Grey’s Anatomy’s Musical Recap and Review!
Grey’s Anatomy’s much anticipated and conceptually polarizing musical episode aired last night. It was an emotional hour that focused on saving the lives of Callie (Sara Ramirez) and her and Mark’s unborn child. There was a lot of good, a lot of meh and A LOT of songs – With no formal list released prior to airing, we really didn’t know how manny tracks we’d hear prior to the episodes beginning – and boyu was it e3ver jam packed. With at least 10 musical numbers, Grey’s went balls out, take no prisoners wild. It was an ambitious, cheesy and emotional hour that worked mostly for three reasons. First it was a love letter to fans, second, becuase Grey’s is in a bit of a creative renaissance (imagine singing ghost sex or dancing Nurse Rose – shudder…) and finally, becuase it’s never, NEVER going to happen again. Right? As a one-off, Grey’s took a risk – bet it all on a Tony Winner and came away with a moderate win – but a win in my book no less.
Beginning exactly where the previous episode left off, Arizona woke up in the crashed car to see Callie through the windshield lying on the hood, barely conscious, gargling blood and looking at a ghost? astral projection? of herself. This was super intense and gross. Mad props to Ramirez and the makeup people for really going for broke – the image of Callie, flung onto the hood covered in blood, eyes darting confusedly is still etched in my mind. Ghost Callie then gave us our first little song/tease..
Cosy in the Rocket (Psapp) – Callie
The abandoned Grey’s theme got a little tease at the beginning as ghost Callie sung the hook. It was short, sweet and a great way to begin the episode.
2. Chasing Cars (Snow Patrol) – Callie, Owen and Miranda
This song is pretty much as flagship as it get’s for Grey’s (along with the climax number) – it played at the end of the legendary second season finale. It was smart of Rhimes to have her best three singers sing the first real number. I’m not in love with the tone of McKidd’s voice – I don’t know if it necessarily worked with this song, Wilson’s voice on the other hand I could listen to all day. She’s got a Merry Clayton vibe going on that I tremendously dig. It’s also during this song that we establish that the musical is the result of a potential brain injury. Again I think Ramirez nailed it here, as both projection Callie and injured Callie, and man does she have pipes.
In the OR people started telling eachother to ‘take a breath’ and ‘breathe’ setting up the next number as clunkily and cheesily as possible. And when Lexie was sent to take care of Mark, the episode jumped from it’s first number to it’s second in a matter of seconds.
Breathe (Anna Nalick) – Lexie
When Nalick’s version played over the climax of season 2’s superbowl 2 parter, it was the perfect song choice for the moment. Last night it was contextually a mess. It seemed like it was jammed into the show for no reason – a space filler at best. I’m still undecided on Chyler Leigh’s voice – as a relative vocal neophyte (it was her first time since Not Another Teen Movie) she was good, but her phrasing was odd and to borrow a phrase from Randy Jackson – she was ‘pitchy’.
4. How We Operate (Gomez) – Owen
This was by far the most musical-style song. It began with the Attendings gethered, discussing how to operate on Callie, when all of the sudden the background music picked up and a gruff voiced Owen (who the Chief placed in charge of Callie’s case) began to sing his ideas to a room of bewildered colleagues. I give a lot of credit to McKidd for trying his damndest to sell this. the most bizzare part of this number was the meta-ness of having the song continue in the background while residents Meredith, Christina and Alex look on. This was completely odd and honestly, thinking about how many metaphysical laws were broken in this scene gives me cramps so I’m done.
What I did like was Alex’s line about the future of his and Lucy’s relationship; “She works here at Seattle Grace Mercy Death. So I’m pretty sure she’s gonna go crazy (Ava/Rebecca) or get cancer (Izzie) or get shot (Reed) by a gunman or hit by a truck (George). So don’t get your hopes up for Karev’s big happily ever after.” From what I understand, the drama that unfolds from now on focuses on those three characters and that couldn’t be smarter.
Wait (Go Set Go) – Miranda (April, Lexie) – B+
Vocally this was one of the strongest songs in the episode all thanks to Chandra Wilson and her effortless voice. As amazing as Wilson’s singing was, it was distracting from the plot. In the midst of this we had Arizona and Mark’s battle reach a head. Her: “you’re basically a sperm donor” and him: “I’m the father, you’re not anything”, and we had Derek tell Meredith that Callie may be brain damaged – two scenes that had a disservice done to them by Wait being played over them. I was bothered, but damn Wilson can sing.
