Grand Rounds: Dissecting Grey's Anatomy: That's Me Trying

Welcome to Grand Rounds: Dissecting Grey’s Anatomy, a roundtable on Grey’s Anatomy featuring Snarky’s Machine, Tasha Fierce, Everett Maroon, Redlami, and s.e. smith. This week’s Grand Rounds is hosted by the fantastic s.e. smith and if you’re jonesin’ for a recap before you plunge in, Snarky’s Machine has got you covered over at I Fry Mine In Butter. Without further ado, let’s begin!

Dr. Karev and Dr. Kepner, drinking in a bar.

s.e. smith: We’ve been watching Kepner evolve by leaps and bounds over the course of this season; the other characters constantly mock her for being focused and driven, but when the going gets tough, she gets going. Is there a little bit of last season Cristina in her? Are we liking where she is going as a character?

Redlami: I like the way April’s character is developing. She’s certainly coming into her own as smart, strong and resourceful, and has clearly made it onto Alex’s radar based on the way she handled the trauma certification class. I’m not so sure I like the hints that Alex may be April’s first, although the show could certainly use a little more sexual tension beyond Mark gazing at Lexie’s butt.

Everett Maroon: I like her more than I did, and I wonder at this point if the writers aren’t playing with us, the audience; they know that viewers haven’t warmed to her, so they continue to play off of that dislike via the characters. It’s almost like our disdain for her is being written into the show itself. In any case, Owen’s idea of trauma training looked like a huge waste of a million dollars to me, so I’m glad she told him off. But let’s get real: Seattle’s weather is not all over the place like that. It doesn’t go from sunny to trickle to extended downpour. That’s Montana.

Snarky’s Machine: April seems to on the “Lexie Grey” trajectory. I don’t think the writers know any other way to bring on a younger female character. That said, April is finally getting to show her stuff in a way that impresses even Alex. Though did we really need all those Apocalypse Now references? The entire trauma skills lab storyline seemed fitting of Owen and a waste of everyone else.

Tasha Fierce: I still think her voice is annoying, but I think she’s getting less tiresome as a character. They’re fleshing her out more. As far as last season Cristina… no, I don’t think so. She’s just too hyper for any comparisons to Cristina. I wouldn’t say I “like” where she’s going as a character other than the fact that it’s nice for her to not be completely one-dimensional.

s.e. smith: Snobbery and judgmental attitudes about cosmetic surgery are common on Grey’s (it does not escape my notice that Mark, working in plastics, is usually shown doing reconstructive surgeries). In this episode, Lexie gets judge-y about a woman’s desire for a buttock implant, exhibiting the classic Grey’s inappropriate snooping and prying. How did you feel about this storyline? Do you think Mark handled it appropriately? And why is the show so bent on demonizing cosmetic surgery?

Redlami: I didn’t think it was appropriate for Mark to give Lexie the opportunity to badger the patient. Even if he knew the outcome in advance through prior screening, I didn’t see it as being very respectful.

I noticed that in this episode one of the ways people were “trying” was by making decisions based on their own assessment of the wants or needs of others. In this way, Lexie being judgmental was of a piece with Owen sending Meredith to keep an eye on Cristina, Owen lecturing Jackson, Miranda pursuing the autopsy, or Callie trying to be OK about going to Africa. In the end, the story seemed to say, you can’t really know whether you’re going to succeed but that doesn’t mean you don’t keep trying.

Everett Maroon: I thought Mark was giving Lexie a bit too much latitude until he gave his monologue to Torres about regret, and then it made more sense to me. Doctors on the plastics rotation do need to be able to assess if a patient is electing a surgery for dangerous reasons, but they certainly don’t need to do it with as much condescension as she had. I do like that “I want to look better in my jeans” was a qualifying response for both doctors. So if the patient wanted a big bottom for one man, that would be a problem, but if she desired it so that all men could gaze upon her, well, that’s totally fine! And I don’t know why GA keeps demonizing cosmetic surgery, other than it’s largely elective surgery, and that’s more demonized in general. People are supposed to need doctors, not seek them out, or something.

