This week’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy was a little bizarre. In theory it was the Christmas episode, about family, the holidays, and finding your own “second family” in the world after you move away from home. But in practice the episode was dominated by one tiny fact that I apparently forgot to mention in the bios when we started coverage of the show last week—that Izzie is F***ING CRAZY. Seriously, this silly ho is out of her mind. As the episode opens, she’s just finished decorating the shit out of their apartment. Meredith and George aren’t too happy about it but play nice because Izzie is still stung from Alex screwing her over. But Izzie, apparently now a poster child for bipolar disorder, is all ear-to-ear smiles and blurts out a giddy “Oh YAY!!” when they pretend to like her decorations. It’s like Girl, Interrupted: The Kindergarten Years. Then we cut to Cristina and Dr. Burke, who has put a modest Christmas tree in his apartment and suggests that Cristina help decorate it. She says she’s Jewish—apparently her stepfather was somebody named Saul Rubenstein. Faster than you can say “shalom,” Madonna has called asking for a threeway.At the hospital, a suddenly full-term Dr. Bailey is waddling down the hallway like a giant African penguin. The interns wonder whether she’ll go on maternity leave, to which Meredith retorts, “What do you think happens when people push babies out of their vagina?” Um, Meredith, I don’t know who taught you sex ed, but that’s NOT how it works. Babies come from Jesus. Anyway, Alex jokes that rather than get a new resident to replace Dr. Bailey, the hospital should just let all the interns wander around unsupervised and see how much damage they do. Izzie, opting for the high road, brings up Alex’s tendency to kill patients. If I recall correctly, IZZIE, your preemie was the only one of the five who DIED IN INFANCY last week. In the span of about 30 nanoseconds, Izzie, who I’m now christening “Zelda Fitzgerald” in light of her emotional stability, swings from utter bitterness to CRAZED MANIC EXCITEMENT ABOUT XMAS and says they should all get a baby gift for Dr. Bailey and organize a Secret Santa thing for the department. Cristina, settling nicely into her new role as grinch Jewess, tries to piss on the parade, but the others quash her in their unending quest to be “supportive” to Izzie. I’m sorry, but I think it’s well nigh obvious by now that this woman doesn’t need support, she needs ZOLOFT.
In the hallway, self-pitying Dr. He-Shepherd approaches Meredith and goes on about his holiday depression. Let’s admit it, they’re perfect for each other. We move to the first patient of the week, who fell off his roof stringing “Hannamas” lights to delight his religiously impure family. At the mention of Hannamas, Izzie’s holidaydar goes off, her eyes perk up, and she DEMANDS EXPLANATION. When she learns what Hannamas/Christmukkah is, she almost literally lights up like a Hannamas tree and says “Awwesome” in truly frightening fashion. That Zoloft must kick in pretty fast. Meanwhile, Mr. Christmukkah’s approximately 800 droning child-infidels make a huge ruckus with their toys in the hospital room. But the patient, clearly a loving father, coddles the kids rather than smacking them upside the head like they deserve.
“Zoloft is my friiiiieeeeend! YAAAAY!!!”
The next patient is a woman who needs excision of a gastric ulcer but has been delayed several days because the O.R. has been booked with emergency surgeries. The patient’s relatives are pissed that it’s taken so long to get operation. Then a heart transplant comes up on the schedule all of a sudden because a donor has been found. After Dr. Bailey assigns Cristina to the transplant, Alex whines to Meredith that he wished he had gotten it because he’s due to fail his board exams tomorrow and today will probably be his last day at the hospital. My ass.
In Dr. Burke land, Cristina informs us that she really isn’t an elite member of the chosen people. In fact, she scoffs at religious holidays. They walk into the room of the heart-transplant patient, a cute little boy I will call “Webster.” Though Dr. Burke announces proudly that the hospital has found a heart donor, it turns out that Webster doesn’t want the heart. After a commercial break, sponsored by Zoloft, Dr. Burke tries to convince the kid about the heart, but he still doesn’t want it—he already had one heart transplant as an infant and is sick of it.
Just as Dr. Bailey is taking on the ulcer patient’s surgery, whaddya know but a new patient checks in, having burst his gastric bypass because he ate a shitload of fruitcake. There’s an Al Roker joke in here somewhere, but it’s late, I’m on Eastern time, and damned if this gin isn’t helping. Anyway, Alex passes this Rokeresque opportunity to Meredith because he’s still moping about losing his doctorhood as of maÃ±ana. Que serÃ¡; serÃ¡, Alejandro. Elsewhere in the surgical wing, it turns out Dr. She-Shepherd might be a good mentor match for Izzie after all, cause she’s giddy as a goose about getting Christmas presents for Dr. He-Shepherd’s parents. He really couldn’t care less. Hmmm, I wonder if we’re supposed to infer that les Shepherds are drifting apart.
