the only one who actually seemed competent for what the job entails. That said, I was disppointed that she achieved it not on her own merits but because Owen figured Alex (the first choice) wouldn't have the other residents' trust after the way he ratted out Meredith.

Everett Maroon: I'm so glad I caught the Kepner bus mid-season! She rocks. She's lost the hyper, irritating way of communicating with people, prioritized good doctoring, managed to keep her head above water, despite the loss of two friends and a gun pointed at her, and hell, now she's Chief Resident! I can't wait to see her find a way to push back against the residents who won't initially take orders from her. It's going to be grand. Thanks for the great recommendation, Dr. Stark!

Alex and Meredith face off after he rats her out for interfering with the clinical trial.

We'll be back next week with some more discussion about what worked and what didn't this season, and where Grey's Anatomy is headed!

About your bloggers:

Snarky's Machine is the founder of the pop culture site I Fry Mine in Butter.

Everett Maroon is a Seattle-based writer, focusing on popular culture commentary, speculative fiction, and memoir. His interests include the interrelationships of characters on Grey's Anatomy, Dr. Bailey, behind-the-scenes politics, and Dr. Bailey.

Tasha Fierce blogs about sex, dating, relationships and body image at Sex and the Fat Girl.

s.e. smith is a cantankerous, cat-wearing, pop culture-loving, pants-eschewing philistine from the wilds of Northern California with a compendium of largely useless random knowledge and a typewriter that doesn't know when to quit. smith writes at this ain't livin'.

Redlami turns numbers into stories and is the resident tech geek at I Fry Mine in Butter.

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Comments

13 comments have been made. Post a comment.

April

Hi guys. April reminds me a little of Sydney Heron, she seems to be the new relentlessly cheery person but dialled back a bit. Oddly enough she didn't start out like that to me, but has morphed into that role. Is it just me spotting a resemblance that isn't really there? Grey's does have a history of re-using characters.

Agreed. She's like a mixture

Agreed. She's like a mixture of Sydney and George!

Christina and Own: "If you love me . ."

Oooh, I got firey-angry with that line of manipulation: If you love me, you'll birth a child!

Such a pathetic line. I would have LOVED to see Christina turn it right back on Owen: "If you love ME, you wouldn't ask."

If Owen loved Christina, he wouldn't encourage her to have a baby. She's been pretty clear all along. She doesn't want one. Period. If anything, HE shoulda been the one kicked out and sleeping on a friend's couch. Didn't she buy that place herself anyway?

(I was really hoping her last announcement wasn't going to be "I scheduled a termination," but rather "I got an abortion.")

Didn't she buy that place

Didn't she buy that place herself anyway?

Yes, yes she did! After all the pressure from Owen to have a home together, when she made it clear that for her, home is where Owen is.

I have to say

I kind of sympathize with Derek on this one. He went to bat for the weird relationship Richard and Meredith have because he thought it would be better for Meredith and now the unprofessional behavior that is a huge part of that connection has come back to bite him in the ass. While he's no kind of role model for keeping the personal out of the job, I can understand how frustrating it is to deal with people who can't understand why there needs to be that division. Meredith has the ethics of a child and I don't blame him for questioning their marriage because of it.

I just have to say that I was

I just have to say that I was cheering for Lexie when she told Mark it was paternalistic and creepy that he offered to her boyfriend - and not to her - to "let her go." Give me a break. I also cheered when Cristina clarified over and over again that she did not want a baby and that it wasn't about anything that Owen could psychoanalyze, she just knew herself and did not want to be a parent. My big fear was that Grey's was going to have her change her mind after Owen's pleading, which would have been totally out of character. It's unsettling that all of these resulted in the women ending up alone, but that's also realistic for when people don't continually have open conversations about their values before making major commitments like marriage.

That's what drove me to total

That's what drove me to total frustration about Owen and Cristina, though. She's told him before, emphatically, that she doesn't want to be a parent. It's not that she doesn't like little babies, it's not that she wouldn't love her own child, but she knows what she does and doesn't want in life. He knew that before he married her. We've already seen one person capitulate on the issue (Arizona), so I'm not surprised that Grey's didn't take her character there, too. But I am a bit shocked that Owen acted like this was all news to him, and that he could talk over her, and then throw her out of their house. That was rifreakingdiculous.

