The End of the Beginning...
Original Airdate: 5-22-08
So that was Season Four.
Right after we finished filming the finale of Season Three, I sat down with the Grey’s writing staff and I pitched them the last scene of Season Four. That’s how I do it. I start at the end. When Season Two concluded, I pitched the image of Cristina tearing off her wedding dress and crying in Meredith’s arms. For this season, I knew immediately that I wanted more hope. I knew I personally NEEDED more hope. So I pitched Meredith standing on Derek’s land in a field of candles telling Derek where the living room could be, where the kitchen could be, where the kids could play. Because I wanted them together. I hated them being apart. It made me sad. It made me sad in a way that was bad for me and for everyone around me.
But I also knew that, in order for Meredith to stand in that field of candles, she had to get there. Inside. Now I’m not an oogey inside person. I don’t do warm and fuzzy and I certainly don’t believe in therapy. For other people, it’s fine (yay, therapy!). For me, not so much. I write – that’s how I deal with my insides. And Meredith, she performs surgery – that’s how she deals with hers.
But in order to get her to a place where she could stand in that field of candles, Mer needed a little help. Professional help. Which shocked my writers. Cause they know how I feel about therapy. But I knew something they did not. Something I’d been keeping to myself for four seasons. Which was the fact that Meredith sat on the kitchen floor in a pool of her mother’s blood after her mother attempted suicide. See what I mean about me not being warm and fuzzy? Nothing warm and fuzzy about pools of blood. Which is why I kept that detail to myself. When you say things like that in a writers’ room, people tend to look at you funny. People tend to suggest that YOU need therapy. So I kept it to myself. For four long seasons. I didn’t even tell Debora Cahn, the writer of the episode in which Meredith CONFESSES her mother’s suicide to Dr. Wyatt. Not until the last possible second.
We’d have these discussions about Deb Cahn’s episode in the writers’ room where everyone would ask “Shonda, what is Meredith going to TELL Dr. Wyatt in this last scene? WHAT?” And I’d be all, “I don’t know. Stop talking about it.” And they’d sigh and shoot each other these looks. They love me but still, there were looks.
I’d like to point out that it is RUDE not to tell details like that to your writing staff. It is cold and withholding, to use therapy-speak. But I just couldn’t do it. Because of two things: one, while I had pitched Meredith all whole and healed in a field of candles, I wasn’t sure I could get to a place where I BELIEVED that Meredith would ever go to the field. And two, I love Ellis Grey. Love her. Even though she is dead. I think she is fantastic. And I couldn’t figure out, couldn’t fathom, what a mother says to her child when she is bleeding to death on the kitchen floor from self-inflicted wounds. For a long time, I felt like anything she would have said to a five year old kid in that moment would make her a monster. Because I have a five year old kid. And I can’t imagine doing something so horrible and damaging to her. What do you say to your child at a time like that? Why is your child even there? How do you redeem yourself in that horrifying moment?
And then I realized: be extraordinary. Be an extraordinary woman, Meredith. If you’ll remember, in Season Three when Ellis was lucid, she tells Meredith, “I raised you to be an extraordinary woman, Meredith and imagine my disappointment at realizing you are no more than ordinary.” That’s what she says in the episode RIGHT BEFORE Meredith falls in the water and chooses to stop swimming. To let herself go. That was Meredith’s own pool of blood.
So suddenly, I had my answer. Ellis would lie there in her blood and tell Meredith to be an extraordinary woman. To not depend on anyone. And she wouldn’t be talking about surgery. But Meredith, at five years old, could not possibly know that. And she’d become the surgeon in training who screws boys like a whore on tequila and then tries to drown herself. Instead of realizing what Ellis actually meant -- don’t have ordinary love. Have extraordinary love. And that made it all possible. It made it possible for Mer to stand in a field of candles because once she realizes that, her whole world opens up. She can just stand there in her joy.
But like I said, I don’t do warm and fuzzy. So that last scene, it was hard for me. To let her be oogey on the inside. So instead, Meredith is screaming and pacing and cursing like a fishwife. Because that’s how we do things at Grey’s. She’s going to love Derek and be with Derek but she’s going to go in kicking and screaming. And then I really didn’t want to just end with the two of them kissing. Everyone said, “end with the kiss, end with the kiss, end with THE KISS.” And I was all stubborn about it. Because this episode, it’s not about the kiss. It’s about the moment AFTER the kiss. It’s about the moment when she’s standing in the field of candles alone having just DONE the thing she was most scared of doing. She is free. She is free. And you’ll notice, there’s no voice over there, no Meredith telling us anything. Because, for once, my girl Meredith is speechless.
There were other kisses in the episode. Maybe you noticed? Callie and Erica. Callie and Erica!! My god, did we discuss this a lot around here. Because Callie kisses a girl. We had this really cool meeting with GLAAD where we talked about the idea that a woman could decide she had feelings for another woman after being perfectly happy with men and we all got joyous because the chemistry between Callie and Erica and Mark is hot and interesting and fresh and like nothing any of us had seen on TV before. And we wanted it to be real – not some stunt to get people talking. We wanted to see what would happen if a woman suddenly had feelings for another woman. Because that has got to be surprising. And it is for Callie who so likes men. Who so likes sleeping with men. You’ll be very surprised when you find out where this story is heading next season. Because we don’t do things the easy way. And none of this will be easy. Not for Callie. Not for Erica. And not for Mark Sloan…
How much do I love Mark Sloan? He’s a dirty pretty manwhore who ends up being a hero. And I love him for it. Not that he’s going to become a good guy. He’s no white hat. But for one moment, he did what he thought was the right thing. Because if there’s one thing he understands, it’s getting turned on by someone. And who is he to deny that?
Okay, there is more to say. I have more to say. About George and Lexie. About Alex and Ava/Rebecca and Izzie. About Bailey. About the Chief. About Rose. And about Cristina. Oh, do I have more to say.
But my fingers are tired. From writing all the kissing. So I’m going to end this now and post it. But I will write more tomorrow. I’ll finish what I started. But right now, I’ve got to head into the writers’ room and pitch them the end of Season Five…
Thank you so much for watching the show. Every single time you watch an episode, we are grateful. You are all extraordinary.