From Shonda: It's the end of the episode (as we know it)
Original Airdate: 2-12-06
So Dylan’s dead.
And I have to admit, I’m a teeny bit relieved.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Kyle Chandler. He was great as Dylan. Smart, funny, cute, and very much in charge. I was, in fact, a little bit in love with Dylan. Not as in love as I am with McDreamy or Burke but…you know, there were moments during the filming of the episodes when Dylan would be saying something bossy or helping Mer down the hall, pushing that gurney and being all bomb squad-y, moments that I was thinking, hey, maybe he doesn’t have to explode.
But still I am relieved. Why? Well, I’m glad you asked. Here’s why:
At the end of Act Five, there is a scene. Scene 52. I wrote this scene about fifteen minutes before I had to print out the script and hand it over to production. It reads as follows:
INT. OR CORRIDOR -- CONTINUOUS
Meredith leans her head out. Sees Dylan heading down the hall. She's just about to open her mouth...
...When the ammo explodes. When Dylan explodes. Fire, shattering glass. Meredith is thrown backwards.
Okay, that’s…what? An eighth of a page? A sixteenth of a page? A tiny fraction of the script, right?
The ammo explodes.
I wrote those words and was actually ignorant enough of the horrors to come that I gave it to the production team and then slept the sleep of babies and angels for several nights in a row.
The ammo explodes.
All of the sudden, you find yourself in meetings with real live bomb squad guys and special effects guys and a very tense director and everyone is asking you things like “When you say, bloody rain…you actually want bloody rain or just like, some blood spatter?” And things like “When Dylan explodes, you wanna see chunks of Dylan or do you want like, a Dylan vapor?”
These are thing I don’t want to think about. These are things that make my head hurt. The ammo explodes. Dylan explodes. It’s in the script. I wrote it. I know that. But I don’t want to think about Dylan chunks or bloody rain. I don’t want to think about it at all. I like to write things and have them happen. I like to keep myself in a kind of stalker-ish fog in which I believe my characters aren’t characters but actual people. It’s how I can write them. So when you ask me about Dylan chunks, my brain gets all twisty and shuts down. Because Dylan’s a person, a very real person to me and I love him and it’s not my fault he has to die and besides…yuck.
But I’ve got Rob Corn on my ass.
Rob Corn doesn’t care if I try to kick everyone out of my office when they bring up bloody rain or he doesn’t care if I try to pretend I can’t speak English when someone asks me about bloody chunks. Rob Corn is the producer on our show and it’s his job to make things happen and, if I am stupid enough to write Dylan explodes on a piece of paper, Rob Corn is damn well going to make sure that Dylan explodes. Behind his back, I like to call Rob Corn Bossy McBossy. It doesn’t sound affectionate here but in real life, it’s really sweet and kind. Trust me. Anyway, Bossy McBossy told me that we had to do tests so we could figure out how exactly Dylan explodes.
Tests? Dylan explodes. What’s there to test? HA! I’m clearly an idiot.
They built this model of Dylan’s body and one day I am herded out onto the back lot of the studio at the request of Bossy McBossy Rob Corn. Then I have to stand and watch as 20 or 30 really happy guys (testosterone is a powerful thing) position the model of Dylan just right and explode it into tiny little pieces. Twice. It is very loud. Wow. Dylan explodes. I’m all, “great, thanks, way to go, very manly.” And I turn to flee, prepared to head back to my office, happy that the Dylan explodes part of this is over so I can pay attention to the other stuff, the estrogen stuff, the fun stuff like Bailey and George giving birth and Derek describing that kiss to Meredith…
…But Rob Corn raises an eyebrow and very gently says, “Uh, Shonda?” and I go really still with horror. Because I suddenly start to realize that a) that little test was only the beginning and b) that, for the rest of my life, I was going to regret ever typing the words Dylan explodes into my computer.
They blew up test dummies. Tall dummies, dusty dummies, dummies with helmets, dummies without helmets. They blew up test dummies filled with fake blood. They blew up pieces of our set. They set off an explosion on the set of our operating rooms. They used stunt girls and stunt guys. Ellen let them pull her through the air. I think there were blue screens and green screens and animated pieces of debris and glass. The genius special effects guys added fire and smoke and things I can’t imagine but things that made it amazing. The sound guys added over 100 layers of sound elements so that, if you have HD and you watch with surround sound speakers, the explosion flies at you and passes you and swirls around you.
