The highly anticipated two- hour special episode of Grey’s Anatomy might have produced a great mixture of frustration, confusion and disappointment. However, the episode is special indeed. It sends a very subtle, but profound message. And if you found yourself a bit left or right to the point, you might have actually missed the whole point, the bigger picture and what actually the episode is trying to convey. Forget for a while about your favourite character; forget about the favourite ‘ship’ you ship, forget about characters’ journey.
This kind of episode is a tricky and a challenging task to handle. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the instalment was entrusted into the capable hands of Stacy McKee herself. The long episode took us on a year long journey after Derek’s death.
The main character in this storyline was life itself. This includes death, birth, romance, memories, the ups and downs. And the message- life is experienced through feelings and emotions whatever these feelings and emotions may be, that time doesn’t really matter- one feels pain when they feel it, one heals when they heal, one breaks down when they break down, one expresses their feelings when they express them. The question is how vulnerable one can be, how much one can open themselves and let life run through them, how much one can expose themselves to anything in life.
Are we really alive only when our brains and hearts are functioning…?
The doctors of Grey- Sloan Memorial breathed life into life through speeches, conversations and actions and used all the colours, bright and dark to turn the white canvas into a beautiful and colourful painting. It was a picture of life. The different brushes they used left different trails, forms and shapes. Art after all is supposed to make us feel. Life is supposed to make us feel, isn’t it?
Let’s see how the doctors navigated and coped with life.
First off, Ellen Pompeo did a great job at portraying a grieving wife. Her alter ego Meredith Grey ran off to an unknown place to gain perspective, to sort out through her feelings. The dark and twisty heroine who was bitter with her mother for years, actually worships Ellis Grey, but at the same doesn’t actually follows in her footsteps. Running away is a temporary answer, it doesn’t offer a fix, but bridges the gap closer to the solution. It seems that Meredith came to terms with Derek’s death, because life goes on. Unfortunately, she won’t be able to share the little bundle of joy, baby Alice with him, but still through their children (all three of them) Derek keeps on living.
All the gloom and doom sent Dr. Hunt and April Kepner literally on the battle field to save lives. They both needed space and perspective, especially April who needed to learn how to walk again, as Dr. Robbins put it in her metaphor to illustrate to Jackson and help him understand his wife’s actions. Because life must go on.
Dr. Webber spilt his heart once again to sassy Mama Avery. But the real feelings didn’t come into force until the bossy and powerful persona of Catherine Avery decided to get over her iron lady image (thank you Dr. Pierce for knocking some sense into Mama Avery) and let everything out in a cheesy marriage proposal. Because standing on the fence and resisting life and its offerings is not life at all. Because life is like a running river.
Ben and Bailey, another couple with seemingly boring and pointless scenes on the surface, actually sent a very powerful message. Life is happening now. Whether you worry for tomorrow or the unknown restrains us from living the life, we are supposed to live in the given moment and enjoy it and take as much as we can. And also love as much as possible without fear.
Last but not least comes Amelia Shepherd. Kudos to Caterina Scorsone for her incredible portrayal of Amelia Shepherd. She was raw and emotional and real. Excellent performance and acting that actually makes the viewer feel Amelia’s pain, denial, anger, sarcasm and her collapsing acceptance.
The two- hour special episode honoured the life and death of Derek Shepherd. His work was honoured through Callie Torres and the memory of him as a friend and colleague through Arizona Robbins. But this was just a small part, a little piece of the much bigger picture. “She’s Leaving Home” honoured life with its happy and unhappy moments.
Ellis Grey and her carousel, the flashbacks, the rotating patients in the Burn Unit, the birth of baby Ellis, Derek’s funeral- this is all life. There is no end and no beginning, no markers for fresh starts. Life is constantly moving in us, through us and between us. To experience life, one needs more than a heartbeat, one needs to feel every possible offering that life gives whether it is pain, love, hate, joy, resentment and so on. Stacy McKee managed to capture the balance by delving into life and wrote an episode that gives plenty of food for thought.