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"Grey's Anatomy" Recap: Episode 16, "Drowning on Dry Land"

"Grey's Anatomy" Recap: Episode 16, "Drowning on Dry Land"

I can only think of two words to describe this week's episode of "Grey's Anatomy," and I think you "Grey's" fans know what they are: Seriously? Seriously??

On the one hand, this was the most obvious direction the story could have taken. On the other, I'm still not convinced I know where it will end. Spoilers ahead, of course, but we can discuss if you

So Meredith dies. Maybe. We're not sure. My instinct is to say she's coming back, because that's what happens on TV. She woke up in a flash of light, sandwiched between Dylan and Denny; it seems like a plot device we've seen since television began.

And yet, maybe she's really dead. Right?

If what comes out of this story line is that Meredith's just fine, and her "death" was only a sweeps-week fakeout, I'm going to be disappointed. "Grey's" doesn't need a stunt; it's a better show than that.

But I don't want to project my (possibly premature) disappointment in the whole story onto this episode, because as pure entertainment, it worked for me. It hit at that slightly giddy place people reach during a tragedy: Izzie giggling after she drills into the guy's skull on the boat; George saying Bailey might change her son's middle name to Tupperware or Elvis if he doesn't find their patient's child. We know something big has happened; we see Derek pull Meredith out of the water, limp and blue. But the other doctors don't know that; they're satisfied with their small victories — Izzie and her drill, Alex and the families, Addison and her Jane Doe. Even Cristina's whining about not being able to find Meredith felt poignant — she doesn't know her "person" (remember that from season one?) is in the water.

The action picks up straight from last week. Izzie is about to give up on the man on the ferry (and, essentially, on herself as a doctor), but she decides it's worth another shot. She phones the Chief, who along with Mark talks her through drilling holes in the man's skull. The Chief takes her off probation, which felt both sudden and expected, but it was good to see tough Izzie back.

Alex hits on an effective, though ghastly, way to help the waiting families get information: He takes Polaroids of the patients in surgery — and later of the ones in the morgue — and asks people to identify anyone they recognize. He's cold and detached until he finds the man he thinks is the husband of the Jane Doe he saved; he really wants that story to have a happy ending. Addison, meanwhile, seems to be realizing how alone she is, wondering aloud if anyone would notice if she disappeared — and Alex ultimately says he would.

George tells his patient he's found her son, which is a total lie. Bailey yells at him for again making promises he can't keep, but George says if his lie saves the woman's life, he doesn't mind. In the end, he learns the boy has been in surgery with Callie the whole time.

And then there's Derek. The creepy girl points Derek toward the water, and he pulls his "knight in shining whatever" move by diving in and dragging Meredith out. I loved Derek tonight; he looked so broken as he tried to literally breathe life into Mere. And watching all of the other doctors learn what had happened to Meredith was one of the most powerful parts of the episode — they go from celebrating the lives they’ve saved to crashing in the most spectacular way.

There are some small moments from the end of the episode that will stick with me: Derek getting kicked out of Meredith's room; Addison urgently trying to save the woman who broke up her marriage; Mark squeezing Derek's arm. It didn't matter who'd ruined whose relationship or who was going to be chief; bigger things were happening.

The vulnerable Cristina will stick with me, too; she really wanted to believe there had been a mistake and Meredith was fine, which is the sort of thinking she usually ridicules. I loved Izzie saying that believing in survival is what makes us survive — but her speech lost me when she told George he'd made a mistake in marrying Callie. I think she was having a "life's too short" moment and wanted to make her feelings known. It's in character for Izzie to not realize the timing wasn’t right, but her insensitivity took me out of the moment.

And the moment matters, because while Derek waits in the hall, Meredith's heart starts to fail. And though she seems to be technically still alive, she snaps awake on a cot between Dylan and Denny, who inform her that she is, indeed, dead.

Or is she? Is it a fantasy, a dream, an alternate reality? Could it be real? Your theories, please.

Photos copyright 2007 ABC, Inc.

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