Snarky’s Machine: Like a lot of things—that damn “post-it marriage, anyone?—Grey’s thinks it’s more thoughtful and clever than it really is. Despite being very adept at inclusion and embracing diversity the approach is still largely crunchy, liberal feel goodery, which as we all know is not a precise tool when it comes to do dismantling oppression. I think Mark’s pragmatic approach was appropriate and realistic. I have never gotten the indication a patient goes under Mark’s knife without being reasonably psychologically stable enough for the procedure. Since this is a teaching hospital, there was space for Lexie’s inappropriate and judgmental observations about the surgery, but in the end it did not alter anything. That said, I’m really tired of seeing vulnerable patients—prepped for surgery—have to call out snarky, dismissive Grey’s doctors.

Tasha Fierce: Lexie’s concern trolling was inappropriate to me, but a lot of the interactions between patients seem inappropriate to me on Grey’s. I’m glad they had the woman act confident and sure of herself, which took the wind out of Lexie’s sails. The storyline was just kind of incidental, and I think that yes, Mark handled it appropriately in this case. It’s so funny that Grey’s bothers to have a plastic surgeon on the cast but then shies away from doing cosmetic surgery storylines.

Dr. Kepner, in the driver's seat of an an ambulance, screaming at Dr. Hunt. Rain pours down.

s.e. smith: Dr. Hunt lectures Dr. Avery, quite sternly, about how he shouldn’t use the trauma as an excuse to not be a doctor (we also saw him acting up last episode). Was that lecture wholly directed at Dr. Avery, or was it a manifestation of losing patience with Dr. Yang?

Redlami: I think it’s partly directed at Yang but more generally directed toward all the doctors who are still struggling to cope with the aftermath of the shooting. Owen has always displayed a somewhat superior attitude owing to his military medical experience.

Everett Maroon: Dr. Avery is going to get a stern talking-to from every attending in surgery, it seems, and frankly, I’m tired of it. Why do people have to keep yelling at the pretty man of color? Maybe he is the projection of people’s Cristina anger, but he also takes it on the chin with dumb blond jokes, as a pretty boy, for being too Mercy West (which let’s face it, took as much of the writer’s anger as is possible), not having good enough skills, to the total erasure of his own character. I’m surprised Yang cracked first and exited, instead of Avery.

Snarky’s Machine: Was I the only person hearing the M*A*S*H theme?

Tasha Fierce: I’m losing patience with Dr. Yang. But that’s beside the point. I think the lecture was probably somewhat directed at Dr. Yang, but not consciously. It’s hard to try to guess what’s going on in the characters’ heads unless it’s vocalized somehow. However, Dr. Avery has been skating for quite some time. He’s way too cocky to be so affected by the trauma that he can’t finish that training exercise. He just stops doing things when they get too hard. At least Cristina manages to go around looking like she’s in shock.

s.e. smith: After our previous discussions about Cristina’s reaction to the trauma starting to feel drawn out and overplayed, she made a big decision this week. What’s going to happen next? Will Cristina end up returning to surgery? Do you think the show handled her trauma appropriately, or was it pressured by viewers to wrap up the trauma storylines in a neat and tidy bow?

Redlami: As much as I don’t really like where the storyline is taking Cristina, both professionally and emotionally, I think it made a lot of sense. Before this point, quitting wouldn’t have been true to her character. But once she saw that she could overcome her fear she was ready to decide she didn’t want to live that way. I wasn’t so keen on her laying the blame on Meredith, and I’m worried about what this means for their relationship.

