Due to illness and scheduling conflicts last night, I only caught the second half of the “Grey’s Anatomy” season finale when it first went live on air. Though I rewatched the entire two hour special this morning, I knew before Izzie went into surgery to remove her brain tumor that she would survive (albeit with some memory issues), I knew Bailey was facing divorce while she was giddy over “Leo,” and I knew George was going to be John Doe before he even enlisted for the army.
But after rewatching the second hour, and then rerewatching the last minute of the show several times, I came to a startling conclusion that contradicts everything I have said up until this point: I don’t want Izzie or George to die.
This revelation could come from several sources. Maybe it was the catch in Meredith’s voice when she said “Oh god!” and look of horror in her eyes when she realized John Doe was George. Maybe it was the beautiful moment when Izzie walked into the elevator dressed in her pretty pink prom dress in a reenactment of the season two finale, but the doors opened to find George waiting for her in full army garb. Or maybe it was the realization that, despite all my personal feelings against Katherine Heigl, “Grey’s” simply wouldn’t be “Grey’s” without Izzie and George.
There has been some debate after the final scene whether George and Izzie will actually end up being dead. For those who missed the culminating season five episodes, Derek was able to remove Izzie’s entire brain tumor and she had just recovered her memory when she coded in Alex’s arms while George turned out to be the John Doe who was hit by a bus saving a woman from a similar face and had his face smashed in beyond recognition. The show ended with a cliffhanger that did not definitively clarify whether both characters lived or died.
The elevator scene, which has recurred in various forms since the second season, symbolizes both characters’ deaths in this episode, but also suggests that Izzie and George are not dead yet. The elevator doors open and Izzie smiles at George in a “this is the way it’s supposed to be” kind of way. However, while the Chief ignores her Do-Not-Resuscitate and allows Bailey, Christina and Alex to try to bring Izzie back to life, Prom-Dress-Izzie has a worried look come over her face that George’s face mirrors. She does not step off the elevator to join George, which means that she is on the brink of death and the resuscitation revives her and she lives, or she could end up passing in to the great beyond in the season six premiere.
My guess is show creator Shonda Rhimes left this season open ended to see the fan response. She has been adamant this entire season that Katherine Heigl and T.R. Knight will not be leaving the show, so this feels like a way to gauge the fans’ response to Izzie and George’s “death” and see if people actually care if the two stay on the show. Not to toot my own horn, but I was unsurprised during my first viewing last night of Heigl and Knight’s seemingly tidy exits from the show. But after rewatching the episode this morning, I was surprised by how much I really did care especially about George. Plus, by killing off two major characters, “Grey’s” will become more of a soap opera than a primetime drama, and one “General Hospital” is more than enough.
Beyond the not-so-startling cliffhanger ending, there were some other great moments from the season five finale. Highest amongst those was the long awaited MerDer wedding. Signing their marriage contract on a borrowed blue Post-It that was placed in Meredith’s locker was the sweet and fitting wedding the couple deserved.
But even more than that was the realization that Dark-And-Twisty Meredith really is gone. Meredith slipped under my radar this season after Ellen Pompeo was overshadowed by the great characters of Callie, Bailey, Christina and Sloan, not to mention the season-long Izzie drama, but she reemerged this episode with Christina — and the rest of the audience — realizing that Meredith’s proclamation at the end of season four that she was “all whole and healed” was true. By finally marrying Derek and Meredith and by resolving both characters’ emotional dramas, it felt like Shonda’s way of tying a nice pretty bow on five seasons of serious ups and downs. Hopefully the couple will remain happy and that bow won’t be untied to create unnecessary drama. Sadly, MerDer has run its course.
The best character resolution this finale though was by far that of Christina Yang. Though her awkward declaration of “I love you” to Hunt was uncomfortable to watch, seeing her willingly play the role of Maid of Honor to Meredith when she found out MerDer was going to get married in City Hall and then hugging Meredith when all along they have not been “hugging people” showed how far both characters have come since season one. Christina has always been the somewhat cold, logical, ambitiously badass surgeon, so it’s nice to see she’s developed a softer side. It just gives Sandra Oh an even more fantastic character to play.
One character I wish wasn’t going to face serious emotional trauma is Miranda Bailey, who last season almost went through the dissolution of her marriage and, in a final-hour moment, turns out actually is going to be faced with divorce. Bailey has always been the strong and emotionally healthy doctor in the hospital, so when her seemingly happy marriage with husband Tucker was torn to shreds last season, the resulting unhappiness for one of the few remaining complete characters felt like the writers had gone too far. Bailey’s marital issues have been glossed over this season and the show is better for it. The fact she will be a single mother and have to give up the pediatric fellowship she fought for is sure to be heartbreaking season six drama.
And poor Alex Karev. He is a man I never want to see cry again (kind of like Ewan McGregor at the end of “Moulin Rouge”), but his admission to Izzie that they only got married because they both thought she was going to be dead in week was something I’m glad the writers allowed audience members to hear. Because that is what their marriage was. Could Alex and Izzie actually pull off a life of happiness? I don’t think so.
So now we have four months to wait until we find out if Izzie and George are really dead “" or less than that until we find out who signed on as a full-time cast member. My guess is that, unlike Isaiah Washington’s rapid exit, Heigl and Knight will return for the season six premiere and subsequent episodes, regardless of if their characters die or not. There will undoubtedly be magnificent, beautiful funerals to send of both beloved characters.
But both deaths don’t feel like they’re set in stone. So for those of you like me who don’t want Izzie and George to remain dead, make your voices heard to Shonda and the other “Grey’s” creators “" her responses on Twitter “Grey’s Anatomy” fan pages show that she is listening. And we all know they won’t be the first “Grey’s” characters to return from the dead.
What did you think of last night’s “Grey’s Anatomy” finale? Did you expect George to be John Doe? What about the Sloan and Lexie drama? Do you think George and Izzie will stay dead? Leave your thoughts below!
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