« Mark Wilding on "Let The Truth Sting"... | Main | Krista Vernoff on "Haunt You Every Day"... »

Allan Heinberg on "The Heart of the Matter" ...

Original Airdate: 10-18-07

Not long ago, one of my smartest and most soulful friends found herself in the middle of a brutal divorce at exactly the same time my own ten-year relationship imploded.  We were both wrecked by the experience, but we got each other through it by convincing ourselves and each other that with enough time and therapy, we’d one day be able to let go of the all-consuming self-righteousness and rage we still felt toward our exes (who deserved it) and move on with our lives.  But a year and a half later, it still wasn’t happening.  We were angrier and bitterer and really tired of being single.  That’s when my smart, soulful and now impatient friend told me she’d figured it out.  “I have to forgive him,” she said.  “I’m never going to be able to move on until I forgive him.”  And I knew she was right.  I had to find a way to forgive my ex, too.  But how?  I mean, even if I was finally able to let go of all my anger and be grateful for the ten years we had together, how was I supposed to get in touch with him after sixteen months of terrible silence and say, “I forgive you”?  What the hell does he care if I’ve forgiven him.  He’s probably already moved on with his life.  He probably doesn’t even think he needs my stupid forgiveness.

So what did I do?  I did what most television writers do when they need the answer to one of life’s unanswerable questions:  I wrote a GREY’S ANATOMY episode about forgiveness and hoped to learn a little something along the way.

So, the subject of forgiveness:

George cheated on Callie.  He did.  He didn’t mean to exactly -- after all, George has proven himself to be a principled, loving person in the past -- but in a moment of angry, drunken weakness, he fell into bed with his best friend and apparently fell in love with her, too.  And then -- as if that wasn’t bad enough -- George lied to Callie about it.  For a long time.  And when he did finally tell Callie about his infidelity, he didn’t say he was in love with Izzie.  He told her he’d slept with her.  Maybe because he didn’t want to hurt Callie any more than he already had.  Or perhaps because he was hoping she’d be the one to end the marriage so he wouldn’t have to?  But that’s not what happened.  Instead George got the one response he’d never even considered.  Callie forgave him.  For Callie, that’s what you do when you love someone -- especially when you’ve made a lifelong commitment to someone -- you forgive him.  No matter what.  That’s what love’s about, right? 

So Callie forgave George.  And George suddenly found himself paralyzed -- unable to move in any direction -- until it became clear in that moment of near violence with her patient’s boyfriend that Callie, in fact, did not forgive George.  In spite of her best efforts, she’d been hurt, betrayed, and publicly humiliated to the point where forgiveness was impossible.  And she certainly had no forgiveness in her heart for Izzie -- even though Izzie seems to have finally realized that, although she and George may be the star-crossed heroes of their own love story, in Callie’s story, they're the bad guys.

Richard’s story also turns on the question of forgiveness.  As much as he still loves Adele -- and wants to stay married to her -- he cannot allow his feelings for her to dictate the way he fulfills his responsibilities as a physician.  Which has always been the conflict in their marriage.  And which -- in the context of Camille’s life or death decision -- Adele ultimately deems unforgivable.

As for Camille, keen-eyed GREY’S ANATOMY viewers will notice that the role is now being played by the brilliant Camille Winbush.  (If you’ve seen THE BERNIE MAC SHOW, you’ll recognize her instantly as Vanessa, Bernie’s sane, sharp-tongued niece.)  When the incredible Tessa Thompson, who originated the role of Camille, wasn’t available, we were fortunate indeed that Camille was able to step into part at the last minute with such extraordinary grace, intelligence, and heart.  I know cast changes are jarring, but Camille’s performance is so beautiful and so strong, I’m hoping you’ll forgive us.

In fact, forgiveness figures prominently in nearly all our characters’ stories.  Cristina forgives Lexie for being an intern.  Lexie forgives Cristina for being the new Nazi.  Mrs. Bitzer forgives Meredith and Norman when their carelessness makes her Icelandic dreams come true.  But for me the most remarkable act of forgiveness comes from Derek.

As a GREY’S writer, the question I’m most often asked (by parents, siblings, friends, and agents) is “Why aren’t Meredith and Derek together?”  Especially since Addison is gone and there don’t seem to be any concrete obstacles standing in their way.  “Why,” they ask, “can’t those two just stop whining and get together and be happy for a change?”   And most of the time when people share their feelings on the subject, it’s poor Meredith who gets the blame.  She has issues.  She’s dark and twisty.  She’s self-destructive and can’t allow herself even a single moment’s happiness.  But I don’t think that’s entirely accurate or fair.  After all, Derek lied at the beginning of their relationship by not revealing he was married.  And then when Addison showed up at Seattle Grace, he left Meredith and went back to her.  So, I can understand why Meredith has trust issues with Derek.