Everett Maroon: Cristina has to return to surgery because I can’t see her happy doing anything else, but every time I think this, the writers hurl another grenade. It really feels like violence toward Yang at this point, and as I came away from last night’s episode, I realized I felt so unsettled because so many of the women are the show are imploding. Lexie with her outbursts and teetering mental stability, Bailey mired in the trauma of that day and unable to even have a romantic relationship. Meredith whittled down to a fear about Alzheimer’s and a hostile uterus. Cristina Yang no longer anyone we recognize, paralyzed by fear. What happened to the crew who never blinked when bombs detonated in the OR, ferries crashed in the Sound, and friends were killed by Seattle buses? Why are we suddenly in this exploration of aftershock? Please don’t tell me we’re going to get a Jacob’s Ladder at the end of the season and find out nobody made it out of last season’s climax.

Snarky’s Machine: This was a stunner and also a letdown. There was something interesting happening with Cristina and Meredith’s conversation on the roof and I thought we were going to finally get under the surface of all that clinginess between Mer and Cristina. Instead, the writers have each woman come out swinging—sucker punching, even—and then dash out of the ring. Obviously, there’s more in store for them, but with all the work they’ve done to make us care about their relationship again it was confusing and out of left field.

Tasha Fierce: I think Cristina HAS to go back to surgery at some point or I’m not watching anymore. I’m still pissed about them breaking her and Burke up. But yeah, her being this amazing surgeon is a big part of her role on the show. What is she going to do? Is she going to stay home and crochet doilies? I just really don’t see how this can be dragged out much longer. Although the revelation that Cristina resents Meredith was kind of a breakthrough. I wonder why Meredith is completely OK as well. Everyone else but Cristina seemed to get their trauma issues resolved, including Lexie, who ended up in the psych ward but bounced back fast. I just don’t see it in her character for her to take such a hit like this.

s.e. smith: Yet another lesbian relationship on Grey’s goes down in flames. Discuss.

Redlami: While I understand that Jessica Capshaw’s pregnancy might have been the real reason for writing Arizona out of the show, I felt that Callie and Arizona’s relationship was portrayed as being less than a heterosexual marriage, where first of all the partners would have been expected to have discussed the possibility of winning the grant, and secondly both would likely make the long-term commitment to the relationship despite the upheavals in their personal lives.

Everett Maroon: It’s high time Torres got in a relationship for her. When your best relationship is your bed buddy coworker and the dates with the ladies keep not working out, you need to really put your foot down and resist changing the paint color of your crib. At least neither of them were killed or decided to un-gay themselves. But clearly, I’m jaded about this topic.

Snarky’s Machine: There has got to be a better way to give Steven Spielberg an opportunity to bond with his grandchild than breaking up this dysfunctional, earnest lesbian couple. Now I love Arizona and Callie tons, but they have some issues. Mostly having to do with Callie. She’s far too “clingy”! What did Arizona say, “We’re screaming at each other in an airport; we’re already over!” and yet Callie’s there giving sad eyes and surprised her ladyfriend doesn’t want her mopey, whiny butt to accompany her to Malawi. Frankly, I’d rather see them broken up if it means Callie will have a few weeks—hello, sweeps—to get herself together and grow up a little bit. Arizona deserves a girlfriend who is more thoughtful and less selfish.

Tasha Fierce: You knew that was coming! Maybe they’ll get them back together after Arizona (rather the actress who plays Arizona) has the baby. Who knows? I don’t think we’ll see another lesbian relationship for a while.

Dr. Sloane and Dr. Robbins in the lab, laughing.

See you next week with “Something’s Gotta Give,” hosted by Tasha Fierce!

About your bloggers:

Snarky’s Machine is the founder of the pop culture site I Fry Mine in Butter.

Everett Maroon is a Seattle-based writer, focusing on popular culture commentary, speculative fiction, and memoir. His interests include the interrelationships of characters on Grey’s Anatomy, Dr. Bailey, behind-the-scenes politics, and Dr. Bailey.

Tasha Fierce blogs about politics, fashion and whatever she wants at Red Vinyl Shoes.

s.e. smith is a cantankerous, cat-wearing, pop culture-loving, pants-eschewing philistine from the wilds of Northern California with a compendium of largely useless random knowledge and a typewriter that doesn’t know when to quit.

Redlami turns numbers into stories and is the resident tech geek at I Fry Mine in Butter.

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