Grey's Anatomy Season Finale Review: The Best Episode Yet?

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Having covering Grey's Anatomy for six seasons now, our staff had serious misgivings and debates regarding "Sanctuary" and "Death and All His Friends" before it even aired.

A show we grew to love for its lighter moments and terrific character development has too often subjected us to ghost sex, afterlife visits and over-the-top ratings gimmicks.

When we saw the leaked intro clip earlier in the week, we thought Shonda Rhimes was going there again - trying to be all profound, but really just throwing stuff at the wall.

While we do think the Grey's Anatomy spoilers were overkill - imagine had we not known the identity of the shooter, or that Meredith was pregnant! - last night compelling.

If nothing else, with five major characters getting shot over two hours, Shonda went all in. This was an emotional, well-paced episode, as well as edge-of your-seat intense.

A D-Shep Photo

Despite being a bit too violent, and yes, a bit forced for our taste, in many ways "Sanctuary" and "Death and All His Friends" may have been the best Grey's Anatomy ever.

The writing and acting were absolutely stellar, and may lead to many Emmy nominations, but even more impressively, despite a killing spree, it remained distinctly Grey's.

Some of the back-and-forths between the characters were truly memorable, and some of the developments so heartbreaking that we don't even know where to begin now.

Seriously, the Season 6 finale left us laying awake afterward thinking about everything, a feeling we haven't had from Grey's in years and rarely achieved by any program.

We could spend the entire day talking about all the events that transpired, but we tried to narrow it down to a dozen things that really struck us about the thrilling episode.

We begin after the jump, in case any of you haven't seen it yet ...

Meredith is pregnant ... and later not. This was a twist we did not see coming. She was so at peace, so ... non Season 1-4 Meredith about the whole thing! We were so thrilled to learn that Meredith was pregnant, it made it all the more heartbreaking that she lost the baby.

The exchange with Cristina almost made our house dusty. The exchange with Owen in which she said she miscarried definitely did. It may have been the saddest, most surprising part of the night. We knew there would be shooter on the loose. Not this.

Amazingly - and this manifested itself several times with the surgeons last night - there was so much going on, Mer wasn't even allowed to be sad. She had to do her job. Also incredible? Meredith literally choosing to "go through" Cristina to get to Derek.

R.I.P. Mercy Westers. We knew Season 7 would be without Reed and Charles, so at least they got a dramatic sendoff, rather than being written off in some ridiculous fashion. Oddly enough, we've often discussed how the Grey's Anatomy cast is so big - to its detriment.

But because it is, dispatching two characters we actually got to know a bit really resonated.

April Exclaims

April. She was not the shooter, despite one of our writers' ongoing theories, but April sure had some memorable scenes last night. When she was in shock over Reed, we felt in shock over Reed. When she told the story that saved her life, our fists were clenched in fear.

Dr. Bailey hides, then cries. Watching Chandra Wilson cower in abject terror and claim to be a nurse was one of the most incredible scenes in the show's history. Period. It made all the rest of what was a stellar episode for Chandra Wilson seem tame by comparison!

Lexie's declaration. She told Alex she loved him. Mark winced. Then in a delusional exchange, he thought she was Izzie, who "came back for me." Lexie's response? "I came back." Such raw emotion ... do you think she meant that declaration of love, or was it heat of the moment?

Calzona. Arizona's "there are only children here" mantra was the classic Grey's repeated line of the evening, used as though it were a spell to protect her from a perilous fate that awaited her. Usually so calm and professional, this was a great scene for the character.

Also great? She and Callie agreed to get back together and want kids - a lot of kids! In an episode filled with tragedy, it was nice to end the season on at least one high point.

Alex ... then Derek ... then Owen. When Alex was shot, with cold nonchalance, we figured that would be it for the core characters. Then Derek took a bullet right in front of Meredith and it was like we were kicked in the stomach -and sick to it at the same time.

By the time Owen took a bullet too, we were stunned and didn't know how much more we could take. Grey's Anatomy really pushed the envelope with this, and it really worked.

We say this because they all predictably survived, of course. Though with three of them getting shot, we were wondering if one might not make it, which added to the suspense.

On the Other Side

Cristina in the crosshairs. Even with a gun to her head (another jaw-dropping image) while she was operating on Derek, she managed to save his life. So intensely moving.

Richard saves the day. It's been a very tough season for the Chief, but he came through last night with his confrontation of Clark, overcoming his own demons in the process.

Michael O'Neill. If he doesn't win an Emmy, something is seriously wrong.

We can't say enough about the chilling performance by the veteran actor as grieving husband Gary Clark, who absolutely snapped and decided to seek vengeance on Derek.

He instilled fear in us with every glance, every step. He was amazing all around and can't be overlooked. We're never going to look at his West Wing character the same.

