ABC promised this was the episode of "Grey's Anatomy" everyone would be talking about, and I'm pretty sure they're right. As the first of a three-part story, "Walk on Water" was a setup episode — but it ended with one of the more surprising things I've seen on TV this year (well, maybe second to Alexis Meade). Some of you might have thought the episode was over-the-top, but I thought it was pretty spot-on. There were some clunky elements, but they came together to set up a compelling story for the coming weeks. To see what I mean,
First of all, let's flash back to "It's the End of the World," last year's post-Super Bowl episode, when Meredith's in bed, saying she has a feeling she's going to die. Cristina talks her out of her funk, but by the end of the episode Meredith has her hand on a live bomb inside a guy's body. Remember how that felt?
Well. This episode starts with Meredith sinking under the surface of the water in her bathtub. Derek pulls her out and asks why she was trying to drown herself in the tub, and Meredith insists she's fine. But she later asks Izzie if she ever just wishes she could disappear — and there's our "dark and twisty" Meredith from earlier this season, back in full force.
We know a big accident is coming, so the rest of the plotlines seem piddly in comparison, but since this is "Grey's," and everything matters eventually, they're worth a mention. Cristina doesn't want Burke to tell anyone they're engaged until she tells Meredith, but Burke lets it slip to Derek, and Mark overhears (I cracked up when he drawled "You and Yang are gettin' hitched?" — that man can make anything sound dirty). Mark tells the Chief, who congratulates Cristina, who yells at Burke, who makes her go do sutures. Perky Sydney is back, and she appears to be in a passive-aggressive power struggle with Bailey. Seeing that the Chief has dyed his hair, Addison tells him she went blond after Derek moved out, and it's a fine way to start over.
So here's the meaty stuff: The Chief announces there's been a mass-casualty accident, and Bailey and the interns — minus Cristina — are sent out to the scene to help triage patients. One of Derek's beloved ferry boats got rammed near the dock by a container ship in a fog bank, spewing people everywhere. The interns spin off in different directions, and the big story is Meredith's, but the others come up against some interesting challenges, too.
One man grabs Izzie and hauls her off to help treat his friend, who's trapped under a car. Izzie says she can't do anything until the search-and-rescue team arrives, but the friends insist she try. It's definitely a test for her; now, virtually alone with this dying man, she has to figure out if she really is a doctor.
Alex spots a pregnant woman lying in the debris with a concrete pylon on her face. Alex hears whimpers and realizes the woman's alive, so he lifts the pylon. Somehow, once they get to the ER, Cristina gets reassigned to the case, which leads to one of the episode's better lines once Alex finds out Cristina has been doing sutures: "You're knitting. I pull pylons off people." George, meanwhile, treats a woman who got separated from her son. George promises to find the boy — and has a single one of these promises ever worked out for George?
But all of that feels irrelevant once we see what happens to Meredith. Early on, a little girl with blond braids attaches herself to Meredith. She's creepy and silent (I thought for a second that she might be a hallucination), but Meredith obviously relates. Let's see, a silent girl with no parents — have we ever seen a more obvious metaphor for Mere? Meredith tries to get the girl help, but the girl keeps coming back. The last time she appears, Meredith is at the edge of the dock, treating a man with an open leg wound. She stitches up the man's leg and starts to go fetch an ambulance, but the man twitches and sends Meredith backwards into the water. We end with a shot of the rippling water and the little girl — who's the only person who saw Meredith fall — walking away.
Now, the show is called "Grey's Anatomy," and that's why it feels like Meredith with her hand on that bomb — she can't die, right? But as Shonda Rhimes wrote in her blog about this episode: "I killed Denny. I blew up Dylan. I’m not entirely playing by the rules of TV here."
So: What happens next? Leave your thoughts in the comments, please, because I certainly am not going to be thinking about much else today.
Photos copyright 2007 ABC, Inc.