“Sanctuary” is the 23rd episode of the sixth season of the American medical drama Grey’s Anatomy, and the 125th episode overall. Written by Shonda Rhimes, the creator of the show, and directed by Stephen Cragg, it premiered on ABC on May 20, 2010, as the first part of the two-hour season finale. “Death and All His Friends” is the twenty-fourth and final episode of the sixth season of the American television medical drama Grey’s Anatomy, and the show’s 126th episode overall. It premiered on May 20, 2010. Written byShonda Rhimes and directed by Rob Corn. (taken from WikiPedia)
I don’t know what finale I was watching that was on at the same time as this one. I think it’s a testament to the power of this two-part season finale that I don’t remember. I’ve never watched an episode of Grey’s before or since viewing this episode. I just watched it on a whim when flipping in between commercials.
I recently (right before writing this post) re-watched the episode on Netflix. When I refer to episode I mean both parts of the finale. I wanted to see if it was just as powerful now as when I had originally viewed it. Spoiler Alert: It was.
The basic synopsis of the episode is that a man has entered the hospital with a gun, looking for the Chief of Surgery (pictured above). He wants to kill him because his wife died here (they allude to it throughout the episode. From what I can gather she was on life support and they decided to take her off of it. This man is exacting revenge because of that). He is brushed off by a lot of doctors when he asks where to find the chief and eventually gets frustrated and kills one of the young doctors.
I don’t watch the show, so I didn’t really feel the impact of this character’s death until one of her friends discovers her later on and has a breakdown. The shooter also shoots one of the other doctors who walks in and keeps searching for Chief. Said doctor crawls to an elevator and is eventually found.
The shooter makes his way to one of the floors where two surgeons are conversing with Mandy Moore (she guest starred on this episode). The doctors hide and Mandy “plays dead.” The shooter finds one of the doctors and asks him if he is a surgeon. He says yes and gets shot. The other doctor is then discovered and the same question is asked. She lies and says that she’s just a nurse. He lets her live and she and Mandy Moore get to work trying to save the other doctor. He grabs the other doctor and says, “Don’t lie to me. If I’m going to die you tell me. Promise me you’ll tell me.” They continue to try and save him.
Meanwhile, the shooter begins walking upstairs and is stopped. He turns, kills a nurse, and keeps walking. This is when two other doctors discover the one that crawled into the elevator. They take him to a conference room and save him, though it’s a close one and one of the doctors is almost killed.
The Chief is eventually found by the shooter and is shot. His wife and another doctor see this happen as well as the shocked friend from earlier. His wife and the others get him to an operating room and eventually save him.
This brings me to the scene that absolutely makes the episode for me. The doctor from before and Mandy Moore drag the shot doctor to the elevator to get him to the O.R. only to discover…
That scene is one of the best written, acted, and directed scenes that I’ve ever watched in my life. I had waterfalls at that moment and I’ve never seen the show before. This is why I think the writers/directors/actors of this show are brilliant. In an hour and 26 minutes they made me care about these people to the point of tears. That’s incredibly rare for a show to be able to do that. I don’t know if I’ll watch more of the show, or just keep my fond memories of this one, but this episode is an achievement. This episode is a benchmark for others. I can name on one hand the amount of television finales that made me cry when I was invested in the show. This one achieved all that on one viewing.
Kudos to you Grey’s Anatomy. For a least a little over an hour, you reached perfection.