But in terms of why they’re not together now, the most compelling analysis comes from Mark Sloan (and it’s a remarkable testament to the power of forgiveness that Mark and Derek’s friendship has survived to this point) when he observes that Meredith is essentially still an intern.  She’s just starting out -- as a physician and as an adult -- whereas Derek’s life and career are firmly established.  He knows exactly who he is and what he wants -- and he’s ready to settle down.  He’s ready to get married and build Meredith a house and have kids with her and grow old with her.  And I’m sorry, but Meredith just isn’t there yet.  Nor should she be.  She’s a second year intern who’s only now coming to terms with who she is and what she wants to be.

Meredith and Derek love each other -- they do -- they may even be each other’s soul mates -- but right now they’re at vastly different points in their lives.  It’s no one’s fault.  It’s just a fact.  And by the end of the episode when Derek gets on the elevator, I think he finally sees and accepts Meredith for who she truly is -- regardless of whether or not she’s able to give him what he wants in that moment.  He simply loves her.  In spite of everything that’s gone before and no matter what happens next.

Which seems to me to be what forgiveness is really about:  acceptance.  Letting go of the hurt feelings -- or more precisely the ego blows -- we experience when our lives -- and the people in our lives -- don’t behave the way we want them to.  Which, let’s face it, is most of the time.  But if we can somehow recognize and accept ourselves and others for who we are -- without judgment -- those “hurt feelings” fade away and are replaced by what feels a lot like forgiveness.  At least that’s what happened with me and my ex.

Thanks for watching.  And for reading.

-- Allan Heinberg


Matthew Rushing

Wow! Wow! Every week it just keeps getting better! We are getting to the meat of the show, of the characters! So, so good!

Derek said what I have longed for him to say for a long time. He said that he love Meredith, wants to marry her and die in her arms. How poetic, how romantic, how amazing! He told Meredith that he understands her and why she is frightened and that she is not ready. He will wait. He also told her, honestly, that if someone else comes along, he might not be able to wait. The honesty is so refreshing. Sometimes the truth can set you free. Now if that new love interest comes along for Derek, Meredith can realize that she cannot loose him. She will be pushed to choose him. It is something that happens a lot in real life. I was so happy that Meredith wants to get better, she wants Derek. What steps for these two tonight!

I knew that Callie was going to tell George that she forgave him. I also knew it could not say like that. Callie says that Izzie took advantage of George, but if you look at it Callie was the one who took advantage. George’s dad died and he made an impulsive decision that Callie should have not accepted. But she took advantage, because she felt more than George and wanted marriage.You notice when Bailey says, ”People are stupid and just want to be loved.” the look on Callie’s face. I think that she realizes that she married George for the wrong reasons there. She wanted to be loved, and made a huge mistake. Izzie and George had a previous relationship that was taken to the next level. It was not right, it was the wrong time, but it was also the natural outflow of what was already there. Seems like there is more to happen here. Callie seems to be really unstable. I understand that she feels wronged, and rightly so, but she also did marry a man that she knew did not have the same feelings for her that she had for him. I could see her being the one that is fired next week. I hope that this will end with George and Izzie together.

Alex really grew tonight. He had a reason to feel hurt by Izzie. He put himself out there and got rejected for someone that he does not even like or respect. That hurts. It showed real growth though for him to tell Izzie what was wrong and even more growth to give Izzie the Kleenex. He really does seem to love Ava and she is back next week!

I was mad at Adele tonight. How could she be so selfish about her niece? If she truly loved her she would let her go. Poor Richard, he would love nothing more to save his marriage and Camille, but not at the expense of torturing his niece. He showed real strength as a doctor and as a man tonight.

Cristina really seemed to respond to Derek’s teaching. She is taking out some of her anger on her interns that is not right. I liked that she and Lexie came to a compromise in the end.

This week was really funny! Loved Norman again, Seriously! Mark trying to teach was great and George running all over the place! Seriously!


You didn't mention Alex and Izzie, which I thought was one of the more moving moments in the episode. He has to learn to forgive and let go of his pain too. And Camille, well, she just makes me cry. Another excellent episode for the season.


For 3 years now, Derek has been 110% committed to Meredith and all of her internish ways. He has stood by her side through the death of her mother, the untimely death of her step-mother and even her OWN death! After all of this, Shonda Rhimes is still stunting Meredith's growth. She does still act like an intern and why is that?! Granted she has been through a lot, yet why does that have to consistently plague the one solid relationship she has? Shonda, please, let Meredith be happy. Let her grow. Let her be with a man that is offering her a lifetime of love. To keep them apart because of Meredith's inability to commit is ridiculous. After all this time, let her character grow.


