« Jenna Bans on "There's No 'I' In Team"... | Main | Bill Harper On "Rise Up"... »

Mark Wilding on "Life During Wartime"...

Original Airdate: 10-30-08

First things first.  No animals were harmed in the filming of my episode.  None.  I know ABC ran that thing before the show started that told you that, but I figured you should hear it from me too.  Those four pigs were entirely and utterly fake.  Fake, fake, fake.  From their little piggy tails to their glistening piggy snouts, they were nothing but plastic and fiberglass and possibly straw for the whiskers.  Even their breathing was fake.  It came courtesy of some guy who stood just off camera and pumped an air hose (or something similarly technical that I couldn’t explain in a million years).  What WAS real is the issue of using animals to teach and perfect surgical technique.  Like Derek says in the episode, it’s not ideal, but a lot of hospitals in this country use live animals for procedures where surgical mannequins have yet to successfully replicate trauma to humans.  Things like blood volume loss – something else I probably couldn’t explain in a million years.  Anyhow, I thought we were pretty evenhanded in dealing with the issue of animal testing.  I heard from both sides as we were shooting the episode (boy, did I hear).  Compelling arguments were made on BOTH sides -- including one surgeon who told me that a day after learning to do open heart surgery on a pig, she used the same technique on a human being THE NEXT DAY.  She told me point blank, without a doubt in her mind, that if she hadn’t learned that procedure there’s no way she would have saved that person’s life.

At any rate, I thought it was a cool way to bring back Major Owen Hunt.  Even if people were appalled by what he did, his goal in the wet lab was to teach people.  And to teach them the best way he knows how.  Teaching, incidentally, is one of our major themes this year.  See one, do one, teach one.  You want to move up from being the number 12 hospital in the country, you’ve gotta fight that fight on all fronts.  Be it operating on pigs, hiring better doctors or doing a better job with the doctors who are already here.  Anyway, I think we came to understand Owen’s attitude toward the pigs at the end of the episode when he tells Cristina about losing all his army buddies in the RPG attack.  If you’ve seen 19 of your friends die in one day, it tends to make other things in your life not seem quite as important or dramatic.  My wife really doesn’t care what Owen (Kevin McKidd) does or doesn’t do to pigs.  She’s just glad to see him back at Seattle Grace.  REALLY, REALLY GLAD.  Much like Cristina, she just thinks he’s cool and sexy as hell (I’m not either of those things so I just make up lame excuses why she can’t visit the set and meet him -- he’s a leper, he’s got TB, he’s allergic to blondes – whatever will keep her at bay).  At any rate, he and Cristina make for a really interesting couple – even if he didn’t remember her name!

Speaking of names, I loved Meredith remembering the silly names she gave Anatomy Jane’s organs.  But if unearthing Anatomy Jane brings out Meredith’s playful side, it does just the opposite for the Chief.  He, like Owen, is fighting his own set of demons.  Always lurking somewhere in the back of his mind is the fact that his behavior as a young man somehow destroyed Meredith’s life.  She never had the army Tori Begler has.  She never had people looking out for her.  People who could protect her from life’s vicissitudes.  So when that doll suddenly re-appears, so does the Chief’s guilt.  I don’t know if that’s something he’ll ever be able to resolve because I don’t think those kinds of things are easily resolved, even in real life.  There are some things you just can’t forgive yourself for.  In my wife’s case, it’s her attraction to Kevin McKidd.  I’m sure, at some point in her life, she’ll feel very, very guilty about that.   

As for some of our other couples…I can never get enough of Izzie and Alex.  He’s trying to be a good boyfriend and going about it in a typical Alex way.  So that when Owen tells Derek and Mark that he wants to know what he did wrong with the scalp patient, Alex is all ears.  As well as he knows Izzie, in many ways she’s still a foreign country to him.  She has different customs and ways.  You can either dismiss those customs and ways or try to learn to do things differently.  In much the same way, Callie and Erica have yet to…calibrate.  If that’s the word.  They’re moving at different speeds into their relationship.  Callie’s more hesitant, maybe not sure she wants to throw herself one hundred percent into this thing.  While Erica sees the leaves on the trees for God’s sake!  Meanwhile George and Lexie have reached a truce of sorts.  I have to say, I loved that last scene where she made him a dinner of macaroni and cheese. 

