This has been a tough review for me to write. The Calzona bubble has burst, and not with a soft pop but with a resounding bang that has shattered the hearts of those that ship Calzona. I have a lot of thoughts on this episode and where I think things might go from here. First, I was wrong. I thought that Arizona would be tempted but not go as far as she has gone. And since I said I would admit I was wrong, I’m doing it here. I was also quite obviously wrong about them being benched storyline wise for the final three episodes. Now, those that follow me on twitter know that I usually tweet like crazy when I watch the ep live. Last night I instead stepped back and watched. And now I’m re-watching and I’m doing it with two views, one as the Calzona shipper and the other as a Grey’s Anatomy fan. Because, believe me, there IS a difference between viewing from a shipper standpoint and an entire show fan standpoint. Now, in fairness, I have read a ton of interviews, blogs, thoughts and tweets. Many of these thoughts I have had myself as well, so any similarities is unintended, and it’s nice to know that I am not alone in these. This one is probably going to be long, and many people aren’t going to agree with me, might even be angry. That’s all good…. all I ask is that when you comment you do it respectfully. You can tell me I’m out of my mind, crazy, insane and just plain wrong and you disagree with me. We all have our views and opinions and I want to hear them all!!
Are you ready…..? Here we go: The impending super storm, which for me the storm is the fans in this case. We are in our own emotional storm as we watch the emotional storm the characters are about to go through (all, not just Calzona). First time we see Calzona they are standing listen to Owen’s storm breakdown. The conversation between them is tense… Callie asks if Arizona is going to postpone the baby’s surgery and Arizona says no, snapping as she does it. Callie is about to say something but Arizona cuts her off and says no, we have three days. My thought on this, Arizona cuts Callie off because I believe she thinks she’s about to hear about what are they going to do about Bailey again, and her patience for that was wearing thin in the last ep. And yes, during the scene Arizona was looking around, looking for someone, likely Dr. Boswell.
Cut to Arizona and Boswell talking to the parents… Arizona is great with the parents, understanding and reassuring them at the same time. We have a walk and talk with them and we find out that Arizona has now looked up Lauren as well. And they have a former mentor from Hopkins in common. With that info, Lauren says Arizona should do part of the surgery, which Arizona is happy about. Lauren wants to get coffee and Arizona declines, you can tell she’s nervous about the thought and declines. It’s obvious to me here that Arizona is attracted but is fighting it. A thought on Lauren…. she knows Arizona is married and she flat out doesn’t care. And there is a little voice in my head saying that she agreed to come to GSMH for more than the surgery. She heard about the Grey-Sloan 7, did some research and she is here for something else. And she has picked Arizona as a means to that end. That’s my crazy theory of the week, by the way.
Meanwhile Callie is helping with the construction worker patient. Close call with the saw before Owen and Ben stop them from starting it up in a room full of oxygen. (Random thought: another earlier season callback, this time to the bomb ep, love how much Grey’s has done that this season). So, Callie is busy and won’t be watching in on the baby’s surgery like she had mentioned she wanted to last ep. Arizona and Lauren scrub in and we get some more serious flirting, this time about how much of a control freak they both are. Here is where my first light bulb flicks on… yup, Arizona sees Lauren as the former version of herself, the hardcore, peds surgeon, before a plane fell out of the sky. So, for me, Lauren isn’t the real attraction for her, she’s really thinking about herself and wanting to be that person again.
As for Callie’s patient….. She stays to help with the surgery, despite the risk. It’s funny how fast she moves and ducks when they have a spark while cutting the rebar. And then is all “ok, let’s do this” when she stands back up. She is pretty hardcore herself, during this procedure. Moving to the baby’s surgery… there is an exchange about the Grey-Sloan 7. Lauren calls it brave and tells Arizona and Jackson they’re legends and she’s impressed. Again, a confidence boost for Arizona. While my shipper heart isn’t happy where this is going, you can see the buildup happening. Shifts back to the construction worker and Callie, Ben, Owen and Webber are discussing Bailey not going back into the OR. In the discussion, Owen mentions Cristina’s issues after the shooting and Callie says it was like that with Arizona, can’t rush her back to work. Did everyone catch the look when Webber says “with someone like Bailey it’s better to rip off the band aid”? As if for a moment Callie realizes that maybe how Arizona has been recovering doesn’t really fit her personality. It’s quick, but it’s there. Once more to the baby’s surgery… they are closing and Lauren steps out for a moment. And Jackson sums up how Arizona is feeling so well. “She’s just one of those people, which make you feel like you can do anything” and when he compares her to Sloan and mentions he hasn’t felt like that in a long time Arizona agrees. Another moment of awareness.
Then we get the flash mob proposal in the ambulance bay. Callie and Arizona are standing together, and Arizona looks at Lauren and at Callie smiling. You can see the conflict on her face….she’s fighting herself. Some film notes that I think are subtle but well done, Arizona is standing with her hands in her pockets but Callie’s holding her hands so that her wedding ring is very clearly visible. Callie also puts her arm around Arizona and it isn’t returned.
The storm has begun and we have Lauren and Arizona after talking to the parents. Lauren asks for an on-call room (and here the fandom melted down on my twitter timeline) because she likes to stay close post op. When Arizona says you poor control freak, Lauren points out she gets her, and Arizona says I really, really do. Again, I don’t think this is about Lauren for her, it is about her. When we come back to them, the scene, the moment that changes everything for the Calzona fandom. Lights flicker, the door closes and they kiss. Arizona stops it and turns away, reaching for the door to leave (still trying to figure out who closed it and I haven’t been able to). Lauren tells Arizona she’s allowed to lose control, and she does. She locks the door and moves towards Lauren. If you can stomach watching it again, look at her eyes. They don’t have the sparkle they do when she kisses Callie, they are almost cold. We see what looks like is going to be them having sex. At this point we don’t yet know how far they go, but it doesn’t look good. Little cliffhanger there. And we cut to Callie prepping two cots for them, saying they are staying and wondering where Arizona is, she is obviously concerned. I admit, I’m looking forward to the next ep and what Sara and Jessica do with it, since it’s been described as heartbreaking and devastating, and according to Shonda we will understand more.
