I Heart Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh, You Are So My Person!)

 

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SPOILER ALERT: I talk a lot about Season 10 of Grey’s Anatomy. Hurry up and watch it, fools!

Grey’s Anatomy has ten years of my life. That’s a major claim. Some of those years were a bit shit, and pretty much every character I’ve obsessively loved this decade has been killed off in a horribly graphic accident. Seriously, never have so many people from the same workplace all died in such a short space of time. But I forgive, if not forget, because that’s ballsy storytelling. No wishy-washy writing out for these characters. In fact, it’s the bluntness of most of the endings that holds my respect when, probably, I should’ve lined the bin with this show in 2007.

Just as it’s kept the attention of fucking millions of us saps, it’s also done the near impossible job of retaining its core characters for those 10 years. McDreamy and Meredith are still going strong, and even Alex is still alive. How? No-one knows, exactly, but he is, and he’s boning a hot intern, proof that not everything gets worse with age. Richard, the original chief, and Bailey, the person who trained all these docs many moons ago, have been near death many times, but they’re not dead either. And Cristina Yang. Oh, how I love her. And I even love her ending.

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I was terrified about Cristina Yang leaving Seattle Grace Mercy Death (I know they renamed it recently, but this is clearly its most apt name), when it got announced that season 10 would be Sandra Oh’s last, not least because SHE’S MY PERSON, YO! I was super scared they might kill her (we’re talking about a show that’s hit us with unmasked gunmen, major plane crashes, bomb scares, storms, and ghost-inducing cancer). And they might’ve. But I don’t think they were ever going to. Because, she is basically unkillable. You don’t get to bury Cristina Yang. She’s a fucking phoenix, and here’s why I love everything about that stoney-faced, soft-centred, bitch.

Cristina’s always been clear about what she wants. That of all the surgeons there, she was viciously ambitious and wouldn’t let anything stand in her way: not family, competition, or devastation (in the form of natural disasters or the worst heartbreak a self-book book can’t dig you out of). Being left at the alter wasn’t enough to veer her of course, and neither was an unwanted pregnancy, divorce, rebounding ex-husband, or several near-death experiences. She was always going to be awesome, kick-ass, feminist, no-shit-taking, world changing, people altering and unforgettable. That was her destiny.

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She’s also the best friend of all time. That person, dug so deep into your bones, you can’t have a thing happen without needing to tell them about it. If an ex propositions you, you call because they need to know. If you cheat or are cheated on, you tell them, not the way you tell most people, to bitch or be bitched at, but because they’re the only level voice you have, that person who’ll be absolutely true and on your side whatever. If everyone thinks you’re total cray cray for feeling a certain way or doing a particular thing or making a surprising choice, that friend, your person, will be 100% behind you, whether they think you’re right or not. And let’s face it, you’re probably not. What happens to you, happens to them, and they genuinely want the best for you. Not what they think you should have or should do, or must. Like, the actual thing, what you want, right or wrong. No judgement. This is why Meredith is so fucking lucky to have Cristina Yang be her person. Chosen family. Love it.

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I don’t know about you, but that phrase changed my life. That idea, of having a person, for better or worse, changes you. I know it’s TV, and I take it too seriously, but any epiphany I’ve had has taken place during Grey’s Anatomy, no shit. And this season was no different.

10 years is a long time to live with a set of characters. It’s rare, with most making their stars too famous to last past 5 or 6 (looking at you Gossip Girl and maybe even The O.C.). 10 years gives you time to know these people, to love them, to see every shitty thing they did. I don’t know if many real life friendships even last this long. And with season 10, we truly got to see Cristina become the surgeon she was supposed to be. Award nominated, inventing new ways to save human hearts, whilst surviving the tragedy of being in love with a person she couldn’t make a life with without compromising herself, too much in one or another direction.

