It looks like ABC will be featuring the deaths of not one but two young, blonde doctors during next week’s season finales. Izzie Stevens, played by “27 Dresses” star Katherine Heigl, veritably signed her death warrant by marrying fellow doctor Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) in a surprising wedding twist during last night’s penultimate episode. After all, we can’t have two happily – or unhappily – married couples on the show at any given time.
Last night’s episode (the show’s 100th) was hinted in previews to be the long awaited marriage between lead characters Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) and Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey). From the start – showing a cancer-ravaged Izzie complete with pasty skin and a bandana covering her head – we realize that is not the case.
Izzie’s opening monologue discussed how it was the ordinary days that become the extraordinary ones that stay with you forever. “Grey’s” hundredth episode was like that: it started out ordinary (or at least not excitement-worthy) and ended in one of the most pleasant moments in “Grey’s” history – Izzie and Alex’s wedding.
Those who find the upcoming and inevitable death of Izzie Stevens a surprise should have been paying closer attention to the strife occurring off-camera between Heigl and “Grey’s” creator Shonda Rhimes. Heigl and best friend T.R. Knight who plays George on the show have been reported to have asked off the show on numerous occasions before their contracts expired. Rhimes has denied allegations and said that Heigl would not be leaving the show, but at this point those claims seem unlikely.
Before last year’s Emmy nominations, Heigl (who had won the Emmy in 2007 for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series) preemptively refused an Emmy nomination for her role on “Grey’s” because she felt she was not “given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination.”
Undoubtedly, Izzie’s melanoma diagnosis and the hallucination insanity that occurred before it (can anyone say Denny Duquette?) is a great role for Heigl to be playing. But it became poignantly clear last night how disillusioned with her talent Heigl was when she smited a possible Emmy nom — before she was even nominated. What Heigl seemed to have failed to realize is that it is not the content that earns the Emmy, but the actors and actresses performing the content. What has earned Chandra Wilson‚ (Bailey) and Sandra Oh (Christina) repeated Emmy nominations while star Ellen Pompeo has not received one is how they create their characters from the content they are given, not by just reading the lines.
Yes, this season Heigl has been given a great character to play, but her vanity as an actress has diluted the character of Izzie. Telling the show’s creator that she needs to step up her game while Heigl does not step up her own is the biggest disgrace to a show that can be done. Heigl’s hissy fit might have earned her a lead role on “Grey’s” fifth season, but honestly, I am glad to see her go.
That said, last night’s episode of “Grey’s,” entitled “What A Difference A Day Makes,” thankfully avoided all the typical jump-the-shark moments the show employs in its pivotal episodes. There were no ferry crashes, train collisions or bombs in patients and, while Jeffrey Dean Morgan did make his return as ghost Denny, the medical aspect of the show was balanced evenly with the relationship aspect. What the episode did center around was death, and lots of it.
Turns out Izzie’s opening monologue was directed to Denny Duquette, a hallucination she had been having that resulted in her discovering she had a tumor in earlier episodes. Denny’s reappearance meant a new tumor and, after much searching, it was located by Derek and Bailey on Izzie’s temporal lobe. Bailey comments on how small the tumor is, and Derek responds only with a very sad “I wish there was something I could do for her.” To you optimists out there, I’m sticking to my theory. There will be no “Grey’s” miracle for this one. Izzie Stevens is dunzo.
Meanwhile in the pit, Callie (Sara Ramirez) is trying to balance the eight dying college students who were in a car accident on their way to graduation with her relationship with pediatric surgeon Arizona (Jessica Capshaw). The odds don’t weigh in her favor as seven of the eight students die in one of the most moving and well-edited “Grey’s” moments in a while. Alex has the one surviving student tell him her graduation speech – today is the day we begin the rest of our lives – while shots of the other students being zipped up in body bags are interwoven with Derek and Bailey discovering Izzie’s new tumor. I’m telling you, metaphors define “Grey’s,” and this metaphor says Izzie does not stand a chance.
Which brings us to the wedding. Sure, let’s ignore the fact Alex never officially asks Izzie if she would like to marry him – the wedding was great. Izzie had been planning the MerDer wedding replete with a poofy white princess wedding dress and a giant church which, as we all know from Dark-And-Twisty-Meredith days, is much more Izzie’s dream than Meredith and Derek’s, so it was surprisingly fitting when Izzie walked down the aisle with George steadying her weak walk as she went.
Alex and Izzie getting married was perfect, but much like Alex’s plan to artificially inseminate Izzie’s embryos when she first went in to cancer treatment, it was a futile attempt to preserve what is left of Izzie’s life instead of a thought through plan for the future. Alex’s and Izzie’s wedding was the long-awaited “Grey’s” wedding (I still wish Christina and Burke had gotten together in season three), but their marriage is something that would never last a year.
Plus, there is one marriage that desperately needs to last – that of Meredith and Derek. The couple that defined the show with “pick me, choose me, love me” has steadily been losing the interesting value of the show, being replaced with the ill-fated Christina/Hunt (Kevin McKidd) romance and the absolutely adorable Lexie (Chyler Leigh)/Sloan (Eric Dane) relationship. As Izzie said in last night’s episode before the wedding swap, Meredith and Derek are the two people least interested in getting married of all time. And as a result, I find myself wondering, do I really care?
So what do we have to look forward to in next week’s two hour season finale? The MerDer wedding, to be sure, but in what form I can’t guess. I’m hoping a private ceremony with only their close friends – and no Thatcher Grey – to honor Meredith and Derek’s wishes, especially since Izzie has gotten an epic albeit quick wedding out of her system.
The last appearance of Denny Duquette as he guides Izzie through death and off to heaven. Izzie is going to die, and it is going to be shot and presented in a way that tells you to feel sad. Whether you actually feel sad is up to your personal relationship with the character of Izzie Stevens. I know my apartment is making a skull and cross bones cake to celebrate the event.
I don’t think there will be an epic accident in this season’s finale – I hope Shonda Rhimes learned her lesson with those sweeps-catering obnoxious drama-fests when they didn’t draw in the ratings or dedication she wanted. This episode should, and hopefully will, focus around Meredith and Derek getting married and Izzie dying.
George leaving Seattle’s Grace. T.R. Knight has been almost nonexistent this season on “Grey’s,” with his last true storyline on the show being the ill-fated Gizzie match-up in season four. He has come back somewhat to the forefront as a great trauma surgeon, but is lacking any substantial reason for remaining on the show. If Heigl is leaving, then Knight is sure to follow, because the two-peas-in-a-pod friendship that held such a great dynamic both on and off screen is sure to follow the other out the door. I’m guessing Izzie’s death and the seven deaths George was unable to prevent will prompt George to transfer to a different hospital.
If both Heigl and Knight do leave the show, then two fifths of the original “Grey’s” interns will be gone from the show, completely shifting its dynamic to newcomers Lexie, Callie, Sloan and Hunt. If the dynamic does shift in such a way, don’t be surprised if in the next couple seasons Meredith and Derek decide to retire and Lexie becomes the title Grey in “Grey’s Anatomy.” She always felt like the back-up plan on the show anyways. But the question is, will “Grey’s” still be “Grey’s”?
Oh, and if you’re wondering who the other doctor most likely to be offed is, check out “Lost”s two hour season finale. She’s another one I can’t wait to leave.
Hey Blast readers, how do you feel about the Izzie/Alex wedding? Will you still watch the show if Heigl and Knight leave? Are you at all excited about the MerDer wedding? Leave us your thoughts!