I am going to tell you something about myself that you probably already suspect. Which is…I don’t know any serial killers. None. Not a one. I grew up in a small university town in Connecticut and our crimes ran more towards shoplifting, speeding and disturbing the peace. No William Dunn types hanging out at the local Friendly’s ice cream parlor or exchanging warm hello’s at the Coventry Farmers’ Market. My brushes with any kind of criminal element pretty much extended to what my younger brother, Dave, was up to that day. Be it shooting out a neighbor’s window with a BB gun or throwing a snowball at the high school principal – the principal for God’s sake! – Dave was the closest thing to an actual criminal that I knew. (Of course, to this day my brother denies shooting out the window with a BB gun. But then, that’s what criminals do, right? They deny.)
Anyway, you get the idea. Bucolic small town, God-fearing folks, blah blah blah. Except that now I’m going to tell you something that you don’t know about me. Which is that even though I don’t know any serial killers, I do know a killer. That’s right. Someone who murdered another human being. The murderer was someone I grew up with. He was in my grade. We went to middle school and high school together. We even went to college together. I even had the occasional beer with him in college. And now he’s sitting in a Texas prison for murdering his wife. To be more precise, for poisoning his wife with arsenic. Which, from all the accounts I read, was a pretty horrible way to go. And guess what? He really was one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.
My point being that even though I know a charming, well-mannered murderer, when Shonda floated the idea that we do our own version of a charming serial killer – someone that we couldn’t help but like -- I wasn’t that on board with the idea. After all, a killer’s a killer, right? No amount of charm or politeness can mitigate THAT. But then we got Eric Stoltz and I started to see the light. Not all the light, but some of it. Eric’s a great actor and very charming. But myself and others in the writers room still weren’t convinced. We argued back and forth about what kind of killer we should have. Because if Meredith is going to have compassion for him, shouldn’t he at least be a guy who killed for a reason? To defend himself? Or to put some poor soul out of their misery? Does he have to be someone who just killed people for no good reason? And Shonda said he DID have to be someone who killed people for no good reason. But, we countered, wouldn’t that reflect poorly on Meredith? Being best buds with an utterly irredeemable serial killer?? No it wouldn’t, insisted Shonda. Compassion is compassion. And as Jenna Bans pointed out in her wonderful episode last week – it’s a lot easier to have compassion for a sick person than for a serial killer. Well, as you saw at the end of the episode last night, Shonda was right. As horrible a human being as he was, when it came down to it, when William Dunn walked into that death chamber and looked at Meredith (and looked and looked) I really didn’t want him to be killed. And I’m someone who’s not completely against the death penalty. (I go back and forth. On the one hand feeling that if you deprive someone of their life, shouldn’t you be deprived of yours? While on the other hand, not being terribly happy about the fact that sometimes they execute the wrong guy).
The first and most obvious relationship that needs commenting on is Cristina and Meredith’s. Yes folks, the rift is finally over. And it ended the way most rifts end. Not with profound apologies on either side but with the sense that this argument has just gone on too long, that life’s too short to prolong the misery. How many great friends do you get in your life? Like real soul mate friends? And do you want to lose that soul mate friend over something that, a month later, now seems trivial? Meredith and Cristina are a couple of strong personalities. I don’t know that we could ever have gotten them to offer up mutual apologies – with both of them shouldering a measure of the blame -- and actually believe it as an audience. And Derek pretty much spoke for the viewers when he said isn’t it about time to wrap up the fighting -- that Meredith and Cristina need each other. If only to freak out to each other when something really big happens. In this case, a possible proposal. And even though it looked like Derek might be so put off by Meredith’s charitable behavior towards William that he would never propose, we got the nice, lump in the throat, surprise at the end of the episode when Derek shows up outside the prison. A nice surprise because a couple of seasons ago, he might have been so disgusted with her behavior that he might not have shown up. I think that gestures shows that their relationship is really maturing. That’s what happens in relationships. If you want to keep it going, you forgive things that bother the crap out of you. If you DON’T want to keep it going, you dump the person. Or divorce them. You should not, under any circumstances, poison them with arsenic. That is bad.
There are two other relationships that I want to comment on. First, Mark and Lexie. A couple that I grow more and more fond of every week. I loved that the humor of him breaking his penis – it really does happen, people, you can look it up – becomes something very moving at the end, when Lexie ignores his request to get out of his room and, instead, crawls into bed with him. Mark has never been in such pain and she’s going to be there for him, whether he wants it or not. On paper their relationship looks like it can’t possibly work. He’s an attending and a man whore. She’s an intern and all sweetness and light. But time and again we’ve shown that Lexie’s also a lot stronger than she looks. If she wants something, she’ll eventually figure out a way to get it. In this case, that something is Mark. At this point we’re not sure where this relationship is going but I promise you that this is one of those story lines that we, the writers, really want to get right. We’re enjoying it too much not to.
And finally, we get to Izzie and Denny. Now here’s a story line a lot of folks have had a strong opinion about. Starting with Denny coming back (WHAT?), Izzie finally breaking the ice and talking to him(REALLY? REALLY??), Izzie having long conversations with him (NO WAY!), Izzie having imaginary, albeit spectacular, sex with him (OKAY, THIS CHICK IS CRAZY), and Izzie pulling a sort of modern day “Jules and Jim”, balancing the two men in her life (REALLY, HONESTLY, SHE NEEDS TO BE COMMITTED). Anyway, I’d say that since we started the story line, opinions have run two to one against the whole thing. Or at least they were before this episode. Maybe now some of you doubters will be swayed. I’m not saying EVERYONE will be on board, just maybe a few of you. We didn’t bring back Jeffrey Dean Morgan just because he’s a super looking guy who can act the hell out of stuff, we brought him back for a reason. Izzie is sick. We don’t know how bad it is or whether Denny is some sort of hallucination or weird manifestation of her sickness, but now at least the thing’s on her radar. Now she can do something about it. So stick with us. It’s going to be a fun ride. After all, if I was able to come around on the whole charming, serial killer thing, you guys might just come around on this.