Last year’s two-hour Grey’s Anatomy finale, “Sanctuary” and “Death and All His Friends”, was earth shattering. A gunman came into the hospital and shot a number of people, even killing a few semi-important characters. Several of the main characters were shot, and others were left extremely traumatized. Now, two episodes have aired in the seventh season (“With You I’m Born Again” and “Shock to the System”), and the events of last year have barely begun to wear off.
Christina Yang (Sandra Oh) is the most damaged. She is the last member of the surgical staff, at least of the main characters, to be not be cleared for surgery. In fact, when she was put in an operating room this week, against the recommendation of the new counselor, Dr. Andrew Perkins (James Tupper, Mercy, Men in Trees), she collapsed on the floor and couldn’t get up again. To try to cope with what happened, she impulsively accepted Owen’s (Kevin McKidd) marriage proposal, and now the two are wed. It’s probably a good thing that she’s got him, as he already dealt with PTSD from his tenure in Iraq and knows what to do.
Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) was also badly enough shaken up that she was next to last to be cleared. Her continued secret of the baby she miscarried on the fatal day was enough to worry Perkins, but she didn’t feel she could tell her husband, Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) yet, as he wasn’t handling things well himself. Abruptly quitting his post as chief and returning to surgery, Derek has also become addicted to vary fast, reckless driving, and has landed in jail several times. The latest offense caused him to miss Owen and Christina’s wedding. But I think Meredith finally got through to him, and hopefully his rebel days are done.
Dr. Bailey (Chandra Wilson) fled Seattle to go home and see her mother, but has returned. The trauma has left her a kinder, gentler Bailey. She has not changed completely, but she made sure to tell the staff how she felt about them, which is strange behavior indeed for someone nicknamed “The Nazi”. Still, she remained tough enough to force Alex (Justin Chambers) to let her remove the bullet that he left under his skin.
Speaking of Alex, his coping mechanism was to act brave and unphased. This could be in part because he called out his wife’s name, from whom he is separated, instead of his girlfriend’s when he lay bleeding. The girlfriend, Lexie (Chyler Leigh) had a breakdown and was locked in the mental ward, but more than two days of sleep there seems to have done her good. She isn’t fully recovered, but she’s on her way. What’s disappointing, though, is that she blew off Mark Sloan (Eric Dane), who is in love with her. I sincerely hope the two of them can get back together, now that they are single again.
Some of the cast have actually improved their lives since the finale. Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.) got his job as Chief of Surgery back. Teddy Altman (Kim Raver) is dating Dr. Pickens. Arizona (Jessia Capshaw) moved in with lover, Callie (Sara Ramirez). And Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams, now a full-time cast member) has earned the love and loyalty of Grey’s fans everywhere after his heroic deeds. Even April Kepner (Sarah Drew, also now full-time) was surprisingly not annoying, as she seeks to become a member of the group, and ditch her outsider status.
Whether each character is mostly healed or just beginning to, the doctors at Seattle Grace / Mercy West have a long way to go before they get back to normal. It’s nice to see that the show has taken very seriously what happened, and that it’s not an easy road to recovery. Some series wouldn’t allow the characters time to grieve, but Grey’s Anatomy has honed its excellent story-telling over six previous seasons, and really has the characters well-defined. I can’t wait to see what happens next. There were medical cases to be handled, but the show is strongest when it focuses more on the core cast, instead of the guest stars. Unless it is testing the guest stars to see whether they’d make great additions. Which, in my opinion, James Tupper, with the different element he brings to the table, and a new specialty, surely would.
Next Thursday, Derek’s sister Amelia (Caterina Scorsone), who has been hanging out on the Grey’s spin-off, Private Practice will visit, and Webber will help Alex get over his new-found fear of the elevators (that’s where Lexie and Mark found his bloody body). Christina will continue her battle, surely earning Sandra Oh another Emmy nomination, if not a win this time, as the last couple weeks have been among her best: an impressive series performance. Tune into Grey’s Anatomy Thursday nights at 9pm on ABC.