If you were to ask someone who’s seen Grey’s Anatomy to tell you what their least favorite episode is, there’s a strong chance they’d say the Season 7 episode “Song Beneath the Song.” It wouldn’t be surprising, as the episode may just be one of the most divisive in television history. But hear me out: the musical episode is not that bad. Is it great? No. Is it among the best episodes in Grey’s Anatomy’s run? No. But it’s not completely abysmal like so many make it out to be.
‘Grey’s Anatomy’s Musical Episode Actually Makes Sense!
For a show known for its intense drama and tear-jerking moments, suddenly having a bunch of singing doctors is for sure a bit jarring, there’s no denying that. The entire idea is campy and kind of ridiculous, especially given the usual content Grey’s Anatomy is so famous for, but arguably that’s what makes it so fun. Of course it doesn’t work! Musical episodes rarely ever make sense, but Grey’s Anatomy took an interesting approach to the trope that somehow made the whole idea seem plausible.
Rather than just having the doctors bust out in song while doing an appendectomy for the sake of calling itself a musical episode, there’s actual reasoning behind the addition of the music. Shows like Riverdale (which has its own catalog of infamous musical episodes) do have a mild explanation behind the incorporation of song and dance, but the reasoning is usually too weak to feel justifiable — especially when it’s so different from the regular format of the show.
What Grey’s Anatomy does differently is take one of its characters and put the audience in her head. We’re seeing everything from the character’s point of view, and when you look at it in that light, it doesn’t seem as random as it once did. Sure it’s still a bit jarring, but hey, we’re in Callie’s (Sara Ramirez) head now and she can sing like nobody’s business — it only makes sense she’d create a fantasy musical world to help her through such a traumatizing event.
As mentioned, not everyone on Grey’s Anatomy can sing; that’s why they chose the acting field and that’s completely fine — singing isn’t for everyone. But the brilliance is in how no one cops out on their singing role. There isn’t a single moment in the episode where you can say someone didn’t give their all to their performance. And you know what? The episode provided us with some seriously catchy covers (“Running on Sunshine,” anybody?) So really, what’s there to complain about?
‘Grey’s Anatomy’s Musical Episode Has a Strong Storyline
Looking past the musical aspect of it, the actual storyline this episode of Grey’s Anatomy follows is quite solid and devastating. It honestly may just be one of the series’ best since, as terrible as it sounds, Grey’s Anatomy is always at its most gripping when one of its own is in peril. Think about it: what are some of the most memorable Grey’s Anatomy moments? The plane crash that put some of the hospital’s best doctors in a near-death situation? The episode where 007 is revealed to be George (T .R. Knight)? Or how about when Cristina (Sandra Oh) and Jackson (Jesse Williams) were held at gunpoint while trying to save Derek’s (Patrick Dempsey) life? These are all huge moments in Grey’s Anatomy, and ones that stick with fans long after the credits roll and new seasons and characters come along.
So making Callie (one of the Grey’s Anatomy‘s most beloved characters) the patient of the week was a bold choice. It’s not just the fan following that made the choice so devastating — it’s the fact that she, Arizona (Jessica Capshaw), and Mark (Eric Dane) were preparing for a baby, that Arizona had just popped the question, that things were going so well until they just… weren’t. Callie is one of the best characters in Grey’s Anatomy because of how much she’s gone through. She’s grown and evolved in so many different ways throughout her time on the show. She felt like a character that would always be safe in Shondaland, and unfortunately, that just wasn’t the case here.
Even though she’s one of the lucky ones who survives her perilous situation; a rarity it seems, at this hospital, it doesn’t tone down the pure terror felt watching the episode. It doesn’t matter that there are doctors singing all around, or that they’re not inherently good at doing so. The episode is a brilliant piece of drama and storytelling and any time the doctors come together to rally around one of their own is a special type of Grey’s Anatomy episode. And everyone did rally around her, with even Addison (Kate Walsh) flying in from Los Angeles to help deliver Callie’s baby.
Though, while we do follow Callie’s point of view throughout this episode, there’s no shortage of other characters. We see how everybody reacts to the situation, especially Mark and Arizona. There’s the deep-seated fear of losing Callie and their daughter, but there’s also the beautiful moment when they find out both are okay and can take a breath and find a moment of peace in the situation – no matter how briefly it may last.
Of course, it’s not a perfect episode of Grey’s Anatomy, and it’s always going to have its naysayers — but when you dig deep into it and look past the singing portion of the storyline, what you’ll find is an extremely hearty episode told with so much emotion and care. It really has everything: from typical medical jargon, relationship development, tears, and cameos from other fan-favorite characters. So yes, the singing may be bad at times, and the episode as a whole has no shortage of cringe-worthy moments, but that doesn’t make it a complete flop. If anything, it brings a level of light-heartedness to the episode that is thoroughly needed. And in a show like Grey’s Anatomy, where there seems to be disaster and heartache around every corner, sometimes a silly one-off episode like this isn’t necessarily a bad thing — sometimes it’s just what it needs.