Grey's Anatomy: Season 2 - Into You Like A Train
Review by Jack Foley
INDIELONDON singles out notable episodes from our favourite television series for stand-alone reviews. On this occasion we take a look at the season two episode of Grey’s Anatomy entitled Into You Like A Train.
What’s the story? Train wreck victims come to Seattle Grace and all staff get called in. Derek (Patrick Dempsey) okays Webber (James Pickens Jnr) for surgery. Addison (Kate Walsh) and Izzie (Katherine Heigl) work with a woman who is pregnant and badly burned. Christina (Sandra Oh) searches for a patient’s leg and Alex (Justin Chambers) gets annoyed and wonders if he should be a doctor. Two people are caught in a coin flip situation when they get impaled by the same pole. Finally, a slightly buzzed Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) waits on Derek’s decision.
Why so good? In the UK, Into You Like A Train serves as the first episode of season 2. In the US, it was actually several episodes in. But that’s splitting hairs. What it does do is show Grey’s Anatomy at its best and worst. The central medical case, involving the couple impaled on the same pole, is genuinely affecting and even tear-dropping but it’s offset by Meredith’s agonizing over whether Derek (or “McDreamy”) will choose her over his wife, Addison (Kate Walsh).
Digging a little deeper: Grey’s Anatomy is the top-rated medical drama on American television. It even jostles for position with CSI at the very top of the TV charts. And it frequently provides compelling viewing. Yet it’s as infuriating to watch sometimes as it is brilliant at others. Into You Like A Train perfectly sums up why.
For the most part, its central characters are a flawed bunch who take it in turns to impress and annoy. On the plus side, Alex (Justin Chambers), Izzie (Katherine Heigl) and George (TR Knight) are generally likeable, as is surgeon Preston Burke (Isiah Washington). But Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) is just plain annoying (and deliberately so), while Derek (Patrick Dempsey) spends too much of his time exchanging sloppy glances with his former love-interest.
What makes Into You Like A Train such a compelling episode is the way it manipulates your emotions – you’ll laugh, cry and feel like screaming at the TV.
The comedy comes from Christina’s hapless search for an amputated leg that gives rise to at least one embarrassing situation for her; the sadness from the plight of two patients, and the anger from Meredith’s self-obsessed central character.
Writer Krista Vernoff struggles to make a convincing case for juxtaposing the patients’ battle for survival with the emotional turmoil of Meredith and loosens the episode’s emotional pull whenever she tries to do it.
But there’s no denying the brilliance of the episode in other places. What begins as a miraculous escape for two rail passengers impaled on the same pole quickly turns into a heartbreaking decision as the docs treating them come to realise that only one can survive.
Who gets to live ultimately comes down to a medical decision over which one stands the best chance of survival once the pole is removed. But having become friends during their ordeal, it’s a heartbreaking farewell once the pole is finally removed.
The effect it has on the doctors treating them is equally moving, with Patrick Dempsey afforded one particularly poignant moment in a lift.
It’s during such ethical dilemmas and medical traumas that Grey’s Anatomy succeeds as first-rate drama. But it’s equally let down by the over emphasis on Meredith’s character and her tedious personal woes. If there’s a more annoying and inspid character on TV, then I’ve get to find them (and nor would I want to).
Nevertheless, Into You Like A Train provides a blistering start to season 2 for Channel 5 viewers that showcases the best and the worst of what the series has to offer. It’s provocative viewing that forces you to have an opinion whilse becoming emotionally involved with its characters. You’ll love and hate it in equal measure – and that can only be a good thing!
What do you think?