E: Okay, that was scary as all get out.
Even if, um, I kind of told you so.
Too much happened. Too many terrifying moments where the killer seemed to be everywhere, threatening too many of our beloved characters (and quite a few extras). It’s hard to make sense of it all. Last night I dreamt of hospital killers and surgeries and gunmen lurking in the shadows, and I still feel as if I’ve hardly processed everything I saw. I barely cried, which isn’t like me, because there was just so blasted much happening, so much, that I couldn’t feel it all at once. I feel like crying now, though, the morning after.
I guess it didn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that the shooter was going to be Mr. Clark. Reed and Percy, though, I feel a little guilty saying it would be okay if you were killed. I knew that your contracts weren’t renewed, but I swear, I just thought you were going to get fired. At least Robert Baker got a good death scene out of it, but poor Reed. Even she (rude and cold as she was to Mr. Clark) didn’t remotely deserve that. Oh, Nora Zehetner, writers just love to kill you, don’t they? If the lesson of last week’s episode of The Good Wife was to be nice to your assistant, this week’s is that being nice to strangers who just might turn out to be mass murderers pays off, too. (As my fortune cookie – no lie – from Thursday’s take out puts it, “Courtesy is the password to safety.”)
I’ve been upset since the beginning about the uncharacteristically cold way Derek handled this case. Part of me thinks so much of this could have been prevented if he’d only been kinder, more compassionate. On the other hand, Lexie was really nice when she unplugged his wife, and Gary Clark still wanted to kill her. And it was the wife’s dnr (do not resuscitate order) which made them unplug her in the first place. But in the end, who’s to say? Crazy is crazy. Guns are bad things. Clark went into the hospital to kill the doctors who worked on his wife’s case, Webber and Lexie and Shepherd. But because he had a gun, and ammo, and he had steeled himself to do this terrible thing, he killed a lot of others instead. He rained destruction on so many people, strangers in the wrong place at the wrong time. Because the gun gave him a sense of power in the profound powerlessness that is grief.
So, let me back track and state the obvious. Meredith gives a chilling voice over about how she’s always felt most at herself in the hospital – it was her church, her sanctuary, her true home – until now. After flirting with an ordinary morning – we see Bailey and Percy discussing surgery with cute couple Mary (Mandy Moore) and Bill, we see Meredith pee on a stick, we see Arizona diagnosing little Ruby with acute appendicitis, and Callie worked up into a fine fettle, pissed at Arizona for not even thinking about changing her child-free lifestyle. (They eventually have a fascinating argument in which we find out that Arizona’s afraid to change her life for Callie, because Callie falls in love too easily.) Meredith gives Cristina the big news first (“are we happy, or are we exercising our constitutional right to choose? Oh, we’re happy! Let’s hug it out!”) , but can’t find a romantic enough moment to tell Derek. And all the while, a foggy but determined Mr. Clark – the man whose cancer-ridden wife stroked out after surgery and was taken off life support through her own legal wishes, but against his – wanders the hospital, asking directions to Derek’s office. He ends up in a supply closet, where Reed is frantically grabbing supplies for a seizing patient. She tells him to ask a nurse – she’s a surgeon, not a receptionist. (Although that does beg the question of why he didn’t just go in the lobby and ask the receptionist.)
And finally he gets sick of people acting like they’re too important to answer him and shoots Reed right in the forehead.
She falls back, already gone, and as her blood starts spilling onto the floor, Alex walks in the other door and doesn’t get much more than “dude!” out of his mouth before Gary Clark shoots him in the side.
Clark disappears into the hospital.
April literally stumbles over Reed’s body. She shows up in Derek’s office, drenched in blood and babbling. Once he understands what’s going on, he initiates the proper procedure – lockdown. Everyone stays where they are, and SWAT is supposed to clear the hospital, floor by floor, and evacuate, starting with patients and ending with “essential” staff.
Which means that everyone is isolated, and cowering where ever they happened to be when the shooting started. No one knows what’s going on. There’s remarkably little cell phone communication – I guess that’s the trouble with working in a hospital, huh? Any other place, it might have been easier to find the killer. A desk nurse is shot. At least two security guards. Several doctors, too. Clark seems to be everywhere, coldly shooting pleading people.
Richard has been having coffee, reflecting on his sobriety, when he sees a cavalcade of police cars heading to the hospital and follows suit. Those are my people, he says to the cops. That’s my hospital. You have to let me in. But they won’t. Was the lead cop Graham Chase, Angela’s father from My So Called Life? Cause I kinda think he was. Yeah, it’s not on the imdb, but I’m pretty sure I saw Tom Irwin’s name in the credits. (Went back and checked, and yes, that’s him. It always makes me happy to see members of that brilliant cast working.)
