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!

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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.

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omg i cant believe no one else has commented about the unbelievable acting in this finale. Derek was amazing you just believed every second of his scenes. and meredith omg it was sooo amazing she better get an emmy. Christina was soo good also. My favorite part of greys anatomy ever was in this finale. The moment were derek and meredith were waiting for april and christina to go get teddy. it was so cute when derek told her kiss me and that he wouldnt die...i loved it soooo much. I almost died when derek got shot...i love mcdreamy


This episode was the craziest thing I have ever seen. I don't usually watch Grey's Anatomy, but I think I am hooked now. I was sitting on my couch, eating skittles and crying my eyes out while watching this, and like I said before, I'm not even a regular watcher. They did a great job with this episode. The suspense was jaw-dropping, the emotion was tear jerking, the acting was phenomenal, and the overall plot was amazing. I was crying so so so hard while watching this :(


Extremely compelling, but where
WERE the police for so long? And how could Christina and Meredith walk through the hospital and see NO people and not notice? Most disappointing was the notion that a madman shooting innocent people out of grief and anger could change a woman's mind about having children? Callie is such a selfish nag it's painful to see that behavior rewarded. Still, a great show.


Just Awesome. Just Amazing. Thanks SR !


I just LOVE how Callie handeld the situation with Mr. Clark and how she comforted that little girl and AZ. And I think that AZ change her mind of this whole baby thing when she saw how fast you can lose someone that you love, and how Callie handled that situation and how she talked with that girl. I think that she realized that having kids with Callie may not be so bad. And maybe she realized that life's better with Callie, and if she want's to keep being with her she actually need to give in on the whole baby thing, or maybe when she heard that Callie was willing to sacrifice her Dream of having kids to be with her, maybe she realized that she has to do the samething! And I just hope that she doesn't change her mind in season 7! Cuz it's about time they move forward as a couple, maybe move in together, and alone, not with Christina, there own place!


I am a big fan of Gray's Anatomy, but this final show was totally unbelievable. Where were the police??? Even after the shooter was shot nothing happened. This could never have happened in real life. The hospital would have been swarming with SWAT teams, police,etc. Very disappointing...totally unrealistic...and annoying. Sorry, but that's how I felt.


I am a big fan of Gray's Anatomy, but this final show was totally unbelievable. Where were the police??? Even after the shooter was shot nothing happened. This could never have happened in real life.
The hospital would have been swarming with SWAT teams, police,etc.
Very disappointing...totally unrealistic...and annoying. Sorry, but that's how I felt.


Yes, I loved it! But! I just did not get what was going on with the SWAT team! Where were they and what took so long? When the shooter was finally shot, how did the SWAT guy loose him? Doesn't anyone have a means of communicating the shooters location--most of all the SWAT guy who shot him? It left a shadow of UNREAL that in the time that elapsed SWAT was so inept. Yes, I liked the women warriors, but there could have been a woman on the SWAT team too. My husband, in law enforcement, was also left perplexed.


I agree with most all of the positive comments here. One big point...I loved that the women were really running the rescues. With the exception of Mark, all the main male characters (Alex, Owen, and Derek) got shot. Mark does help save Alex, but it is Lexie who takes the real risk and goes for blood (and almost dies). Bailey, Meredith, Callie, and mostly Christina (of course!)were the most empowered figures. A nice change - and while I like Owen, I was very glad he didn't ride in to save the day for Christina - she doesn't need to be rescued. I love strong female characters! In terms of male characters - it was great to see Richard take his hospital (and himself) back at the end.


Just saw the episode yesterday and I'm still crying. Amazing work. They all really knocked it out of the ballpark with this one. Everyone was just fantastic. Still crying.

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