Bailey, of course, is pretty much trying to drive up Seattle Grace’s ranking by herself.  From her domino surgery to removing six organs at one go, she’s on fire.  She’s not letting anything or anyone (namely Erica Hahn) get in her way.  When Tori’s father talks about hospitals and how doctors ignore you or don’t talk to each other or somehow lose sight of what they’re here for – to do the best they can for the patient – it’s hard for me to clump Bailey in that group.  But even she can occasionally get sidetracked (only to be set back on course by the Chief).  Still, at the end, when the Chief is looking in at the Beglers all crowding around Bailey, we get the impression (or at least I hope you got it) that she’s well on her way to succeeding him as the best general surgeon at Seattle Grace. 

As for getting back to being one of the top hospitals in the country?  Our doctors have a ways to go and lot of battles to fight.  Like my wife’s latest Seattle Grace crush, Mr. Owen Hunt tells Derek and Mark, this is still pretty much Day One for them…


Mary from Washington

Hey Mark,
Thanks for another great episode. It was really nice to see Owen Hunt back at SGH. I really loved the interactions between Mer and the chief as well as Owen and Izzie and Owen and Cristina. I think it's going to be really exciting to see what happens next for all of these characters. I would have liked to have seen a little more of my favorite couple (MerDer) but I know that it's hard to squeeze everyone in. Thanks again for writing a great episode. The writers are often not very appreciated, but I know how difficult the work can be and I respect your work and thank you for keeping a show very dear to me going. Thanks again.


I waited until 1:17 am to say this.


I have no complaints. Not one. I loved this episode.
And even better that, Izzie was back full force.

I'm just so satisfied.


This was the best episode of Grey's in seasons. I loved tonight. Thank you for Owen Hunt!!! He is completely refreshing and has really amped the show back up again in his short appearances. Please bring him on as a regular.

Looking forward to Cristina/Owen and Izzie/Alex. Having couples that have a two way conversation and actually communicate is a nice change of pace after years of Meredith & Derek. I liked that each talked in their own way yet still managed to communicate. Makes each couple unique and enjoyable. I do not like Callie/Erica because I do not like Hahn. At all. However, I do love Mark/Callie and hope that Callie/Hahn is just a detour on the way to Mark/Callie. Bailey, well Bailey is just awesome. Adored her smackdown to Hahn at the end.

If you continue with episodes like this then like Alex I am all in again.

Thank you Mark!


Why does merder always end up with 30 seconds a show? I know there's 100 people on the show now but MerDer is what I started watching again for they were the ones in the magazines i saw for this season i expected to you know actually see them.


Oh I forgot one thing...
You (Mark) rock for writing an episode where I understood and related to every single emotion the characters were going through.

That is all.


Loved it, completely loved it! I am so happy to have Alex and Izzie back. Loved Alex at the end asking her to teach him, her asking him to go steady. I'm also falling in love with Cristina and Owen. Great chemistry between them. Its so great to have pairings to root for instead of all ones that make one cringe. I'm with your wife, I want Owen on the show.

I can't wait for next week. Something I haven't been able to say in some time. Excellent work and great blog.

Really really good. I loved every minute. And Hahns speech about leaves was wonderful. I really like everything especially Owens return and how simply you told why. Like him, you kept the explanation short and to the point.
Well done.


Best episode I've seen in a long time. Welcome back Grey's.

Loved everything Owen. Please keep him around. It does the show wonders. Every scene he had tonight with the whole cast was perfect. I think there are good things to come with him. Cristina was great tonight, love her outside of Meredith. She shines. Lexie was great too.

