Carolina Paiz on "Don't Stand So Close To Me"
Original Airdate: 11-30-06
I’m the “baby writer” around here. That doesn’t mean that I’m in charge of writing all the medical baby stuff, which is what one of the actors asked after Shonda introduced me. What it means is that I’m the youngest, most inexperienced and by far the luckiest writer on the whole staff. Cause little people like me don’t get hired into big time TV without a lot of luck (so okay, some hard work was involved too). In any case, I’m here, working at the funnest office of all time. Seriously. Not just saying. It’s kind of like working at Seattle Grace but without the sex. And the drama… but all of the interesting and the funny.
“Don’t Stand So Close To Me” is my first episode of aired TV, and I’m honored to have been given a chance to write it. I was a HUGE fan of the show before getting hired, which made it very hard to speak up in the writer’s room at first. It was just too close for comfort. These people were my heroes… and so I shook and trembled for a while (as you may have noticed from the blog, us writers are an easily frightened breed.) But scary though writing this episode was, it was also an amazing experience. Being so close to the characters and to the show meant that while it was daunting, it was also thrilling. And that’s exactly what this episode is all about. About how being too close to something can be a disaster… or a completely enlightening experience. Or both. And in the spirit of the Holidays, we decided to illustrate this point through the one thing we can never seem to get too close or too far away from this season: our families. Our biological families, our stepfamilies, our surrogate families.
Take Meredith … Her morning starts bright and early at the Nursing Home, where her mother is freaking over having been left by Richard. Again. And this alone is already uncomfortable… but then Ellis confesses that she regrets having had a daughter. And it hits Meredith like a slap in the face. This is way more information that she needed. To make matters worse, she arrives to the hospital to find that her intern family is in chaos… and that her stepfamily is also here, ready to give birth.
Meredith becomes determined not to let Susan and Molly get to her. She wants to remain professional. So much so that she volunteers to be their intern. But Mer quickly finds that this was a mistake. Being present during the birth of Laura, and seeing that little tiny baby suffer … it makes Meredith realize just how much she cares about these people. Addison notices, and immediately has her taken off the case. And for the rest of the episode, Meredith makes a conscious effort to remain unaffected by Susan and Molly… which is hard. Cause Susan is so … sweet. And nurturing. And giving. And everything that Ellis is not. And so when Susan hugs her and calls Laura Meredith’s niece… it’s all just a little too much to handle … and Meredith’s forced to flee.
But not before she’s learned something… that being physically close can bridge an emotional divide… it can draw families in closer… And so that night, Meredith decides to go back to the Nursing Home. Her mother is even more troubled than she was in the morning… and this time, Meredith takes a big step… and decides to mother her own mother… she sees that Ellis needs consoling and so she steps up and takes her into her arms. And that closeness… it’s exactly what Ellis needed.
And then there’s George. Poor George. His dad is in the hospital and he’s so concerned. He’s trying his best to hold it together, to be the good son and the good doctor… but it’s really hard to be both. And pretty soon, he’s crossed a line and Bailey gives him a verbal restraining order: stay 50 feet away from your father or else… But of course, George doesn’t listen. Which is good… cause he and Callie are there to help save his father’s life.
But it’s while watching his father’s surgery that George comes to understand why Bailey wanted him far away… As soon as that saw blade starts cutting through his father’s chest, he realizes he can’t bear to watch. No matter how good a doctor he is, sometimes, it’s just too painful to be that close. And so Dr. Burke walks him through his dad’s surgery in one of the sweetest moments that we’ve ever seen between these two. And after it’s all over, we realize that their friendship will be okay.
Speaking of Burke, let me address the Burktina of it all… So Cristina did this thing… she told on her attending, on her boyfriend. She told on him because she thought it was the right thing to do. But Burke disagrees. He feels like he was going to handle the situation and that Cristina just got ahead of him, and that by doing so, she betrayed him. So now this stubborn pairing has reached an impasse. Neither is talking to the other. They are existing in close proximity… they live in the same apartment, they work in the same hospital… but they’re keeping their emotional distance. And for a while, we think that maybe this is IT for them. Caput. The End of Burktina. But then, when Derek says he’s going to go take another look at Burke’s shoulder… Cristina gets on the elevator to go with them. The relationship may be at an impasse, but this is her Preston Burke, and she’s sticking by him. And so Burktina continues on… limping… but alive.
