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.
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. 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.
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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