Nothing but love for what this show is doing with Alex and Izzie right now, it’s at a good pace. Keep this up! Love that we are finally getting stuff from Alex, it’s way overdue.

The amount of Meredith and Derek tonight was right on. I usually like the episodes that are not Meredith and Derek drama heavy. It's good to see Derek in scenes with other cast members. It was also nice to see Meredith not all down on life again after Richard spoke to her in the end, I thought for sure it was coming.

Mark/Callie, I was pleasantly surprised on how much I liked their scenes tonight. I was worried going in that once again it was Mark getting used. I won’t jump on board that Callie and Mark will grow into anything yet, seeing as you always have to worry that Eric Dane’s material gets change. Nice to see him utilized this episode. ED nailed that last scene with Callie!

Final note, excellent episode Mark. You never disappoint. Thanks!


Just finished watching the show; thinking its going to be another great show as usual. But why, why,why do you writers always have to involve the "animal rights issues". Is it just for the shock value ? is it for your ratings ? or just to piss people like me off !! You have single handily set back our fight against animal teasting back ten years. Did you think that Izzy's compassionate speach would be enough for us "animal lovers" Why did you not think it would offend so many people...HERE'S AN IDEA FOR YOU WRITERS...You want good ratings !!! stay away from showing cruelty to animals....


Hi Mark

I loved the episode, but really, the Izzie-centric episodes are gonna get old soon. To see so much Alex/Izzie and Izzie solo, Callie/Erica/Mark, but AGAIN bookended (less than 25 seconds each) Mer/Der scenes is a nightmare? Why, they are lovely together. I don't need an entire episode, but ABC/Shonda and the writers stunning lack of using them while over using both the Alex/Izze Callica couples isn't fair either. I don't mind either couple, I'm just getting sick of under a minute of actual Me/Der time each episode and almost no romance at all since the SP. You did a lovely job on the episode though..could one of you, just try to give Mer/Der a love story though? We've been waiting 5 seasons for it. I see it's a BIG Izzie episode next week too...which leads me to ask, when did you all decide that you would stop using the services of Patrick Dempsey? I miss him. I'm sure many fans do.


I hated the pig scene. Hated it. I hate Callie and Mark. Please move on from them. Let Mark find his own love and own story, hopefully with Lexie somewhere down the road.

And please please please let Callica continue. They are awesome together.


Best episode of this 5th season!! keep it up! Hope it'll last for the next 5 seasons..


WOW, now there is the Grey's I love. Everything about it was great. I actually found myself watching the clock hoping there was more time left. I haven't done that since early season three if that.

Loved Owen, more Owen I say! I’d take Owen over Meredith and Derek any day.

Great episode, great blog.


I was a disgruntled viewer, ready to walk away. Then tonight happened and I am back to wanting to watch. I'm loving Owen Hunt! He and Cristina have so much potential to be a truly fantastic couple. Izzie and Alex - I love them so of course I am thrilled to see them making progress, talking and being together. Love Alex being less angry and willing to move ahead. Loved Cristina having her own story away from Meredith. Great seeing her making strides towards teaching, working with the interns and treating the pigs like real patients.

The only thing I didn't like about tonight was Hahn. Her speech at the beginning was way over the top. She looked somewhat crazy, I hated the whole thing. I also didn't like her blaming the way she acted on Callie. People have personal problems but don't act like she did when trying to save a little girl's life.

Great episode. One question - can you please write many, many more episodes this season?

What is up with the lack of MerDer time. The way you people build up this season was pictures of Meredith and Derek. Them on TV guide, and so on and so forth. They are the focus of the show and they get nothing. That sucks for the fans that were promised a real couple this time around. All in all i thought this eppy was just ok. Nothing to jump up and down about.

Jake Lipson

The show has been exellent this season, so thank you. And for the record, my first reaction to Dr. Hunt as an actual SGH doctor was "What the heck is this guy doing?"

It wss extremely shocking...but it's one heck of a way to get the point across that this dude is a loose canon in the halls of SGH. I can't wait to see what he does next; he should spice up the show nicely.

