May 15, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Finale Review: “Grey’s Anatomy”


GREY’S ANATOMY is no longer Shonda Rhimes’ brightest, shiniest toy, but in a way her skills as a producer are most evident in the way that her first hit hums along, now in its 2d decade on the air.  That’s incredibly difficult for a serialized drama, especially one that started off as being about eager, ambitious young people and is now populated by the middle-aged.  Writers have left, Rhimes herself has a multitude of other projects taking up her attention and of course there is near-constant cast turnover.  In the past 2 seasons, Grey’s has lost 2 core members of its ensemble, Sandra Oh last year and this season Patrick Dempsey.  Yet the series, admittedly helped this year by ABC’s “TGIT” Thursday line-up, aka Shondaland Night, is still strong, and with the recent episodes surrounding Dempsey’s exit, its ratings were downright robust.  That’s quite a feat.

Tonight’s Season 11 finale, written by Executive Producer William Harper and directed by Rob Corn, pressed the sentimentality button rather forcefully, even by Grey’s standards, and perhaps because the Dempsey episodes were so bleak, it was for the most part remarkably hopeful, with little of the tragedy (via plane crash, bomb explosions and the like) that’s marked previous season finales.  There was what appeared to be a marital breakup–between April (Sarah Drew) and Jackson (Jesse Williams), when she declared her desire to go back to the war zone where she’d recovered her zest for life.  All the rest, though, was happy.

Somewhat unusually, the medical side of the hour concentrated on a single case, albeit a fairly spectacular one:  a man impaled in a car, which was brought (by April) to the hospital intact, so that he could be cut out of it and rushed to an operating room before he had time to bleed out.  The sequence of the tightly-timed run to the operating table (damn that slow elevator!) was extremely well edited for maximum impact.  In the end, the man, his fiance (who had delivered their baby despite spinal injury last week) and their child were just fine.

The non-April/Jackson personal stories were positive as well:  Karev (Justin Chambers) and Jo (Camilla Luddington), after squabbling about Karev inviting Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) and her thee children to live with them after Derek’s death, will sell them back the house and buy an apartment together; Webber (James Pickens, Jr) and Catherine (Debbie Allen) got over their professional arguments and finally wed; Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) found closure after listening to her brother’s last voice-mail message, and now looks well on the road to a serious relationship with Hunt (Kevin McKidd); Pierce (Kelly McCreary) got weepy at the news her parents were divorcing, but she and Meredith finally seem to be true sisters.  It all ended with everyone dancing.

Dempsey’s sudden exit notwithstanding (and ABC pretty much spoiled that one with its promos), Grey’s Anatomy isn’t in the shocking plot twist business like Rhimes’ Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder.  After once having been an alternative to ER, it’s become very much like that show, TV comfort food telling us that healthcare professionals are willing to do absolutely anything to save their patients, and that love (usually) conquers all.  It’s a formula, but it’s certainly one that works, and Rhimes and her successors have ensured that the writing and acting stay top-notch even as the personnel shift.  Already, thanks to the 1-year time jump Grey’s took after Dempsey’s final episode, the series has had a new crop of interns arrive in the past few episodes, and some of them will prove to be keepers and get promoted to regular members of the cast for the next generation of the show.

ABC isn’t about to tamper with a winning combination, and Grey’s Anatomy will return to its TGIT slot next fall.  Even with an avalanche of new medical dramas due to arrive (1 each on NBC, CBS and FOX), there’s no reason to think it will face a code blue for some time to come

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."