In Review: The Grey's Anatomy Fall Finale Is Flush With High Drama

ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy on Thursday at 9/8c will wrap up it fall run with an hour determined to keep you on the edge of your seat through a multi-pronged attack of compelling drama. And it largely succeeds.

As you can imagine, there isn’t much to say or tease, let alone reveal, about the screener I just watched, without spoiling the episode’s two “A” stories. And if you haven’t seen even the promos, you may want to stop reading now.

But if you have caught the promos, the episode is as intense as you may have anticipated. Let’s start with a reminder of ABC’s official synopsis for “Dark Was the Night” (indeed):

* Teddy puts her husband’s life in the hands of her peers when Henry is sent to the OR for surgery and she’s called away on another case
* Meredith and Derek receive the long-awaited news about Zola
* Callie and Jackson come under fire when their patient experiences post-surgery complications
* Meredith and Alex are involved in a life-threatening situation when they travel to a neighboring hospital to tend to a sick newborn

Starting with Mer-Der, the Zola news is delivered early in the hour, leaving the prospective parents to process it as the assorted dramas involving and around them unfold. And the Callie/Jackson crisis serves mainly to inject adrenaline into the Teddy/Henry story, since it is the cleaning up of Avery’s mighty mess that keeps Teddy thoroughly occupied as her husband undergoes surgery.

Turning to Meredith and Alex, you’ve seen the promos: During their ambulance ride from some ill-equipped tiny hospital to Seattle Grace — with a newborn in an incubator in tow, no less — something happens, setting the stage for a few acts’ worth of magnificent tension. Meanwhile, back at SGH, Derek and others are left to wonder how their crisis ultimately nets out.

That leaves the Teddy/Henry story, which is remarkably gripping not only because of our investment in the marrieds involved, but also due to the rather “unusual” circumstances under which Henry’s surgery must be performed.

It’s hard to single out performances in the episode without hinting at what’s ahead. It’s safe to share that Ellen Pompeo is afforded opportunity to cycle through a gamut of emotions, even in quiet as she sympathizes with the hysterical mother whose child she and Alex are to transport. Kevin McKidd does some nice, subtle work as Owen is presented with the tricky task of managing Teddy’s anxiety while keeping watch on the unorthodox goings-on in Henry’s OR.

Lastly, if an Emmy nom can be granted to someone for a 100-percent silent scene of surprise-slash-anguish… well, one of the cast members here is a lock.

Save the Dates! TVLine’s Calendar of Fall Finales and Winter Returns

MOURNING-AFTER UPDATE: By now, you yourselves have seen the fall finale, and I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Sandra Oh obviously delivered the Emmy-caliber reaction scene I alluded to; half the suspense was waiting to see what Cristina‘s reaction would be upon learning who exactly it was that died under her watch. Though the loss was unavoidable, I’m sure she will be second-guessing herself nonetheless. Still, I think they made the right call in putting the best surgeon possible at that table, even under a bit of a ruse. As for other iffy decisions, I was with Owen not telling Teddy about Henry until he started blatantly lying about her husband’s vitals being good; at that point he crossed a line, and she will have every right to take issue with him after the hiatus. (It’s a slightly different thing for him to lie by omission, as he did at the start.) Lastly, regarding Meredith, Alex and the ambulance: The acting work was, of course, solid throughout that storyline — especially as Mer processed the Zola news — but the final scene was, in my opinion, a disappointment. (In fact, I had to ring an ABC pal to confirm what it was exactly that we and Mer were supposed to be responding to. Yes, it was just a random vehicle that had collided with the ambulance beyond the dark, slippery turn — not a rescue vehicle nor a school bus.) Maybe I was raised on too many melodramatic daytime soaps, but I was expecting Alex to open the back door to discover they’re teetering half off the edge of a cliff, and then we fade to black. But I suppose the big (though less literal) cliffhanger here is Teddy’s realization that Henry died, which yes, was plenty sad.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Zach says:

    In the Ask Ausiello for this week he references a blind item about a popular drama killing off a major female character. This article doesn’t make things sound great for Meredith surviving? Could we have missed THAT big of an on screen death/contract negotiation??

  2. BJ says:

    I want them to get Zola, or if they don’t get Zola, find out at the end of the episode that Mer is pregnant again.

  3. Sasha says:

    Solely on the promo – “Lastly, if an Emmy nom can be granted to someone for a 100-percent silent scene of surprise-slash-anguish… well, one of the cast members here is a lock.” … this would be the fantastic Sandra Oh!

  4. Lisa says:

    I am skeptically anxious for this episode.

    Matt, did you see the “surprise cliffhanger coming” or did it totally take you off guard?

  5. Mia says:

    I currently do not care at all about Meredith, Zola, Alex…I just need someone to tell me Henry is going to be fine and remain alive!!!! I love him! Lol. I normally love the other characters, but Henry currently trumps them all.

