Grey's Anatomy: Season 3 - Drowning on Dry Land (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
INDIELONDON singles out notable episodes from current television series for stand-alone reviews. On this occasion we take a look at the season 3 episode of Grey’s Anatomy entitled Drowning on Dry Land.
What’s the story? In the aftermath of the Seattle ferry disaster almost everyone searches for Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) while they ponder their place in the world. Addison (Kate Walsh) considers pursuing Alex (Justin Chambers), who has his own work cut out informing the relatives of possible victims. Izzie (Katherine Heigl) is forced to take desperate measures to help the trapped man she is caring for. And Cristina (Sandra Oh) and Burke (Isiah Washington) have a blow-up fight about their announcement.
Was it any good? Sadly, no. Whereas the very best shows, like ER and House, rise to their big moments, Grey’s Anatomy consistently squanders them. Drowning On Dry Land was an infuriating episode in many ways, not least because a disaster involving widespread death (in this case, a ferry crash), became overshadowed by the petty personal issues surrounding many of the key characters and – once again – more trauma involving Meredith. Could we please have a “big moment” that doesn’t involve this insipid character?
Digging a little deeper: Rather like season two double bill It’s The End Of The World As We Know It or the death of Denny during the season finale, Grey’s Anatomy has consistently shown an ability to fluff its big moments.
It does this by almost always putting its characters personal woes above everything else. Or, most commonly, putting Ellen Pompeo’s Meredith in harm’s way.
In It’s The End Of The World… she was left holding a bomb… literally. But while several people eventually perished around her, their deaths were forgotten as friends and colleagues sacrificed professionalism for making sure their colleague was okay.
In Drowning On Dry Land, Meredith was drowning – the result of having been pushed off a dock in the previous episode’s cliffhanger ending. Let’s ignore the fact this character should have perished given the amount of time she spent unconscious under the water, or the fact that she was also flatline for a significant portion of the episode… her predicament seemed to take precedence over all other suffering.
When she was delivered to the hospital, for instance, almost every one of her colleagues was paged and abandoned whatever treatment they were offering to other patients in favour of convening outside the operating theatre in the hope of saving her (did time and treatment stop in the rest of the hospital?).
To make matters worse, we then had to sit through a sanctimonious “I believe” speech from Izzie (Katherine Heigl), who even found time to chastise George (TR Knight) for “the mistake” of marrying Callie. It was excruciating to say the least.
Meredith ended the episode still flatline. But her fate isn’t really in doubt. We know she’ll survive, just as we know we’re probably going to have to endure the subsequent traumas that follow as she attempts to make sense of it all.
But then Meredith wasn’t the only problem in this supposedly pivotal episode. Izzie – once sympathetic and selfless – is fast becoming as annoying and selfish as her close friend. In this episode, she got into a flap about saving her own trapped patient (why use one word when 38 neurotic ones will do?), then was in self-congratulatory mode for having helped him pull through, only to be rocked by Meredith’s predicament and forced to deliver her Martin Luther Izzie moment.
TR Knight’s George seems to be fighting a losing battle to maintain a backbone in this series (yet again falling about the place in search of a child, and then lining up a night of sex with Callie in celebration of finding him), while Cristina (Sandra Oh) and Burke (Isiah Washington) had YET ANOTHER petty fight about their impending wedding and aren’t really talking to each other (on this occasion because Cristina hadn’t been able to tell Meredith first about their engagement). Please, please, please would someone make these characters grow up.
There were a couple of moments that prevented Drowning On Dry Land from becoming a complete disaster. Justin Chambers’ Alex Karev was the voice of reason and logic throughout, actually administering to patients and getting on with the job at hand.
He expertly balanced his concern for his own patient with the anger and frustration of not being able to provide relatives with more information. And he even found a quiet moment to reassure Addison that he’d miss her if she became lost. A scene in a morgue was also quite chilling as he photographed dead people for potential relatives to identify. A little more hard-hitting material such as this wouldn’t have gone amiss.
And great too was a tiny, tiny late episode moment (unspoken) between Derek (Patrick Dempsey) and Mark Sloan (Eric Dane) that spoke volumes for what they really meant to each other as former best friends. Sloan’s gesture proved genuinely heartfelt in a moment of crisis and didn’t need the underlining voiceover that so often blights this particular series.
Unfortunately, given the nature of the ending, we’re far from reaching the end of this story arc – and I suspect things are going to get even more infuriating as self-centred actions and petty romantic woes once again take centre stage. Drowning On Dry Land may have been about the tragedy of life, but it ended up underlining the tragically flawed screenplay writing.
What did you think?