Krista Vernoff on "No Good at Saying Sorry (One More Chance)"...
Original Airdate: 4-30-09
Hi. It’s Krista. I’m saying, It’s Krista because it’s been a loooooong time since you’ve heard from me. The last time I wrote you was the second episode of the season, and now here we are, three to the end. Crazy, that’s what that is. It’s not that I don’t love you, really. It’s just that we have this staggeringly good staff now who write really, really good TV. I love this staff because they make my life and my job so much easier. Also, because they make me laugh really hard every single day. It makes me happy to have a life where people are nice and kind and funny and smart and no one is getting drunk and screaming and throwing things at my head. My life was not always this good.
Which is why I love the episode you just saw, why I’m so, so proud of it.
What I just got to say to everyone watching was, “Advocate for the children in your life.” I didn’t start out with that agenda. I started out with the theme of Making Amends – can’t remember who pitched it, but I loved it. It started out with an idea about Thatcher finally getting sober and coming to make his amends. But then one of the brilliant writers pitched this story he’d read about a kid who emptied a gun into his Dad. And the episode started to take shape. And it turned into an opportunity for me to say to millions of viewers, “Advocate for the children in your life.” And that makes me really, deeply happy. Because I was a kid who could have used an advocate. And I don’t wanna get all over-sharey and uncomfortable and make you feel like you have to avert your eyes cause you came here for some bantery writer blather and ended up in an unshot episode of In Treatment, so that’s all I’m gonna say. I was a kid who could’ve used an advocate. And as an adult, I have never understood when other adults stand idly by, looking away and making excuses while people hurt children.
I LOVE what Richard says to Meredith. I wrote it, so, y’know, I should love it – but I don’t always love everything I write – and man, do I LOVE that scene. I sat on set while the brilliant Tom Verica shot that scene and while the luminous Ellen Pompeo and the wonderful Jim Pickens acted it. And I cried. Every take. I just sat there crying take after take after take. I cried for Meredith, mostly, because finally, FINALLY one of the adults in her life is taking responsibility for what happened to her. Finally, she’s hearing the words that she needed and didn’t even know she needed. People have tried to apologize before. Thatcher has tried. Richard has even tried. And it’s not that Meredith is hard-hearted. It’s not that she can’t forgive. It’s just that no one ever got it right before. She was just a baby. She was a little kid. She couldn’t stand up for herself. And here were all these adults running around acting like children and failing, every day, to fight for her. She was neglected and she was abused. Her mother, for those who may have forgotten, attempted suicide IN FRONT OF HER. This was an emotionally unstable woman, Ellis Grey. Richard saw that – and he did nothing. And Thatcher, her freaking FATHER, who not only saw it, he lived it WITH HER, did less than nothing. To make an amends is not just to apologize. It’s to make a thing right. And Thatcher’s little scripted apology can’t do that for Meredith. It can’t make it right. Her pain runs too deep. Her abandonment was too complete. And so when Richard finally truly takes responsibility? It breaks down a wall in Meredith’s heart that I truly believe she didn’t even know was there. I think she’s as shocked by her tears as anyone. And I think there is real and profound healing in that moment.
Almost as much as I love what Richard says to Meredith, I love what Meredith says to the mother of poor little Maddy, who emptied a 17 bullet clip into her abusive father. (And yes, by the way, there are 17 bullet clips. And no, 6 year old Maddy would not have been arrested and taken away from her Mom. We called the Seattle Police and asked. ) I know that what Meredith says and does is controversial, and I meant it to be. I know that there are syndromes that abuse victims go through, and that perspectives get wholly skewed. And I think Richard is absolutely right to order Meredith to stay away from that family. And I think Meredith is absolutely right – and powerful and awesome – to ignore that order. And maybe it’s just my fantasy that an over-stepping doctor could prompt a woman that damaged to finally do the right thing and take a stand to protect herself and her child. But if it’s a fantasy, it’s one I’m proud to put on TV.
There’s a lot more I could say about this episode, but I did the podcast this week, so I’m kinda sick of hearing myself talk about it. So instead, I’d just like to say, once more, with feeling, please advocate for the children in your life. With love, Krista