But...

I don't think Christina and Owen had the baby talk before they were married though. The discussion was definitely post-nuptials and it ended with Owen sulking about how he felt he didn't have a say in his partnership because Christina wasn't going to give in to him completely. That episode was actually kind of a set up for this one. It had Derek, Mark, and Owen complaining about the amount of say they had in their partners' lives and Grey's loves to use it's expansive cast to show a few different examples of how relationships can go. Mark's the only one who actually came to any kind of understanding, accepting Arizona as an equal parent and part of his family and stepping back to support her relationship with Cali. Derek got his way as usual and didn't stop to think about what Meredeth's desperation to please the men in her life could lead to and Owen just bitched and let it go because he was sure he'd win the fight in the future.

I'm pretty sure I remember a

I'm pretty sure I remember a conversation with Owen and Cristina before his whole choking incident where she said she never wanted to have kids, but in any case, she's told many people at the hospital since the show started. He must have known her feelings on this, and if he didn't take it upon himself to talk with her about it before their nuptials, then that's on him. So there, Owen.

Did they talk about anything

Did they talk about anything before the nuptials? It's like once they managed to resolve the PTSD stuff the writers couldn't think of anything else to do with Owen so they turned him into Burk II: Patronizing Bullshit Boogaloo.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Rushed

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Rushed weddings are all the rage in Seattle!

I was also really hoping that

I was also really hoping that Yang was going to say that she had already had the abortion. The cliffhanger leaves room for her to change her mind. Meanwhile, this is the show's third unplanned pregnancy and Yang's second. Why don't these brilliant doctors know about birth control? While I found the dual sudden motherhood (or potential motherhood, in Yang's case) to be a wea plot point, I loved the way the characters coped. Cristina's declaration that of course she would love a baby, implying that loving it was part of why she didn't want to become a mother, was a refreshing refutation of the old "you'll love it once it is born" argument, while Meredith chatting away to her new almost-daughter in classic Meredith fashion was touching but unsentimental.

I really can't get on this

I really can't get on this bandwagon . Yes, of course it is ultimately Cristina's choice, but she entered into a partnership with Owen and it is not black and white (didn't we establish that in this episode?). He does deserve to have a voice in all of this, even though it will never be the final say. It's a hugely difficult situation for both of them, and Cristina seems to be the only one to realise that one of them cannot get their way. If Cristina had gone out and HAD the abortion as Eden suggests, it would have shown nothing but disrespect for Owen's investment in their relationship and the fact that he should have the opportunity to argue his point. Granted, he did argue his point and is now furious because he can't seem to sway her, but Owen's response is pretty normal: he's totally powerless because he knows it's up to Cristina, so he becomes reactive.

I do hope that she ultimately has the abortion, not because I think that's a great option, but because we already had this argument with Arizona and Callie... I'd like to see this one end the other way. It's a great thing to have a female character who chooses not to have a child without it being some awful, monstrous thing (despite how Owen may be feeling about it).

As for those Malawi Lullabies... give Meredith a break. The woman has no maternal instincts. In addition, if you are going to criticise them for not discussing the culture barriers they might face, at least she realises that she isn't just transplanting a child into a melting pot - she recognises that she comes from somewhere, even if it is in a really cheesy way. Furthermore, my younger brothers are internationally adopted - we're Anglo-Canadian white and they're Haitian. This was never brought up as an issue during homestudy. I agree that it should have been, but it really isn't often considered. Some countries disallow you to adopt internationally if you don't share the ethnicity of the child in question (i.e., Philippines), but in some cases it's more of an issue of getting the kids out of the country... an "anywhere is better than here" approach. It isn't something I necessarily advocate, and I'm not sure how realistic it is for Malawi, but it does happen. What I find truly bizarre is how fast everything went through. It took us over five years to get my first brother and over a year for the second. It's extremely unlikely that Zola would never have gone back to Malawi as you (as far as I know) need to see a judge, sign papers, etc. in the country where the child is from (my brothers both needed Canadian citizenship before they were allowed in and this required tracking down birth certificates... no easy feat in an impoverished country). But that's just sloppy television trying to make something insanely rigorous look simple. We should all adopt those poor babies because it's way easier than reproducing ourselves! And look how cute!