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.


I was with it right up to the point where the cop shot the shooter. What did he do then? waved at Lexy and disappeared. If this is the quality of SWAT teams in the US then God help you in an emergency situation. I struggled to enjoy the rest of the episode after that because I was so annoyed which was a shame because there was some good stuff - particularly the Bailey scenes. The daft thing is that it needen't have been included as it didn't really advance the story.


Haven't seen it in the UK yet, but it sounds like a load of pants.


Simply sensational. I love grey's anatomy but this surpasses other great episodes such as the bomb in the hospital. Michael O'Neille was brilliant. Action, romance, suspense and really kept you guessing. The way Alex was shot and mark and lexie found him, Bailey showing raw emotion when the elevators were off and composing herself, mederedith brushing off a miscarriage and avery saving sheppard in the OR.......the list goes on. Simply phenomenal, reaching the upper echelons of great television. Maybe the best single episodes of television ever.


Suspenseful and definitely edge- of- seat material! I felt like I was in the hospital- my heart pounding at ever attack- and it stopped when a main was at gun point or face to face with the killer, (whom did very well as his character). It was realistic considering today's society and all of the cast played their role at 'words can't describe' level!


A thrilling, edge- of- seat, heart- pumping, emotional and mental challenge- simply phenomenal! So much going on in a non- confusing order and for once- you know things BEFORE the next season!! The cast were very believable and played their characters fantastically! As always, the reflections within were meaningful with reasoning! Amazing!


i thought this episode was simply amazing. i saw the finale five minutes ago and my heart is still pounding. I was at the edge of my seat the whole time. I understand how people are getting upset because there have been shootings in real life but the fact that its realistic makes the episode scarier and adds more suspense making the finale even more awesome. Im just really impressed with the entire show. I thought the episode with the bomb in the hospital was gonna be the the best Grey's got but this final just blew me away.


It was terrifying when mark and lexie opened the elevator to find alex, shot and bleeding on the elevator floor... and it was heartbreaking when alex started asking for izzie. best grey's yet! i can't wait for the seventh season!


I did enjoy these episodes enjoyable, but suspended realities of real life whilst watching it. Der wasn't shot in the heart from what I saw. I'd rather have seen kepner shot than Der. I thought Der saying to Mer that he didn't want her to be alone if something happened to him was bound to lead to something bad. It was bound to work out that yet again Mer would eventually realise that she wanted what Der wanted, children. She's the only one who could do that for him. So I hope there's some fun in seeing that storyline through. I can just see Der going hyper protective of his wife. There's an 'old wives tale' in the UK, that says moving house often produces a new baby! So here's hoping


@ Liana C
Unrealistic or not, it was heartbreaking. Sometimes you need to look past the things that are unrealistic and just enjoy the excitement. Who cares if she's in too much pain? Maybe she was in a LOT of pain... But the fact that her HUSBAND, the LOVE of her life was about to die - that brings more pain then anyone could ever believe. She wouldn't have noticed that pain. Trust me, loosing a loved one is the most painful thing in the world, no pain could beat that pain. As for Derek almost dying. They HAVE to have some drama... They couldn't kill off Patrick Dempsey, he's too sexy. And yes. he could have survived. There is a CHANCE - it just so happens that Derek won that chance. Stop being skeptical about the reality of the show. Ignore the parts that couldn't possibly be true, because if we were going to give a list, the WHOLE show is pretty much fake. But it's an amazing show nonetheless. This was by far the most thrilling finale for me. It goes in my top 3 finales EVER. It was full of Drama and suspense, but in the end, it gives you a good feeling, and you think you know where the show is headed (which it will obviously change in a flash), but regardless, it kept me on my toes. I was weeping for most of the episode because it brought back to many memories and heartbreaks for me. Meredith's miscarriage was the most heartbreaking thing i've ever seen. The whole baby storyline was. Right from the beginning you know she's going to loose it. It's too good to be true sort of thing. When i first saw how happy she was, i realized how much it would hurt her to loose it. I get where Shonda is coming from though. Her and Derek WILL work through this and then Mer will realize she really does want his children, and she will stop being scared of her issues, and they will be a family. Maybe not for a while, but they will. I think that Cristina was SPECTACULAR during this episode. I really like someone's idea of her falling in love with Derek. That would have been an amazing idea for a storyline. It would have been brilliant, however they can't repeat a storyline (even though the haven't explore Aprils yet) because it would just loose ratings, and who would want to see the SAME thing happen again. Cristina deserves to be happy, but i think Jackson understands her. Owen doesn't get her need for surgery. He thinks she is cold and doesn't want to let her in. But Jackson gets that surgery is Cristina's life, and she couldn't give it up for anything. All veiwers understand that she needs it, it's been clearly evident since season one EPISODE one. This was an excellent season finale. Even though the overall season was a piece of crap, i think that Shonda pulled it together and delivered in the end. I hope she keeps giving us the same quality as this finale for the remaining season(s).


What about Jackson!?! He held it together and he ultimately saved Derek. Give that man some credit. He's a new fave of mine!

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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