Screen Shot 2014-05-31 at 14.08.36Episode 17 of season 10 was all Cristina. It was a double flash forward, showed how the simple momentary decisions she did or didn’t make, would impact her future. She asked the question over and over, “Do you know who you are? Do you know what’s happened to you? Do you want to live this way?” And living out these alternate universes, she realised who she was, and wasn’t. What she was intended for, what she could do to please other people, and what that meant for her future and the people in it.

Owen was a great love. Different from her in so many ways, at first he balanced her out, but he also tied her down. He couldn’t help it. But marriage didn’t work, and her not wanting their baby broke them. So in the strands, the parallel universes, we see a Cristina desperate to make things work with Owen, bargaining for a solution to their problems, for a new outcome. In one of the versions, she has his babies, is his wife, looks to his face for reassurance that the decisions she’s made have made him happy, given him the things he’s always wanted. “Look how happy she is,” she tells Meredith, having just said how tired she is, totally stuck by her life. But in doing so, she sacrifices her career, the brilliance she aspires to, the successes she’s worked for. Giving birth she tells Meredith she’s made a terrible mistake. An irreversible one.

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In the second version, her and Owen continue in the cycle they’ve been in, breaking up, getting back together, never committing, and Owen is destroyed. It’s a slow destruction, never letting each other go. Meredith asks, “Why do you keep doing this to yourself,” and Cristina begs for help, says, “Don’t let me go back to him, for his good and mine.” Sometimes we know what’s right, what we should do, but the way you feel about a person can be drug-like, enticing like sugary caffeine drinks, making you fat slowly but surely, like those three syllables: Matt Damon.

Together, someone gets irreparably hurt. Not resisting the draw, the urge to be with that person, means that one or both don’t become the people they could, should, or might’ve been. Having lived out both versions, Cristina decides not to approach Owen at the end of a shift, changing their fate. Taking them out of a circle of repeated mistakes.

Being sensible about love like this is rare like a completed Saved By The Bell Sticker Album. Bonus points, for that, Shonda Rimes.

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Bringing Burke back before the finale was a class move. Made us wonder if the subtext of this union (Burke having left Cristina on their wedding day in season 3) wasn’t somehow an enduring, Ross and Rachel, thing, a solid spark ignited by Poundland lighters (easily). Turns out it wasn’t, and although Cristina thought he’d tracked her down for that very reason – like, love – he actually wanted Cristina for the thing she’s only ever wanted to be wanted: her brain. Her talent. He offered her a life she didn’t dare dream off. And like the episode title suggested, they were never ever getting back together, like, ever. Probs for the best, guys.

Cristina Yang gave us an alternative dream. And it wasn’t man-less. In fact, the men were plentiful. But they were wants rather than needs. Nothing was sacrificed for them, which is how it should be. If you can’t find someone who doesn’t want to Playdoh mould you into something you’re not, it’s probably best to be alone and be awesome, right? So I’m really going to miss Cristina Yang. Because she let us know it’s not only great to make your own choices, it’s the best possible thing you can do, and completely worth fighting for. People pleasing be damned. Do you know who you are? Do you know what’s happened to you? Do you want to live this way? While you decide, let’s have a 30 second dance party, for old time’s sake, okay?

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3 thoughts on “I Heart Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh, You Are So My Person!)

  1. Thanks for that. 🙂
    Will you continue watching? I kinda decided I will not. Who knew that Cristina was one of the reasons I actually watched the show. If there weren’t so many other great shows on, I’d probably just tune in anyway. But right now, meh, the promise of what kind of story arc(s) we will face (again?) in the next season has me feeling a bit bored.

    • You’re so right! It’s going to be a completely different show without Cristina in it. Think I’m going to watch to see if that works or not…I wanted to quit after Lexie and Mark left 😥 But I’m still here…I agree that life after Cristina will be totes boring!

      • Hah, same here I guess. Some things you just can’t tear yourself away from. I’m still mad they kinda used Sexy Intern Boning Alex as a Lexie substitute. I SO wanted her and Mark to make it work. 😥 Also, without Cristina – where’s the mean snark gonna come from?

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