"Which seems to me to be what forgiveness is really about: acceptance. Letting go of the hurt feelings -- or more precisely the ego blows -- we experience when our lives -- and the people in our lives -- don’t behave the way we want them to. Which, let’s face it, is most of the time. But if we can somehow recognize and accept ourselves and others for who we are -- without judgment -- those “hurt feelings” fade away and are replaced by what feels a lot like forgiveness. " That bit of wisdom right there definitely just made me a huge fan of you.


Absolutely FABULOUS episode!! The Greys that we love from season 1 & 2 is back!! THANK YOU!!!


Wow. Quite an episode...

I don't know whether to scream, cry, grin... I'm bascially just freaking out.

So good job---because Callie's depression/rage/dissapoint, Izzie's fear/guilt/her own share of sadness, Meredith and Derek and... yeah. It all translated.

I've spent many a minute procrastinating this week, trying to figure out what was going to happen this week. And on pretty much every front, I was wrong. So nice job in that, too--keeping us our toes, for sure.

Thanks, also, for returning to some older charectors and arcs; I've wondered what's happened to Camille since the prom, and what happened to all those feelings Alex had for Izzie.

I'm having troulbe writing anything--that last montauge is just running through my head.

Well, something to get me throught to next week, anyway.

Thanks for a great episode! I'm loving this new season.




Derek loves her? What a joke, he is the biggest jerk I ever saw for what he told her.

Let him go find his new woman to give him 2.5 babies and a house.

Meredith deserves a far better man than him. He is not McDreamy at all. Just end Meredith and Derek once and for all because this is just done and over with now. The writers ruined them and Derek is a joke of a selfish man.


That's crap. If Derek really loves Mer, he wouldn't ever consider going off with someone else, because they want a house and kids, etc.

If he LOVES Mer, he will WAIT for her, no matter WHO comes along.

That was just insulting to all Mer/Der fans out there. Sure, say all the dreamy things, and then give him an out to leave Mer.

Sounds an awful lot like CONDITIONAL love, not unconditional love. Either get on my game plan, or I could be gone?

That's not the Mer/Der we know. That's not the Der that pulled Mer from the water. And it's not the Der that ended things with Addison. And it's not the Der that stepped aside for Finn.

NO, this is some cheap way to up the ratings.

Matthew Rushing

Thank you for such a beautiful blog. I really love your showing how dreamy, McDreamy really is! Great episode! I am loving Grey's!


Ok Grey's. First episode in a LONG and I do mean a LONG time that was worth watching. Keep it up, and I might forgive you. Slowly. Maybe. Forgiveness is the theme this week? Well, that wasn't bad for an episode of atonement.

first comment!
I loved tonights episode, and thought it was really amazing. Callie was AMAZING and I really enjoyed every scene that she was a part of..Having her tell Izzie off was SO great. As mean as it is/was on my part, I really loved that! haha..

Merder-Okay..I loved the first scene they had together because it was basically more time then they had last week.lol. I loved Derek's speech, because it was really mcdreamy..i literally loved it. They need to get their act together.SOON.
Also, they BOTH need to stop listening to other people's opinions..
thats getting old.fast.

Pam in Janesville CA

I think the main reason watching Grey's is so compelling from week to week is the hard work you writers put in.....I am grateful for blogs, and the insight it provides to us, the viewers for each episode. It reveals the blood and sweat and tears of the making of each one. For that I do thank you all.

You writers, all of you - how you delve into your own life's experiences and bring those lessons to the table for us to see.......
enjoy is not really the right word in this situation. We do enjoy watching Grey's obviously, but the wonderful thing is that
you all make such an effort to make this human. Medicine, especially emergency medicine is more about the human in all of us than
diagnostics. How we live our lives, whether we do it in spite of hurting others, or find ways to go on and try to be kind - like
as in the forgiveness quotient tonight.

Thank you for continuing to write intelligent shows for us to see........and enjoy too.

Pam in Janesville


That was a really good episode, no it was, great! Thanks


I think you, Allan, did a great job on your blog. Thanks.


damn - soooooo good. and you are soooo right about forgiveness. you can say "i forgive you," but it doesn't really just happen. you have to really work at forgiveness. like my sis said, when she was going through her divorce "fake it 'til you make it." you will come out the other side, and you will be stronger. crap - now i'm preaching! sorry. but great episode, thank you. and i really was prepared to hate lexie, too - but she is awesome. thank you again...


Awsome episode my favorite of the season so far!!!

Mer Der it just feels like every week you guys come up with a new way to keep them apart and quite frankly its getting pretty old...... just try and be different and let them be together for a change in a healthy relationship.... if Derek understands like you say then he should just be happy with a serious relationship and wait for the rest of the stuff with family and homes and such....... Oh and by the way they are eachothers solemates so even try to say differently!!!