Cut to Alex, studying and hiding out in the deserted back hallway where seems to hang out in virtually every episode. Alex OWNS this hallway, like I mean really, he is the Quasimodo of this domain. He parks it and starts studying next to a cart full of industrial cleaning supplies. Natch! Because the new fruitcake/gastric-perforation patient trumps ALL, Dr. Bailey orders George to take ulcer patient back to her room once again, where the patient’s family will likely tear him apart with their bare hands and use his huge head as one of those giant exercise balls. When Dr. Bailey tells Meredith to scrub in, Meredith is forced to admit that she can’t assist because Alex failed the boards and needs help studying.
In Dr. Burke’s O.R., they sedate Webster for the heart transplant. The operation is a success, but during the surgery Dr. Burke does some philosophizing about why some patients live and some die. Ever the mystic, he posits that there’s some mind-body-spirit connection that will determine whether Webster’s body accepts or rejects the organ. Cristina mocks Dr. Burke’s spiritualizing in front of the other nurses and assistants, and he gets royally pissed, ordering her out of the surgery immediately. In other news, it turns out the Hannamas patient has brain bleeding and needs to head into Dr. He-Shepherd’s O.R. During the surgery, Izzie goes on and on about Christmukkah. She just CANNOT GET OVER the idea of a combination holiday. Thank god she didn’t find out about turducken in time for the Thanksgiving episode, because George and Meredith would be eating leftovers of that crap for YEARS.
Continuing this episode’s Talmudic theme, Meredith helps Alex study for his practicals by doing some role-playing and pretending to be a shrill Jewish patient with gray poop. What’s next, guest stars Harvey Fierstein and Jerry Stiller in a duet about prostate enlargement? Jesus. Well not really JESUS, but you know what I mean. Anyway, Meredith really does this roleplaying lustily, adopting the Jewish widow persona like you wouldn’t believe. After several minutes of reminiscences about Yentl and that time Uncle Shlomo took her to see Jackie Mason at the Hirschfeld Theater, Meredith and Alex are interrupted in their “doctorly touching” by Cristina, who says pityingly that if Meredith’s that lonely, there’s a great vibrator catalog she should try. Is that kosher? Who knows. Anyway, Cristina takes over the roleplaying and pretends to be a fat, drunk, nauseated 55-year-old man. Disappointingly, she doesn’t do her Randy Quaid voice.
George returns the ulcer patient to her noisy room, where her family gets all frantic and condescending, especially the patient’s ugly-ass kid who is destined to grow up to look like Tom Petty. No wonder this woman has an ulcer. Back in the hallway, Alex is playing doctor by feeling up Cristina’s giant breasts as part of his “studying.” Let’s take bets on how long before Izzie walks in on this. But no it’s GEORGE who walks in next—and then when Cristina is paged, it becomes his turn to roleplay. George tells Alex he doesn’t do rectal and doesn’t want to do a hernia test. He is, however, up for mutual palpation and maybe a spirited bout of water sports if the chemistry is right.
“Hmm, Uncle Tevye never taught me this back on the shtetl.”
It turns out Cristina’s page is from Dr. Burke, who upbraids her for disrespecting him in front of his staff. Cristina says she’s an avowed atheist and that a belief in science and medicine are the only thing the two of them share—so if he’s a religious wacko, she’s not sure what they have in common. Dr. Burke says he’s spiritual, not religious, but Cristina doesn’t see a difference, and the relationship looks like it’s suddenly very much on the skids. Seriously, they must really be into some kinky hocus-pocus in bed to make up for this total lack of chemistry everywhere else. I have to applaud the writers though because this relationship, though completely devoid of chemistry and even romance, is one of the most interesting plots on this show.
Back in Mr. Christmukkah’s room, it appears that his brain operation somehow changed his personality completely, since he’s now screaming at his children rather than letting them climb all over him as before. To me, this seems like a normal response to a brood of shrieking, half-wit kids, so I’d be inclined to call Dr. He-Shepherd brilliant. One thing that’s not brilliant is the dialogue in this scene. My god is it bad. So forget all that stuff I said about applauding the writers. Anyway, Izzie, clearly receiving transmissions from the mother ship, accuses Dr. He-Shepherd of poisoning the patient’s brain with the anti-Christmukkah thoughts he expressed during the surgery. Exactly!
Meanwhile, Cristina, checking up on post-transplant Webster, sees Webster’s mother putting up a Christmas decorations in his room. Cristina, e’er of the lovely bedside manner, tells the mom that Christmas trees aren’t allowed on the premises and that the kid doesn’t believe in Santa anyway. She even takes the Christmas tree out, citing regulations. Dr. Bailey, for her part, experiences morning sickness while performing surgery and takes a quick break because she doesn’t want to throw up in the patient’s body cavity. Lovely. In an obvious solution, she sends Meredith to go get a strawberry milkshake for her. You know, cause dairy always goes down easy.
Back in Alex’s cave, George proves to be a less than adept role-player. Seriously, his performance is up there with Steven Seagal in Half Past Dead. As was inevitable, Izzie walks in and sees George helping Alex. She gets insanely pissed at George—and Meredith and Cristina—for helping Alex study. Anyway Zelda F. starts shrieking about how Alex cheated on her. With George’s skanky syph nurse! Holy shit Izzie, why didn’t you TELL US BEFORE?!?! Meredith, ever the life of the party, uses a painfully awkward extended metaphor in which she likens Alex to “Dirty Uncle Sal,” the relative in every family who embarrasses everyone at family reunions by trying to make whoopee with Grandma Murgatroid and sticking “Little Sal” in the Jello mold while nobody’s looking. Meredith concludes that the hospital is essentially her family and that Izzie, in the spirit of Xmas, should be more forgiving.
In the pleasant vomiting scene of the evening, the long-delayed ulcer patient suddenly throws up about an Exxon Valdez-worth of blood—her ulcer apparently perforated, so emergency surgery suddenly is necessary. I smell a lawsuit—I’m sure Catherine Zeta-Jones is already on her way. Meanwhile, Dr. She-Shepherd complains to Dr. He-Shepherd that she feels invisible in front of him. She wants to go to dinner and go shopping, but again he ignores her completely.
Webster, meanwhile, still thinks he doesn’t deserve a new heart. He’s a thorough cynic, says there’s no God, and bets that her mother prayed for another kid’s death in order to make a transplant heart available. Ooh this kid is totally Cristina’s type. Webster suddenly starts flatlining, and Cristina practically elbows the frantic mother out of the way because she is really psyched about using those defibrillators. She revives the boy successfully, but the look on her face makes it clear that a moving, heart-to-heart moment is imminent. Indeed, we soon learn that Webster needs yet ANOTHER heart. Seriously, this kid goes through hearts like Star Jones goes through Fritos. Cristina thinks they have to get Webster a new heart posthaste, but Dr. Burke believes they need to let the kid’s body determine whether he really wants one.
During Mr. Christmukkah’s second brain operation of the day, Dr. He-Shepherd requests Christmas carols in the O.R., validating Izzie’s idea that Yuletide Cheer might help the outcome of the surgery. Great, the last thing Zelda F. needs is validation. Maybe next week’s guest star can be Anne Heche, just in case Izzie runs out of personalities to talk to. Back in Alex’s dark lair, Izzie slaps Alex awake and decides to swallow her pride and help him with his studying. Choosing the most romantic of all possible medical scenarios, she plays a farmer who’s been drooling, puking, and crapping her pants. Alex is suddenly turned on. When he asks Izzie why she suddenly decided to help him, she says that’s it’s WHAT JESUS WOULD DO. Oh great, so THAT’S the mother ship she’s been getting messages from. She and Cristina Yang-Rubenstein could NEVER be roommates.
In Webster’s room, Cristina has the aforementioned heart-to-heart with the boy, opening up to him about how she doesn’t believe in Santa or God either. Instead, she believes in medicine and says it was a medical miracle that Webster lived past his first heart transplant. Genuinely, this is a touching scene because for once, Cristina displays an ability to connect with a patient on an emotional level. Just when the scene is bordering on sappiness, the writers save it. Bravo! I take back what I said before about taking back my appaluse of the writers. Clearly exhausted from her first-ever effort at bedside manner, Cristina collapses into the chair and launches into joyous songs of wassail.
“Oh you best not wake the baby, bitches.”
Back in the waiting room, a sweating, gigantic Dr. Bailey is telling the ulcer patient’s family that the operation was a success. Instead of gratitude, Dr. Bailey is treated to the patient’s mother’s vow that the family will sue the hospital for negligence. Ooh this confrontation is gonna be good. But OH NO, George steps up and unloads on the family instead. Suddenly gutsy, he tells the mother to shut the hell up, asserts his control of the patient, and denies them visitation rights so she can rest. Oh SNAP.
Returning to Alex and Izzie, they’re having a moment. Izzie suddenly starts crying uncontrollably while describing her faux-symptoms. Alex says he never wanted to hurt her. This scene goes nowhere and ends up only inconclusive and awkwardly handled—to me, one of the oddest moments in the series thus far. It would’ve been nice if they’d extended it a few minutes to show how Izzie resolves her mental battle with herself peacefully, using hand puppets.
Highlights of the Miranda Bailey 2006 spring collection
As Meredith is leaving the hospital, Dr. He-Shepherd, he of the lean and I’m-about-to-shake-things-up-significantly look, comes up to her so they can wallow in their holiday depression. He then goes to the local bar and meets Dr. She-Shepherd. Ripping the Band-Aid off rather mercilessly, he says that Meredith wasn’t a fling or revenge hookup to him and that he actually fell in love with her. Oof. Wow, Dr. She-Shepherd’s crash from haughty adulterous Satan to sad-sack lonely dumped-just-before-Christmukkah woman has been about as precipitous as it gets.
In the requisite music-drenched final montage, Meredith talks about family. We see Cristina arrive at Dr. Burke’s to discover that he’s put up a menorah for her next to his Christmas tree. She’s filled with the spirit of shalom. Next we’re beamed up to Izzie, who’s lying on the floor under the Christmas tree, mesmerized by the lights. Meredith and George, apparently having drunk her Zelda F.-brand Kool-Aid, lie down with her. To top it all off, the adopted dog from last week shows up. MY ASS that dog is still there—Izzie must be drugging its food.
Was it just me, or was that a weird one?