  6. Kelley says:

    Justin Chambers is SO underrated..he def deserves a nom!

  7. Dee says:

    I’m so confused. What does “fall finale” mean. It’s only the beginning of November. I thought the shows rolled out some of their best stuff during sweeps. Does this mean we won’t be seeing any new GA for a while, and if so, when does it return?

    • Russ says:

      Fall Finale is like the last episode before the show goes on winter break. It will return in Jan/Feb idk exactly when but it will come back cause they still have 13 episodes left in the season.

  8. abc123 says:

    Doesn’t the fall finale air December 1? This is only episode 9.

  9. Captain says:

    Soooo no Mark/Lexie? Damn.

  10. kate says:

    gawd! Tomorrow’s episode scares me, a lot! Shonda, pls dont kill off Henry! Pretty please. Why do you have to create a character so sweet, so adorable, so funny, so good looking, so perfect (minus the vhl) if you’ll just kill him? It will be so hard and so painful to let go of Henry Burton. Seriously!

  11. Lu says:

    Way too much drama in this show for all the characters. It sucks.

  12. Mary says:

    Do November sweeps still exist! This episode definitely qualifies for sweeps month, but I am surprised its the last one since its only November 10.

    • Cinders says:

      That’s because they are going to have a two-hour Private Practice on November 17, which will take up Greys time slot.

  13. Sara says:

    Yeah, what happened to November sweeps? I feel like a lot of shows are going off the air at the beginning of November, so does that mean people no longer care about sweeps? I hate that it’s going off the air already and dangit if they don’t get their baby back. Seriously. I agree about Chambers. So underrated. He hasn’t been able to truly shine sine Heigl left. I wish he had more meat to his scenes.

  14. Carla says:

    Ghaaaaaa, I hate that this is the last episode till January :( Boooo. And also, I can’t wait!!! In the promo, it doesn’t sound like Mere and Derek receive good news about Zola, but I really, really want them to get her back. And also, don’t kill off another cute, very likeable, non-doctor love interest. I’m not as attached this time as I was with Denny, but still. Sara, I agree! Justin Chambers didn’t really get as much as he deserved. His scenes with Katherine Heigl were amazing, and he is such a great actor!

    • amberjj says:

      JC is awesome and def deserves to be recognized!!! Personally, I think he was at his best in season 5, especially with all his scenes with katherine heigl…boy do i miss them together

      • Sarah says:

        Is there any way possible Shonda could bring back Heigl? Like in season 9 or the end of season 8?? I think that would be great!!!

  15. nyla says:

    $5 says the silent surprise/anguish is Cristina Yang

  16. Amy says:

    That was a great review Matt. I’m really looking forward to the episode. I have to admit, I’m really into the Zola adoption SL and so I’m hoping what with the horrible loss of Mer’s a baby in the S6 SL, that Shonda won’t think of taking this away as well. Despite that, will be back after the episode airs to read you wrap up what we just watched on GA.

  17. Sheila says:

    MerDer, old cast is the only thing that interests me… Teddy/Henry so boring who cares?? oO

  18. kevin says:

    If Grey’s return in the new year, my fingers are crossed on whether Rachael Taylor will be back on the show as Dr. Lucy Fields since Charlie’s Angels already been canceled.

  19. Alicia says:

    Poor dead Henry.

  20. frustrated fan says:

    To spread a two part episode two MONTHS apart is quite ridiculous and frankly disrespectful to fans. Salt in the wound is that the following week is a two hour episode of Rhimes’ other show that ABC is trying to prop up.

    • Rebecca says:

      LOL, you must really hate it when shows end the spring season on a cliffhanger and you have to wait until fall to find out what happens. It’s a TV program. If you feel you’ve been “disrespected” because you have to wait a little while to see a new episode, I wonder how you react when something truly disrespectful happens to you. LMAO.

      • Kel says:

        Wow, lots of rage because of a tv break. Shows always break for the holidays. I never take it personally or find it disrespectful but that’s just me. There has to be breaks since most shows have 22-24 episodes that have to last from late Sept. through May.

    • xav says:

      Uh, welcome to every show on television?

    • SPARKY says:

      Frustrated Fan:

      (A) It’s unlikely that this was Rhimes’ decision, more likely ABC (which seems to be trying to slowly kill the show off).

      (B) Get outside more. I promise, it’s OK.

  21. Nishen says:

    Henry must die…as scott’s new pilot episode was picked up for a series…and scott’s the main character so filming for two show will be impossible, that’s y he is gonna die…:(

  22. remember says:

    Umm…….Matt about the silent business….Not a fan of Heigl but she did win an Emmy and I’m thinking it was for a silent scene with George in a supply closet after he remembered their drunken sex. I think TR Knight was nominated for that too.

