How to best describe the “Grey’s Anatomy” musical episode, or as ABC has requested it be called, The Music Event? Well, this week, the nation was captivated by the disappearance of a cobra from the Bronx Zoo. The missing snake spawned its own Twitter feed, thousands of Facebook status updates, and numerous articles. Thursday, it turned out that the snake never left the zoo’s reptile house. It was just hiding in the corner. In its honor, I am coining a new phrase. The “Grey’s” musical found the cobra. It was not bad enough to jump the shark but it was disappointing, anti-climactic and just plain bizarre.
The episode began where the previous episode ended, with Callie (Sara Ramirez) and Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) getting in a horrific car accident after Arizona proposed to Callie. The make-up artists set their guns to carnage, as they realistically depicted how bloody a pregnant woman would be after going through a windshield face first at fifty miles an hour. Everyone at Seattle Grace came together to help Callie. Mark (Eric Dane), the baby’s father, insisted on being part of the team, even though the chief warned him he was too close to the situation. So far, so good. Then, when Callie was brought in on a gurney, she murmured something about hearing music, then began hallucinating that a healthy version of herself started singing Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars.” She sounded great. Sara Ramirez won a Tony for a reason. The rest of the doctors soon joined her, with Ramirez’s fellow musical theater star Chandra Wilson showcasing her considerable abilities and Kevin McKidd revealing a sexy rock star voice. Everyone else was, at best, not bad. The conceit worked. It was clearly Callie’s damaged brain imagining that everyone was singing, not actual singing doctors.
Then the episode promptly violated the rules it has just set up. When Lexie (Chyler Leigh) left the operating room, she continued singing while she had a conversation with Mark. Was Callie imagining that for some inexplicable reason? Addison flew in to consult on the case, then proceeded to have about three lines of dialogue and no interaction with any character but Callie, making her presence seem like another hallucination.Throughout the episode, characters continued to sing when Callie was not present, blurring the lines between fantasy and reality and undercutting the entire episode’s premise.
Watch The Cast Perform “Running On Sunshine”:
Meanwhile, the medical storyline was compelling and poignant. The lives of both Callie and her unborn child were in jeopardy. Mark and Arizona sparred over whether they should make saving Callie’s or the baby’s life the number one priority, with Mark surprisingly arguing that Callie’s life was more important, while Arizona favored saving the baby at all costs. Christina came up with a plan to save them both that Teddy rejected, but ultimately Owen allowed Christina to perform it during the surgery. The tiny, creepy looking doll that is probably an accurate representation of a 1 pound, 1 ounce baby was saved. So was Callie. Teddy was so bent out of shape that she told Christina she wouldn’t teach her anymore. Way to be happy that your coworker’s baby was saved, Teddy. This was powerful, tearjerking material that kept getting interrupted by musical numbers.
Callie inexplicably imagined all of her co-workers flirting and having sex to the tune of Jesus Jackson’s “Running on Sunshine.” Granted, by now she has probably walked in on every character in the throes of passion, but why on earth would she fantasize about other people’s love lives when she was dying? It seemed like a montage for the sake of having a montage. It’s tone was a jarring mismatch to the rest of the episode.
The song arrangements themselves were just straight covers of the original songs that appeared on the “Grey’s” soundtrack. They were not innovative reimaginings like the best “Glee” numbers. On the positive side, they also lacked the blatant auto-tuning. It was apparent which cast members could not, or did not want to, sing: Sandra Oh and Patrick Dempsey stuck to talking. The show did save the best for last, with Callie belting out Brandi Carlisle’s “The Story” like she was in the finals of “American Idol.” Callie sang so loud that she woke herself up and accepted Arizona’s marriage proposal. It was sweet and wonderful — and hopefully they will live happily ever after with their tiny baby that would realistically have a lifetime of major mental and physical disabilities from being born so prematurely. It would have been a great episode if it weren’t for all that distracting singing.