“Piece of My Heart”
May 1st, 2008
It’s certain: we have missed Addison Montgomery. I never got into Private Practice, a show that I found too preachy and too talkative for its own good (A comment that Addison makes when trying to discern things from glances and eyebrow raises instead of the long-winded speeches of LA). This is a show that, for too long, has been decipherable: these characters have been acting out of character, scrambling around and struggling without really coming out and saying it.
Well, they’re coming out and saying it now: often it only takes one new influence for things to perk up, and Addison Montgomery is that character. It’s a cheap plot device on the surface, sure, but we create a sense of drama that we haven’t seen in a year. Something about her arrival, and the surgeries that surround it, influences our characters across the board. She is the person that they can talk to, someone who won’t be around for the drama and who wants to know how things will change.
The result is some great character turns, some drama being drawn from humanity and not chaos, and an emotionally charged hour of television.
I love Kate Walsh, always have – I actually really dislike what Private Practice has done for her, and her end-of-episode realization that she had to leave is pretty much B.S. Here, however, the new Addison is melded with the old Addison for someone who is too talkative, yes, but whose observational honesty serves these characters well. Unlike for Private Practice, where there is potential for her precociousness to overwhelm my sense of self, here it is both warranted and welcomed. She’s a bit too much of an avatar for the audience’s own reactions, showing Shonda’s true purpose pretty clearly, but I’m willing to accept it if it talks some sense into these people.
Some of her advice is right on, particularly her observations and impact on Izzie and Callie – she is able to shock Izzie into a non-pathetic existence, and Callie into a rather humorous realization that she is dating Dr. Hahn (Which has always been moderately implied, but never fully addressed). These are observations that the audience has felt, but that also reaped benefits to their characterizations. I like the direction their characters are heading, and Addison really pushed them along.
Similarly, her impact on Bailey was heartbreaking: she really doesn’t have anyone to talk to, so Addison’s arrival results in a wonderous scene where Chandra Wilson knocks it out of the park on how she wants to talk about it but also wants to rip her heart out. She is proof positive that so often the drama on the show is under the skin, and that while the hospital is the same on the surface a lot has changed beneath. This is the source of our central episode theme, the fact that so few people wear their hearts on their sleeves like the small baby that serves as our central medical trauma.
However, the rest of Addison’s impacts (Both direct and indirect) were a bit misguided. First off, we have Karev’s experience with the small baby resulting in his desire to spend time with Rebecca, who has returned and claimed to be pregnant. That Izzie discovers the pregnancy to be a fake, a sign of her stalkerish nature, is unfortunate – I really like the work that Elizabeth Reaser has done on the show, and to so clearly label her a nutjob just strikes melodrama too much for my tastes.
And on the other side of the coin is the much too obvious purpose of Addison arriving to try to push Derek and Meredith together. This drama provided multiple fantastic scenes, whether it was her hugging Meredith, her talking about the McRebound with Rose standing beside her passing her instruments, or the final elevator of Derek’s many conquests. However, it also is the most “nail on the head” of any of her commentaries: she is Shonda Rhimes’ way of pushing together these two people, who have been deemed this series’ Luke and Lorelai as the couple that just HAS to get together and stay together eventually.
I don’t think I buy it, and I felt like it distracted from Jason O’Mara’s strong work as the tumour patient; when he died, I didn’t feel for him as much as I felt the show forcing his death into a point of Meredith and Derek shippage, as they couldn’t put away their feelings for this patient just as they can’t do it within their clinical trial. It cheapened what was last week the strongest storyline, and I just don’t want their relationship to be a distraction and not an actual element of the series.
I also think that the series needs to move on with Christina, who despite certainly deserving more attention from Hahn needs to be able to move on and be independent again. She’s entered into this daddy/daughter relationship with her that is almost unhealthy, and while I understand her frustration with Hahn’s arms-length approach I also get Hahn’s frustration with her annoyance. Hahn’s reasoning, that she reminds her of herself, doesn’t make any sense to me: so what? So you don’t want there to be another you, because you’re sad and lonely and containing intense character flaws we aren’t aware of? Considering the fairly blatant discussion of her sexuality, and that comment, I expect we’ll be getting her identity crisis in full view shortly, but I hope that Christina isn’t just collateral damage in the process considering how fantastic Sandra Oh is.
So, on the whole, a definite improvement from last week’s return, and I certainly wish we had Addison back all the time…as long as she’s not pushing Meredith and Derek to the altar superficially.
- There was a storyline with George in there, of him and the interns being chummy and in-jokey while Izzie obsessed over it, but it was kind of all over the place. Still, “You Coded” is a good enough catchphrase, even if I was a little frustrated not being in on the joke…which makes me Izzie. Oh dear god.
- I loved Hahn picking the hair off of Callie’s lips, and her immediate reaction of dirty dancing with Sloane – the look on her face was priceless, and Sara Ramirez did some great comic work this week.
- Also enjoyed: Meredith and Christina’s reaction to Callie’s question of whether anyone ever presumed their a couple. It was something to the tune of: Meredith – “No, because we screw boys like whores on tequila.”; Christina – “And then we either try to marry them or drown ourselves.” It was a fabulous exchange.