Grey’s Anatomy Finale- “Fear (Of the Unknown)” (S10E24)
Grey’s Anatomy is known for its shocking season finales, typically including a major catastrophe and at least one major character death. I went into this episode wringing my hands and presuming the worst; you don’t watch ten seasons of this show and know a character is going to leave and NOT worry that they will be killed off. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, Cristina Yang’s departure had me not only in tears for most of the episode, but also worried at every turn that everything would go horribly wrong. Grey’s Anatomy is shocking even when it’s not shocking, and when you expect the worst, sometimes you get nothing of the sort. This episode was bound to be a tear-jerker, sending off one of the show’s most beloved characters (and my personal favorite female on all of television). They pulled it off nicely and I can’t say enough about how much I will miss Cristina Yang.
The episode begins with Cristina in Hunt’s cabin as she prepares to go to the hospital one last time. She tells him that they can’t have a big goodbye at his place, because it would be weird to then see him at the hospital later. Having stuck around for another two weeks to follow up with her patients, Cristina says she can’t put off leaving. The episode is rife with ominous hints as Cristina does the voice-over for the episode (a nice goodbye touch) and mentions George’s death (hit by a bus) and the uncertainty of the future. As she leaves, she realizes she needs to buy a European phone charger because her phone is dead, so she laments that she has to go to the mall.
Meredith and Derek prepare for their move to D.C. and only have the paperwork left to sign for a townhouse there. Not the only ones moving on with their lives, Alex contemplates buying a fancy sports car or possibly a boat, with all the money he is making working in private practice. Jo and Arizona ask why he’s at the hospital and tease him about being “Dr. Junior Butthole” with his practice’s specialty.
Elsewhere in the hospital, Avery is left with the task of telling Bailey that her genome research project has to be cut due to budging cuts. While Derek is spending much of his time in D.C., his sister has been at the hospital covering his surgeries for him. I expect we will see a lot more of “Shepard-ess” next season. A new head of Cardiology was also chosen, Maggie Pierce, who buts heads with Cristina as she waits for Cristina to move on to her new position. Dr. Pierce complains to Hunt about Cristina’s insubordination (the wrong person to complain to about Cristina), but he guarantees her that Cristina is leaving that day.
April approaches Hunt about her new pregnancy, telling him that she plans to work until she has the baby. He tells her congratulations and that he’s happy for her. However, he stops talking as he sees a report on the news about an explosion at the local mall (where Cristina was going). Hunt and Kepner jump into action, expecting a large influx of injured patients, as the news anchor asks, “Is this an act of terrorism?”
(I applaud the title card for Cristina Yang)
The hospital quickly becomes flooded with the injured people from the mall and homeland security who have arrived to question people who were at the blast. Unsure of the cause of the explosion and if it may have been a chemical attack, Hunt reminds Kepner to wear a mask around patients. Finding 30 seconds of solace in the elevator, Hunt tries to call Cristina, whose phone is dead. He asks Alex if he’s seen Cristina, and says that she was supposed to go to the mall. Alex says, “Don’t tell Mer” as they separate to handle their large number of patients.
Avery and Torres treat a pregnant patient who is injured, and they find out she is a surrogate, and that she wants to keep the baby undelivered for as long as possible. Meanwhile, Derek shows up to help out and check on how his sister is handling his patient work-load. Meredith has a patient who the Secret Service are trying to question, but the teen collapses and she has to take him to surgery immediately.
Alex treats a young boy who needs to have his chest opened up, and he asks the E.M.T. for a chest tray, only to have Cristina hand it to him (big sigh of relief #1). He asks if she should be the one to do it but she says he’s there, he should do it. She’s come a long way from accidentally sticking Alex’s hand in surgery with epinephrine and almost killing him because she was in a rush to do everything herself. She allows him to do the procedure because he’s in place for it and she trusts his skills.
On the news in the waiting room, reports talk about the blast and speculate about it being about bringing patients to the hospital in order to then bomb the hospital as well. Kepner yells for the television to be turned off as it beings to scare people in the waiting room who wonder if they should be at the hospital. Leah shows up in the E.R. to offer her help if they want it, despite being fired in the previous episode. Kepner tells her whatever she can do, they want her help.
Arizona finds Cristina to tell her that there’s a heart available for her patient Link, from the family that she has been treating for a long time. Having stuck around specifically to see if he would get a heart so she could finish out his treatment, Cristina agrees to do the surgery despite the chaos from the mall victims and that she was due to fly out. Hunt sees her for a moment but is unable to get to her through the crowd. He notices that a report is on the television, reporting from inside the hospital and saying that the cause of the explosion may have been a dirty bomb. Hunt walks in angrily and calls out the reporter for lying to the public and scaring people for no reason, when they don’t actually know the cause of the explosion and rashes on people’s arms.
In surgery, Cristina asks Alex how he will deal with the boredom of working at his new practice and not practicing emergency surgery at the hospital. She tells him that when he got there, she thought he was an imbecile but that he got competent, and then good. “Good hands, thank fast, act faster,” and tells him that he’s putting all that talent away in a drawer. Alex asks her why she has to do Link’s surgery that day as well, and she tells him that she needs something to feel “finished” before she leaves. She says Shane can close for her because she taught him how and trusts him to do a good job.
