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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Sounds good (: I am actually really excited for this episode, but let's just hope it lives up to our expectations.

Grey's Anatomy Quotes

Did you say it? 'I love you. I don't ever want to live without you. You changed my life.' Did you say it? Make a plan. Set a goal. Work toward it, but every now and then, look around; Drink it in 'cause this is it. It might all be gone tomorrow."

Meredith (closing voiceover)

Lexie: [narrating] Grief may be a thing we all have in common, but it looks different on everyone.
Mark: It isn't just death we have to grieve. It's life. It's loss. It's change.
Alex: And when we wonder why it has to suck so much sometimes, has to hurt so bad. The thing we gotta try to remember is that it can turn on a dime.
Izzie: That's how you stay alive. When it hurts so much you can't breathe, that's how you survive.
Derek: By remembering that one day, somehow, impossibly, you won't feel this way. It won't hurt this much.
Bailey: Grief comes in its own time for everyone, in its own way.
Owen: So the best we can do, the best anyone can do, is try for honesty.
Meredith: The really crappy thing, the very worst part of grief is that you can't control it.
Arizona: The best we can do is try to let ourselves feel it when it comes.
Callie: And let it go when we can.
Meredith: The very worst part is that the minute you think you're past it, it starts all over again.
Cristina: And always, every time, it takes your breath away.
Meredith: There are five stages of grief. They look different on all of us, but there are always five.
Alex: Denial.
Derek: Anger.
Bailey: Bargaining.
Lexie: Depression.
Richard: Acceptance.