Now, as for my thoughts, first the shipper’s view- I like many in the Calzona fandom felt sick watching this ep, my heart broke because I love them together. For me they have been amazing to watch as a couple, they have been through a lot. I was instantly angry with Arizona and heartbroken for Callie, she was being cheated on by her spouse AGAIN. And I had thoughts of how could Shonda do this to us? And yes, how could she take such a prominent TV couple for the LGBT community and do this? They seemed to be doing better, moving to a better, stronger place. I read the warnings, the interviews and I still never thought that it would go that far. I had deeply blind faith that this was something that Arizona would never do. That as Teddy once said, they are my aspirational couple. No matter the challenge they handle it and move on together. I barely went on twitter while I processed and fumed. My shipper heart aches, and it will take time for it to heal, and I do truly believe that ultimately they are going to be together but it will be a long and painful journey.
As for the cheating specifically, do I find it strange that after months of not letting Callie touch her she goes for Lauren after 2 days? Yes, but I believe that while Lauren is whom she cheats with, that she isn’t looking at her as Lauren, she is seeing herself and wants that. Do I like or condone cheating in any form? Nope, but it’s important to remember here that first, it’s not real life, and second we don’t necessarily know everything. We got a brief glimpse that Arizona pre-Callie was a bit of a player (‘Lion Sleeps Tonight”) but we don’t know her history like we do Callie’s, as Jessica said in her interview, she came in found her girl and stayed with her. Could this have been something to pump up ratings and the fandom to get some serious buzz? Yes, but I don’t think so. I do believe that there is more and I will wait for the finale to make final judgments on whether or not this route was one that makes sense. I know many say it’s out of character for Arizona, but that is exactly the point…. if she is suffering from PTSD she IS out of character.
In my last review I mentioned going back and looking at things differently once PTSD was mentioned and did a face palm. Because even when it seemed that Calzona was heading towards a better place, at the core there is a lot of unresolved parts. For both of them. For Arizona it’s the huge adjustment to her new reality of life with one leg and how that affects her. For Callie: other than a brief hmph when Alex mentions it in 9.2 it has never been discussed between them that Arizona didn’t have to be on the plane, she ended up there because she didn’t want to deal with some tough things. Rather than deal with Nick’s illness she takes out her feelings on Alex and takes his place. Neither has talked about those 4 days…. we only hear about them from Cristina. And because that scene was so gut wrenching we forget that everyone had an experience those 4 days, what was in Arizona’s mind( yes, she mentions some in 9.2, but not in depth)? What was it like for Callie? These are things I want S10 to answer for me. There is also a bit of a wildcard…. we don’t know if Hilarie Burton will be back in S10, I’ve seen some internet buzz that a pilot she did wasn’t picked up so she could be available to work on Grey’s. I also read Shondaʼs tweet that the writers have already been working on S10 which I would think helps keep the flow going after the finale.
Then, I re-watched and did it as a fan of the show. Once I took off my shipper’s glasses it changed things for me. Yes, they have been a great couple for 3.5 seasons(bumps of babies and Africa, but overall together), but in that, let’s be honest: in Shondaland for them to have gone this long without this kind of storyline, with temptation, betrayal and the work back to each other is unusual(cue every other character on the show) The things I’ve seen about Shondaland using this as a plot device is spot on, there is a great piece about it on Fempop “A is for Arizona and adultery, a central them in Grey’s Anatomy” (author Alex Cranz) that I recommend reading. We’ve seen it done and we’ve seen our couples work their way back to each other. Many in the fandom have wanted equal treatment of Calzona in their intimate scenes (which I personally haven’t had an issue with how they are done) so we should not be complaining that we are getting this storyline. As Shonda has said, if they are always happy, it can be boring. And guess what? She’s right. The part of me that is a fan of the show is looking forward to seeing the work that this will give Sara and Jessica to do. Consider how great they have been this year when they have been given some serious stuff to work with. Yes, S8 dealing with Mark, camping and salsa where fun, but not necessarily a challenge for these two actresses. And they have both shown that when they are given challenging material they can knock it out of the park. Shonda has said that everyone will get a happy ending when the show ends (she did that with Private Practice) and I do believe that if both Sara and Jessica are with the show when that happens that we will get that happy ending.
I will continue to ship Calzona until the moment the rollercoaster stops and either rewards us with a happy ending or gives us final closure. Until that time, we have had a great couple that we can look back on remember with fondness and love. I will also continue to be a fan of Grey’s, because let’s also be honest that if the show wasn’t so great, would we care as much? Sara and Jessica have given us a lot to cheer for and to cry for and I for one am looking forward to where we go from here.
And ultimately, please remember that while we are passionate, invested and sometimes (as Jessica said in her interview) want to throw tomatoes at the screen, these are characters. Ones that the actresses have brought to life, but characters. The awesome people that portray them, write them, direct them and run the show…. those are people. So, be passionate and invested just be respectful and keep things in perspective. And if you haven’t read Natalie Abrams interview with Jessica on TV. Guide .com you should. Also, Leslie Goldberg at THR did an interview with Hillarie Burton on THR that’s a good read as well. I’m so hoping that one or both of them get a chance to interview Sara for the finale post-mortem. Until next week: Stay Grey!
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