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.