    Ellen Pompeo delivers each and every week and it’s a shame she’s never even been nominated. She’s very underated. Terrible too that Sandra Oh hasn’t won. Grey’s seems to be off Emmy’s radar since season three ended.

  23. Cassie says:

    If Henry dies I might just be done with this show, honestly.
    I’m confident Meredith and Alex won’t die. Otherwise I would be more worked up about that. It’s Henry I’m truly concerned about.

  24. Nina says:

    couldnt care lett about Meredith for being honest. Never liked her. Interfering. always interfering. But of course she wont die! Are you kidding? She will not die. But however. For me its people like Yang and Bailey who run the sho. Maybe its just a sympathy thing. dont know. I am keen on finding out WHEN FOR GODS SAKE Cristina and my sexy chief will have the conversation. Because I swear: I am not over it yet. I never expected her to do that. The writers may have had the intention to stay true to the character, but I think they just let her seem cold and selfish. And thats NOT Cristina. Selfish a bit maybe. But I did not by this storyline at all. It was Shonda Rhimes who wanted to make clear her political agenda against all odds. And thats just sad. Cristina isnst like that. She is no selfish bitch. No sir.

  25. Mimi says:

    Rhimes other show is private practice. Which also started a week late due to greys two hour premiere.

  26. Tori says:

    Fall finale? That’s a new one for me. Thanks ABC. After tonight I guess I’m going on hiatus from you on Thursday nights until January.

  27. Anna says:

    Actually, I thought that was very true to Crisina’s character. She’s not selfish or cold. But she did NOT want to be a mother, ever. And so she made the choice. It’s not a choice I would have made for myself, and my heart goes out to Owen. But if they had decided to have Cristina keep the baby, that is a storyline I would not have believed. That’s not her character.

  28. JenB says:

    I can’t believe this is the last episode of the fall season!! So we get 2 frakin months of re-runs? And no Christmas/Holiday-themed episode? I am really getting tired of the networks doing this long hiatus thing. It completely takes all of the wind out of the sails for all of the shows…no wonder so many tank after one or two seasons.

  29. Amanda says:

    I don’t think that Alex is the subject of the blind item because Shonda has alluded to having more drama in store for him.

  30. NCSouthernBelle says:

    HUGELY disappointed with the death tonight. I was bawling maybe thirty seconds into the show. I can’t believe we’ve got to wait two dang months before we see how all this plays out. Talk about a cliffhanger!!! And I agree, that silent scene was Emmy-worthy. Simply amazing.

  31. coalways says:

    yes Sandra Oh deserves an Emmy – Amazing scene with KMK. KMK acted his arse off too. His eyes and expressions communicate so much. An incredible acting pairing and even more tv drama pairing.

  32. Egcsi says:

    I hated tonight’s episode. Too much darkness and sad storyline.

  33. Firerose says:

    What an episode!!!! I cried and was on the edge of my seat the whole time!!! I agree with the silent scene what totally Emmy worthy and YES KMK did an awesome job acting. I bet for the actors this was a draining episode to film. Can’t wait til January to see what happens.

    I agree with a previous post about networks doing this hiatus crap. It takes out the “umph” I liked it when shows went from fall to spring….then you had your summer shows. That way you could look forward to fall when they came back. Now you have to guess when shows are coming and going.

  34. Tim says:

    I just watched tonights episode and without giving any spoilers I am still upset. I actually had to get up out of the bed because I was physically ill because of the drama.

  35. Kiki says:

    Overall the episode was good and I may even feel just a tad bad for Teddy, but the idea of having Cristina operate with the patients identity hidden was ridiculous. As if that would ever happen. And Cristina’s attitude before and during the surgery was over the top and just plain unlikeable. I agree about the ending – not much of a cliffhanger.

  36. Annie says:

    I was spoiled about the death via twitter (damn you, twitter), and was still shocked. I really liked Henry, it was nice to have someone from the outside on the cast.

    Really sad about Zola, I was hoping they’d get her (plus she’s so adorable, I want her back). And was definatelly hoping more about the accident, was sorta “soft”.

    They should’ve told Cristina who it was on the table, she’d have taken it more seriously (even though I don’t think she’d have done anything different), and whatever it’s just gonna break her again. I just hope she doesn’t go the rest of the season moping around like last season.

    • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

      Was it a TV website that spoiled the death? I saw a couple of outlets tweet out stories/”vague” headlines that basically spelled it out, sadly.

      • j says:

        The Hollywood Reporter tweeted Teddy won’t handle death like Izzie or something like that and the episode was ruined for me.

      • Ines says:

        For me was on a title of through your website (TVLine). You know the “other news” section on the bottom of the page?