Alex crawls his way to an elevator. Of course it’s Lexie and Mark who find him – after what felt like hours to me – and they drag him into the break room. Mark has to put in a central line. Ew. They don’t dare move him, even though the bullet is trapped inside and they need to.
When Mr. Clark makes it to their floor – implacably advancing, shooting strangers in the hall – Bailey has Mary play dead. Percy hides in the bathroom, and Bailey crawls under the bed. Of course Clark ends up in their room. He cries over dead Mary in the bed, finds Percy in the bathroom, no doubt blaming him. Are you a surgeon? We’re watching Bailey’s terrified face. Yes, we can hear Percy say, and then we hear him plead vainly for his life. Clark shoots him in the stomach. And then – oh God – he pulls Bailey out from under the bed. He asks the question. She says she’s a nurse. While I was completely terrified for Dr. Bailey, I thought the whole “are you a surgeon” Nazi/Columbine thing was a little much. Ah, Greys, you always have to make it about you, don’t you? Isolated on their floor, without the surgical instruments necessary to save him, Mary and Miranda fight to stop Charles’ bleeding. You’re not going to die, Bailey says. I would tell you. Why is there water in his wound? You’re crying, Doctor Bailey, says Mary. You’re crying.
It’s Cristina who eventually gives Clark directions to Derek’s office. Teddy and Owen fight as they take their patient up to ICU; I think you love us both, she says, and you have to decide. But they can’t believe they’ve come back from war safely, only to be shot at here. I hear you. Cristina and Meredith decide that the whole lock down thing must be a drill, and they head off to tell Derek about the baby. He finds them in the hall, and stuffs them in a closet. But Cristina peers out the door, sees Clark walking purposefully with his gun, and realizes that he’s after Derek. Meredith knocks Cristina to the ground to get to her husband. Derek meets him on the iconic catwalk. He manages to talk Clark down, speaking movingly about watching his father be murdered by a robber, until April walks out and breaks the fragile moment of peace, and as Meredith screams in the background – restrained by Cristina – Mr. Clark shoots Derek in the heart.
April starts spitting out personal facts about her parents, her siblings, her life on a farm, how she’s only just begun. “No one’s loved me yet,” she says, using a technique promoted by Oprah for humanizing yourself to potential killers. “Run,” he tells her.
This is where it all get fuzzy for me. Lexie has run out to get blood to transfuse Alex. She’s almost back when she runs smack into Gary Clark, whom – being Lexie – she recognizes. So many people dead, he says, when all I wanted to do is kill Dr. Shepherd, and Dr. Webber – and you. She ducks behind the cart, just as a sniper hits him in the left shoulder. He flees, and she manages to get the blood back to the break room, but she’s almost crippled with guilt. This is about the time where she tells the unconscious Alex she loves him. Anyone who thinks Eric Dane is just a pretty face should look at his expression here. Soon, Alex is delusional, and thinks Lexie is Izzie, and the joy on his face (“You came back for me!”) is as terrible as Mark’s despair.
As Derek voice-overs about the importance of choosing life (and how sometimes the choice is taken out of your hands) Meredith and Cristina and the completely hysterical April find a wheelchair and manage to get him down to an OR. They assume they can find Teddy and Owen, but they’ve escorted their gun shot patient to the icu (which is deserted other than a dead body or two). Cristina declares herself in charge, and Avery steps in to say that he’s got a whole surgical team set up, and that Cristina can run it. Not the way she envisioned her first cardiac solo, I’m sure. Especially not since it’s his aorta that’s ruptured. Talk about baptism by fire. Chicken or pig, she asks herself, reminding herself of Teddy’s greatest lesson in that valve replacement episode earlier this year. Don’t panic – choose. Act. She chooses.
Cristina demands that Meredith stay out of the O.R. so she can concentrate, and orders April to stay there with her. April starts sniffling, and Meredith lashes out. It took me a long time to find him, she says, and then a long time after that to know that I wanted him, that I wanted to be his wife and have his babies, and right now my best friend is in there trying to save my husband’s life and you don’t get to cry about it. Reed was my best friend, whispers April, and she died today. Silently, Meredith reaches out and holds April’s hands. This is why we love Meredith; even through her worst pain, even through her greatest terror, she always has compassion for another person’s suffering. This was beautiful, and strong, and not sappy, and just perfect.
