Original Air Date: May 17, 2012
Karen Belgrad – Senior Editor
I’ve seen every episode of Grey’s Anatomy since the pilot. As a viewer, I am a survivor of ghost sex, ferry boat crashes, lions, a suicidal gunman, and a bomb in a chest, to name a few. But sitting here, moments after the season eight finale, I am finally emotionally exhausted. Aren’t you?
We all saw the previews that someone would die. We hypothesized who it would be. And sadly, one of my (and many of yours) guesses played out. I for one, am stunned and sad… and still a bit queasy, because that was one of the most graphic Grey’s episodes ever. So let’s cover our bases and mourn the loss together.
The episode could’ve taken place entirely at the plane crash site, as that was the most gripping, but it was intercut with regular hospital dealings, making the accident all the more gut-wrenching. We opened with Richard’s speech from the pilot episode (George and Izzie sighting!) intercut with a screaming Arizona, one-shoeless Cristina, dazed Mark, and stunned Meredith. We ascertain their injuries, as well as pilot Jerry’s (played by James LeGros), pretty quickly. Jerry has lost feelings in his legs. Meredith has a leg gash and some minor head wound. Cristina has a dislocated shoulder. Mark seems to be just bruised. Arizona has a protruding bone/broken leg. Cristina puts the squash on Arizona’s screaming and advises Meredith that Derek was sucked out the side of the plane. They realize they are hearing a clanking noise and find a nearby Lexie (who had coughed up blood) pinned under some debris and banging a seatbelt. Cristina and Mark tend to Lexie while Meredith goes searching for Derek. Derek hears her cries, but his hand is trapped in some wreckage. Rather than scream louder (shock?), he pulls a 127-Hours and smashes his mangled hand with a rock to free it.
I’m going to get to all the Seattle stuff at the end of the recap, and just go on with our crash details, so bear with it… Cristina has Mark pop her dislocated shoulder into place. And I have to say between the screaming and sound effects, I watched more than a few moments from between my fingers. They both realize that Lexie’s injuries (crushed pelvis, hemothorax, possible severed arm) are severe, but Mark refuses to accept that they are fatal and sends Cristina for supplies. He tries to remove the wreckage, can’t, and Lexie knows she’s dying. Mark tells her he loves her and always will, and begs her to hang on so they can get married and have a family. Lexie asks him to tell Meredith she loves her and that she was a great sister. Mark tells Lexie that they are meant to be, and then Lexie repeats those words… AND DIES. Mark begins sobbing and I was truly, truly stunned. No fake-out, they actually killed off Lexie. I can’t believe Meredith has lost another family member, the first one she truly loved. And Mark has lost his true love. Meredith and Cristina return and process the news as best they can in the situation.
Cristina proclaims that when they are rescued she wants to get as far away from Seattle-Grace-Mercy-Death and its disasters as possible. Meredith freaks out that Derek may be dead, but Cristina implores her to keep it together. Meredith and Derek finally find each other and Derek’s hand is disgustingly mangled. He collapses, but when he comes to, he gets Meredith to suture his arm with a safety pin. Yes, it was a graphic as it sounds. Cristina puts a backboard on Jerry (after stabbing his leg to confirm his paralysis fears) and Arizona puts a tourniquet on her own leg. Derek and Arizona are both besides themselves to find out Lexie is dead. Jerry advises that help should come within four hours, as rescue teams will respond to the plane’s transmitter.
As they tend to each other, Cristina (who found her other shoe) realizes Mark is sitting around in seeming-catatonia. She yells that with the bombs, and guns to head, and buses running over friends, everyone has to help. Then she realizes Mark is actually unconscious and has internal bleeding. The scene intercuts with Teddy and Owen treating a similar cardiac tamponade in Seattle. But where Teddy and Owen have medical technology, Cristina and Derek (both sans use of an arm) have to guide Meredith on draining Mark’s pericardial sac with a plastic tube and a knife. Both procedures are successful.
A helicopter is finally heard overhead, but they are chagrined when their flare gun fails to work. They settle in and start a fire with the few matches they have. Mark is weak and tells Arizona that Lexie is waiting for him, and asks her to take care of his girl. Arizona tells him that Callie and Sophia are waiting and commands him to hang on. He quietly agrees. Later, as night falls, Cristina orders everyone to stay awake. Meredith, openly, but softly worried about Zola, takes the last match to keep the fire going, but it blows out. She and her reconfirmed person, Cristina, split a piece of gum and lean into each other, waiting for help.
I know this has been detail heavy, but it didn’t really seem like there was much to leave out. Everything was so powerful and heart-breaking, that I felt like all details were necessary. Five of our doctors are still in jeopardy, especially Mark. And while their lives hang in the balance, nobody in Seattle knew there were in trouble.
In the beginning of the hour, Owen ordered his assistant to send all calls to voicemail and went about his day. He learned that Teddy was offered (and turned down) a job at Med Com (Army Medical Command). He feels she should be there, as part of her loyalty to serve her country. But Teddy, who’d love to leave the memories of Henry behind, can’t leave beat and broken Owen, especially after the way she treated him. He tries to tell her he’ll be fine, but she’s adamant about not leaving when he’s lost the love of his life. So Owen takes it upon himself to fire her, forcing her hand. She’s furious as he yells at her for being hostile and insubordinate, and storms out. But she turns right around and hugs him, telling him to fight for Cristina.
Richard is gung-ho about taking the residents out for a celebratory/farewell dinner, but Alex, Avery, and April are less than thrilled. Callie (not Bailey!) gives them a Bailey-esque speech about how much she’s been through (including surprising April with the story of her marriage to George) and now how great her life is. She tells them life changes in an instant and to take their moments that only happen once. April finally breaks and tells Avery that she’s faking her happiness to get through this, but with an uncertain medical future is also sad that she won’t be a virgin when she finally gets married. But Avery, who chose Tulane, is still her best friend and he is leaving, so she asks him to let her keep up her facade. Alex leaves Arizona an awesome voicemail saying that she made him who he is, but he has to go to Hopkins to see who he is without her. At the dinner, Richard is going to give a speech, but opts to wait for Meredith and Cristina to join them. Callie waits at home in some sexy lingerie for Arizona to return home.
Bailey is pissy with Ben about his UCLA internship, but he wants to try a commuter marriage. She lays it out for him that he’s not a free agent anymore (mentions last week’s thong proposal) and they have to make decisions together. It’s not clear if he’s still going to California, but the two are definitely engaged.
And Owen finally checks his voicemail and by the third Boise call realizes something is horribly wrong. And we close with Meredith reprising Richard’s original speech.
And… wow…. Lexie is dead. Teddy looks to be leaving. Avery and Alex are leaving. April has no job. And our crash survivors are alone in the woods, injured, with no sign of impending rescue. That was one heavy hour of emotions, and now we wait until fall to find out what happens.
So what do you think will happen? Will Lexie’s death bring out dark/twisty Meredith or has she matured enough (as a mother/wife) to handle the loss of her sister? Will Mark survive? And if he does, what will Lexie’s passing do to our reformed lothario? What does Derek’s mangled hand mean for his surgical future? Will a near death experience reunite Owen and Cristina? How do you feel about Lexie dying? Did it stun and devastate you?
So you’ve got my TwoCents… now share your TwoCents, comments, and feedback below!