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William Harper on "It's a Long Way Back"...

Original Airdate: 4-28-11

This episode spanned almost three months.  From the time Shonda conceived the Musical Event (and the car crash that set it in motion), we knew we wanted the episode that followed to cover a long period of time, so we could realistically show Callie’s journey from the awful image of her bleeding on the hood of that car, to her triumphant exit from the hospital with her new family.  Also, to let tiny, tiny, tiny Sofia grow to a healthy weight.   So three months it was.   

I was excited and a little daunted.  Episodes that span long periods of time are tricky, it’s harder to sustain suspense across a commercial break, harder to keep track of time, harder to keep momentum going…  On the other hand, a long time span allows you to tell a character’s story in a different way, play characters’ changes more gradually -- you get to watch them grow.  (Especially if you’re watching a fragile little premature baby – micropreemies, they’re called --  grow into a crazy-adorable, healthy 12-week-old.)    And though this episode was about recovery, as Meredith points out, “recovery” is a misnomer.   Instead of “coming back” from a trauma, more often than not, you find it has changed you forever.  

So this episode was about change and growth as much as anything.   And, honestly, after I wrote it and we shot it, as I watched it, what I couldn’t stop thinking about was how much these Seattle Grace doctors  have changed and grown in the seven years we’ve known them.   They’ve come a long, long way.

First of all, Callie.   Doctors do make the worst patients, in my experience, that’s true.  They take shortcuts, they cut time off their recovery, they don’t take the advice – or the meds -- they prescribe for others.  So Callie’s pushing herself too far too fast.  I would expect nothing less from Callie when we first met her.  The Callie who first flirted with George, the bone-busting, badass orthopod of season two, would not have had the time nor the patience for these injuries.  But, the Callie we know now has a different drive to get well.  She’s known love and loss, been married and divorced, acknowledged a whole new part of herself and fought for it to be recognized by her family, and she’s found true love.  She’s grown up.  Responsible.  And she’s a mother now.  She’s not trying to rush her own recovery -- she’s rushing to be there for her little girl.  I maintain she is still and will always be a badass, but now that she has a child, her motivations have changed in ways she’s not even aware of yet.  

The idea of being pregnant and happy one second, then waking up, being told you’d delivered your baby, that she’s clinging to life, and not be able to see, to touch, smell, or talk to that baby for days on end, is an agonizing prospect.  Sara played that desperation beautifully.  Her selflessness fuels everything she does in the episode. 

And Alex.  “Evil Spawn is now Mother Theresa,” Cristina says.  I don’t think he’s all the way there yet, but yeah,  Alex does make maybe the biggest transformation in the episode.  And it’s part of a slow, slow transformation he’s been making over seven seasons.   One thing I always liked about Alex – and I mean as a fan, watching the show -- was how gradually we’ve learned about him over the years.  His history came out in a hint here and a half a line there… until finally, we know his drug addict father, his crazy mother, that there’s a whole litany of crap that made him angry and guarded and… evil.   And that armor has been slowly chipped away at.  Here, his motivation for starting this African Surgery program is vintage Karev:  it’s an act of desperate self-preservation.  Stark doesn’t believe he can do it.  His fellow residents don’t either.  Really, even Alex doesn’t believe he can do it.  Weeks later, when we find him putting the plan together, we know he’s just trying to position himself to become Chief Resident.  It’s only in the final “chapter” of this three-month story that we realize something inside him, something he won’t even admit to himself, is driving him to make this happen for these kids.  Even if it means his own financial ruin.   What Alex has revealed so slowly over all these seasons is that there’s a good guy in there, rising up through a lifetime of brutal crap and getting closer and closer to the surface.  For me, it’s there in that smile on his face as he helps those little kids into off the medical transport at the end.  It’s surprisingly open, fulfilled…happy.  And it’s a long way from the perpetual scowl he wore in season one.

