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Pete Nowalk on "Give Peace a Chance"...

Original Airdate: 10-29-09

So there’s a lot to talk about here – the fact that this was an all-Derek-all-the-time episode, that this was Chandra Wilson’s first time directing, that Izzie's still MIA...  But before I get into any of that, answer me this:

You’re on a road trip.  You’ve been driving for hours, your 3 kids all under the age of six are asleep in the backseat, when you realize you have to pee.  Do you…

A)    Stop at a gas station, wake the kids, and drag them into the restroom in order to relieve yourself?

B)    Use one of your kids’ diapers, thereby allowing yourself to keep driving and let the kids keep sleeping?

C)    Stop reading this blog because you’re so disgusted by this topic?

We played this game in the writers room one day.  Shonda had seen an episode of Oprah where a mother confessed to doing B.  (Here’s the link: http://www.oprah.com/article/oprahshow/20090311-tows-mom-truth/3).  Naturally, we all went around the room debating what we’d do.  Would we really use the diaper? Or would we do anything in the world to avoid said deplorable action?  Some of us thought this mom was smart -- who wants to schlep a bunch of kids into a public bathroom?  Others were a little horrified. Diapers are for babies.  Or astronauts.  Not grown adults who should know better.  The diaper, you see, became a controversial topic around here.  

Okay, I know what you’re thinking.  "That's your job?  To sit around and have potty talk??  And now you’re admitting that to the entire blogiverse?????"

I don’t blame you.  But this is the way a writers room works.  You chat, tell stories, discuss Oprah...until an idea hits.  And then you work like mad to fit it into your episode.  Hence, the diaper.  

Do surgeons really wear diapers?  Well, depends who you ask.  Our wonderful medical researcher Meg found a blog that mentioned surgeons wearing diapers during particularly long surgeries.  And one of our consulting surgeons said dude surgeons sometimes wear condom catheters.  (Yeah, that's a real thing apparently.)  Point is, it wasn’t that big of a leap for us to go diaper.  Our doctors are hardcore by nature. Combine that with the threat they're feeling from the Mercy West residents and you can understand while they'll do anything to win.  As Lexie tells Jackson, if she needs to pee in a diaper to help Derek get through his impossible surgery, she'll pee in a diaper.  Which of course just drove Cristina crazy jealous...  

Cristina was a shoe-in to win that pen-in-a-cup contest...but then she choked.  Happens to the best of us. That left Owen having to cope with the fact that his girlfriend was fiending to put on a diaper.  Admittedly, it's not the sexiest thing to picture your partner wearing.  But I think it speaks to Owen's overall good nature that he found a way to be okay with it, even gifting Cristina her very own marathon surgery to cheer her up.  And then, when Derek thwarts that plan, he goes as far as to sexily teach Cristina the right way to work the microscope.  You gotta admit, the dude's a pretty awesome boyfriend.  

Speaking of awesome boyfriend...  I'm sorry, I mean awesome husband...  

Derek Shepherd.

This episode probably felt different.  I only say that because that’s exactly how I felt the minute we started working on it.  As you've probably noticed, we’re trying to experiment more this season.  And that’s probably uncomfortable for some of you.  It was for me.  When we first decided to focus this episode solely on Derek and his patient, I was a little scared.  Most of this patient story (inspired by a case told to us by Dr. Robert Bray, an amazing neurosurgeon here in LA) involves Derek staring at a tumor.  Not cutting, not operating, not talking to anyone.  Like I said, scary.  

In retrospect I’m really glad we told this story this way.  As Derek says in the voiceover, what drew him to surgery was the quiet.  The deep, intense, long-ass focus required to make it through a marathon surgery where any wrong turn can result in death.  And this episode really reflects that.  It’s quieter than a typical episode.  More single-minded.  Derek is our sole focus.  And really, what an amazing character to spend an entire episode with.  Watch Patrick Dempsey on your screen and you can’t help but be struck by how much he says without saying anything.  The guy can pretty much give you an entire soliloquy with just one look.  That’s a rare talent, and we really wanted to use that to our advantage in an episode about stillness and peace.  

It also seemed like the perfect time to do our Derek-focused episode since we had little time to shoot with Ellen Pompeo (8 1/2 months pregnant at the time we shot this one).  Typically, if Derek's doing a once-in-a-lifetime neurosurgery, Meredith would be at his side.  But since we couldn't physically do that, we had her be there for him in a different way -- by helping him talk through the problem, by holding a phone to her ear for 26 hours...  (I'm guessing Cristina and Meredith have an unlimited friend-to-friend calling plan in case anyone was worried about their minutes).  So Mer was there for Der even when it seemed impossible...and I'm very jealous.  That's the truth.  I’m jealous that Meredith and Derek get to work together and support each other and speak their secret surgery language together AND still actually love each other.  I guess they’ve been through their fare share of relationship crap.  They’ve earned a little peace.  Still, I'm jealous.  

