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.


At the first shooting, victim Reed, I started crying, until the end of episode 24. I really can't wait until it is here in Holland on TV, but it is scheduled for November.. Sorry for my crappy English, but oh my god, this is the most spectaculair end of a season of Grey's EVER!


@hitsugaya There was a scene where the police had this computer open and it was capturing all the phone calls being made from the hospital. They played audio snippets of what they were saying. They were calling the outside world asking for help. Bailey called about Dr. Percy
Callie called about the little girl
Christina called about Derek
Sloan called about Alex
Hunt called about his patient The point was that everyone was calling for help all at once and the hospital's policy was that 'no one goes in or out'.


This episode was pure suspense throughout the entire duration. There were so many unexpected twists and turns. I practically cried the entire two hours. Shonda Rhimes never seems to let us down, she is an amazingly talented writer. To me this was by far the best season finale they have had. I am so happy to see Callie and Arizona back together, they are the perfect example of an amazing couple (for both straight and gay couples). I cannot wait for next season! I was completley impressed, Shonda deserves massive amounts of credit for this episode!


dont they have phones? to me that was the major flaw of this episode..despite the great acting, how come they didnt even think of using the phone to communicate with the outside world..charles could have been saved if bailey made a phonecall..they made it so obvious they wanted him to die.. nevertheless, this episode was heartwrenching..


I'm just wondering where is everyone's cell phones? that part was completely ridiculous. the doctor's/friends should have been calling each other when they found out about the shooter. What about department phones? Is it not possible to use them to spread the news? Or about calling code over the PA system? I understand it's a TV show and all that, but that part drove me crazy. Also, the way everyone would just let the shooter leave the room and go on about their business without trying to contact other departments, etc. Kind of poor writing in that regard. Other than that, very intense and I found my heart beating a million miles a minute.


The Season Finale was excellent. I thought Sandra Oh, James Pickens Jr, Chandra Wilson and the actor who portrayed Gary Clark really put on Emmy worthy performances. Despite some flaws in the some of the storylines and over the top acting at times, the episodes were very good. I would have preferred to see Jackson killed rather than Percy or Reed because Jesse Williams is a horrible actor. He's not convincing as a so called "badass" much less a doctor. I burst out laughing every time I heard him trying to bark orders with his lisp. He sounds effeminate. And it was completely OOC for him to be "giving confidence" to Cristina. She's 100 times the badass he is and doesn't need him to tell her what to do. Sandra Oh is an accomplished actor and JW is D list. There is no way he could ever be convincingly paired with her. I can't even fathom a storyline for the two of them. She's already had to carry Isiaih Washington for 3 seasons with his one dimensional acting and he's better than JW. Plus Jackson comes across as gay and wouldn't be convincing with any woman on the show.


I thought the finale was really well done, keeping in mind that it is a TV show and you have to make certain allowances all in the name of entertainment. It's a shame the police/law enforcement agencies always end up with the short end of the stick though LOL. As far as the Alex/Lexie/Mark stuff goes, maybe it's just me but it didn't really come across as Lexie "chosing" Alex over Mark. Mark was perfectly fine physically while Alex was practically bleeding to death right in front of her, so obviously her focus would be on Alex. Add to that she found out that the reason Mr. Clark was on his shooting spree in the first place was partly due to her and it was a given that Lexie would feel guilty/responsible and stay by Alex's side. If, however, both Alex and Mark were injured and Lexie chose to focus her attention on Alex while Mark was left to fend for himself, then I would see it as her choosing him over Mark. Either way, I'm interested to see how it all plays out next season!


Oh, and Michael O'Neill DEFINITELY needs an Emmy along with other people (too many to list!)!


this was the best two hours on tv EVER


Okay, so this morning, I watched the first 12 minutes. I had my heart beatting faster than the speed of light the whole day! Then I watched the rest. I cried, I laughed, I screamed (okay, yelped :P) I jumped for joy! OMG! BEST EPISODE(S) EVER! OH MY GOSH! OH MY GOSH!
First, when I saw Alex/Justin come in after Reed was shot I screamed, "NO!" I'm so glad my sister was asleep and my brother had his headphones on. O.O When they were on the catwalk, Gary and Derek, I thought that Meredith would scream, Gary would turn around, try to hit Meredith, but hit Cristina instead! If I bit my nails, I'm pretty sure I would have bitten everything! (okay, not my toes [ugh] unsanitary!) I WAS JUMPY EVERY SECOND OF THIS EPISODE! IT WAS AMAZING!
Relationship developments/undeveloped moments: (YAY! AND NO!)
Calzona - OMG, when Callie said she hated AZ, I was like, 'No you don't!' And then at the end when they kissed and AZ wanted Callie's ten kids! MMMM! OH MY GOSH, I CAN BARELY HOLD MY EXCITEMENT! Okay, calm down.
Crowena - I was so shocked when Owen got shot. When they were in the OR! Oh my gosh! That scared me! I thought it was all fine and dandy when Owen was talking to Meredith and April!
April/Mer - Okay, I'm so excited that April is not the Fatal Attracter :D
LexLex (Alexie) - I wish that 'I love you' wasn't for the heat in the moment. I wish that Alex had called out for Lexie, though perfectly understandable when he called out for Izzie. (sigh) Slexie's gonna happen, ain't it? (sigh) Sorry for long post, this is a lot to take in!

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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