And Meredith.  When I watch the scene where Adele mistakes Mer for her mother,  (And Loretta Devine’s perfectly heartbreaking performance in it) and we see on Meredith’s face as she realizes the damage her mother did to this woman and her marriage, the scene I kept remembering was when Mer found the Chief at Ellis’s nursing home in Season Two.  From that moment she and Richard have shared this uneasy connection – one she has fought so stubbornly against.  Now, she seems ready to put the past behind her and to acknowledge that she is tied to Richard, tied to what happens to him, and Adele as well.  She takes responsibility for her mother, and performs an act of generosity that has the strong possibility of blowing up in her face.  She acts rashly, but she’s always had this impulse.  She’s the girl who sticks her hand in a bomb-filled chest cavity before thinking.  But where she and the Chief are concerned, I think it’s a sign of serious growth. 

When Shonda promotes an assistant to writer, she often says proudly, “Look, the babies are all growing up now.”  Looking at this episode, I realized how much her Seattle babies are growing up, too.  Growing up, taking responsibility, making adult decisions, using their educations.  The interns who struggled to figure out how to tube a patient are now sure-handedly performing surgeries, helping rewrite medical history with clinical trials.  And Shonda raised them right -- no matter how dark and twisty they’re lives have been, they seem to be coming through it.  They’re growing into good people.   Flawed, and rash, maybe…but good. 

And don’t get me wrong, they’re not done growing, not by a long shot.  They’ve still got a lot of choices to make, a lot to learn, for a long while to come.  And especially for the rest of this season:  Callie and Arizona have mentioned wedding bells and you won’t be disappointed.  And as for Meredith, well, rash actions have consequences, no matter what the intentions behind them.   So as we move toward the end of season seven, I hope you like roller coasters.  It’s going to be a wild ride. 

Comments

katya

this show is a joke now. no one cares about callie or teddy. and ruining mer's ethics is a shame and a contrived way to set up a merder issue that could lead to disaster.

a sham. a mockery. this is not greys anatomy. shonda rhimes you have ruined everything i used to like about this show.

consider me done.

Amanda

I thought the episode was terrific. So glad Grey's is back after the break.

I loved everyone's story tonight except for Meredith. I loved Meredith in season 1 and now I loathe her. Connection to Richard or not once again she puts everyone else before Derek. Not even a second of thought that she was wrecking the career he has spent years building. She'd never do that to Cristina, her true love, but she does it to Derek. She hasn't grown at all. She cares only about Meredith and how her actions affect only Meredith.

Anna M

This episode is not a chart-topper for me. Sure, there were some good scenes. Finally the trifecta drama is over and Mark and Arizona seem to bear each other. It will be interesting to see how that plays out, being that the live in separate places, yet Mark wants more than anything to be involved in the baby's life.
I hate Meredith. (Temporarily)
The fall out between her and Derek when (if?) he finds out about her illegal-trial-crushing-stupid-ass-mistake.
Oh, and Mark and Lexie already, PLEASE?
I think the characters were all changed. It's insane (unrealistic, maybe) how many crazy life-altering PTSD provoking traumas occur to the surgeons in this hospital.

All in all, it was okay. I did like the music, however.

Alicia

What Meredith did wasn't anything like putting her hand in the body cavity. That was to save lives. What she did was put her career at risk, her husband's career at risk and the entire trial at risk. It was stupid and reckless and out of character. And than not telling Derek...if they end up breaking up over this after Shonda promised a million times they were together for good, I'm done with this show. I'm standing on the edge as it is.

And as for micro-preemies going home perfectly healthy after 12 weeks? Yeah, that doesn't happen. Maybe in rare cases but to act like that's the norm is insane. It's not.

Also...how in the world is Adele getting that bad that fast? I've had a few family members get Alzheimer's and I have never seen it go that quickly, or heard of it.

This show used to be brilliant and now it's just a mess.

Oh...and why in the world did you need to show Callie's recovery and not Derek's?

I swear, you want Meredith and Derek fans to stop watching.

