A sin­gle Cristina will be more . . . en­gag­ing

Los Angeles Times - - Calendar - By Mary McNa­mara

So are they fir­ing Isa­iah Wash­ing­ton or what? No doubt, the fi­nal scene of the sea­son finale of “Grey’s Anatomy” left many view­ers won­der­ing if the tears Cristina was cry­ing af­ter be­ing ditched at the al­tar were of heart­break or re­lief, but some of us were more curious if her an­guished “He’s gone” re­ferred to Burke, her for­mer fi­ancé, or the man who plays him.

Wash­ing­ton, of course, was the cen­ter of a scan­dal ear­lier this year af­ter he re­ferred to cast mem­ber T.R. Knight, not once but twice, by a ho­mo­pho­bic ep­i­thet. Since then, ru­mors have flown over whether he would be al­lowed to re­main on a show that prides it­self on love and tol­er­ance and di­ver­sity.

Thurs­day night’s sea­son finale cer­tainly left that, and a few other things, pretty much hang­ing. Or not hang­ing, as the case may be.

In a way, the finale re­turned the block­buster drama to its start­ing point. Burke and Cristina are def­i­nitely not mar­ried, and Cristina, mer­ci­fully, is again her ob­ses­sively am­bi­tious and most ad­mirable self. Af­ter weeks of con­sid­er­a­tion, the chief may have of­fered his po­si­tion to Derek, but in the end he re­mained the chief. Meredith and Derek are back at square one with him be­ing gleam­ing and open — “You are the love of my life,” he tells her — and her be­ing skit­tish and closed — “I have to go,” is her re­ply. Karev again is too late in re­al­iz­ing that if you like a girl, you should treat her nice and tell her so (first it was Izzie, then Ad­di­son, now for­mer Jane Doe pa­tient Ava/Re­becca).

The only per­son truly up in the air is Ge­orge, who ap­par­ently flunked his in­tern exam and now must choose not only be­tween Cal­lie and Izzie but also be­tween quit­ting medicine and re­peat­ing his in­tern year. (In the most tan­ta­liz­ing de­vel­op­ment, an­other “Grey” girl — Meredith’s step-sis­ter — shows up at the tail end as one of the new in­terns.)

As a sea­son closer it was rather un­sat­is­fy­ing, like hav­ing the “Lost” guys peer­ing down an­other hatch. If you were look­ing for a church vestibule show­down be­tween Cal­lie and Izzie, you were sorely dis­ap­pointed.

But then wed­ding episodes are al­ways so hard to pull off on TV — too much act­ing within act­ing, and wed­ding dresses just don’t film well for some rea­son. As a wed­ding episode, Thurs­day’s “Grey’s” was fairly il­lu­mi­nat­ing, re­mind­ing us (and any as­pir­ing TV writ­ers in the au­di­ence) that mar­riage, in dra­matic terms any­way, is sim­ply a dead-end propo­si­tion. Ev­ery­one from Jane Austen to Can­dace Bush­nell knows this, which is why so many nov­els, plays and movies end up in tulle and lace, em­pha­sis on “end.”

In TV drama terms, two peo­ple swear­ing de­vo­tion shuts down many more op­tions than it cre­ates — the ac­tual in­ner work­ings of the in­sti­tu­tion are far too sub­tle and nu­anced (read: bor­ing) to hold up as a prime-time plot line along­side the frisky do­ings of sin­gle­tons; writ­ers re­ally can’t go any­where with mar­riage but kids and adul­tery. Wit­ness the Cal­lie-Ge­orgeIzzie tri­an­gle. And that mar­riage was what? Six days old?

So you ei­ther have to base the show on the union, like “Mad About You” or “thir­tysome­thing,” or keep the whole nup­tial thing to a min­i­mum. Di­vorced spouses are OK; ac­tu­ally, di­vorced spouses are great, be­cause they have all kinds of po­ten­tial — ob­jec­tion­able part­ners, ir­ri­tat­ing de­mands, babysit­ting op­tions. But hap­pily mar­ried? Yawn.

So Cristina should con­sider her­self well out of it. She will not be forced to dis­ap­pear like her eye­brows (how great is San­dra Oh for al­low­ing her­self to be seen by mil­lions sans eye­brows?) into mar­ried bliss and “be­ing a Burke.” The avid viewer heaved a sigh of re­lief be­cause, even if Wash­ing­ton has en­tered anger man­age­ment/ho­mo­pho­bia re­cov­ery, Burke is still an ar­ro­gant jerk.

And Cristina isn’t.

mary.mcna­mara@la­times.com

Scott Garfield ABC

STILL ALONE: Cristina (San­dra Oh) didn’t get mar­ried, but will her groom (Isa­iah Wash­ing­ton) re­turn?

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