Looking forward to next week very much.



Eric Dane, Justin Chambers and Kevin McKidd made this episode tonight. It was nice to see great scenes from the cast members not always front and center. And no, the fact that they are all good looking has nothing to do with my opinion, well okay a little. LOL

Really though, the men on this show when allowed to be men, not hovering around all the women drama is a good thing. Please keep Owen, Mark and Alex more involved. They rock!


Ok first of all: Amazing episode! I loved it! I love Alex/izzie and cristina/owen. But I HATE erica/callie. I just don't like them together. They don't seem to have much chemistry. Mark/Callie go together much, much better. Callie gets Mark and sees him as more than just a manwhore.

I loved how Alex asked Izzie to teach him how to talk about feelings. Every now and then you get a peak at the soft & fuzzy side of Alex and that is why I love him with Izzie. She makes him better. She gets him to show us that he's not just an "evilspawn" that they all thought in season 1.

As for Bailey: Good job on the surgeries!! She has done some amazing stuff, and despite how much we all love the drama between the characters this IS a medical show! Amazing, crazy, impossible surgeries are important. I also love how she spoke her mind to Erica. It reminded me of the "natzi" from season 1 that we all fell in love with.

I was actually grateful for the fact that there was less drama with mer/der. It seems like there is ALWAYS something going on with them. Always! It's nice to just see them happy and in a functional relationship.

I was very impressed with this episode. It was amazing. No doubt about that. And one last thing before I end my mini novel here; The previews for next week's episode have me SOO excited!! The episode where Izzie cut Denny's LVAD wire was one of THE MOST intense episodes of Grey's ever and I cannot wait to see that story line come full circle. I expect it to live up to the episode 3 yrs ago.

Good job with this season it kicks ass so far!! Keep it coming :D


Terrific episode. More Owen Hunt please. He and Cristina are just wonderful to watch.


Ever since the season premiere, I've been plotting in my head reasons for Owen Hunt to return and how such a quick discharge from the army could be explained. Not once did I imagine the story that you told tonight. The scene where Hunt talks to Cristina about the before and the after completely knocked the wind out of me - because of the writing and the acting. I am such a huge Kevin McKidd fan and think he is the best addition to the show in a long time. I can't wait to see where this story takes Owen, Cristina and SGH.


Oh and one more thing to add to my novel of an entry, I LOVE George and Lexie. Keep that coming as well!! :D

Great job Mark!!


Mark..great episode..but seriously, 30 seconds of Mer/Der time? When are we going to get to see this couple together? I mean more than the standard scenes at the front and end of the episode. Can someone do something about this?


That was really a goodie, but why no scrapple??

The residents and interns with Hunt were his guinea pigs, right? So, too, were Hunt's buddies in Iraq, right? They were tested by someone else, though, right?

Izzie's objection to animal cruelty is her refusal to be Hunt's guinea pig. She was also Alex's guinea pig, right?

Tori was everyone's guinea pig, right?

Hahn felt that Callie used her as a guinea pig, right?

"I want to test a theory." Mark was Callie's guinea pigs, too, right?

Anatomy Jane was Meredith's guinea pig, right? Anatomy Jane was also Meredith, right? Another bout of self-examination? Please don't make Meredith dive into another abyss of self-doubt with all those diaries. Her angst is the weakest link.

Izzie is actually getting to very good and you might be killing her off? That's where we come in. All these teasers. We're your guinea pigs, right?

Knock Hunt down a peg. I know you're going to do it. Don't drop the Callie & Erica story line. I know you won't.

That's sort of what I took out of it, but it's late so I haven't had a chance to think the whole thing through.

I should get some scrapple and write for Grey's.


Great episode, Mark.

But where are Meredith and Derek? And when are we going to see more than a minute of them together in an episode?


i dont get it. why is lexie the one apologizing to george for taking it personal. he was a jerk for not asking for her,

The comments to this entry are closed.