In his effort to come to grips with his own problems, Burke has caused much trouble around the hospital. He’s damaged not only his reputation, but also the self-assurance of some of his fellow surgeons. Which brings me to Derek and Bailey. To be a surgeon, you have to be uber-confident. You have to be able to pick up that sharp scalpel and cut people open. You have to be able to pick up those forceps and fix people’s lives. And to make a surgeon question their abilities is to put patients at risk… Which is exactly what Bailey went through a few weeks ago… And what Derek is going through in this episode.
Burke has told him that it’s his fault that his hand is tremoring, and though Derek knows better… though he knows that he did all that he could and that Burke’s progress is remarkable… it’s enough to plant that small seed of doubt. And that small seed? It flowers pretty quickly. So that by the time the twins come in, Derek begins to question whether or not he can pull such a difficult surgery off. But thankfully Bailey is there, to help remind him of his skills, to let him know that Burke’s tremor is NOT Derek’s fault… but that if Derek had known about it earlier, he could have potentially fixed it. And with his confidence back, Derek plunges into the twin’s surgery. And thankfully, him and his team of surgeons succeed. And what a talented team it is.
Which brings me to my next point. McSteamy… mmm. Can I just say, now that it’s getting all chilly out… it’s nice to have a little Steamy in our lives. Even though once again he’s causing trouble everywhere he goes. He knows that Derek can do this surgery. What he doesn’t know is why Derek is backing out… which causes some friction for these two during the rehearsal surgery and the actual surgery… but once they’ve pulled it off, they share a second… just a brief, fleeting second of camaraderie and friendship. Did you catch it? After the rush of adrenaline that comes with such a fantastic surgical victory, Derek and Mark share a moment, a laugh. It was nice to see… it gave us a glimpse into what their friendship dynamic must have looked like back in NYC. When Steamy wasn’t the mortal enemy.
I love Steamy. I do. He’s so fresh; he just doesn’t care about these people or their dramas. He’s out to take care of himself… Or so we’re meant to think… until he reaches out and does something incredibly kind and lovely for Izzie. He brings her into the OR so that she can watch the twins surgery up close… which is a BIG DEAL. Izzie hadn’t been inside an OR since the Denny thing… and it was pretty selfless of Steamy to step up and show Izzie that he has a heart under all that unbelievable Hotness. So yes, he can be impertinent and evil and demeaning and YES there was definitely some sexual harassment going on… but admit it. You kinda love the Steamy too.
Steamy Sloan reminds me a little of Alex… who, by the way, is my favorite character. He has so much going on inside … you think you’ve got him figured out but then he just reveals this whole other side to him. I loved him interacting with the twins. (Brilliantly played by Jason and Randy Sklar). Jake and Pete risk their lives to undergo a huge surgery to separate themselves from each other… only to ask to be reunited in the end. The twin’s relationship, in a nutshell, epitomizes what’s going on with all of our people… the twins, like our hospital interns, residents and attendings, are a family in disarray… fighting and distant… they may think that they want to be apart from each other, but the truth is that they can’t deny that they’re family. And they belong together.
Which is why it’s nice to see that in the end, Cristina and the other ‘terns make-up (though it may take George some time to come around) and that Cristina and Burke take a step in the same direction. Burke and Derek make up too… I mean even McSteamy and McDreamy are semi-friendly by the end of it. And of course, who can forget Bailey finally coming to terms with what’s happened and understanding the Chief’s perspective. And a valid perspective that is… The Chief gives powerful speeches in this episode in which he makes it loud and clear what his opinions are. I don’t know how he’s going to retire when there’s such mayhem going on around him. But one thing is clear. He wants to retire. Because he needs his Adele back. But how can the surgical family survive without his guidance? I, for one, am in a panic.
And by the way, YES, I did notice there is very little Mer/Der in this episode. Don’t worry… They are fine. They are better than fine. They are in love and happy and there was just so much surgery and family drama going on that they weren’t able to see each other much during this episode. But they are FINE. I love Mer and Der as much as you all… And I’m so very sorry they didn’t get much screen time. But stay tuned, cause some great stuff with them is coming up in January. I promise.
Okay, this is running way long. So let me wrap it up by saying HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL OF YOU! And if you’re looking for a nifty present, Stacy McKee (the baby writer before me and one of our resident geniuses) just told me she bought her mom a mug that says McDreamy… and when you pour hot liquid into it, the lettering morphs into McSteamy! HA! Now that’s a stocking stuffer we can all look forward to …
(available in the Grey’s Anatomy Store at abc.com)