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…