Back to the very different nature of this episode, helped along by the fact that there's still no sign of Izzie. She's still off god knows where and not telling Alex squat.  Which is just harsh.  Sure, the guy tried to pretend that he didn’t care whether she’d show up for her IL-2 treatment, but we all know that's just his way of coping.  Who doesn’t show up for their life-saving IL-2 treatment?  Especially a doctor??  That’s just irresponsible.  And crazy…  Yeah, I could go on.  Poor frigging Alex.  If I was Reed in that last scene I would have wanted to give the guy a hug.  And I think the look on her face said pretty much that.  But they just met.  They’re not even friends.  Or frenemies.  No hugs allowed.  Which is why that scene at the end with Alex sitting in the support chair with no one to support just kills me.  WHERE THE HELL DID YOU GO IZZIE???  

Okay, it’s a little insane for me to pretend I don’t know where she is.  I do.  And eventually you will, too. Onward...

Last but not least, I'd like to applaud Chandra Wilson.  She acts, she sings, and now she directs... and sometimes all at the same time.  I have a feeling Chandra’s the kind of person that’s good at everything she does.  You know the type from high school – the classmate that’s all quiet and unassuming and not saying anything about the Algebra test you’re freaking about because she already knows she’s gonna ace it.  Cause that’s what Chandra did directing this episode.  And it wasn’t an easy one to direct, let me tell you.  All those scenes in the OR are very hard to shoot – very technical, very hard to dramatize -- and she rocked it.

Alrighty then, I'm off to set to watch some scenes for episode 610 (our holiday episode, written by the awesome Krista Vernoff.)  The end of this blog means the official end of episode 607 for me.  In other words, my own sense of peace.  I'll sleep well tonight.  Hope you do, too.



this episode is awesome!! you guys rock!!
love it!!


So....first off, loved the whole diaper thing. That was terrific. But what's up with the emo instrumental music these days? It changes the whole feel of the show.


I loved loved this episode. It was the best of the season so far. Extremely consistent- and I actually found myself speaking to the television, which I have not done in a while, and looking away, which is something I have not done in a while. Trust me that's a compliment! Chandra, is there anything you cannot do? I don't know what Grey's would be without your talent- I'm glad I never have to find out.

(Still MIA)


I love, love, love Meredith and Derek - they are perfect together, please keep them this way?


Fantastic episode again this week. Patrick Dempsey was awesome. He should be the lead on the show more often!! I loved his voice over too.


Loved the ep.Loved Derek (and Arizona) standing up to the Chief, Lexie being so good, Derek writing on the wall for Meredith, and Ellen shooting at 8 1/2 months. (I'd miss her so much if she wasn't there, so thank her.)

And I find myself remembering that everyone thought Alex was a douche back in season 1 (and maybe part of 2)
And tall douchy Nosedive was missing. And no one was fired. Well, except for Derek. Who isn't buying it.

I don't think, though, that surgery is quiet. Don't surgeons chat while taking out your gall bladder?

Good ep. Slightly confused as it seemed that Alex had an asthma patient and the wholw staff was in the gallery, but otherwise. That guy's tumor, it must have been really patient to wait for him to research Derek and have been working there a while.
And may I throw the Chief out the window?

I'm done. it's 2:45am


awesome. loved every minute. thank you for derek and meredith scenes. so great. patrick is one good looking dude


I seriously hate Izzie. And I def want something between Alex and Reed. Or maybe just let go Alex to Los Angeles (Addie is there!!)
Nice episode, though :)


I enjoyed this episode a lot. I liked the focus on Derek, and the patient's message to keep looking for an answer when things seemed impossible (really liked that actor, too; hope he'll appear again). Loved that Derek and Meredith are so in tune with each other ... they absolutely have earned peace between them. Their chemistry is on a whole different level now, and I love it. Just goes to show - angst and separation are not necessary to keep a couple interesting. I love the two of them together as much or more than ever.

Patrick Dempsey was great. This was a risky episode, and he obviously was a huge part of it working so well. Very nice to see him getting a chance to shine. And Chandra Wilson directing! Loved it! Great job!

Just one question, though: when is Alex going to catch a break?


You've given me a lot to ponder. Actually there was a lot to ponder during this whole episode. I don't know exactly how I feel. You are right when you say that these experiments have left some of us uncomfortable, to say the least. Yes, I am uncomfortable and missing my wonderful characters and not liking these Mercy West intruders one bit! Not even the guy whose green eyes have everyone raving about him. No, not me. And I have green eyes myself! I don't like Reed, either. They could all leave tomorrow and I wouldn't miss them even a tiny bit. But I have to assume that they are here for a reason. You seem to be spinning off dramatic story lines that are pitting them against our lovable, true blue Seattle Gracers that we know and love so well.

For now, I think I will just go with the flow. I don't want to analyze too much, think too much, worry too much. I am just going to sit back and see where this leads. I am curious. But I really did love seeing an episode focus on Der. It was riveting to see him dig deep inside himself to find the answer to saving his patient's life. It was like the challenge of his life. I was moved to tears listening to the patient describe what he had already survived in his life. If I ever thought I had it bad, that man's story certainly put in all in perspective. I wanted him to be saved! Someone who has the courage to triumph over that much tragedy and loss in his life, deserves a miracle.

