Thursday, November 13, 2014

REVIEW: 'Grey's Anatomy' - Amelia's Past Catches Up to Her and Arizona Makes a Big Decision in 'Can We Start Again Please?'

ABC's Grey's Anatomy - Episode 11.07 "Can We Start Again Please?

Secrets about Amelia's past addictions come to light and cause problems for her at the hospital. Bailey oversees Jo's first solo surgery. Arizona must make an executive decision in Dr. Herman's absence. The doctors spring into action when a couple arrives at the emergency room after escaping a fire.

Family has been a major focus for Grey's Anatomy this season. Meredith and Richard both learned that they have a new addition to their complicated family tree. Amelia came to Seattle to reunite with her brother and to also get a fresh start. Meredith & Derek and Callie & Arizona have struggled with their respective marriages while Jackson and April are getting ready to add to their family. All of this turmoil has forced the show to rely on the friendships it has spent years developing. It's great that Meredith, Alex and Callie can hang out at Ellis' house as friends. It's just fun and Meredith is welcoming Maggie into the circle. It's even more fun when the characters openly admit that they are all connected through sex and basically everyone has lived in this house at one time or another.

However, the plot of "Can We Start Again Please?" revolves around the truth of Amelia's tragic backstory becoming public information at the hospital. She came to this hospital in order to be Chief of Neurosurgery. Since then, her brother has been hopelessly walking through life hoping for her to fail so he could regain the position. That is just not a healthy sibling dynamic. When it comes time for Derek to defend and stand by his sister, he doesn't say anything to Owen. A patient's family member called Amelia out in the ER for her past issues. The ripples of such declamation loom over her all hour long. Her struggles with addiction and her tragic pregnancy were dramatic and emotional highlights of the last few seasons of Private Practice. Honestly, I don't remember how that show left her character when it ended. They gave her a happy ending but I don't especially remember it or care about it. I do however remember all of the pain she had. She's an addict and that makes her a very compelling character to watch. This scare doesn't force her to relapse but it does force her to realize that she'll never be able to escape from her past. Just like the traumatic day their father was killed fuels every interaction between Derek and Amelia. The cuts to that moment weren't incredibly necessary but they were a nice reminder of how this family works - especially in a season where Derek has been portrayed as the normal family man as opposed to Meredith's hardened views. The opposite is very much true here.

More importantly though, Meredith seems to be getting happy again. Last week's sexual romp in the shower has reinvigorated Meredith and Derek's sex life. And now, it seems like they are started to move past the big issue that has fueled all of their interactions all season long - Derek choosing to stay in Seattle with his family instead of going to Washington D.C. to work with the President. She knows that another shoe is going to drop soon - and it does in Derek's initial handling of the Amelia situation. Strangely enough, it's up to Richard and Meredith to comfort Amelia. That's a welcome shakeup. It also further illuminates how down Derek has been all season long. He has the great career and a great family. And now, he's not sure what's next in his life now that he is staying put. He's in a holding pattern that just depresses him. He doesn't want to feel like this and Amelia calls it a rock bottom. But where does he go to get that energy back?

The episode also forced Arizona to answer a very important question: Does she stand by and learn from Dr. Herman or does she report her brain tumor to Dr. Hunt and the rest of the board? For so much of the hour, it seems more likely that the latter will happen because Herman essentially abandons her mentees with a case that simply could not end well. It's horrifying. This field of surgery is so new to the medical world that Arizona has no clue how to approach this case in any other way than a C-section and hope for the survival of both mother and child. And then, the mother develops a medical condition that doomed her the second the doctors opened her up. It's a messy and complicated surgery. And yet, Herman stands up Arizona and every decision that she made throughout the day. Herman is a very closed-off personality. She sees this dynamic with Arizona as solely professional. That type of bond has never really worked on this show - everyone knows and cares about each other's personal lives. Herman opens up a tiny bit and Arizona is willing to keep her secret now. It's a very precarious situation. And one that I can only imagine going to some truly tragic places in the next few episodes. Arizona's marriage has fallen apart and she's moving in with Alex and Jo. And yet, she has this new opportunity that is really exciting - and really scary too.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Can We Start Again Please?" was written by Andy Reaser and directed by Bobby Roth.
  • I'm not quite sure what the show is doing with Jo right now. They are isolating her for a reason and I don't know what it is. She is second guessing a lot of things in her life - from her living situation to her work during a surgery. When Meredith and company come over, Jo is in the other room looking in on them but not a part of this group of friends.
  • Also, what happened to Richard being the teacher to the residents?
  • Jackson and April only exist at this point to remind us of how unpredictable life can be. I did, however, really appreciate their scene outside the hospital about life's questions. It was very respectful of both of their beliefs.
  • What is the purpose of the Nicholas D'Agosto character beyond being someone else who Herman is teaching but not as in the know as Arizona. His competitiveness was nice during the big Arizona-Callie separation episode but the show is struggling to keep him a relevant part of this ongoing story.