Mark Wilding on "Let The Truth Sting"...
The truth. We like to think there’s only one version of it. Namely, our own. But then someone else comes along and they insist on giving you their (generally wrongheaded) version of the truth. The truth is…there’s all sorts of truths. The varnished truth. The unvarnished truth. The naked truth. Half-truths. Whole truths. And what we finally addressed in this episode. THE PAINFUL TRUTH. The kind of truth we don’t always want to hear.
We all have these ideas of ourselves – of how we are – so when somebody else actually weighs in about us, well, it can be a shock. I’m going to quote the Scottish poet Robert Burns right now because I’ve always wanted to quote him and I couldn’t really figure how to cram this quote into a birthday toast or a Thanksgiving speech or a piece of wisdom I might pass on to my kids – who wouldn’t want to hear it anyway (that’s my painful truth). Also it might lend this blog a little more class. “If only God, the gift he gee us/To see ourselves as others see us.” Yes, even famous Scottish poets wrote about the painful truth.
Anyway, just about everyone at Seattle Grace has to face the painful truth about themselves in this episode. Bailey when she has to stand in front of Callie and admit that she’s been having trouble with the pecking order of things. Callie, who is, my God, hiding from the truth because she can’t bear to hear what she just KNOWS is coming. Okay, she doesn’t know one hundred percent KNOW, KNOW but she suspects and that’s enough to drive her underground – into the Residents Lounge. Anything to avoid her cheating husband…
How about Lexie and Meredith? Meredith’s served a painful, unwelcome dollop of the truth when Bailey tells her that she hasn’t said a kind word to her sister since she arrived at Seattle Grace. And after that fact settles on Meredith, she decides she has to give Lexie the painful truth about her mother. Meredith has been so cold to Lexie – in Lexie’s mind at least – that it’s even got her to wondering about the level of care that Susan may have received on the last day of her life. And that scene where Meredith sits down with Lexie and starts to lay out the facts of her mom’s death – where we see Lexie finally getting the painful truth – well, let’s just say it’s one of my favorite scenes in the show.
A couple of my other favorite scenes involve Izzie and Charlie. Shonda said she wanted Grey’s to go in a happier, lighter direction this year. And I think this story was the kind of thing she had in mind. A patient who wants to die, is in fact DETERMINED to die and…it’s funny and kinda heartbreaking. And here’s a behind the scenes tidbit. We hired the actor Jack Axelrod to be Old Guy last year. The idea was that his room would be the place where our interns could occasionally go to study or eat. We put Jack in a semi-coma so our gang would essentially have their own private lunch room/study hall.
During the course of last season, we used Jack to lie in the bed and, well…just lie in the bed. And he closed his eyes and he would shift in bed, make an occasional mouth sound and he was very good at it. When we decided to wake him up from his year long sleep, we knew Jack was a professional actor, we just weren’t sure how good a professional actor he’d be. At least I wasn’t. But, my God, he was a TERRIFIC actor. I LOVED him sparring with Izzie. He was funny and ornery and straightforward and yet compassionate as Charlie. Especially when it came to telling Izzie the painful truth. That married men will string you along. That they’re not always in the habit of telling you the truth. And as much as Izzie didn’t want to hear what Charlie had to say, she came to appreciate him, even seek him out. He became her friend. And frankly, Jack was so good in the part that for a brief, fleeting moment, we even thought maybe we should keep him around. But in the interest of good storytelling, we just couldn’t. Which really kinda hurt…
Then there’s the subject of their sparring. George. Who starts out determined to tell Callie the painful truth about himself and Izzie but his interaction with Connie and her friends – sometimes the truth can be TOO painful – makes him reconsider, then finally dive in and tell Callie that he slept with Izzie. Wait until you see him deal with the consequences of that next week. Allan Heinberg wrote a very funny, very moving episode. So even if you missed this episode, tune in to that one! It’s great!
Mark and Derek also trade truths with each other. Mark has to remind Derek about the truth of his relationship with Meredith. That maybe he’s fooling himself and she won’t ever be all whole. And Derek returns the truth-telling favor when he scolds Mark and the Chief for being foolhardy in trying a way too experimental surgery on Connie. Although, he softens the blow in that same scene when he reminds the Chief to tell Adele the truth about why he wants to move back in. That he misses her, that she’s all he can think about, etc. Which is, truth be told, vintage McDreamy.
Finally, we get to see Bailey give our big truth-teller, Alex, the truth. That there’s a reason we don’t listen to interns – it’s dangerous. And then if finally falls to Alex to unload on the world’s oldest intern, Norman. Ed Hermann is great in the part (wait until you see him next week, he’s hysterical). Ed plays Norman as nice and avuncular and such a sweet soul. However, despite his advanced age, the truth is Norman has a lot to learn. After all, he’s still an intern.
And, as we’ve discovered over the last three seasons, what can be more painful than that?