Major spoilers lie ahead.
How do you start a review for an episode like this? How do you process an episode like this? I’m not completely sure that it’s actually sunk in yet.
Derek, Meredith, Cristina, Arizona, and Mark are stranded in the woods.
Lexie is dead.
Lexie. Is dead.
It’s actually kind of funny (except that it’s not). When news first came out that someone would be dying in this year’s season finale for Grey’s Anatomy, almost everyone flocked to guessing that it would be one of the originals. On the whole, everyone was divided as to whether it would be Derek, Cristina, or Alex, but it was pretty much agreed upon: an original character was going to die.
And then we all found out they’d all be coming back, that they’d be safe, and suddenly we all realized, with unified horror, that it wasn’t going to be an original who would be dying: it was going to be Lexie Grey. And all of a sudden, a character that we’d never worried about, never felt the need to worry about not seeing every week, was going to be disappearing from our show in a matter of days.
The biggest shock of all is how not shocking Lexie’s death was. I think by the time the episode aired, we were all pretty much sure it would be here. Sure, we had doubts. Nobody was really positive it would be her, and there was a huge part of the fandom convinced it would be Arizona, but for the most part, everybody agreed that it would be Lexie, and it was. What was shocking was how much of an impact it had.
Because here it was, at the very beginning of the episode. The death of Lexie Grey, the character everybody hated the moment she stepped foot onscreen at the tail end of the third season, dubbed “McBarWhore” for trying to pick up Derek in a bar as he fought with Meredith. The character who morphed and evolved into one of the most beloved and most dynamic on the series. Here she was, dying, and we had all known it was coming, and yet I couldn’t help but fall apart.
I mean, I just lost it. I knew it was coming, but I kept hoping that somehow, someway, it was going to end up not happening. But there was no way. It was pretty evident from the get-go that there was no way Lexie could get out of that and be alright. And then… I just knew. I knew this was it, that it was almost over, that Lexie Grey would be no more, and I lost control of it all. I didn’t even cry this hard when George died, and I lost it when that happened. But it’s like a wall broke down inside of me or something, and for the entire duration of time that Lexie died and the fifteen minutes that followed it, I cried so hard I couldn’t even see what was happening on the screen. Even as I write this, my eyes remain puffy from the tears.
I’m not really worried. Major characters have died or left the show in years past, and Grey’s Anatomy always seems to have a way of moving on, growing up, and recovering, much like life itself. It’s one of the things that has always made me appreciate Grey’s Anatomy more than most other shows, because to me, even though the episodes that air today may only bear little resemblance to the episodes that aired six years ago, I, myself today, bear little resemblance to how I was six years ago. Life changes, people get older, and people come and go. People die. It’s what happens, and Grey’s Anatomy does a much better job showcasing that than just about any other show I’ve ever seen. So I’m not really worried about the loss of Lexie Grey, because I know that everybody will grow up, move on, and the show will remain strong.
The dynamic, I’m sure, will seem off, at least at first. To me, Lexie provided a lot of comedic relief to the series. She had her dramatic moments, to be sure, and Chyler Leigh nailed those, as evidenced in her final episode tonight, but a big part of her character provided the comedic relief for the series, a trait that I had begun to notice recently had seemingly been “transferred” over to Callie, who has been providing a lot of comedic relief for the show over the past several weeks.
But enough about Lexie. I could talk and talk and talk about Lexie, but so much more happened than just the death of Lexie Grey.
Teddy got fired. I totally never saw that one coming. So much of the hype was directed towards somebody dying that I never really suspected someone else could be leaving too. And though I’d never really had a problem with the character of Teddy, in fact she had some really great moments, I don’t really find myself all that upset that she is now gone. She had a good arc on the show, one that did ultimately seem to serve a purpose by teaching Cristina a lot, but it did feel like the time had come to say goodbye to Teddy. I find myself at peace with this departure, though I certainly never saw it coming or expected it to happen the way that it did.
Ben and Bailey. Oh, Ben and Bailey. What an odd storyline this has turned out to be. I like the two of them together, because they’re awfully adorable and bring out a different side of Miranda, but I’ve just never really felt like it could truly work out for the two of them. And I’m not sure how I feel about the idea of them getting married, only to have him move to Los Angeles for an internship. It seems awfully messy and like something that will cause a lot of drama that I don’t necessarily want to watch play out. I feel like it has been a really long time since Bailey has gotten to be happy without a bunch of weight holding her down, so I’m hoping that next season we’ll get to see Bailey just be happy. But I’m not holding my breath.
I’m still confused about what the future holds for April. Perhaps she’s the character I should be least worried about (OK, scratch that, I know that she’s the character I should be least worried about), but I just can’t help but wonder what the hell they are going to do with her next season. I mean, she failed her boards and Owen fired her and she lost all of her other offers, so how does she fit in to the world of Seattle Grace Mercy West at this point? I can’t quite figure it out, so I find myself intrigued in seeing how things work out for April Kepner.
It’s kind of interesting to me that Alex wasn’t involved in the plane crash. Maybe it was because he was so devastatingly involved in the shooting two years ago, or maybe there just wasn’t a way to work him into the action taking place in the woods. Either way, something felt off about having him separated from Meredith and Cristina during this crisis taking place, but the voicemail he left for Arizona towards the end of the episode made it pay off for me. Alex seems to finally be realizing (almost nine years later) that he – hey! – might actually be worth a crap as a doctor. I think we’re about to see some big things happen for Alex. I don’t what they’ll be, but I feel like it’s going to happen, and I’m excited to see them happen for him, because Alex deserves it, as he is most certainly the underdog of the series.
I’m kind of worried about what the next season holds in store for Derek, seeing as he crushed his hand. Surgeons don’t do well with crushed hands, though I also don’t feel like all hope is lost, seeing as he, too, was concerned about such things. I think I’m mostly just worried about another Tremorgate, or even seeing Derek go all dark like he did in the middle of the fifth season before he proposed to Meredith.
But we can’t finish talking about the finale without talking about its parallels to the pilot episode. They were haunting, especially with the glimpses of George and Izzie, and having Meredith repeat Richard’s opening monologue as the closing voiceover sent chills up my spine. It was a perfect framing device for the episode, as I feel like that one speech has always been in the back of everyone’s mind since day one.
In the end, however, it’s hard to pin down exactly how I feel about this episode. I feel both underwhelmed and overwhelmed. I kind of feel like maybe I dreamed it, but I know I didn’t. Whether we like it or not, this episode is going to change the course of the series from this point forward, and it is going to be interesting to see where things go from here. Will things pick up exactly where we left off, the doctors being found and rescued? Will Lexie get a funeral like George did? Could we, perhaps, see Thatcher make a reappearance? Or will we skip ahead, past the grief and the healing, past seeing everybody decide to stay at Seattle Grace instead of move away?
Not only do I not know what’s going to happen (and I’m doubting Shonda Rhimes even knows that), but I don’t even know what I want to see happen. I’m just left in a perpetual state of uncertainty. Everything has been left up in the air. And when I say everything, I do mean everything.
This finale has divided fans more than I have ever seen the Grey’s Anatomy audience divided. I find myself feeling neutral to all of it, perhaps because I feel like it was the first half of an episode, and I need to see what happens next before I can fully process it all. There’s no denying it was a fantastic episode, and I’m already eagerly awaiting the ninth season’s premiere this fall. I need to know what happens next.
Everything is going to change. Everything. And I just want to hug Shonda Rhimes.