Kelli

I cried with Callie. I wanted her to get to hold her baby so much. Little Sophia is beautiful. I am really looking forward to Callie, Mark and Arizona raising her next season.

Oh, and thank you so much for having the baby recover in 1 episode. I don't think I could have taken multiple episodes with a sick baby Sohphia. :)

Yay for the wedding next week, can't wait!

Alex Karev and Cristina Yang are both rockstars. Never enough of them on screen.

Thanks for the great episode!

Enforce

Loved the blog! And...there it is! The Grey’s I’ve loved from the beginning. This season started out with a bang and then after 7.11 it kind of went into a lull. The only interesting storyline was the whole Callie/Arizona/Mark drama. Don’t get me wrong, GA is still my favorite show no matter what, but tonight was like that old familiar feeling. Residents breaking the rules and getting into trouble and interacting with each other and ragging on each other. And, how amazing is Cristina? I love her friendship with Callie. Awww, to Bailey being mama hen. Baby Sofia!!! It is so awesome how all the residents and attendings are rallying around this family. I have to admit that I am loving April with her updates and picture-taking. Sarah and Sara have a really, really great dynamic together. Like they are really comfortable with each other and it shows on the screen. I wanted to hate Stark for being so mean to Alex but then he saved baby Sofia and was all nice and understanding with Arizona and well, how can I not love him now? Doris Roberts was GOLD! The woman can bring it! And the banter between her and Alex? Fall off your chair funny! Can I say, Henry please, not the psych guy. Henry and Teddy make such an adorable couple! Love the way Mark is giving Arizona her respect and baby Sofia Robbin Sloan Torres??? You nailed it, nailed, NAILED IT! Can’t wait to see SG invaded with little African kids. I’m loving that story line. Give Alex a chance to shine.
On another note, it’s been four weeks and I still have the Grey’s music event soundtrack playing on a loop everywhere. In the car, on my PC, my MP3….I won’t say do another music event, but you guys should really consider doing something related to music ‘cause you got the talent. And this time, please more Sarah Drew. Her harmonies are amazing. Also, when is Arizona going to get back on her wheelie sneaks? And what happened to Callie’s cartilage research? And for S8, can we please go back to 24 episodes? Hiatuses are evil! And the last item on my Christmas list, please Mr. Harper, write more epis. You really get the spirit of Grey’s.

nyla

Sofia is adorable!
Sara was magnificent (as always), and I love everything Callie/Cristina/Bailey - her friendships with those two are fantastic.
I love that Mark and Arizona are in a good place with eachother.
Alex is the man! So so proud of him.
I get why Mer did what she did, even if it is wrong ... looking forward to the last 3 eps of the season :)

Nicole

So Meredith has grown in her relationship with Richard,but not in her impulsiveness and not in her career? Is that really the message you are sending to us here? Sheesh. Poor Meredith. She was so punished last season in the finale and look, we're back to brutally punishing her again for having such a good heart that she wants to do the right thing for Richard who's more of a father to her than Thatcher, and Richard's sick wife Adele, and still no acknowledgment of growth as a doctor? I'm dreading the punishment of Meredith to come because the GA writers seem to LOVE to "go there" with Mer. What a shame :/

GA

Aah Whatever All I want to know is when is the show's name officially changing to Callie's Anatomy?
And why the hell is Patrick Dempsey still part of this lame excuse of a show, its not like the show needs him anymore is it? Coz if it was you would consider using and making the most out of him when you still can. I say relieve him, let him race and spend more time with family and put us all out of our misery. Although I really really ENJOYED this hiatus like hell, it was SO freaking good for my system, the lull the hush the no fussing over what this show used to be and where you guys have managed to bring it to, it was AWESOME but i didn't realize sub consciously I was waiting for it and hoping against all logic that it brings all good MerDer with it but guess I was just digging my own grave with that hope coz you writers never fail to tell us epi after epi that we are DONE with MerDer

aah whatever the disappointment and heart break has reached to the fifth stage of acceptance, it really doesn't matter anymore.

