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  1. Seems budgetary. The original cast is untouchable and McKidd -- one of Shondaland's most prolific directors -- now serves a double purpose. I guess it must be coincidence that they're cutting the next two longest running (and therefore most expensive) cast members: Capshaw and Drew (the latter of whom was probably started at a higher rate than the equally long-lasting Williams).
  2. Given the size of the ensemble, this series will never not have a few characters, arcs, and couplings that don't work, no matter who's running the show. However, a decent script, like tonight's, can mitigate the episodic suckage. On another note, a two-month winter hiatus is, once again, a lot to ask of the audience; I'm never as invested in January as I am in November.
  3. The episode's explained nostalgia was predicated on a fairly big narrative leap -- that we also were supposed to find the patients reminiscent of George, Izzie, and Cristina. I knew what to expect here, adjusted my expectations accordingly (a.k.a. lowered them), but still couldn't quite get there. The rest of the script, though, was fairly capable and its many moments of self-indulgence were more joyful than congratulatory, and I thought the gratuitous allusions worked (but perhaps that's because we were all in on the gimmick in advance; I'd cringe if this was tried -- to this degree -- o
  4. The show's least defined characters, in general, are its men. This was an episode, like several before it, that made this unfortunate point quite clear. However, the entire thing wasn't a wash; the narratives inched forward at a logical pace and several key players, including Meredith, had moments of great character-based truth.
  5. This labored deviation from the Grey's template naturally rejected too much of the series' premise (and its particulars) to be considered one of the show's quality hours. In the bigger narrative picture, however, it fulfilled several clear goals, and the story developments offered therein indicated a decision-making process far more logical than we've long been allowed to expect. Glad it's in the past tense; hope I'm justified in believing that it prognosticates smarter, better stuff ahead.
  6. Anticipated narrative contrivance is often salved by a dose of comedic, genuine self-awareness. This script was filled with prime examples.
  7. I ROARED with laughter when Germann's character revealed Amelia had the tumor affecting her judgment for TEN years: covering the entire duration of her existence in Shondaland. Finally, an explanation! (Do Owen, Catherine, and Maggie have it, too?) Much more to enjoy here than not. Good work, 14-year-old show.
  8. Irrespective of textual quality or narrative direction, this two-hour premiere felt like a real pivot -- tonally and dramatically. More than anything else, the palpable change was exactly what had to happen following the disappointment that most in the fanbase (myself included) felt throughout most of Season 13. I think in the months to come there'll be a lot of pieces celebrating Vernoff's return. She brings history and a more pronounced sense of humor; I do worry about her story choices and the occasionally affected dialogue, but those concerns are certainly not unique to her tenure, so I'll
  9. Also, it's hard to write for characters who are nebulously defined. Pair them in a relationship and you have automatic story beats: first kiss, first romp, first fight, first break-up, first ex-wife appearance, etc. Being relationship-driven is a way to pretend that character is taking precedence in the narrative, even when it's, as usual, all contrived, predictable story.
  10. Hard to care about a perfunctory jeopardy-filled finale when it's centered around the survival of a character whose definition has been fluid, at best.
  11. There was momentum in the narratives courtesy of the abundant plot, but the energy was rather listless for a penultimate installment; the sooner the show can move beyond this poorly plotted and potential squandering season, the better.
  12. The episode was all over the place, and therefore an honest representation of Season 13, which deserves appraisal before the show turns to its inorganic cliffhanger-driven finale to improve the year's reputation (see also: Season Six). This will be known as the season where stories both potential-filled and ill-advised were stymied, undermined, and ruined by plotting. The problem wasn't caused simply by scripts having to work around several maternity leaves; the problem was caused by the show's response to these scheduling demands: self-contained, gimmicky bottle shows that interrupted the act
  13. Whew. That all could have been a lot worse.
  14. Obviously the actress' pregnancy has limited the character's presence in the back half of the season. (I imagine Luddington was shooting ahead while 1317, 1318, and 1319 were in production, so we'll see more of her, but still in a reduced capacity.) However, I think the slow, stretched plotting in the Alex/Jo storyline was an inevitability even before the blessed event. The structure is typical Grey's: conflict established in S12's finale, mostly resolved by mid-S13, with the next big development coming at the end of the year, building upon what was introduced a whole season before. Tread
  15. The series is richer when it fulfills its premise of following and focusing on Meredith's journey. This episode succeeded in that regard. However, the decision to place an entire installment away from the hospital -- inherently a gimmick -- ensures that it's not going to resemble the rest of the series (especially with only two regulars), which means it's not an ideal showing. If it succeeds, it won't be on the show's usual terms. That noted, confining the action to a limited space over a finite period of time requires a more overt exploration of characters and their interactions. Furthermore,
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