Grey’s Anatomy (S05E01) “Dream A Little Dream Of Me”
Last year’s season finale of Grey’s Anatomy was a good bookend to a bad season, and while I had some hope for this show’s 2 hour return to TV, I felt very little excitement over it. Grey’s hooked me early on and steadily lost me more and more as it aged, to the point that I held very few expectations and was just glad when the show delivered. After watching tonight’s premiere, I must admit I’m a little embarrassed to admit I like Grey’s Anatomy, and it has very little to do with me being a guy and a lot to do with what this program has become–a medical soap odyssey populated by the most self-centered, immature bunch of fake people ever to walk the halls of a fake earth, which I am thankful does not exist.
Is the premiere a total disaster? That big hint at my overall impression aside, no it’s not, but it’s a bigger wreck than the multiple limousine accidents that the story revolved around. As with most episodes, there are scattered moments of very good things happening, and it’s all a matter of what they add up to. So does the good mixed with the bad equal out to a satisfying product? Let’s take a look.
Meredith shocked us all last season by burying some of her baggage, sending her pitiful whining self packing, and building a house made of candles to represent her future life together with Derek. Shonda promised us the chase and the uncertainty were over and from then on it would be about their future together, but now Meredith is back to fretting 24/7 about her future with McDreamy, and she’s even having cheap, audience duping dreams about him dying in a terrible car wreck. Which, oh, just happens to be what this episode is all about. Grey’s has always followed the formula of “What’s going on in the character’s lives mirrors the cases in the hospital”, but sometimes it can be pressed a little too hard into your face, which this episode is very much guilty of. As people’s lives are hanging in the balance, Meredith won’t stop whining. Izzie confides in her about Alex’s softer side, but it’s all about Meredith so she carelessly blabs about it. Patients are in critical condition, but Meredith wants to talk about her future with Derek. Christina, her freaking person, is wounded (Oh boy, I’ll get to that soon) and she still insists on making it all about me. Damn, girl, the show is named after you, but other people do exist in your fictional universe of perpetual sorrow.
Meanwhile Derek is dealing with the fallout from dumping Rose, that character introduced for a purpose that escapes me, and being pretty much just a pretty face throughout the episode. He’s there, sure, but his presence is dwarfed by all the other crazy people around him. And no I’m not referring to the patients.
The Chief, Bailey and Christina spend the entire time worrying about the news that Seattle Grace has been bumped to the #12 spot in the hierarchy of teaching hospitals. The Chief reacts by recklessly ordering any surgery he can find and Bailey, usually one of my favorite characters, is right there with him putting her desire to be number one before the health of her patients. Christina is in the mix as well, but we’re so used to her career advancing self that it’s nothing new, and she was pretty enjoyable (until she gets injured, which I’m still going to get to soon. Saving the best worst for last). This whole stink about rankings seemed forced from the beginning, with other hospitals taking all their patients and suddenly leaving them with empty OR room upon empty OR room. So, several hours after a list goes live online, business is down an alarmingly noticeable rate. Riiiight. It’s very clear that the hospital’s ratings are supposed to mirror the tank in ratings the show received last year, but there’s nothing genius about this less than subtle plot. And it didn’t succeed at getting ratings back up–they’re down 18% from last year’s premiere.
I’ve always known the characters of Grey’s were selfish, but it often made them seem more human–more real–but here it comes off as shoddy character writing to push through a less-than-stellar plotline. This is made worse by the realization that I’m growing tired of the dialogue style of this show. It has a very signature sound to it, full of comedic/dramatic repetition and lines that would probably sound laughable coming from any other place, but it gave this show some of its charm early on. It still works sometimes, Like when Lexie reads outloud the letter of a man with shattered vocal chords or Izzie gives peace to a woman whose memory continues to reset by telling her that her dead husband will be coming for her soon. But more often than not I just can’t buy the contrived words coming out of these people’s mouths. Whether that’s my fault or the show’s, I can’t be sure.
As I mentioned before, the plots link with the character’s lives is laid on a little thick here. You have three women who have been in a limousine accident and their three husbands, coincidentally also injured in another limousine accident. The women are best friends who have grown old together, but their friendships and relationships with their husbands are tested as dirty secrets come spilling out during the crisis. One of the friends slept with her BFF’s husband, one of the men might not be able to walk again, one won’t be able to speak, and one of the women has her memory reset every 30 seconds. Their standalone story is actually pretty compelling stuff and I’d say the best aspect of the episode, but it is most definitely being held up against Meredith and her relationship not only with Derek, but with her friends as well. We even get to see a future Meredith and Christina, old, wrinkly and disturbingly mannish. As the accident victim’s lives spiral further out of control, Meredith worries that she could end up like them–sleeping with her best friends husband and ending up old and unhappy, which makes her retract her offer to Derek of moving in with her. Then she sees that these people might be OK after all, so she puts the offer out there again. The problem with all of this is simple. I care more about these guest stars and their story than I do about the two staple character’s destined/doomed relationship drama. And I must add: Those poor limo victims! Here they are suffering while a bunch of nutjob surgeons handle their cases like grade school children. If this were a reality show and this hospital were real, Seattle Grace wouldn’t need a stupid ranked list to assure them no business.