As Meredith wheels her patient out from surgery, the man from Homeland Security asks when he can question the patient. He then receives a call however, and says he no longer needs to talk to the kid as the situation has changed. The scene changes to Hunt telling Kepner that the rashes on the patients are from chemicals in a dry-cleaning store in the mall, and likely caused chemical burns because people were exposed to that during the explosion; not a chemical bomb, but a gas main explosion.
Cristina’s patient, Link, arrives at the hospital with his mother and they confirm to Hunt that they spoke to Cristina, easing his fears. However, before he can find her, he’s pulled into a surgery on a patient with his organs eviscerated. He has Leah take Link to get prepped for surgery and thanks her for coming in to help.
Catherine Avery finds April crying in the stock room, scared about bringing a baby into a world that has so many bad things in it. Catherine reminds her of the good things as well, and tells her how to be strong. I’m a little surprised that April is just now figuring this out, but it was nice to see her and Catherine bond over something as they’ve had a rocky relationship since her and Avery eloped.
Meredith finds Cristina scrubbing for surgery and asks why she is still here and not on a flight to Switzerland. Cristina tells her that nothing feels finished, and that even her split with Owen was about something that hadn’t even happened and they still had never completely split up either way. She says, “George is dead, Izzie is gone. It’s supposed to me you, and me, and Alex”. Meredith tells her, “You don’t feel finished because this isn’t the end for you, there is no finish line; there is no end point. You just have to go.” A nurse informs Cristina that the donor heart was delayed in traffic, so Meredith is able to convince Cristina to go. They leave the O.R. and she sees Derek, and hugs him goodbye.
With no more patients coming in, Leah finishes up her work. Ross tells her that Webber was wrong, that she belongs there but she says because it came from Webber, she knows it’s true. She tells Ross that has to leave to find what she is good at, and that she will find it. She’s proven to be a capable doctor, just not a surgeon. She removes her gown and walks out, finished with her work at the hospital.
Bailey confronts Webber about her lab and asks him if he even fought for her to keep her lab. He tells her that he didn’t, because she’s a surgeon and shouldn’t be spending all her time behind a microscope. He tells her that he’s recommending her to fill Cristina’s seat on the board. Cristina walks up to say goodbye to them, only to have Ross approach them and ask to go with her. He says he wants to go with his teacher, and that he wants to be a part of his education, and he chooses to learn from Cristina. Cristina agrees to take him with her to Switzerland. Cristina hugs Bailey and tells her “thank you”, and Webber hugs her next and tells her that he’s proud of her. Cristina gives Meredith her bag and says she has one more thing to do.
Cristina runs to the O.R. to say goodbye to Hunt, who is in the middle of saving a patient on the table. He’s unable to go to her, she looks through the glass at him, and when he looks back, she is gone. A sad metaphor for their relationship, and I wish they’d had a real goodbye as they were one of my favorite couples on the show. Meredith rushes Cristina out to the curb to a taxi and tells her to get to the airport and not miss her flight. She asks, “What do you need? An ‘I love you’ or something?” Cristina looks at her, and Meredith says, “I love you” before the car pulls away.
As Meredith returns to the hospital and begins to talk to Amy, she is dragged away mid-sentence by Cristina who is back. She brings Meredith and says, “We have to finish. We have to dance it out; that’s how we finish”. Meredith pulls out her phone to find a song, and Cristina stops her to tell her to watch over Owen (“Make sure he doesn’t get all dark and twisty”) and to mock Alex once a day to keep him from being insufferable. She says the line, “You’re my person”, and if that weren’t enough, they dance it out to “Where Does the Good Go” (from season one) which has me in tears even on my second watching of the episode. I couldn’t think of a more perfect goodbye to the best female friendship on television, one that’s been through ups and downs for ten years. This show has always been about Meredith and Cristina, they’re the heart of it, and I’m glad Cristina’s last episode acknowledged that.
As they finish dancing, Cristina tells Meredith one bit of amazing advice. “You are a gifted surgeon with an extraordinary mind. Don’t let what he wants eclipse what you need. He is very dreamy, but he is not the sun; you are.”
Back at the hospital, Kallie and Arizona watch their patient who was a surrogate and it gives them an idea of how to have their next child. Dr. Pierce completes the surgery on Cristina’s patient and updates the mother that everything went well. Bailey talks to Ben about possibly having a place on the board and that she is excited for it, and how Webber picked her. Back at home, Alex finds a package on his bed labeled “evil spawn”, from Cristina. It is the paperwork for all her shares in the hospital, and her seat on the board.
Taking Cristina’s advice, Meredith tells Derek that she doesn’t want to move. She tells him that he keeps taking pieces and asking for more from her. She says she doesn’t want to be a “trailing spouse”. She tells him that she grew up in Seattle and doesn’t want to leave the hospital that has her name, her sister’s name, and her mother’s name on it. She tells Derek that her choice is to not go.
As the day ends, Webber heads home and asks Dr. Pierce how her first day was. She tells him that her surgeries went well but that she knows no one. She admits that she was adopted and came to the hospital because her mom was a surgeon at this same hospital. Webber asks what her birth mother’s name was, and she replies, “Ellis Grey”.
The episode ends on Cristina in her new office as she takes over her new position as Director of Cardiothoracic surgery, with Shane by her side. I couldn’t think of a better way to say goodbye to Cristina Yang, watching her step forward and be the best. I’m sad to see her go, and I’m not sure how the show will feel without her, but the finale set up some interesting storylines for next season.
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