Friday, November 13, 2020

REVIEW: 'Grey's Anatomy' - The Doctors Grapple with a Changing World in 'All Tomorrow's Parties' & 'The Center Won't Hold'

ABC's Grey's Anatomy - Episodes 17.01 "All Tomorrow's Parties" and 17.02 "The Center Won't Hold"

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Grey Sloan Memorial and its surgeons' lives have been turned upside down. Bailey finds herself in the middle of an argument with patients' families as they await news about their children. Winston surprises Maggie, and Amelia and Link try to have some fun as new parents. Teddy learns her colleagues know more than she may like about her relationship woes with Owen. Richard and Koracick go at it.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the season premiere of ABC's Grey's Anatomy.

"All Tomorrow's Parties" was written by Andy Reaser & Lynee E. Litt and directed by Debbie Allen
"The Center Won't Hold" was written by Andy Reaser & Jase Miles-Perez and directed by Debbie Allen

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed absolutely everything at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. The doctors have always had so much empathy for their patients as they passionately fight to give them the treatments they need to continue living. But now, the system has been disrupted. Every single day, the doctors are treating patients with the same disease. It seems like a futile battle they are facing with limited supplies as well. The tools they need to provide the satisfactory support just aren't there. The staff is exhausted. They are overwhelmed. They are still coming to work every day knowing that their skills may make a difference. The doctors may no longer be regularly in the operating room. More patients may be dying. It's terrifying to think about all the people not coming into the hospital fearing the virus. The world is dark and depressing. That is a true statement at the moment. The show never shies away from how overwhelming all of this can be. However, it still tries to find the light and joy as it embraces who these characters have always been. This is a romantic show. This is a light-hearted show. This is a deeply emotional and traumatic show. It's all of those things wrapped into one. Sure, it's abundantly clear that some characters are still making baffling decisions. Teddy's return to the narrative felt inspired. It allowed her and Owen to have a happy ending they always thought they would have together. The narrative seemingly needed to complicate that by basically depicting Teddy as someone who can never embrace happiness for herself. It's an understandable impulse. It's one this show has explored many previous times with a number of characters. It just still sticks out in a sour way here. It's overwhelming to Teddy and Owen as characters. His talk about his will suggests that something tragic may happen. All of those possibilities have to remain on the table as well. The closing moment of this two-hour premiere suggests that something grim has happened to Meredith once more. That's a very effective moment. One that implies darkness and tragedy while still being uplifting because of the reunion that happens on the beach. It's odd and random. However, it's joyous as well. Of course, Meredith would only be seeing Derek again if she is on the brink of death. That may be a possibility because she has been working so relentlessly in the COVID unit. She has fought this disease every single day. The staff has tried to take all the precautions necessary to protect themselves. And yet, it may not be good enough. It's freeing for Meredith when she gets to be in the operating room once more. Her patient survives. Jackson and Jo's doesn't. Those life-and-death stories are still ample throughout this world. It remains cruel and random. Families come to blows over the foolish actions taken in the midst of this pandemic. But they still must come together to offer support once tragedy does strike. It's unfortunate. It's brutally human as well. Again, those story beats prove just how effective the show is still capable of being after all these years. Sure, strange things are still afoot. The potential hookup between Jo and Jackson is just so odd and apparently self-destructive. It's awkward and doesn't work in any regard. Meanwhile, Amelia and Link just get to have some moments of bliss while struggling to name their son. Maggie gets to enjoy her blossoming romance with Winston some more. Their dynamic may not always be done through technology. However, it's what they have to do in order to stay connected at the moment. They have that luxury. The families of patients aren't always able to say goodbye. If they do, it comes through a screen. It's no longer a loving face-to-face connection. That's absolutely devastating. It's what makes the show profoundly vital in showing these characters embrace the bonds that have always worked. Richard and Catherine are finally reunited. They stop being stubborn and admit just how brilliant and wonderful the other is. DeLuca receives the treatment he needs to fully address the mental health struggles he was enduring. That particular story feels a little shortchanged because it has to be condensed to so much happening offscreen. However, it's still powerful when his loved ones stand by him as he admits he needs help. Him suffering in this way doesn't reveal weakness. It is strength because he is willing to overcome it all in a way his father never could. He provides strength for Meredith later on. Cormac does that as well. These characters instinctively know how to offer each other clarity when they need it the most. But danger still lurks around the corner because this pandemic just remains so uncertain and dire. It's joyous to see Derek once more. Meredith's life is on the line. That may once again be a transformational moment for her. She has had so many brushes with death already. As such, it's fitting that this may be the most unknown fate she has faced so far. But the show still knows how to deliver the audience exactly what it wants and needs.