In a season 2 episode of Grey's Anatomy, Meredith, then a young, only somewhat psychologically traumatized medical intern, refuses to get out of bed, saying she feels like she might die if she leaves the safety of her room. Over the course of 11 seasons, it's the smartest thing she's ever said.
This week, a brief clip revealed that poor Meredith is going to get violently attacked in an upcoming Grey's episode. Speculation on the exact nature of the attack is running wild. Will she be shot? Stabbed? Be stabbed and beaten with a knife-wrench? On the great checklist of death and destruction, which violent misfortune has Meredith so far avoided? And, more to the point, how much more can the Grey's Anatomy audience take?
After last season of Game of Thrones, audience exhaustion became a big topic of discussion. Things not going so well for anyone you like on GoT went from a fun joke to a dead-eyed declaration. Yes, fantasy fans had signed on for the beheadings and be-handings. But after the seemingly millionth brutal sexual assault that served no purpose for the plot, even superfans began to realize that when shock value wears thin, viewers are just being emotionally drained.
When Grey's Anatomy fans settled into the first season, they thought they knew what they were signing up for — a medical soap opera. Yes, people would die and organs would rupture in between the breakup and make-up sex, but this wasn't The Walking Dead. Fictional bloodshed contained within the operating room was expected, and after decades of medical dramas, not terribly troubling to viewers. And then Meredith got sprayed with the eviscerated body of a bomb-squad member. She drowned. She was in a plane crash, and discovered that her sister had been crushed to death by said plane. Her husband got shot in front of her, and while her best friend attempted to save him, Meredith suffered a miscarriage. She fell down the stairs heavily pregnant, then delivered her baby during a hospital power outage, almost dying from abdominal bleeding. And this just a list of physical violence that has befallen the pathologically unlucky Grey, the tally of mental anguish goes on and on.
Whatever your thoughts are on the current state of Grey's Anatomy (I actually think the show has turned a corner this season, with enough fresh faces mixed in with veterans to start returning to its roots), it has created some thrilling moments of TV, and some of its most effective episodes have been rooted in danger and violence. But Meredith's upcoming beating seems, at this point, redundant. She's already been beaten. If she visited another hospital, even for a checkup, they wouldn't get through her medical history before locking her up in a safe house for her own protection. So much bloody bad luck shouldered by one character stretches the limits of the audience's suspension of disbelief — it's getting old, and it's getting draining. In a still from the upcoming attack video, Meredith, bloodied on the floor, looks more tired and annoyed than hurt. We feel you, Mer.