Somewhere around here, Mr. Clark shows up in Peds, just as Callie and Arizona are trying to determine how close Ruby’s appendix is to rupturing (assessment – pretty close). Arizona protects the little girl with her body, while Callie – who looks about to panic, but instead is instilled with courage after looking at her former lover’s desperate face – gets Clark to tell her his name, gives him bandages for his wounded arm, and convinces him to leave Peds without hurting anyone. Really amazing. And that’s what being a doctor is about – what you hear about doctors in war time, treating the wounded of both sides because they’re doctors, and they fix people. That’s what you do.
She also manages to get a message through to 911 with the shooter’s name. Tom Irwin asks Webber if he recognizes it. He does. And then he’s gone, through the police lines and into the hospital, to take back his own. The ICU has been evacuated, but Owen runs back in to save Cristina. Teddy blocks the police from chasing him. It’s okay to choose, she says, but don’t be you. Don’t be a hero. The police shut the elevators down.
Damn, is that him choosing? Or is that just him needing to save Cristina, because he loves her too, and he’s just that kind of guy? Damn you, show, for working so hard to convince me that he belonged with Teddy! Why did you do that? I loved him with Cristina before you had to show me something even more epic and tortured.
Owen finds Meredith and April in the scrub room, sitting on the floor because Cristina has forbidden them even to look in. Go in and help Cristina, please, begs Meredith. Looks like she has everything under control, says Owen oddly, riveted to the window, but I’ll go in and make sure. Why aren’t you washing your hands, Meredith wants to know? And that’s when we all realize that Mr. Clark is now in the O.R. With his gun to Cristina’s head.
And she won’t stop operating.
And that is the hardest of hard core this show has maybe even done. This show, which is all about its bad ass, strong women, has never been so bad ass. Talk about being a hero.
Mr. Clark threatens. I don’t want to shoot you, he says, but I will. He’ll shoot Jackson, and Hunt, who’s just burst in, but all he really wants is Derek. You can see Hunt and Avery eying each other, and I’m reminded of the time, early in the season, where Avery tackled some guy in the ER. And we know that – despite Teddy asking him not to do it – Owen wants to be the hero. And still, Cristina will not stop operating. Clark says again plaintively that he only wanted justice. He just wants the people who killed his life – Webber and Little Grey and Derek. He wants an eye for an eye.
And that’s when Meredith comes in and offers herself as the eye. Lexie Grey, that’s my sister, she says. I’m the closest thing Richard Webber has to a child. And Derek is my husband. I’m your eye. He turns the gun on her.
Seriously hard core.
She’s pregnant, Cristina cries. You wouldn’t shoot a pregnant woman, would you? He hesitates. Owen jumps him, and with frightening reflexes Gary Clark whips around and Hunt flies back from the impact of yet another bullet.
Get your hands up, yells Jackson Avery to Cristina, or else he’s going to kill us, too. And she does. She backs away. Meredith, down on her knees, starts to scream in agony. In a minute, says Jackson, his heart will pump all his blood into his chest, and the monitor will flatline, and he’ll be dead. Just wait for the sound.
And in a few seconds, over Meredith’s anguished wails, we hear it.
And Jackson reconnects the monitor wires and he and Cristina dive back in. Meredith stumbles to her feet, dizzy with relief and confusion. Is Owen dead, Cristina demands of Meredith. No. Unconscious but not dead. Cristina – what authority this woman has – tells April and Meredith to go save Owen. I’m fixing your guy, you fix mine, she says, with tears and determination in her eyes.
Bailey and Mary have dragged Charles Percy to the elevators using a sheet, smearing his blood behind them. It’s taken a mighty struggle for the two small women who could barely turn the large man on his side, but Bailey fights like a champion. If only they can reach an OR, Bailey can stop the bleeding. But the elevators have been turned off. Bailey howls in desperate frustration, and then cleans her face of tears. “Am I going to die?, ” Percy asks again, pale as Edward Cullen. Yes, she says, but Mary and I will stay with you, and you won’t be alone. He confesses his crush on Reed – please tell her I loved her, and lie that I was brave, he says – and they hold his hands, and tell him he was brave, and that girls always know (is that helpful? since that might mean she’s just not into him) and he dies, sitting in a hospital with a surgeon who for all her training and skill can’t save him without equipment and medication and all the things that are so close but completely inaccessible.
And as much as I have never liked Charles Percy, it is a wrenching, terrible thing.
Could I be more relieved that Derek didn’t die? Things don’t go smoothly, but they go. Actually, I think I’m happier that Karev didn’t die, even though this is now a weird fraught geometric something because Alex still loves Izzie, and Lexie loves Alex (why? stupid!) and Mark loves Lexie and everyone knows it but Alex? Gah. I don’t honestly believe that Lexie loves Alex. I think she cares about him, because that’s who she is, but she’s also feeling guilty and is kinda dumb about relationships. I’m tempted to say she’s better off with Mark (because she is, relatively) but she’s still not ready to marry him and have his babies, and that’s more of an impediment to their happily ever after than this hopefully temporary delusion.
Turns out that Derek can build that house in the woods after all, but there won’t be a baby to fill it, not yet. Meredith fixing up Hunt while experiencing a miscarriage? Hard. Core. I know exactly how much that cramping hurts and the fact that she could even stand upright is impressive. (Of course, that sort of bleeding and cramping doesn’t typically last an hour or whatever that was, but fine, I’ve long since stopped expecting obstetric truth from this show or any other show.) Can I tell you something else? I know a lot of people are upset about the so called McBaby. And it is completely sad, I agree. It’s right to mourn the final victim of Mr. Clark, his true eye for an eye. But there’s one thing I can say as someone who has been there, and I am going to channel my inner Bailey to do it. Meredith was sort of cautiously happy about the baby. When she gets pregnant again – and they will get pregnant, I absolutely believe this – she will know that she wants that baby. It won’t be some vague thing that she’s making the best of, or weirded out by. She won’t be walking like a duck. It will be the future she chooses. No, it’s not the way you want to learn that, and it’s not fair, but sometimes there is a clarity in loss which redefines your priorities, and this is one of those times.
(ETA: Okay, I’ve just read the writer’s blog, Grey Matters, which I encourage you guys to peak at. First off, it doesn’t surprise me that these episodes were written by creator Shonda Rimes; everyone had their own voice. Sometimes with the other writers, all speeches tend to sound like Bailey, but not with Shonda, no. Normally I won’t read what anyone else thinks before I write my own reaction, but in this case, there was so much to make sense of it’s hard to bring it all together coherently. But my point in mentioning it is this. What I said above about the miscarriage I’ve learned from personal experience. But if you read Shonda’s thoughts on the episode, you’ll see that this was exactly her justification for the miscarriage.)
Richard finds Garrett Clark in the room where his wife died. I’ve been looking for you, he says. I’ve been looking for you, too. Gary laughs bitterly about how he left some of the bullets he bought home so he could bring his drinking flask. He thought he had more than he needed, since all he wanted to do (again) was kill Webber and Shepherd and Lexie. (Why does he not remember that April worked on his wife’s case? Not that I’m complaining.) And he thought he might need the some liquid courage, even though he’s not a drinker – but this is the first time he’s needed a drink, because he’s only got one bullet left, and he wants to kill both Webber and himself. Michael O’Neill is just astounding, all around, and James Pickens is right up there with him. He offers Webber a drink. Repeatedly. Webber pours out the vodka and offers Clark his own choice – not chicken or pig as Cristina asked herself, but life or death, just as Derek began this second episode by telling himself. I’ve had a rich life full of passion, sorrow and joy, says Richard. I’m not afraid to die. The question is, does Clark want to live? Does he want to go to prison, or to see his wife in the afterlife?
The SWAT team finally, finally closes in. And as we look at them, we hear the last bullet fire.
And it’s over, and everyone is outside, putting the pieces back together. Ambulances take the wounded accross town as Seattle Grace becomes a crime scene. Bailey’s outside looking for Reed, and Richard Webber walks out, a man reborn. He didn’t drink. He talked a mass murderer out of killing him. He protected his people. He took responsibility.
Best thing about it all? Callie and Arizona are back together! And they’ll have babies! They’re both going to bend! I know, I know I wanted Callie to get with Mark, but I’m much more than cool with this. Callie and Arizona are a great couple and their willingness to change for each other was just completely romantic and sweeping and awesome. Not to mention totally needed after this gut wrenching episode. Thank God for that is all I can say.
Worst part of the episode? Which is to say, the part I like least. I’m mourning Owen and Teddy. I don’t feel like we got swept away by his choice in either direction, and I wanted to be. I mean, if he’s not going to have an epic moment with Teddy (my preference) he could at least have had one with Cristina! Not that they didn’t have nice moments. Teddy is right – he loves them both, and he doesn’t know what to do about it, especially because Teddy is so wrapped up in his war trauma. But I’m just not sold that all this means he loves Cristina best.
The episode ends with one of its saddest, strongest moment – a buoyant Cristina tells Meredith that Derek’s asking for her. Before she leaves the locker room, Meredith picks up her positive pregnancy test, and slowly, slowly, drops it into the trash. And then she goes to join her husband, her back straight, unbowed by the horrors of the day.
It’s been a long time coming, but our friends are growing up.