Grey's Anatomy: Season 4 - Freedom (Season finale 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 4 two-part finale of Grey’s Anatomy entitled Freedom (as aired on Living TV on Thursday, January 8, 2009).
What’s the story? Derek (Patrick Dempsey) and Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) face a race against time for their clinical trial, and risk falling out with each other, as another two patients embark upon treatment. Alex (Justin Chambers) breaks down for the first time ever. Izzie (Katherine Heigl) is forced to take charge of a situation. George (TR Knight) gets a second chance. Cristina (Sandra Oh) rediscovers her drive. Bailey (Chandra Wilson) makes a big decision – as does Callie (Sara Ramirez). And the chief (James Pickens Jr) attempts to keep control, especially since the hospital’s latest patient is a teenager stuck in cement.
Was it any good? In a word, no. The season finale wasn’t so much a cliffhanger as a damp squib. A repetitive one at that. Characters kissed, or hugged, or embraced. There were no life or death situations, little dramatic impetus… and the whole series continued to feel like it was going round in circles.
First and foremost, the “legend of Meredith and Derek” continued to grate. The on/off and on again couple – surely now the most annoying on TV – ended the episode in a passionate embrace after their clinical trial finally succeeded in saving the life of a cancer patient.
Only moments earlier, however, Derek had told Meredith he no longer wanted her in his life. It was the one true moment in the episode, as McDreamy seemed to have awoken from his perpetually smitten state to realise the waste of time that is holding out for Meredith Grey.
Meredith, meanwhile, bickered with her psychiatrist as she attempted to find meaning in her mum’s attempted suicide, and also “forgot” to inform Derek of the chief’s ultimatum to put one last patient through the clinical trial (they subsequently put two, killing one).
Meredith continues to be an impossible character to like – even though everyone around her seems to feel she could walk on water. Derek, for instance, can’t stop loving her, while his current love interest admitted to feeling intimidated around her. Even her sister repeatedly forgives her, no matter how rude she is half the time.
But then Grey’s Anatomy, as a whole, has slowly become a show that’s difficult to find anyone to root for. Izzie – once a beacon of light – is now every bit as opinionated and unlikeable as Meredith herself; on this occasion fretting over her involvement with Alex and the increasingly unstable Rebecca.
Having already stuck her nose in and ruined one marriage (and fooling around with George in the process), she now spelt the end for Alex and Rebecca (even though, on this occasion, the latter clearly needed her help).
Cristina, meanwhile, rediscovered her surgical mojo and stepped in to triumph in her battle of wills with Erica Hahn (Brooke Smith) – but didn’t warrant too much joy given the self-centred nature of her ways.
Hahn, meanwhile, got a dressing down from the chief and then found herself in the arms of Callie, who finally decided to give into her closet passions and embrace her newfound lesbian status.
Which brings us to all the kissing and/or sex. Almost everyone ended up smooching with someone – or failing that, just plain getting laid.
Two teenage cancer patients set the ball rolling by being encouraged to “lost their virginity” prior to their life-threatening operations – straining credibility to the max and hopelessly highlighting the show’s over-emphasis on sex.
Alex, meanwhile, ended the show snogging Izzie… moments after breaking down over his perceived failure to care for Rebecca. Again, it felt like an unlikely plot device, an unlikely character development and wholly inappropriate. What happened to a plain, old-fashioned comfort hug? Or are Grey‘s characters so impervious to genuine kindness that they only respond to insults – Izzie, for instance, had only recently been called a bitch by Alex, while Meredith came back for lip suction from being told to get out of Derek’s life!
And what’s with the ongoing need for repetition – both in the script and in the story developments. Characters have the infuriating habit of repeating the same thing (the chief, for instance, kept insisting he was a good man to whoever would listen, while George get lamenting the one point that prevented his progression).
While lives just don’t seem to move on… Derek and Meredith being the prime example but closely followed (now) by Alex and Izzie, Cristina getting her own way, the chief being back with his wife and so on…
And finally, talking of the chief… James Pickens Jr’s character is another of those Grey’s Anatomy males in desperate need of a backbone. Among his many offences in last night’s season closer were his inability to punish Meredith for not informing Derek of the clinical trial decision. Rather than dress her down, as in real life, he proceeded to allow her to blame him for her mother’s suicide attempt and get away with her inability to follow his orders.
Likewise, when George took him to task and asked for his own second chance, he caved; and when he chose to have a go at Hahn over her teaching attitude towards Cristina, he did it [unprofessionally] in front of Cristina. There’s a fine line between being sympathetic and fallible, to just downright weak and inept.
Season five of Grey’s Anatomy follows in a couple of weeks on Living and it remains to be seen whether there’ll be any improvement. On the evidence of the past two seasons, I suspect not.
What did you think?
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