Television Review

'Grey's Anatomy' clears exits for two

By Joanna Weiss
Globe Staff / May 15, 2009
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When it comes to TV, rumors often turn out to be true. Word was that Katherine Heigl and T.R. Knight were preparing to leave "Grey's Anatomy." And at the end of last night's season finale, both Izzy Stevens and George O'Malley appeared to be gone: Izzy crashing, cancer-stricken, in her hospital bed, George coding in an operating room after being hit by a bus.

In both cases, no one called a time of death; there's room for resurrection and contract negotiation, not necessarily in that order. But in truth, it wouldn't be so bad for "Grey's" to lose these two, instead of straining to squeeze them into yet another season. Their characters have taken so many twists and turns that, at some points, they've become unrecognizable.

Perhaps that's the trouble with a show that's essentially a soap opera: the need for new romantic story lines can leads to absurdly mismatched pairs, and the Izzy-George affair, a few seasons ago, was a chief offender. This fifth season, Izzy even got carnal with her dead fiancé, Denny (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), as viewers howled in frustration. At least he turned out to be a hallucination: a symptom of her aggressive cancer.

On a show that routinely makes viewers cry, the Izzy cancer story line has been surprisingly unmoving. Perhaps that's because it played out against the backdrop of well-publicized backstage tensions - Heigl withdrew herself from Emmy consideration last year, saying she hadn't been "given the material" to justify an award - and the rise of Heigl's movie career. (Last night's show, to underscore the issue, contained an ad for an upcoming Heigl film.)

Still, Heigl has had ample chances this season to brush up her Emmy submission: Last night, she played scared, hurt, and eerily sick, as in a scene when the doctors put half of Izzy's brain to sleep to see if she would lose her memory.

More satisfying, though, was the way some other lead characters returned to form. We saw Bailey briefly resume her role as a maternal figure, bossy and wise. We saw Alex act like a jerk, instead of an eerily supportive husband. The big reveal of the night - the identity of the battered patient from the bus accident - even made nifty reference to the pilot, when George's fellow interns dubbed him "007." O'Malley may go out the way he came in.

On the other hand, change can sometimes be good - particularly in the case of Meredith, who has abandoned her longstanding insistence on being miserable and decided to marry McDreamy after all. Last night, she and Derek exchanged vows over Post-it notes as a cover of the "Flashdance" theme song played in the background. May their relationship troubles rest in peace. Forever.

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