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.


omg...great episode!!
i was in pure SHOCK for 2 hours--this was so INTENSE. i cried, i screamed, i barely BREATHED. this was so good!
the acting! the story!
great work.
cristina rocked. she's the best. and the chief. and bailey. oh my god. i could FEEL all of their emotions.
and alex. poor alex! when he nearly cried out for izzie and thought she had come back to him..god, i just cried. i know its stupid, but ih hope she comes back. shonda said it, the only one he loves is izzie. they belong together. there has to be some kind of solution!!!! *beg* and the miscarriage...omg...poor mer. how will she handle this...


I think it was a very memorable episode. The whole time my heart was pumping rapidly and I felt sick to my stomach from the intensity. One very memorable moment that stood out for me was when Christina was in the elavator, unaware of the shooter standing next to her. The whole time I was whispering "don't shoot, don't shoot" as my fingers were crossed next to me. I thought that they did a pretty good job of pulling off the story line of this last episode, and I can't wait until this coming fall for more.


i think that this was the absolute most memorable season finale in all of tv history! from meredith getting pregnant and then losing the baby, to derek getting shot and christina operating on him and meredith freaking out when she thought he was dead or when meredith tried to get mr.clark to shoot her instead until christina said meredith was pregnant and then moments later wasnt. this will make a very interesting season 7 i hope that meredith gets pregnant because both derek and meredith really want a baby i think. they really need to have a child because they need to continue to move forward in their relationship since aparently every one else is (callie and arizona/ owen and christina)
i think that the next season will be about derek recovering from his surgery and meredith and him trying to figure out how to move forward. and callie and arizona trying to get pregnant. i just hope that before the whole show is over meredith and derek have a least 1 child. every other site i loook at says that derek is leaving but meredith signed on for 2 more seasons so derek has to stay because you cant have meredith without derek they will always be the show basically. i think a cool case next season could be a kid coming in with a shark bite and bailey and arizona have to save them. so long till next season (hope its a good one)


John - this episode was not ABOUT violence. It was about a myriad of reactions/emotions/personalities instigated by the shooting. People who truly enjoy violent shows would probably not enjoy this episode as the focus is not violence - the focus is people, personalities and characters.


Well, I'm usually not visiting any websites to comment on Grey's Anatomy stuff, but these last two episode were so amazing, that I just have to comment on them! I think, they were the best Grey's episodes ever (and I guess I've seen almost all of them). Really, really amazing!


I'm stunned by the responses here. I thought the violence of this episode was completely over the top and unnecessary. Those of you who have grown up with this level of violent imagery can't even recognize inappropriate violence. I seriously am considering not watching this anymore if I have to put up with this. Violence is NOT entertainment. There are real people who experience these kinds of events and it feels really wrong to toss these images out there just to give people a thrill. john


I've been watching Grey's for years, this is the first episode I saw that is completely unbelievable, it ruined everything. how come the shooter got shot once and the policy didn't charge? they went to have some coffee and talk about the great shot? how come there is only one guard in the hospital and he is not armed? so unrealistic it ruined the show, even my gf which is a sold-out fan couldn't believe anything in that episode anymore, a shame.


I loved how all the female characters showed their brave side and came out of this stronger than ever...:)


OMG!!! I loved every minute of it. Just watched for the second time. Didn't anyone notice how they unplugged the monitor on Derek to pretend he was dead? That was my favorite part. Cannot wait for next season.


I'm gonna feel so empty til September! Gossip Girl - Season Finale, 24 - Season Fianle, Grey's - Season Finale. now what?! So glad Calzona back, not convinced though. it was almost too easy, I mean they didn't actually discuss it.

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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