The explosion was beautiful. Amazing work and truly impressive. I told everyone so. I can’t believe the amount of talent and energy that come together to make this show happen. But next time I get a Super Bowl and post-Super Bowl time slot, I’m gonna write something different. Something a bit easier. Something less time-consuming and expensive. And without so many bloody chunks.
Dylan puts the ammo down and goes to have a sandwich.
Enough about Dylan, may he rest in peace. I want to tell you about the difference between the first episode titled “It’s the End of the World” and the second episode “(As We Know It)”.
I tried really hard to make the first episode very male and the second episode very female. I wanted them to fit together, like puzzle pieces. So that I could have two episodes about the same thing but that felt very different from one another. The first episode is all amped up energy, all naked girls and screaming and bombs and running down hallways and men saying things like “Get out of my OR.” The second episode is all long pauses. Long pauses and sitting and pushing out babies and kissing in linen closets and lots of discussion about how the hell this is all going to end. The first episode is what happens when danger strikes. The second episode is how we deal with danger when it strikes. The epicenter of this episode is the hallway/gurney scene. It’s the first scene I envisioned at all when thinking of these two episodes. I kept saying, “there needs to be this scene where Meredith and Cristina move down the hall really slowly with the ammo and Dylan and talk about boys.” And everyone kept nodding very politely with tight smiles the way they do when they are sure you have gone off the deep end. But Elizabeth Klaviter (she’s our super smart medical researcher) got on the phone with the bomb squad guys and the doctors and she got them to tell her how this would be possible. How I could get that gurney rolling so Meredith and Cristina could discuss the state of Cristina’s relationship. I needed that discussion which, for me, is really just a big old metaphor for how we deal with the tragedies in life. You’ve got your hand on a bomb but you don’t want to talk about it over and over, you don’t want to face it – so you talk about something else. Most of life is talking about something else. Plus, I found this really cool song by The Greenskeepers that I was dying to use.
George is a big key to this episode. If you pay attention, he’s the one who serves as our witness. Through most of the episode, he wanders around, a bit bewildered. He’s the one who feels the most helpless. And then he has that moment with Hannah where she talks about the nature of cowardice, where she says that to do nothing is to be a coward. And he acts. He helps Bailey through giving birth. In the first episode, he’s fantasizing about what it would be like to see three women in the shower. In the second episode, he sees what three women in a shower is like in reality. Because, guys, women don’t just climb in a shower and start soaping each other up for no reason. Hello!? Life isn’t porn. Life is Meredith, bloody and battered, being gently cleaned off (chunks of Dylan) by her best friends. And so he leaves. Because what he is seeing is too intimate.
The last thing I want to say about this episode has to do with Meredith. Because all she really wants is some kind of reason to live. I’ve heard a lot of talk about Meredith being whiny but the truth is, she’s got a mom with Alzheimer’s, no other family to speak of, and the man she loves is married. She’s pretty freaking lonely, people. She’s got a right to get her whine on. So, when she falters, when she doesn’t want to pull her hand out of Mr. Carlson, it’s partly because she’s got nothing to hang on to. As she says in the first episode, she needs a reason to go on, she needs some hope. Which is why she has to picture Derek to get through it. And at the end, when he shows up at her house (and he shows up just to see for himself that she is alive), she has to ask. She has to ask him about their last kiss because if she’s ever going to get out of that bed again and keep going, she needs a reason. She needs to know there’s someone out there for her. She needs some hope. And Derek (can Patrick Dempsey be any more amazing?) describes that last kiss, the last kiss they had as a happy couple, in such perfect detail that Meredith knows she’ll be okay. Because he wouldn’t remember that kiss so well if he didn’t love her. He couldn’t. It’s her sign.
He loves her. Even if he can’t be with her. Even if he has a wife.
He loves her, people.
I told you, there’s hope.
I can’t promise you anything because, like I said earlier, the characters are alive for me and thus, I can’t make them do anything against their will. But my fingers and toes are crossed for the Mer/Der love…
Once again, thanks for watching the show.