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SHOW TRACKER

Meredith becomes a drip, in three parts

February 24, 2007|Mary McNamara | Times Staff Writer

Here's a shocker -- Meredith Grey is not dead. And so ABC will not have to change the name of its hit show to "Yin and Yang" after Cristina or "Bailey's Irish Cream" after Miranda.

From the moment Meredith went into the water in the first part of a three-episode "Grey's Anatomy" special event, we all knew she wasn't going to die -- why, many of us had just seen Ellen Pompeo at the Golden Globes, and she did not look even remotely like a woman who'd been canned. So as the Meredith-battles-for-life plot line engulfed the second and third portion of a narrative following what looked to be the worst ferry accident in American history, tension was noticeable only in its absence.

In its place were some of the worst script decisions since, yes, I'll say it, Fonzie jumped the shark.

To recap: Two episodes ago, Seattle's finest were flung into the field to cope with a horrific ferry accident. Dismembered commuters. Rows of child corpses. People screaming in pain. A chance for our intrepid residents and attendings to show their personal and professional mettle? Well, yes, for about three minutes. Then all eyes were on Meredith, who, after being pushed into the water by a man whose sudden thrashings of pain were too well placed to be at all believable, swims for a moment in the warm bath of her own soupy thoughts and then sinks.

Episode 2, she is dragged blue and still from the water by Dr. McDreamy. Though some small moments were allowed the many victims of the horrific accident, the bulk of the narrative revolved around Saving Meredith. Who, by the requisite funky medicine of television shows, was dead (her heart was not beating) but not really dead (hypothermia was her friend).

Which brings us, alas, to Episode 3, in which a very expensive hour of television is devoted to emotional masturbation on a high school level. That is when, one hopes, those Beth March/Emma Bovary fantasies -- I'm on my deathbed and everyone I know is so saaaaaaad -- peak.

It isn't enough that we had to watch our leads blink away their tears and say stupid things as they drop all treatment of any other patient to watch outside the room where the chief of surgery and the head resident and the hotshot heart surgeon are also ignoring the wounded in their attempts to Save Meredith.

We also have to go with Meredith into her mushy idea of an afterlife, where she meets people who have died on the show, including our beloved Denny.

So there they all are, convincing Meredith, who is apparently so truly mentally ill that her accidental drowning wasn't so accidental after all, that her life is worth living. That if she dies, all her friends will be so saaaaaaad and Derek, that miracle of TV fiction, will be a Broken Man.

"For a moment," she says, "I thought, 'What's the point?' And then I let go."

What's the point? How about you're a doctor and there are like 1,000 people bleeding to death mere yards away from you? "Grey's" has touted itself as a woman-driven show since the get go, but I'm here to tell you that if a male doctor pulled something like this -- my mom was mean to me, I think I'll drown -- he'd be given the TV equivalent of a white feather and told to hit the road. Since "Grey's" started, the lead character has divided the audience into two camps: Those who see Meredith as an Everywoman, and those who consider her the whiny irritant that makes the pearl. I have always been one of the former. Not anymore.

Meredith Grey went into the water and came out a drip. Fortunately "Grey's" is an ensemble show. I would like to believe that she would be forced to have a little therapy to deal with her obviously life-threatening secret depression, but the hug from McDreamy will probably have to do. Meanwhile, the show's best bet is to forget everything that happened during this unfortunate three-part series of events, and let the healing begin.

mary.mcnamara@latimes.com

Show Tracker follows television series through their highs and lows.

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