When Dr. Preston Burke, actor Isaiah Washington, so abruptly vanished from the engrossing world of Seattle Grace Hospital seven years ago, fans of both his nuanced character and the hopelessly addictive show were left in utter disarray over his controversial departure. Now the anticipated time draws near for his televised return and while Dr. Yang (Sandra Oh) has since moved on despite being heart wrenchingly jilted at the altar, the land of Grey’s Anatomy will inevitably be turned upside down once more. It would seem then, whether the watching world approves or not (following his 2007 infamous firing for his homophobic on-set remarks), Isaiah Washington, AKA Burke, is back, Sandra Oh, AKA Dr. Yang, is on the outs, and Grey’s Anatomy is still leaving its ravenous audience helplessly wanting more.
Fans will never forget the day Dr. Preston Burke stopped being a kind and sensitive surgeon impossibly in love with Dr. Cristina Yang, and instead became the homophobic actor playing him. In the blink of an eye both beloved entities were gone, Washington punished in the public eye for his bad behavior and his celebrated character excommunicated. Seven years later, as an integral part of the Grey’s Anatomy story-line that will sadly leave Dr. Yang out of a job (according to creator, Shonda Rhimes), Dr. Burke is indeed coming back.
When asked in a recent interview to elaborate on her decision to reincorporate Dr. Burke (Washington) into the storyline, Rhimes claimed it was crucial to gaining closure on Yang’s devastating departure. She also went on to stipulate that after seven years a person should be able to learn and grow from past indiscretions, and forgiveness for those previous faults is both appropriate and acceptable. When the fans of the decade-long running show see his approaching reintroduction for themselves, she hopes they too will agree.
Details of how Isaiah Washington’s return is involved in the impending parting of Dr. Cristina Yang has yet to be revealed, but devoted viewers will undoubtedly tune in to find out, despite their personal grudges towards Washington as an actor. Sandra Oh’s complex character has riveted fans for ten years, including the memorable moment she had Meredith cut her out of the wedding dress meant for marrying Burke as she broke down and began hyperventilating. For Oh’s exit from the show Rhimes felt it understandably essential to bring back a pivotal part of her character’s overall arc, the illustrious Dr. Preston Burke. With his awaited arrival into the developing storyline Rhimes hopes to bring evocative closure to the audience, thus bringing Dr. Yang’s story full circle and honoring her infinite involvement in the success and longevity of the captivating and canonized show.
If fans are willing to forgive Washington for his harsh words offscreen years ago, it would seem they are in store for a compelling and powerful closing to the amusingly enigmatic era of Yang. No matter how the situation develops with Washington’s re-implementation, it is sure to be both entertaining and overflowing with engaging energy. Grey’s Anatomy has never been a show accused of inducing boredom and with Dr. Burke being back and the notorious Dr. Yang on the outs, it is not about to start.
Commentary By Brandon Duringer