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 loved most of the episode, except for two parts which were categorically unrealistic. The first is when Derek was shot. He was shot in the heart folks, so how the heck did he survive? "Near the aorta"??? Baloney. That bullet would have shredded part of his heart and he would have died right away. Totally unbelievable. The next unrealistic part was when Meredith miscarried. Having had 4 miscarriages myself, I know absolutely without a doubt that she could not stand there and continue working as she did, she'd be in too much pain. And the fact that no one even chose to look after her when all was done, and that she sprightly walked away from the operating room made it all ridiculous. They had me up till that point, then it was ludicrous.


It was an amazing episode! I cried and was in shock throughout most of it. Awesome! And to the people complaining about the violence, think for a moment... How many people shootings have there been in the last three years? Not just in the U.S but world wide that have garnered international media attention? I can think of two school shootings in Germany and another two in the U.S... then there are also the public stabbing in China. Yet you really think something along the lines of these episodes couldn't happen? Remeber season two when Burke got shot. Yeah, totally happens. Not to be mean but deal with it. Horrible things happen everyday so of course TV will co-relate to it occasionally. If you want sunshine and rainbows go watch the childrens networks. Yay for Shonda and the writers for putting together something that I can believe would happen. SWAT going in without swarming the building is VERY accurate coming from a police kid. I loved everything about the episodes, even if it did send me into tears and OMDing for two hours. I think Christina's refusal to stop working on Derrik and Mer's efforts on Owen through incredibly terrifying moments was great and shows the sort of love they have for eachother. The show re-inforced the characters relationships with eachother while hinting at the fact that changes are going to happen no matter what was just WOW. I hope the rightful actors get the proper recognition at Emmy season. K.T


this was the BEST EPISODE EVER! it had me screaming crying..ahhhh the best best best..i love greys anatomy


Grey's Anatomy has done it again. I was on the verge of falling off my couch there was so much suspense! Although this season hasn't been Grey's highpoint, it ended with a bang. I can't remember the last time the drama on this show was this intense! Personally, I won't miss Reed that much, she seemed obnoxiously snotty and the show had enough of those people. Although I think her death was completely cheated out of, it's what got me wired throughout the entire show. Charles, however, I will miss a lot, he may have been self-centered, but he brought some comic relief to the show. Bailey, I could've sworn was going to die when she was pulled from beneath the bed, luckily she didn't and lied saying she was a nurse. Dr. Bailey has always been one of the greatest actresses on the show, these episodes really showed that. All in all, the finale rocked my socks.


This episode was amazing, PERIOD. I think its silly people are giving out about the violence, this is a show that deals with violence every week. Although we dont usually see that much violence ( or any really) we always see the consequences and how it is dealt with. The violence in this episode showed us how people deal with violence and how they cope in these hostile situations. The violence was not the focus of this at all, (my boyfriend loves anything violent and he thought this was ridiculous, not a grey's fan :O Hes crazy.) it was all about the characters dealing with shocking affairs. I was BLOWN AWAY by this episode, Well done Shonda, and to all those fantastic actors/actress's. (Mr clark was amazing, his portrayl of a grieving husband both shocked and moved me.)


John, I am so glad you're saying this. I totally agree! That's exactly what I've been trying to voice in another forum, but people don't get me. I mean, the episode was brilliant in that the actors were great and it evoked all these feelings in that special manner that only Grey's Anatomy can. But the display of violence was a nightmare and this is nothing I want to see for entertainment. This is serious stuff, shootings can happen anytime anywhere, and I don't know why they had to break it down like this. Yes, Seattle Grace is a hospital, and yes they have to deal with violence. But what we usually get to see is the consequences of violence, not the violence itself. And certainly not violence and fear and terror spread over two hours. So, I'm sorry, I love Grey's, but I refuse to praise an episode where a crazy guy tells us how you can get ammunition on sale. I don't live in the US, but if I would, that would totally creep me out and I'd probably be afraid to leave the house for a while.


ok......I guess my comment was a hit and miss:) Maybe I just wasn't in the mood when I made a bad review of the finale:) I'll try again:)


This episode was absolutely incredible and probably the BEST episode I have ever seen on television. I cried throughout the entire episode and my body froze, I couldn't believe what was happening.. BRAVO! fantastic episode, fantastic show. :))


I think a moment in the finale that deserved a big hand was when Bailey and Mandy Moore's character had to sit with Charles in the hallway while he died. I think that being a doctor, Miranda's toughest struggle had to be watching someone die without being able to do anything, not admitting she was a nurse. Watching her as she started hyperventilating near the elevators and then calming herself down because she knew he was going to die and she had to be able to help him through it... WOW! That was the hardest thing I've seen Bailey's character have to go through besides watching her son almost die. I know that there were SO many scenes to applaud by the end of the show, but I really thought this scene was definitely in the top 5, maybe 3 scenes that were most memorable. And John, I understand what you mean about people not understanding inappropriate violence anymore, but this was not the case here. I don't think losing one viewer will be a big loss to the show, so stop watching if it bothers you that much. Obviously it's a show with violence in it during most episodes. It's a show that takes place in a HOSPITAL!


@John, no offence, but the violence (some of it) was completely necessary, in order to understand what Mr.Clark was feeling - Hate and hurt. Don't have digs at Shonda for the violence, it's not as if it's a random slasher movie, these things happen in real life. There could be a shooter anywhere resulting in someone dying.

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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