Last night’s season finale of Grey’s Anatomy turned over an incredible new leaf with its last 10 minutes of closure for each of its couplings. Sure, there were some wonders in the doctors’ amazing medical feats or the girl on girl action on primetime network television or, my favorite, old cute couples hooking up kind of (re: Alex and Izzie). But, the most amazing part of the episode, which Shonda Rhimes has to be given much props to, was the candle outlined house created by Meredith Grey. After weeks of sessions with the psychiatrist, Meredith reveals that as a child, she watched her mother try to kill herself by slitting her wrists. By the end of the episode, a bit of happiness and positivity emerges in Meredith when she discovers that her mother did not try to kill herself. Being a renowned surgeon, her mother cut a specific set of arteries that would not kill her so quickly. It is this discovery that pushes Meredith to have a smile on her face, stop moping, and get McDreamy back into her life and her pants.
As the means to profess her love to McDreamy, Meredith creates a blueprint of the first floor of their dream home on McDreamy’s hilltop property using candles. While quite a bit of a dangerous fire hazard (tons of open flames in a forest setting), it does not matter because Meredith is finally showing McDreamy her commitment and complete devotion to him, their relationship, and their future together. In her speech, Meredith begins to point out room by room their home, where they will eat, where they will sleep, where they will be with their children. The house of candles is not space of emptiness, but a place built on the tangible foundation of their love. Immediately upon seeing this house that Meredith built, my head went straight to Lars von Trier’s Dogville where the entire film is set in the blueprint of a town in the Rocky Mountains. Testing the audience’s limits to its suspension of belief, Dogville’s setting is a sparse black space with white outlines of a town to its audience, but a functioning town of built environment for the people that lived in it. The film illustrates how places do not exist because they are made of a set of known building materials as defined by Home Depot, but exists solely through its relationship on the people who inhabit them. People create places through imagining and defining them.
While the epic length of the episode provides another similarity to von Trier’s film, the choice of the Brechtian home of possibilities for Meredith and McDreamy is quite telling. Though one can argue that Meredith’s choice to profess her commitment through an empty house built of candles is a bit like an empty promise, with Dogville’s exploration and definition of space and place in mind, her choice is actually quite affirming. By physically creating the house and defining its spaces, Meredith made the home exist, cementing her connection to the space, thus enabling it to be a place where McDreamy can believe Meredith is going to be with him always. It is the place created by Meredith that holds ground and truly confirms her end to her wavering love for McDreamy.