Runnin on Sunshine (Jesus Jackson) – Callie, Eli, Owen, Scott Foley, Alex, Miranda, (Teddy, Arizona), Lexie, Meredith
This was one of the most confusing numbers of the night. A joyous, peppy, couples sex montage in the middle of a depressing emotional episode. Let me get this straight – Callie is lying in a bed, potentially dying and everyone just decided that NOW is the time to have sex, and not just ANY sex – really happy joyful carefree sex. It was mindnumbingly confusing and kinda raunchy (I’m look at YOU Scott Foley – with your crotch to boob airhump). This could have been a great success had the tone of the episode not been so dark. Grey’s has it’s upbeat and lighter episodes and this number could have worked (COULD HAVE) there. I though Nurse Eli (Daniel Sunjata), Karev (Justin Chambers) were surprisingly good given how little they sang. It was fun – but in the context of the episode – a glaring misstep.
Universe and U (KT Tunstall) – Callie (Arizona)
Easily the lamest and most cookie cutter of all the songs. In fact it made so little of an impact I can’t even remember it. An perfect example of a song that could/should have been cut.
Grace (Kate Havnevnik) – Callie
Poor staging, odd and just not a very good song. A lot could have been done to improve this number. Ghost Callie sitting on Callie’s gurney singing as she’s wheeled into surgery was straight up bad – Maybe they should have done like a spolight or something. But still Sara Ramirez KILLED IT.
How to save a life (The Fray) – (pretty much) Everyone
When I lived in Israel my TV got one channel and it only played 3 different commercials – one for Heroes, Prison Break and Grey’s Anatomy and the Grey’s ad was simply a music video for How To Save A Life – so before I even knew the context of the song within the series, I was totes over it. I had a feeling that it would be used well but I couldn’t fathom it being the song of the night. The song is cheesy to begin with and it seems the best decision musically last night was to have this be the showstopping group climax number. Everyone was in the OR singing while working hard to save the lives of both Callie and her baby – her gross 1 pound fake looking creepy plastic baby. Fields and Karev couldn’t get a heartbeat – would the baby die? No way dude, primo baby doc Arizona Robbins was there to jump in and save her daughter’s(?) life. It was a sappy moment that fit the sappy song perfectly. In this instance, cheesy worked best for them.
In between this and the close of the episode we were treated to a really nice (if not sad) Meredith and Derek scene. Meredith can’t get preg again, anmd it’s killing her – She resented Callie getting pregnant by accident and couldn’t come to terms with a universe that; “gives Callie a kid and puts her through a windshied”. To which Derek responded; “You and I will be parents, I promise you.” Kudos to Dempsey for a killer line delivery and super kudos to Pompeo, who’s embraced the change from star to anchor gracefully and like a pro. In a series with a sprawling ensemble it’s been tougher to give it’s titular star significant stuff to do. I prefer this Meredith to the depressed head case from before her and Derek were married.
The Story (Brandi Carslile) – Callie
My least favourite musical number in cinematic history is probably the one from the Rent movie where Adam Pascal’s Roger sings on a mesa in Santa Fe and this reminded me of that – with Ghost Callie imitating Celine’s Taking Chances faces and singing passionately to Arizona and her comatose body. Again Ramirez sang she crap out of it, but it didn’t work for me.
And after that jarring number, Callie awoke to Arizona right by her side and gargled ‘yes’. Arizona leant in to hear what she was saying and Callie became slightly more audible. “Yes I’ll marry you. Yes, yes.” She said. Fade to white.
A few notes;
Singing beneath the surgical masks was odd and distracting
Christina saved the day by suggesting a risky procedure she learnt under Dr. Burke. Teddy disagreed too risky (what I don’t buy is that any surgery is TOO risky for Seattle Grace. During surgery, when Teddy’s plan wasn’t working, Owen elected to use Burkestina’s plan, which pissed off Teddy. I can’t tell if when she told Christina “I cant teach you” – she was being spiteful or honest. I think spiteful.
I actually thought Chambers (Karev) should have sang more – he was pretty good for one of those less featured.
I loved how Addison sidelined Lucy Fields the moment she got there; Fields is leaving soon as her portrayer Rachael Taylor is one of Charlie’s Angels.
I hated how Addison was brought in special for the musical episode only to not sing a single note. What a waste.
Christina, Derek, Jackson and the Chief didn’t sing. At all I think.
The biggest problem for me was the tone of the episode. The musical concept might have worked better if the episode had been a lighter one. Instead the musical numbers distracted and took away from the drama. Still they tried. And as a one-shot, never again concept I can look back and reminisce fondly at an experiment. Even with a completely misguided tone Grey’s was ambitious and still managed to have some fun. Not a total waste, but could have been a lot better concieved.
Episode Grade: B-