Awsome episode.... i think it was my fav because gizzie didn't have any scenes together haha


Hope to see Meridith and Derek's relationship grow into a more mature relationshiip. Love the medical stories. The old intern gets on my nerves. Love love Bailey. I want to see Izzy lighter and have more fun. Love to see her and Alex together. Tonight it looked like he was reaching out to her. Give Mark a hot woman. Perhaps he and Christina would be a good match with their egos. George and Callie are a disaster. George would be good with Lexie. I want to see lots of humor and great medical stories. Callie needs to lighten up. Not sure where you are going to take her.


Poor poor Derek, he loves Meredith who is so childish and can't give him what he wants.

SERIOUSLY? You people think it's sweet for him to say "I love you, will wait, will sleep with you, but if someone better comes along who wants what I want now Bye bye"

That is love? Jeeze. Just end Meredith and Derek now we can all see the new Derek love interest coming, so just at least give her some dignity so she isn't completely treated like trash she was today by Derek.

Let Derek go have his new love and person he wants a family with. But Meredith but freaking get the same deal with a real man who knows love, unconditional love and won't sleep with her until someone else comes along.

Mollie Christianson

Wonderful comments on tonight's show! I too find my heart wrenched for Derek and Meredith...i am an INCREDIBLY faithful and vigilant Grey's lover...and i think Derek's realization in tonight's issue was..amazingly written. It opened my eyes to see his eye's opened up to Meredith and what she wants and what she needs...i'm on the edge of my seat to see what happens to them! Can't wait for next week!! Thanks for another incredible episode:)


Shonda!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Noooooooooooooooooooooooo I cant even believe it. Its like the season 3 finale all over again. Nothing went right with this episode. How are you even going to pick up from here. I miss the old greys, the one with burke and addison. One where everyone wasnt so miserable. I just dont get it. I love greys so much but every time i watch it now it just makes me sad. I just dont get why with greys and private practice, nobody seems to get to have a happy relationship. Cant there be some happiness. Life is not as horrible as you make it seem. I just read this weeks "grey" matter and i dont care what it says, derek and meredith do belong together, i know that he lied to her, i know that she has been through alot, but when he said all that stuff about marriage to her i was just like please go kiss him and say yes, please please please, but of course that didnt happen. I JUST DONT GET IT. Just please fix the whole mer der thing, even if they dont get married right away at least let them start dating, cause right now it seems like something might happen between lexie and derek and that absolutly cannot happen. I never share my opinion, except with greys because i love greys, except now i dont no if i can continue watching cause every week when i watch this show i just get sad, and nobody wants to watch a show that makes them sad every week. And izzie, i dont care what she did callie doesnt have to be so rude. i really dislike callie now, i dont feel sorry for her at all, after all she did cheat on george with sloan. I just dont understand how in a little over a year, which is supposed to be how long they have been at seatle grace, izzie can start of dating a hockey player or whatever, date alex, get engaged to denny, have denny pass away, and get involved with george. Come on is that really realistic for a little over a one year period. I feel like there just cant be happiness with love. Its just so sad. Please fix it, please please please,


If what you are telling us is that Mer and Der have timing issues and they are not going to be together this year or maybe any year, I"m done. I can't sit and watch two people who are supposed to love each other continue to hurt and disappoint each other every week. What hooked millions of viewers on this show was seeing Mer/Der together, happy, loving each other. This continual conflict and disappointment every week turns me off...for good.


It was a nice episode but terribly cruel to Izzie. I'm sure it will impress a lot of people who impose Gizzie but to me, and all other Gizzie fans, it was hard to see her get shut down without George to even help her get through it. Instead, he was a coward. He neglected to tell Callie he loves Izzie and yet even though that would get him out of his marriage, he just DOESN'T DO IT! How frustrating. Now, what? Callie is going to just assume reconciliation is an option when she does finally forgive him? Grrrrr... what have you done to Gizzie? I know people have had their problems but now everyone is suffering. Izzie is STILL alone and now ostrosized as a bitch. Callie is humiliated and still married to George. And... George is nowhere to be found. Not in Izzie's room comforting her, not in Callie's hotal room apologizing and ENDING his marriage. Why make the George character move backwards? He was doing such a good job up until now... now.... I don't know what to think. I just hope Gizzie gets support from Meredith and a convinced Alex. Honestly, just don't make judgmental friends decide what Gizzie is, let George and Izzie decide.


Derek's speech...heart wrenching! I sobbed! Love it! Thumbs up on the episode!


Loved the episode! I loved it mostly because of Sara Ramirez and her amazing acting skills. She is able to convey so much without even speaking that you just feel for Callie and what she is going through. Major props and kudos to Sara who was the STAR of your show tonight!!! I can't wait to see more of what is ahead for her character and I would love it if it in some way involved Mark...they are awesome together and she deserves better than George.

Bottom line...the season is getting better and better with every show and I am totally on Team Callie! :-)

The comments to this entry are closed.