Another heavy-handed comparison is Callie’s experimental procedure with the man and his injured spinal cord and her experimental “procedure” with Dr. Hahn. Callie researches this breakthrough method of treating spinal injuries, by making the patient a living Popsicle, but in her excitement to “experiment” (Ohh, ahh) she doesn’t stop to wonder if she can handle her “experiment” (Oh yeah!) and ends up freaking the frak out during the middle of the “experiment” (Give me more!) as the patient is dying on the table. Then Hahn comes gliding in to save the day by letting her know that being bicurious is totally normal. Well, in reality the two of them to finally address their girl on girl kiss from last season, admitting their both “virgins” when it comes to this and that they’re both scared. So they decide to be scared quasi-virgins together, which so means they’ll be scissoring before the night is through.
Christina meets a hunky new addition to the cast, Sergeant Owen Hunt, who is as manly as his name makes him sound. He traches a dude with a pen and staples up his own leg, so we know he’s badass. For the first half his character seemed lame, then he started to grow on me, and then when he shut the blinds and kissed Christina I threw up my hands in frustration. He seemed normal, even commenting on some of the silliness going on amongst the resident doctors, only to go and pull one of the moves out of their books. Or I guess it’s Shonda Rhime’s book, which has every character doing every silly thing you can think of. So I suppose you can’t put the blame on them, because they are her babies–her monsters. But Christina falling for someone very much not of the academic world, removed from the world she’s gotten used to, could be interesting and I would like to see it lead somewhere. I just didn’t want kissing with tongue in the first few hours of their meeting. Sheesh.
But G.I. Joe is the least of Christina’s worries this episode. She has Meredith clinging onto her tail and whimpering about Derek constantly, which finally causes her to snap and tell off her BFF, which summons the wrath of the cosmic god’s of self-pity who punish her by causing her to slip on the ice out front of the hospital. Oh, and they make an icicle fall into her gut. You know the thing I was hinting about before? Yeah, this is it. An icicle. Let it digest…..AN ICE MOTHERBLEEPING CICLE?!?! This is the point of no return in this episode for me, where I could no longer help but see everything in a negative light. Yes it was a minor injury and Christina was laughing and joking all while the magical icicle that never melts protrudes from her belly, but the fact that they went there boggles my mind. It’s just…it’s an icicle.
So who does that leave to like? Well Sloane was funny as usual and seems less of a douche compared to some others, Alex and Izzie were cute, and experimenting aside, I thought Hahn and her quest to be a better, more effective teacher felt sincere and real. Oh and Lexie. I really liked Lexie this episode. She has some of her sister’s quirks, but minus the constant whining. She stood up to Sloane, spent more time caring about the patients than workplace drama, and tried to find the nerve to tell George she likes him; a plan hindered by the revelation (to her anyway) that big sis slept with him already. But boy does she still wants the leftovers, and I could totally see her and George as an item. Way better than Izziegate. It being laid to rest is probably the biggest reason Izzie and George are enjoyable once again, and I don’t cringe when I see them prance on screen.
My only complaint regarding Izzie comes near the end, when seeing Alex preparing to bone another chick summons a dream-like vision of her in that prom dress meeting Denny. I remember one of the few good moments of the ferry boat arc was when Izzie felt the presence of Denny and then finally let go of him, and for her to revisit him once again cheapens that moment. They walk off into a bright, white light together, but what does it all mean? The dream was pretty and all, but seemed tacked on for the sake of having it, rather than showing it because it’s important and adds something. It’s like Shonda just wanted Denny back again, and di whatever she had to fit him in. Which is how a lot of things about this show seem–storylines, dialogue and scenarios that these writers like so much they can’t manage to part with them, so they include them no matter what. Isn’t this one of the big no-nos in writing? Just my opinion.
I’m even less excited about what this season holds than I was before coming into it, and I’m not holding out much hope that show can ever return to what once made me a big fan. I’m too invested at this point to stop watching and I know I’ll enjoy the show to an extent, despite all its flaws, but the greatness has faded. Or you could say its melted, like a coneviently placed icicle in the gut. Ouch.