MORE ALEX

MerDer are beyond booooooooring
Owen sucks
enough Calzona

Kate

Can Meredith please get pregnant? I know that the writers are setting it up so that they are going to adopt a baby, but I really want her to be pregnant. I would be fine with an adoption if halfway through the process Meredith finds out she's pregnant. Then they can have an adopted baby plus a MerDer baby.

And I really hate to say it, but I think Grey's is losing a lot of fans because there are just too many storylines, and the Callie/Mark/Arizona one made some people happy, but it also made some people really angry. I hope the show can reconnect with its viewers before it's too late

sarah

i dont know why you insist on character killing meredith. its like you want people to hate her. its messed up and stupid. so is greys now tho, so big surprise.
way to ruin what used to be the best show on tv.

too bad merder are gonna burn. you've underused and abused them and now we have one season left of EP and PD and its all going to be wasted as much as this season was.

GA

and OF COURSE OF FREAKING COURSE Mer will have consequences. This show CANNOT survive without crapping on Meredith Grey can it?

Hearts get stolen,people perform heart surgeons after surgeries with a shaky hand, people keep operating while bathed in gin, none of those blew up into serious repercussions, BUT if Meredith Grey does something that too for SOMEONE else, she would get bitten in the ass, she might loose her license, her job, her credibility, her husband's career and may even end up loosing her husband. WOW thats real fair right?

I can't believe after a season of NO MerDer the only thing headed our way now is a possible rift, the only thing going for MerDer and their fans was the fact that they are together FOREVER and now even that is not a certainty, breaking up MerDer would be so SO LAME because this whole "are they together are they not" card with them has gone so OLD and after three seasons of SOLID growth its a slap on their faces and their fans. Its instant character regression and loss of THREE whole seasons of growth, we all here were waiting and waiting and waiting and some of us are still WAITING to see them move forward be parents build their house but you are setting them up to regress, seriously? Thats all ALL you can do with them?

I am hoping against hope that you KNOW MerDer since you guys claim so damned much that YOU created them, so I am hoping that you know them and you aught to KNOW that they will and they SO WILL survive this, because no matter how tough the going gets, they get going, they get tougher, they get stronger, hey EMERGE, so please PLEASE instead of regressing them back to s3 make them GROW, remember this is s7 NOT s3

Enforce

"You’re right. You are absolutely right. Cars are not safe for children. Ok, neither are bookcases or squirrels, strong winds, people who sneeze. They’re all going to get your baby. But honey you don’t feel this was because you were in an accident. You feel this way because you are a parent."
Can I add that this was a brilliant, BRILLIANT little monologue...

Ana M.

William,

I saw this episode on a whole 3 minutes. You know why? First, The Office was on and also because I am so exhausted of Callie and her baby. I don't want to see it anymore. I am so, so, disappointed that you and the rest of the writers passed on the golden opportunity that Derek's recovery could have been. You know, with the murdered father. Also, Alex's recovery could have been brilliant. Instead, we get, after a handful overdose of Callie, Callie's recovery. Who has done nothing but whine and become the world's biggest narcissist and make Arizona a doormat and assassinate Mark's character.

I'm tired of this story and tired of Callie. I am not looking forward the following episodes because this is a character I have no interest in watching her grow. I was interested in six, now it's up to three. Callie not included. In fact, won't tune in. Haven't seen anything making me want to.

I also find it comical you use the word 'selflessness' to refer to Callie. Comical I tell you.

The parts I watch were with the three sole reasons I am still watching: Meredith, Derek, and Alex.

Alex - He is too good for SGH. He saved the episode. Don't know why you don't use him.

MerDer - Where to begin. What is up with the insulting trial? There's a reason why it's done double-blind. Also, Meredith jeopardizing the trial is not growth. In fact, it's not her. Growth would be sharing what she did with Derek but no.