Well? What did you think of the season finale? What memorable moments/scenes would you add to this list? Was it the best Grey's Anatomy to date? Sound off below!


Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 5.0 / 5.0 (75 Votes)

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.


Olivia- thank you first and foremost for such kind words! a big THANK YOU for all of your hard work and for dotnemnciug that wonderful day in my life! Love all of these photos !


oh! and i also loved avery's smart move everyone hands up etc....and mandy moore... thats how us mortals would act in a terrifying situataion WITHOUT FOOD... great show!!!


wow!!! that was amazing television! when Owen calmly walks into the O.R... when Baily breaks down and that girl is an amzing actress when she takes tips from Ophera on how to talk to a shooter...that shocking shooter!!
that was edge of ur seat entertaining!!!and remember We are not in control!! in real life...


I loved this episode, but after seeing it I had nightmares. I dreamed one night that the man was at a hospital and I was in the shooting! lols luckily it was all a dream. And this man at my school, the officer, looks just like this man! CREEPY :)


i was disappointed with hunt...he's suppose to be some big army dude and he couldnt take clarke down while clarke was distracted...made me lose respect for hunt...he was declaring his love for cristina he could have atleast made an effort he just moved and got shot without a fight


Have seen this a few times now and every time still makes my heart pound!! Shonda is a GENIUS!! there wasnt one part i could slate because everything was so utterly fantastic and every actor completely shone in their role. with all of the emotional twists and turns it really kept me on the edge of my seat. knowing Calzona is back on the cards makes me so happy! i didnt like seeing the two of them on the brink of complete separation and the fact that they decided so quickly without discussing doesnt even matter because when it hits you that life is too short, you realise that most arguements and disagreements really are not worth it in the slightest. cant wait for series 7 next week! Love Greys


Just saw this last night. -The story telling was great -The acting was fantastic -The sheer violence made me sick to my stomach. I understand that this was probably the goal but I'm probably too traumatized to watch this show anymore. Can there be this much cruelty in the world?


I couldn't believe the finale! it was awesome! when they shot Alex i was sooo shocked and scared, but once they shot Derek, i was in shock and screaming at the TV! Thankfully they both survived. Michael O'Neill's role was awesome! Grieving husband seeking revenge! I agree with you guys when you say you stayed up thinking about what had happened in that 2 hours! I was up just thinking about and not being able to wait until the season 7 premiere! September 23rd please come!!!!!!!


I missed the finale i could not find it repeated any where are they going to be repeating it again soon. Ian


I agree the acting was great, but there were quite a few unrealistic moments I felt which totally threw me off: 1) Why on earth didn't the SWAT guy finish the shooter off when he had the chance?! He shoots Clarke once, lets Lexie knows that he was the one who shot him, then lets Clarke go on his merry way?! 2) I didn't understand the Bailey sitting in front of the elevator with Charles bit. Knowing Bailey for Bailey, I would have thought she would've DRAGGED him down the stairs, called someone to fix the elevators, SOMETHING. Very uncharacteristic of her to just sit there and tell a patient "Yes you're going to die and there's nothing I can do about it". 3) What was Webber's purpose on going back to the hospital, and the approach Clarke in the first place? To make that grand speech to Clarke about his happy life he's lived? (when we all know it wasn't really all that happy in the first place.) He wouldn't have been able to do anything to stop Clarke anyway, and he didn't - Clarke was already sitting down in the ward contemplating killing himself, and the SWAT team would have come in a few minutes later to finish him off anyway. I don't understand why Webber would have gone into that room anyway, when he had nothing to offer, and no way to stop Clarke. 4) As a medical student, I think the other posters are probably right - Derek really wouldn't have lasted so long without any transfusions or additional support if the wound was really that close to the aorta. A great and rivetting show anyhow, but still some times when I didn't really believe what was happening in the show. (I've been feeling more disconnected actually this whole series, like the situations were more unrealistic - did anyone else feel this way?)

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Grey's Anatomy Season 6 Episode 23 Quotes

Meredith: Do you wanna talk about it?
Cristina: No.
Meredith: Owen I mean.
Cristina: I know what you mean. I don't want to

Meredith: [narrating] For most people, the hospital is a scary place. A hostile place. A place where bad things happen. Most people would prefer church, or school, or home, but I grew up here. While my mom was on rounds, I learned to read in the OR gallery, I played in the morgue, I coloured with crayons on old ER charts. Hospital was my church, my school, my home; hospital was my safe place, my sanctuary. I love it here. Correction: loved it here.

Grey's Anatomy Season 6 Episode 23 Music

  Song Artist
Holding us back Holding Us Back Katie Herzig iTunes
Song How The Heart Grows Wicked Patrick Park