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Grey's Anatomy: Season 3 - What I Am (Review)

Grey's Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo

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 What I Am.

What’s the story? Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) requires surgery and must finally choose between the men in her life: McDreamy (Patrick Dempsey) or Finn (Chris O’Donnell). Izzie, meanwhile, meets the father (Fred Ward) of her late fiancée Denny to explain what happened. George (TR Knight) conitnues to mess Callie (Sara Ramirez) around. Preston Burke (Isaiah Washington) doubts his ability to come back to work and Addison Montgomery Shepherd (Kate Walsh) must cope with the sudden arrival of her ex-flame Mark Sloan (Eric Dane) on the medical staff. Oh, and the odd patient requires life-saving treatment…

Was it any good? Well, if you like melodrama then yes. If you fancy hard-hitting medical drama in the vein of ER then no. As ever, the ongoing trials and tribulations of Ellen Pompeo’s Meredith continued to grate, as her own self-absorption took centre stage.

But then the emphasis on the episode was on self as a whole – the ability to be selfish or selfless in moments of crisis. For those involved in the tedious love triangle, it was about doing the right thing, for Sandra Oh’s ambitious Cristina Yang it was about putting her boyfriend’s anxities ahead of her own, and for Eric Dane’s new plastic surgeon, it was about fitting in as part of a team rather than doing things on his own.

Digging a little deeper: Meredith, Meredith, Meredith… what can we say that hasn’t already been said? In the midst of life and death situations, Ellen Pompeo’s central character continues to display the selfish tendencies that drive me up the wall. Why she has two men pining over her remains one of television’s great mysteries (even more impenetrable than most X-Files cases!).

In What I Am she forced herself to decide between the two men vying for her affection. Or did she? Stricken with abdominal pains (initially a pregnancy fear), and drugged up for a lot of the time, she was more annoying than ever before. As for the BIG decision itself, the outcome was never really in doubt.

Meredith chose Derek (McDreamy), even though he’d done the decent thing and stepped aside for nice-guy Finn. True to form, however, Meredith responded by ending things with the vet – opting instead to continue to pursue a man who everyone knew would hurt her again (please, no!).

But the decision lacked any emotional resonance. Rather, I couldn’t help but feel Finn had gotten away lightly. His parting words, though, did at least display more spine than he has previously exhibited – “when he hurts you again, I won’t be there”. Well, frankly my dear, who gives a damn.

Earlier on, however, further proof of Meredith’s inherent selfishness was displayed in her encounter with Kate Walsh’s Addison. Though admittedly delirious from medication, Meredith nevertheless pinned down Derek’s ex-wife and asked for advice on how to win the man.

Selflessly, Addison obliged – although a short, sharp slap to the face would probably have worked better. Why do people continue to be so accommodating to her [Meredith]?

There were other issues in the episode – most of which were as heavy handed and laboured as we’ve come to expect from the show. Whereas the best medical dramas (such as ER and House) are notable for their restraint in gloopy sentiment, Grey‘s likes to overdose on the emotion.

Izzie’s drawn out chat with Denny’s father culminated in a weepy letter from beyond the grave and more hankie moments – but they felt laboured and contrived more than honest and heartfelt.

As always, it’s the peripheral characters that keep Grey‘s interesting. Chandra Wilson’s Miranda Bailey continued to impress with her deft mix of ball-busting and compassion, while Sara Ramirez’s feisty Callie Torres sought solace from George in the open arms of new guy, Mark Sloan – and it should be interesting to discover the fallout from that one.

Likewise, Justin Chamber’s Alex Karev continues to veer between nice guy and bad, on this occasion giving Kate Walsh’s Addison the reality check she required.

But my main criticism of Grey’s Anatomy keeps coming back to the same old thing: the dreary, drawn out and quite frankly stifling will they/won’t they tug of love between Meredith and Derek. Given her choice, we’re clearly in for more of the same, and that can only be a painful thing…

What did you think?