Shonda Rhimes Previews Grey's Anatomy "Documentary"

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Painful memories of last season’s bloodbath still linger at Seattle Grace.

As we know and have seen in various sneak preview clips, a camera crew invades the hospital this week to film a documentary about the ongoing recovery efforts, and the entire episode is shown to us from the POV of the filmmakers, offering a voyeuristic vibe.

“You actually feel like you’re getting a behind-the-scenes look at our characters’ lives,” series creator Shonda Rhimes tells Entertainment Weekly. “You get to see our characters in a very different way, because we’re approaching them in a very different way.”

An Alex Karev Photograph

Alex's character development continues in this week's docu-episode.

Rhimes has long toyed with the notion of doing a docu-style installment, but it was co-executive producer Stacy McKee who wrote the episode and executed the plan.

“Stacy was obsessed with [ABC's docu-series] Boston Med,” notes Rhimes. “She came in one day after watching an episode and said, ‘I think I have it! I figured out how we can do our own version of that.’ We used the shooting as our jumping-off point.”

However, by ensuring story lines also move forward, Rhimes made sure this was no gimmick. Case in point: It’s during the hour that Alex figures out “what kind of surgeon he really wants to be,” reveals Rhimes. “It seems [pediatrics] is his thing.”

Other highlights coming our way in "These Arms of Mine" ...

  • Mandy Moore reprises her role of patient-turned-mercenary. “Her character is one of the Seattle Grace 13,” notes Rhimes. “She was forced to sort of be a doctor, too, so it felt important to bring her back and close that chapter.”
  • Through confessionals, we discover how truly unhinged Cristina has become, something that's been evident this fall. “She has a long journey [before her],” says Rhimes. “But when she gets a little bit better, she comes roaring back.”
  • Callie and Arizona make “a huge decision” that ushers them “into a new chapter.”
  • The episode echoes the season's themes of recovery and rebirth. Not closure.

“Closure is the wrong word for every last one of my characters,” she says. “I spent a lot of time really trying to get this right, speaking to grief counselors and reading the Columbine book and really thinking about this, and not wanting to minimize this."

"I don’t think there’s such a thing as closure. I think you move on and become a different person, and you’re changed, but I don’t think it’s ever really closed.”

What do you think? Does it sound gimmicky, or like an great idea?

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.

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Grey's Anatomy Quotes

It's harder to love somebody than to walk away from them.

Amelia

MEREDITH: "You don't get to call me a whore. When I met you, I thought I had found the person that I was going to spend the rest of my life with. I was done! All the boys and all the bars and all the obvious daddy issues, who cares? I was done. You left me. You chose Addison. I'm all glued back together now. I make no apologies for how I chose to repair what you broke. You don't get to call me a whore."
DEREK: "This thing with us is finished. It's over."
MEREDITH: "Finally."
DEREK: "Yeah, it's done."
MEREDITH: "It is done."