I haven't even heard on any episode how the trial is affecting Derek or Meredith. Nothing. I don't have a clue why they are still doing it.

I am hoping that they both get fired and have to move far away, so you can put us all out of our misery. The way that PD & EP (but specially PD) are being misused and treated? They deserve much much better than this.

I apologize for the long ramble but this has become frustrating and not enjoyable anymore.

Kate

Character assassination of Meredith Grey= complete.

so out of character. so undeveloped. such a joke.

dlferriola

Fabulous episode. It was great how the time span was used to show the baby's and Callie progress. The hour just flew by. I am so scared for Mer even though I think she had to do what she did for the Chief, her surrogate dad. She felt responsible for what happened between her Mom and the Chief.The kids from Africa was so touching to see. Great episode, thank you

cha

for a fan like me since season season one, you would be proud to see them grow and fight their dark & twisty past. to learn, face their fears and push their limits. but also they've retained their impulses, their hunger to help, achieve, to make change & to bend rules to help others. its a courageous act for meredith to do that but now im a little worried for her. i smell trouble here. and baby sofia... from before i wouldn't like that baby and from what she's been through i never thought that she will make it. but after seeing her at the end of the episode i really hope that she would really grow up & survive. she's really a bundle of joy. :')

M

This is the first Grey's episode I haven't watched live since the pilot premiered. Not because I wasn't able to, but so I could fast forward through all of the storylines I didn't care about. That left me with a solid seven or eight minutes. I feel like the original cast is being written out to make room for all of the new characters I have no interest in watching. Endless Callie/Mark/Arizona/Teddy/April/Stark scenes? No thanks. I don't care about them, especially the first three, who are quickly ruining the show for me. Last I checked, Grey's was an ensemble cast, not the Callie Hour.

Mike

im confused. i thought meredith was the star of this show? what happened? also, since when is meredith someone willing to bend professional lines and do something that would compromise HER career and dereks? this show is contrived garbage. write a real story why don't you? stop wasting time.

Stephanie

There is nothing that can be done to make everyone happy. Someone is always going to FREAK out over something and swear to never watch the show ever ever again because of some lame reason. Thank goodness I am not one of them. I love this show, and everything about it. I love this blog and getting to see a new perspective! If you really love the show, you are going to stand by it and not complain about EVERY SINGLE THING. Just enjoy it, people! You don't have to love every little detail to still love the show. Loosen up and if you hate it, don't watch it and don't leave your hostile comments around. Thank you Grey's writers, you are amazing!

M.S

1. NO MORE CALLIE PLEASE!
2. More Arizona, Cristina and Alex.
3. NO MORE MARK!

lili

You explained so much for Callie and little about Meredith. You wrote so much for Callie and little for Meredith, HENCE the minimum screen time. I love Grey's because of Meredith Grey right from the pilot and I would like to know all sort of colours painted to her character. I want to see more Meredith Grey!!!! Give Ellen Pompeo more material to work with. Give her some credit for being one of those peope making this damn show AN INSTANT HIT!!! Season 8 should be all dedicated to Meredith Grey! (I am trying very hard not to swear here, I am just so freaking frustrated with the way you writers wrote MerDer's this season!)

Elizabeth

Ok, now the way that the trial is showed makes kind of sense... you needed it to be all wrong so Meredith could cheat on it with Adele!!!
Again: the only people that should know what patient gets what is the FDA! NOT the doctors, why? because that would affect the patient care, without even wanting to, it's subconscious! So, I very much hate all of the trial storyline, because it's absolutely NOT how it works. This has definitely stopped being my favorite show, without a shot at getting back there. I'm not sure how long I'll keep watching, because it's getting kind of boring. Although, not as boring as the musical event, PLEASE don't do that again!

Sam

I hate what you made Meredith do. SO.OUT.OF.CHARACTER!!! Mer is risking her job, Derek's and her marriage!!! More kicks to Meredith that's what you love to do.

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