        I came in to TVLine to see Glee’s Adele mashup (still haven’t seen it though because I don’t live in the USA) and when I was scrolling down to see if anyone posted an external link (like youtube) I saw the title and it read: “Grey’s shocker! Derek and Meredith loose Zola! Henry dies!”. It pretty much said everything.
        However I was able to episode, although the shock was gone.

  37. Kaye says:

    I agree with all your “morning after” comments Matt. I enjoyed the episode very much but I didn’t feel like it quite lived up to the hype. I kept waiting for the huge emotional impact that never arrived. The ending didn’t leave me dying for the next episode like so many other Grey’s (and other shows) cliffhanger have. Its obvious the last scene was there to setup Meredith being the hero, even down to her being the one holding the baby while having to treat others. That will of course lead to a reversal of her trustworthy assessment and Zola be given to them.

    The fallout from the Callie and Jackson surgery, where Richard goes with his not being up to date on technique, Cristina’s feelings about what happened – the smaller moments are the ones I want to see the fallout from as they were the more unexpected during the episode.

  38. Danielle says:

    Is it just me or was the scene in the promo for this episode with Cristina shocked and crying holding the cell phone that went dead different than what was shown in the episode? There were different people in the OR. If so, I think Grey’s Anatomy is definitely on its last legs if they have to show fake promos to get people to watch.

    • Sue says:

      I think that’s on ABC promo department editing and slicing and dicing.The promo made it appear that Cris was upset about Meredith when in fact she doesn’t know about her yet. The promo also implied that Meredith told Derek “It’s over. It’s been over for awhile.” In the episode she said that to Alex in the ambulance.

    • Maggie says:

      I was thinking the same thing! Unless it was some seriously choppy editing, it seemed like Cristina was getting a phone call in the scrubbing room (whatever it’s called) and was devastated. Maybe they just went from her face to the close up of the cell after Meredith and Alex got disconnected, then back to Cristina again? Made it seem like Cristina got a bad phone call?? I don’t know – I was wondering what happened to that scene also.

  39. Drea says:

    I thought the episode was fantastic but SO SAD! I can’t believe they didn’t tell Christina who was on the table it’s going to kill her!

    I hope the next episode picks up immediately where this left off, too often Grey’s does a time jump flashback with drama like this and I think it will be more powerful if we live the reactions with the characters.

  40. mm says:

    Matt, thank you for calling your friend at ABC to clarify that final scene. I had no idea what that final vehicle was, either, and was beginning to think I was the only one! I rewound a few times and even then couldn’t tell if it was an ambulance, school bus or other.

    • Maggie says:

      Me too – I rewound it multiple times trying to figure out what the other vehicle was, etc. I came on here to find out! I thought it was the other ambulance possibly … Kind of a lame ending in that regard.

  41. Bec says:

    Does anyone know what caused the ambulance to break down in the first place? I couldn’t make out what the paramedic was saying…

  42. kely says:

    Owen was so annoying in this episode. I hope Cristina makes his life hell

  43. Jacqueline says:

    Thanks Matt for calling ABC cause I was watching the ending asking myself “Was that the doctor from the other hospital with the baby’s mom?” It may sound CRAZY but I kept thinking “Well what if it was them and now the baby’s parents are gone…Mer can adopt her. I was lost at the end. Great episode though!

  44. fa says:

    Thank you for clarifying who had hit them. The way they were acting and the monologue made me think it was their backup ambulance and they were stuck out there with no help enroute. Actually, I think that would have made it a better cliffhanger

  45. greylover says:

    i cant believe that henry is dead!

  46. milena says:

    i hate shonda, because Henry died. it’s so sad…. and it’s hurt :( Poor Teddy. I don’t know why he died, it’s not fair, because they were so nice couple…

  47. Emma says:

    I must be heartless but I feel nothing for Teddy

  48. Grace says:

    Did I miss something? I didn’t think Teddy realized Henry died… I thought she was still going on to Owen about the med school thing when the scene ended…

  49. Sophie says:

    I personally believe this was a WONDERFUL episode. I watched it last night, and it had the best balance of emotion and suspense. If everything was hapily ever after, that would have been boring. Everyone was upset when George died as well, but it added more depth and reality to the show. People die, and not knowing what will happen is why the show has lasted this many seasons, and why we all care when the next episode is!
    I think everyone is being over critical, the show is amazing, and last night’s episode was no exception. Wonderful friction amongst the characters, and no certainty as to what will happen next. This is my favorite show and I have been an avid fan since season one. Private Practice is a different story. I watch every week, but am always legt dissapointed. Not even sure why I still watch, out of loyalty to Shonda Rhymes I suppose.
    I love Grey’s Anatomy though!

  50. GreysFanAtic says:

    Why did they have to kill off Noel!?!

    Gahh I Loved seeing him back on the big screen, he’s such a great actor.

    I thought the ambulance scene was going to be bigger as well but who knows where they will take this story line. I have all the faith in the world with these wonderful writers :-)