'Grey's Anatomy' Postmortem: Can Seattle Grace Be Saved?

Grey's Anatomy Walking on a Dream - H 2013

Grey's Anatomy Walking on a Dream - H 2013

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Thursday's "Walking on a Dream" episode of Grey's Anatomy.]

Can Seattle Grace be saved from the brink of bankruptcy by drastically cutting its ER? Dr. Alana Cahill (Constance Zimmer) certainly seems to think so when her physician adviser arrives during Thursday's episode to help find a solution in the wake of the plane-crash survivors' hefty settlement.

After Derek (Patrick Dempsey), Meredith (Ellen Pompeo), Cristina (Sandra Oh), Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) and, by association, Callie (Sara Ramirez) were awarded $15 million each, Owen (Kevin McKidd) is forced to bring Cahill in to help trim the fat and ensure Seattle Grace keeps its doors open. After surveying the staff and facilities, Cahill comes to the startling conclusion that cutting the ER is the best solution.

Her suggestion is met with a wave of shock from the staff, especially Derek -- who is vocal about his objections. However, it's Bailey (Chandra Wilson) who quickly puts him in his place and suggests he listen to Cahill, since not everyone on staff has a few million dollars to fall back on.

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"She's quite bitter, because she's thinking about herself and her job," Wilson told The Hollywood Reporter during a recent visit to the Hollywood set of Grey's Anatomy. "Clearly, she's not in agreement with the decisions that have come down, that they're not for the good of everybody involved. People's lives are really going to be affected by it. She's willing to listen to whatever plans are put on the table. Nobody has job security at all."

After Cahill's presentation, Derek confides in Meredith that everyone on staff should be nervous -- himself included, considering he got off to a rocky start with Cahill after evicting her from his OR -- especially because it's partially the plane-crash survivors' fault that the adviser is there in the first place. "He starts to come back and use all the skills he had when he was chief and teaching other people how to go about finessing these things," Dempsey tells THR.

So will the survivors pull an Izzie and donate their newly awarded funds to help save the hospital? "I'm not really sure if it's enough money; I don't know how much money a hospital needs to keep running, but that's a good question," Ramirez says. Ultimately, the decision will likely fall on the rest of the survivors, who could end up divided on what to do. "Callie wasn't on the plane, and there's an emotional aspect to it that she can't share with the others, because she wasn't there. The lawsuit, everybody has suffered in so many different ways that they want justice. It's more about that, and I don't know that any kind of guilt enters anyone's mind -- yet."

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Meanwhile, April (Sarah Drew) -- who still hasn't passed her boards yet and spent the bulk of Thursday's hour owning the ER as she mentored intern Stephanie -- will make it her personal mission to fight Cahill's plan to shutter the ER. "That's the whole trauma department, and she's the trauma attending. What's a trauma attending to do with no trauma?" Drew explains. "We'll see in the next episode that she's going to run around the hospital and try and find ways to make cuts that will then save the ER. She's on a mission to save the ER and doing what Kepner does best."

While there's little job security for the bulk of the staff -- including Owen, who ultimately is responsible for putting all the surgeons on the faulty plane -- it's Webber (James Pickens Jr.) whom Cahill seems to have in her cross-hairs after sharing a tense moment with him in Thursday's closing moments.

As it turns out, the Chief is Cahill's former teacher, and the two share strange baggage that has yet to unfold -- further questioning just what motivates her to be the one to make difficult decisions like axing the ER.

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"There are some skeletons in her closet that she's trying to exercise right now," Pickens says. "It's going to be interesting to see how she has to navigate those waters and still try and be unbiased in terms of how she looks at this hospital and how it's run and what fat needs to be trimmed."

"There was something in her past as a surgeon that she is still trying to make amends for that was not really her fault, but at the end of the day, the fingers point at her, and I think she feels that she let the Chief down at that point in her career," he adds. "This is a way for her to have some kind of catharsis and maybe she feels that she can vindicate herself."

As Cahill so eagerly points out, the Chief logged the fewest hours in the OR of everyone on staff in the past month (likely due to Adele's recent passing) and Zimmer says her character will enjoy the role-reversal with her former teacher. "She kind of has him by the balls, so to speak," she says with a laugh. "I now have the upper hand, when he always had the upper hand as my teacher. Even though it's a job that's looked down upon by other surgeons, Cahill is in control and now has to get the hospital back into a better place."

While the immediate forecast for Seattle Grace appears cloudy, Zimmer says there's hope at the end of her four-episode arc for everyone on staff. "It's going to force them all to be a team again," she says. "They're all in different spaces and they all feel animosity toward each other for various reasons. I think this storyline could possibly make them all come and work together."

What do you think about Cahill's plan to close the ER? Do you think the plane crash survivors will come up big when it counts? Hit the comments with your thoughts. Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on ABC.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit