Well praise be to Oprah, because this was a great episode of Grey’s Anatomy. All the hallmarks that were missing from the last few episodes—surprise revelations, touching deathbed scenes, interesting new characters, hearty borscht-belt humor—were back in force. So take that, you Desperate Housewives bitches. Nonetheless, though this turn of events is most welcome, it does not exempt the characters from bitchy commentary.Meredith begins by observing that there’s a red line on the floor of the hospital denoting the boundary between the public area and the inner sanctum of surgery and syphilis to which all medical residents aspire. Crossing the line is not tolerated. Outside SGH is a line of another sort—the much-feared picket line of nurses, who have made good on last week’s strike announcement and are demanding fair hours and fair wages.
As the interns arrive for their shift, George refuses to cross the picket line; Izzie, reluctantly, says they have to. Cristina says screw the nurses, she needs her daily fix of surgical blood and carnage PRONTO. As she indignantly breaches the picket line, the nurses bombard her with food. Does she look like she needs food? What this ho wants is LIQUOR, so next time throw some of those little bottles from the EconoLodge minibar. Anyway, Izzie sees the nurses’ assault as an affront to all that is good and Jesuslike, so her sympathy instantly hardens into old-fashioned Christian disdain. She breaches the picket line also and likewise gets pelted with food.
“I thought I was auditioning for Grey’s Anatomy, not MISS SAIGON”
Meredith drops by the nursing home to visit her mother and is surprised to find that Dr. Webber is there visiting too. The sight of her old flame has Ellis sparkly of eye, rosy of cheek, and incontinent of bladder. Meredith notices that Dr. Webber initiates a little mild hanky-panky, touching Ellis’s hand flirtatiously. She thinks Dr. Webber is crossing the line—ooh, a theme!—and watches them for a little bit before leaving.
Back at the hospital, the temp nurses are proving wildly inept, while the interns are trying to figure out who’s been assigned to replace Dr. Bailey during her maternity leave. Before long, this replacement enters. I didn’t catch her name—I think it’s Dr. Sydney Heron—but she’s played by Kali Rocha (of Meet the Parents and Buffy the Vampire Slayer), who’s essentially an older, American version of Kate Winslet but, more important, ANIMATED AND BOUNCY AS SHIT. She greets the interns like she’s head counselor at Fisher Price My First Bowel Surgery Camp and is SUPER excited to meet them—it’s “awesome” and they’ll “have fun.” Yes, nothing screams fun like bedpans and abscesses. To top it off, Dr. Heron’s philosophy is “heal with love.” HA, Cristina will adore this.
All the interns scramble to avoid Dr. Uppers, but Izzie gets stuck with her. Just as the doctor is nicknaming Izzie “Izzie McGee” because she likes “rhyming”—oh great, not only is she annoying as shit, she’s also DEAF—Izzie is rescued by Dr. She-Shepherd, who has some new little bastard child for her to deliver in obstetrics.
Cristina walks in on her first patient hooking up with her husband on her hospital bed. She has little sympathy for the fact that they’re newlyweds and asks them to “dismount.” Ha HA, I love good Sandra Oh moments. Meredith, meanwhile, is walking in the hall when she overhears some poor old woman calling out for help. The old woman is disoriented and having trouble breathing, but no nurses are around to assist. So Meredith, despite a temp nurse’s best efforts to kill the patient, inserts a breathing tube to stabilize the old lady.
Outside the hospital, unclean nurse Olivia tells George it’s okay if he wants to cross the picket line. But George says his parents were both union workers—his father was played by George Dzundza, after all, how much more union can you get. George takes a picket sign from the nurses and marches into the hospital to commence his own campaign for fair wages and pansiness.
Dr. She-Shepherd’s patient is a young pregnant girl whose unborn baby has a spinal tumor. They plan an “exit surgery,” a C-section to half-deliver the baby while the tumor is removed. The patient’s family isn’t well off, and the mother is worried about the expense, but Dr. She-Shepherd has some contacts that will make the surgery free. The mother leaves the girl in Izzie’s care to go work her night shift.
Cristina’s patient—the one who got a 10.0 on her dismount—has a large, nasty-looking rash on her leg. Cristina draws a LINE on the leg and challenges the rash to cross it. The patient and her husband turn out to be your stereotypical xtreme, Pontiac Aztek-owning Outside magazine couple from hell—they just finished climbing Mt. Rainier and want to run a 10k the next day. Dr. Heron enters and chats all bubbly-ly with the patient, pissing Cristina off royally. HAHA I love this. It emerges that the patient cut her foot on an oyster shell at the beach a few days earlier, so that may be the source of the infection. Worryingly, the rash has traveled across Cristina’s line of demarcation in a mere 30 seconds. Yay realism!
Meredith starts to confront Dr. Webber about his flirting with her mother, but he implies that he hasn’t seen Ellis recently, so she drops it. The picketing nurses, meanwhile, start asking George to do favors for specific patients inside the hospital, since the striking pinko bitches are too lazy to do it themselves.
In the O.R., Dr. Heron cheerily chops away at the infected-leg patient. She asks if anyone cares to “probe the wound,” which Alex takes as a cue to become ingratiating as all hell and rhapsodize about the joys of Dr. Heron’s “heal with love” method. Cristina rolls her eyes and grabs the instrument from Alex because she loves probing exposed flesh with cold, surgical steel. Especially while wearing assless pleather chaps. Anyway, the patient’s muscle tissue is really messed up—it turns out she has the flesh-eating bacteria. Damn, just last week I bet B-Side two barium enemas and a colostomy bag that they wouldn’t pull out flesh-eating bacteria til season three.
It turns out that the old woman patient who Meredith resuscitated was a terminal hospice case who had a “do not resuscitate” order. Three old harpies, who are apparently the old woman’s friends but more like Hades’ version of the Golden Girls, show up and complain that Meredith prevented the old lady from rejoining her recently deceased husband in the afterlife.
“Just pull the plug honey, I have a pie in the oven”
Cristina and Dr. Effervescence O’Mirthfulness inform flesh-eating girl’s husband that they may have to amputate his wife’s leg. In her pagan bloodthirst, Cristina insists that they have to amputate RIGHT THAT SECOND, but Dr. Heron says they might be able to save the leg by trying to excise all the infected tissue. Cristina argues that anything less than full amputation will spread the infection and kill the patient. Thanks for the encouragement, REICHSMARSCHALL YANG. Nonetheless, the patient’s husband knows she’d want to try to save the leg, so they opt for that approach.
The prognosis for Izzie’s patient’s tumor-afflicted baby is good, so she might be able to go home by the end of the week. Izzie talks to the young mother-to-be for a bit and realizes that she has made almost no plans or preparations for the new baby. Though she’s sometimes been judgmental in the past, Izzie is very understanding and empathizes with the girl. Yep, her JesusilÃ‚Â® 200mg must be kicking in.
In the O.R., it’s clear that Cristina has no respect for Dr. Heron and thinks that she’s in over her head with this flesh-eating bacteria. She reminds Dr. Heron once again that if the bacteria gets into the patient’s bloodstream, she’ll die. Dr. Heron retorts that Cristina has no compassion. Cristina says she’s just trying to save the patient from death; Dr. Heron says she wishes Cristina were more like Alex, which—given Alex’s history of failing board exams and, you know, KILLING PATIENTS—is too much for Cristina to handle. She promptly excuses herself from O.R. and runs to tell Dr. Burke that Dr. Heron might be killing the patient.
Dr. Burke hurries into the O.R. and questions Dr. Heron about her methods and her experience with flesh-eating bacteria. She says that aside from that one drunken night in ’79 with Grace Jones and all those midgets, she’s basically in new territory here. Dr. Heron shows surprising perception and cojones, giving Dr. Burke some lip before proceeding to eviscerate Cristina without even raising her voice. She decries Cristina’s lack of compassion and says she’s more eager to whip out the bone saw and amputate than actually try to save the leg in the first place. Damn, I miss Dr. Bailey, but woman could be almost as good.
The three harpy-friends of Meredith’s resuscitated old woman are pretty eager to pull her plug, but the patient’s daughter—a lesbian I might add—holds power of attorney. So they need her to show up and provide an original signature. Izzie, meanwhile, watches wistfully as her patient reads her unborn baby some lines from her bedside copy of As You Like It. Just don’t read Measure for Measure next, cause that play’s all about syphilis and we already have plenty of that here.
At the local bar, the nurses toast George for his help during the strike, while the interns all complain about things. Cristina whines about her embarrassing incident in the O.R. and insists that she’s a compassionate person; Meredith bemoans the fact that she may have to kill her old-woman patient tomorrow. Izzie looks upset but doesn’t say anything and abruptly heads out. Alex taunts Cristina and calls George “Nurse O’Malley.” One of the big Amazon nurses intentionally spills her drink in Cristina’s lap, and they nearly get in a nasty catfight that I am DYING TO SEE until the big burly cuddly gay bartender steps in and separates them. Meredith takes Cristina out.
“HOW DARE YOU ask me to handle money on the Sabbath!”
Meanwhile, Izzie goes back to the hospital to talk to her patient, the pregnant young girl. Izzie says she grew up in the same town as the girl, in a trailer park. She pauses for a moment and asks whether the patient can keep a secret. She then pulls a small photo out of her purse and we learn that OH. MY. GOD. GURL GOT HERSELF A TRAILER PARK LOVE CHILD. Yep, so apparently Izzie’s birth canal isn’t exactly an untrodden path. This isn’t necessarily a SURPRISE surprise, because we’re all well aware by now of Izzie’s less than privileged upbringing, but I was still pretty shocked. They should rename this place Seattle Grace Center for Out-of-Wedlock Procreation.
Izzie says she had the baby when she was 16, which means the girl is 11 now. Izzie knows only that her new parents named her Hannah. She gets emotional and tells the girl that, though the folks in the trailer park don’t talk about it much, she does have the option of giving the baby up for adoption if she’s not ready to be a mother. The girl says she loves the baby, but Izzie says that there’s no way she’ll be able to take care of her when she’s working twelve-hour shifts at a diner. This scene really is great.
Izzie takes a trip to Afterschoolspecialland
Cristina comes home to Dr. Burke’s, where he’s up late playing the trumpet—who knew? Though the flesh-eaten leg patient is apparently okay, Dr. Burke is mad at himself for questioning Dr. Heron in her own O.R. He says he never saw the problem of an intern dating an attending surgeon until today—since he realizes he intervened as Cristina’s man-friend rather than in his professional capacity as a surgeon.
The next day at the hospital, Dr. Burke asks George to do something, but he refuses, citing the picket line. It’s pretty unrealistic that George would be able to get away with this—but then again I don’t think we value Grey’s Anatomy for its realism, because after all it stars PATRICK DEMPSEY AS A NEUROSURGEON.
“As you’ve no doubt noted from my partner’s glasses, we’re raging bulldykes”
Two women approach Meredith. They turn out to be the old terminal woman’s daughter—a L*E*S*B*I*A*N, mind you—and her partner. They look like power lesbians from the Manhattan publishing world, only with more tweed. The mother of Izzie’s patient, meanwhile, comes back to the hospital and is angry that Izzie advised the girl to give the baby up for adoption. Izzie says the girl is smart and should be given every opportunity to break out of the trailer-park upbringing and succeed. Because others are within earshot, Izzie doesn’t admit her own backstory; instead, she plays the uppity waspy angle and says she knows what’s best for the girl. The mother is angry and resentful but knows that Izzie is right.
Dr. Heron tells her leg patient that the surgery was a success and that the leg likely will be functional. Alex fawns like, well, a fawn, while Cristina stands there like, well, an idiot. Dr. Heron continues to prove ballsy and says she’ll take Cristina’s apology anytime. The terminal old woman’s daughter, who is a dead ringer for Judy Woodruff—hell maybe it IS Judy Woodruff, since we all know TV news is going nowhere fast—signs the consent form to authorize Meredith to remove the breathing tube. After the daughter says her last goodbyes, Meredith administers a sedative, then pulls the plug.
Cristina remains too proud to apologize to Dr. Heron. Dr. Burke says she crossed the line and made him cross the line as well by dragging him into the situation. Cristina admits that she’s not used to being wrong; he reminds her that she’s still only an intern, so second-guessing her superiors isn’t her job.
Meredith agonizes because her old lady patient is still hanging on more than two hours after the plug is pulled. To distract herself, she confronts Dr. Webber about his visits to the nursing home—the staff told her he’s been stopping by a couple times a week. He asks whether Meredith would like him to stop going, but she doesn’t answer. He says he thinks Ellis is lonely.
Over the next couple minutes, we cut between scenes of Izzie and Dr. She-Shepherd delivering the teen mother’s baby and scenes of Meredith’s old lady patient finally passing through the pearly gates (or the lake of fire, if she happened to be, you know, NON-CHRISTIAN). This scene is very moving, and yes, the parallelism might be cheesy—one patient is born as another dies—but it still really works. We haven’t had a disarming moment like this in a few episodes, and it’s nice to see it back.
After calling the patient’s time of death, Meredith gets emotional and has to flee into that most comfy of refuges, the supply closet. Of course Dr. He-Shepherd is walking by at JUST THAT MOMENT and comes in to offer her the support of his brawny male bosom. Meredith starts hyperventilating but finally spits out that she doesn’t want her mother to die alone. This scene is quite moving until Meredith’s bulimia gets the best of her and she barfs prolifically into the hyperventilation bag Dr. He-Shepherd offers her. After thus unloading her bowel, she crosses the line and puts her head on Dr. He-Shepherd’s shoulder. Finally, she says she’s okay, while he does the McDreamy O’Soulfuleyes look. There’s a moment of suspense that has me shouting OH NO DON’T KISS THE BITCH, but Meredith manages to escape before any “relations” occur. Dr. He-Shepherd is left in the artistically lit solitude of the supply closet.
Quit with the bedroom eyes and hold her hair back, buster
Izzie’s patient asks her whether she’s ever regretted giving her baby up for adoption, and Izzie responds with an honest no. Nonetheless, she reminisces a bit, and it’s clear she’s still very emotional about the subject. This scene also is really well done.
After her breakdown, Meredith tells Dr. Webber she wants him to keep visiting her mother. Yeah, way to make the black man fill in for you when you’re too lazy to do it yourself, Scarlett. Cristina, meanwhile, is forced to suck it up and apologize to Dr. Heron in front of Alex. Dr. Burke, cocky as always, pulls rank and says he’s an attending and doesn’t have to apologize to underlings. Cristina mutters out the apology, and Dr. Heron wants to “hug it out.” Cristina flees.
At long last, it’s time for la montage finale. Dr. Webber apparently reaches some sort of settlement with the nurses, because there’s all manner of syphilitic celebration outside at the picket line. We then see Dr. He-Shepherd in bed petting Dr. She-Shepherd but clearly with his mind elsewhere. We then see George in bed playing video games and petting, well, something else. Izzie and Meredith both suddenly jump into bed with him, and he asks each if she’s okay. They both keep their lips sealed. As we fade to black, George has a nice throwaway line&mdash”Anybody wanna have sex?” Oh GREAT, somebody finally filled George in about the birds and the bees.
George—clearly not gay
I hope everyone else agrees that this episode was great, because if not you have really bad taste. In any case, it looks like they’re pulling out all the stops for next week’s post-Superbowl episode, which looks very intense. It has something to do with a “code black,” which looks to involve either terrorism or a hormonally rampaging Dr. Bailey.