Thanks in part to Sara Ramirez's impressive (and Tony-winning) pipes, last night's Grey's Anatomy was both a ratings smash and an important chapter in lesbian and bisexual representation on television. The episode kicked off with Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) having just asked Callie to marry her, but a devastating car accident quickly put the answer on hold. Here's your official spoiler warning.
After ABC announced they would be doing a special musical episode of their hit show, fans reacted somewhat skeptically to say the least. Instead of just inserting spontaneous musical numbers into the episode Glee-style however, the story shows Callie's spirit leaving her body after the accident and watching as her colleagues struggle to save both her life and that of her baby. In this different state of consciousness, she sees her friends express themselves emotionally through songs, many of which the show itself made famous via its numerous soundtracks. The idea proved to be a winning formula, with 12.7 million viewers (a 30% jump from last week) tuning in to watch.
The heart of the episode was the love story between Callie and Arizona, as well as the couple's complicated relationship with Dr. Mark Sloan, the father of Callie's baby. As the hospital's doctors argued about the best way to treat Callie, Mark and Arizona found themselves fighting with one another about who should have more of a say in what happens. After Arizona called Mark "basically a...donor," he angrily shot back that "I'm the father. You're not anything. You're nothing!" Meanwhile, Callie's subconscious considers Arizona's earlier question:
Soon after, Arizona found herself by an unconscious Callie's bedside sadly considering his accusation, telling her "Mark's kind of right....Legally I'm no one." But after an emergency leads Arizona to jump in and save the baby's life on the operating table, Mark apologizes for his earlier outburst, saying "You're not nothing. We have a kid together. You're a mom."
The real payoff came off at the episode's end however, when a groggy Callie finally merges from anesthesia and tells Arizona "yes" to her marriage proposal. That proposal should have a big payoff on May 5 when Calzona (as the fans have dubbed them) tie the knot in a lavish ceremony. Grey's writer Stacy McKee promises that the fact that marriage for gay and lesbian couples isn't yet legal in the state of Washington (where the show is set), "is a story point", while Grey's star Sandra Oh is hopeful that it will help viewers recognize the importance of marriage equality:
We see two characters getting married and you know and love them...The more we see the characters and the people that we really love and respect expressing their story lines, however that unfolds, I think the easier it is for a society at whole or who ever is watching to metabolize relationships. These are characters you hang out with every week. You know them, you see them and good golly, after you see the musical episode and what they go through, why would you not want them to get married?
In addition to the wedding's legal implications, it will also address Callie's reconciliation of her marriage with her Catholic upbringing. All in all, it's shaping up to be a high profile season for broadcast television's only long-term relationship between two women. You can watch the full episode entitled "Song Beneath a Song" below: