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It’s an idea that’s been done to death–what would you do if you knew this was your last day?–but still last night’s Part 2 of the “Code Black” episode on “Grey’s Anatomy” triumphed despite being laden with clichés.

The show had it all: In one incredulous storyline, intern Meredith Grey was holding an unexploded bomb that had gotten lodged inside a patient and which could go off at any minute and kill everyone at the Seattle Grace hospital; in another storyline, chief resident Miranda Bailey (who is perhaps the most solid, stable character on TV these days) was panicking while in labor because her husband was in a car accident on the way to the hospital and was now in the OR undergoing tricky brain surgery.

Every emotion was tugged at, every hidden feeling was revealed, and every character got a chance to shine. It was over-the-top, it was maudlin–and it was great. And though there was nary a mention of God or faith, belief was the underlying current in the show. A belief in revealing what is important, in accepting your fate, in letting your guard down, in stepping up, in letting go.

For a show that was pulled along by “Desperate Housewives” for most of its first season, “Grey’s Anatomy” has found its own footing this year among the hospital drama genre. Long ago I gave up on “ER” (end the show already!), and I never even went for “Chicago Hope” (which died a long time ago). Even “Scrubs,” which is a comedy, is starting to wear a wee bit thin. But the two-part “Code Black” episode proves for me that “Grey’s Anatomy” is the hospital show to watch these days. These characters are really personable, quirky even, and human through it all. It was Ellen Pompeo’s show last night, as she went through a gamut of emotions, from composure to fear to anguish to a near breakdown.

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