When it comes to intense emotional reactions to television shows, I don’t think there’s anything better than a moment that causes you to literally run around your house because you’re so overjoyed. That’s only happened to me twice in my life: when Ben and Leslie decided to get married at the end of “Emergency Response” on Parks and Recreation and when Alex and Izzie got married on Grey’s Anatomy.
For as much as I loved Meredith and Derek, Alex and Izzie were my favorite couple from very early on. There was something special about watching Alex—my favorite character—grow into someone who could show his true self to Izzie and love her with a sincerity that always took me by surprise. Their journey was bumpy to say the least: I had to suffer through random nurses, Denny, Jane Doe, George, Addison, and Ghost Denny before this moment came—five years after I first fell in love with what their relationship could be.
This scene is a classic tearjerker for so many reasons: It features a cancer storyline, a wedding storyline, and Ingrid Michaelson’s ethereal “Turn to Stone” playing throughout it. The way this scene is edited to reflect the musical cues in it reminds me just how good this show was at using music to move its audience.
Yes, I whimpered pathetically when George grabbed Izzie’s hand to help her down the aisle. Yes, I got chills at the certainty in Alex’s voice (and the beautiful way he used a dying patient’s final words in his vows). Yes, I actually sobbed when they kissed as the music reached a crescendo and I remembered their journey to get to this point.
But if I’m picking my favorite moment in the scene—the one that floored me the most the first time I saw it—I have to say it’s the moment when Alex appears in the hospital room doorway and Izzie finally understands that Meredith isn’t the one getting married; she is.
Put yourself in my shoes for a second. You tune in to watch the 100th episode of Grey’s Anatomy expecting to see Meredith and Derek get married, and all of a sudden you discover that your favorite couple will actually be the ones tying the knot. That surprise, coupled with the joy I felt upon realizing that I wasn’t crazy to imagine their love story as something worthy of a 100th episode tribute, was enough to make me run through all of the rooms on the first floor of my house the moment after the episode aired, with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face. Five years of emotional investment paid off in a way I had never expected, and it’s still one of the best surprises a TV show has ever given me.
In fact, this moment was so perfect that I knew nothing on this show could ever top it. After it happened, I decided to stop watching religiously because I wanted this scene to be my lasting memory of Grey’s Anatomy. After hearing about how things panned out for my favorite couple, I’m so happy that I walked away from the show when I did. In my mind, the legacy of Alex and Izzie’s relationship is this wedding—and what a beautiful legacy it is.