I do have to say that the lying to the Chief bothered me. That's just not something any doctor has a right to do. It's like Der is going rogue, a phrase I despise but appropriate here. I may not like the Chief very much these days, but he still is in charge. I thought I was watching some kind of insurrection with the other doctors joining in on the deceit. It raises some serious ethical questions. But people who are doctors or work in hospitals will have to weigh in on that. For me it just didn't feel right. I know why Derek did it, but that doesn't make it right. Breaking the rules is not okay. Why couldn't Der discuss it with the Chief honestly? He seems to be directly challenging the Chief's authority, with the help of his fellow doctors.

I loved the scene where Der came home to Mer and she urged him to talk about the surgery. Then he did that crazy diagram on their bedroom wall! What a wonderful way to give Mer a visual of the challenge he was facing. She talked with him and helped him figure out how to save this man. At least we got that one precious scene with the two of them acting like a couple. Beautiful! It was also touching and lovely to see Mer holding on to the phone while Cristina was filling her in on everything, step by step.

At least you gave us some Owen and Cristina. They really are a brilliant pair. Watching these two pros carry off brilliant scene after brilliant scene, never gets old for me. They are funny and passionate and just made for each other.

My heart broke for Alex as he waited in vain for Izzie to show up. This guy is suffering and it's painful to watch. Izzie seems so cruel and heartless to do this to someone she is supposed to love. What is going on with her - is she having a nervous breakdown? The first thing I thought of when she ran away was - what about her cancer treatment? After all, this is a woman with stage four melanoma which has metastasized throughout her body. Not a good time to be awol. It still makes absolutely no sense. But I assume we will know her whereabouts at some point. Let me just say that I do hope you don't drag this story line out for too long. It would be totally frustrating and annoying.

The most shocking moment was when Der went up to the Chief to try to talk to him, to make peace. But it seemed to be too late. When the Chief just blurted out - you're fired - it was like a kick in the stomach. Der seemed so calm about it. He doesn't seem to think it's real. Nice of him to suggest that the Chief sleep on it. I think Der is trying to have it both ways. On the one hand, he is clearly challenging the Chief in every area - how he handles a patient dying needlessly, the new interns, the merger with Mercy West and now doing this operation without the Chief's permission and knowledge. But then he expects the Chief to make peace with him and forgive and forget. I don't think that's going to happen. This is all strange and new and fascinating and chaotic. I don't know what to make of it.

But here I am, going along for the ride to see where it all leads.



this was old Grey again thank you Peter for a wonderful eppy

Thanks I loved everything about last night
Patrick was amazing I see Emmy here

MD where cute and finally we se them talk thanks for that and for more then 30 sec.

congrats also to Chandra great job
Peter I hope you will write more eppy's for GA

Great episode!

Congratulations! You did a great job with this episode and also with this blog, very interesting.
I won't lie, I am a merder fan and I have missed them in the first episodes of the season but tonight... they were great, that scene of them talking about the tumor is exactly why I love them, so thank you.


This episode was amazing! Didn't think I would like this "one character" focus but it worked! I love that you still showed the other characters and how they were effected by Derek's surgery! And thank you, finally some awesome Cristina and Owen moments! I have been starving for their little "magic"! They step on the screen together and I squeel, they have chemistry just standing next to each other. The last scene, Owen teaching Cristina was so sweet and perfect! Wow, my screen melted and they were barely touching! LOL

Sarah in Mpls

I'll keep this short and sweet-I LOVED this episode!! Patrick Dempsey is incredible!

P.S. - Why does the headboard on Mer's bed keep changing??? :-)

Ann V

FINALLY!!! Some minutes with THE couple! There were no kisses, but the fact they were actually spending time together in front of the cameras it's just fantastic... Now i realized, there has not being kisses from any couple for a while, maybe that's what's missing, but...

Awesome Episode!!

I loved the quietness, i love the fact that Chandra Wilson direct it and that i got to spent some "personal time" with my dreamy fictional boyfriend Derek/Patrick, you know, because he was first person and i was watching the TV by myself.

Keep going, i wanna see people kissing! Where's the LOOOVE???


Please, please, please tell me you are not hooking Alex up with Reed! After last nights episode you have me a little nervous about it and I'm telling you, if it happens I won't watch!!!!! Sadly it will be goodbye to what was once my favorite show...


I was thinking last night that Grey's Anatomy haven't had the episode yet this season, you know an episode that you want to watch over and over because it is probably the best episode of the season, but that was it. That episode was amazing and P Dempsey was amazing, he is just awesome anyway but God, can all your episodes revolve around him????!!! The MerDer scenes were really cute and I have missed them, can't wait until she's outta that bed!!! The best part for me though was Derek's friends. Owen, Mark, Callie, Bailey and Arizona, they all gave up their days to stand with him and to talk to him and to guard the door and that to me showed how close the Attendings have become so I would love that to be explored more. 5 stars, the episode was awesome!!!




Great episode. This episode along with the Grey sisters/Thatcher's liver transplant episode is my favorite this season.

I love Mark,Derek,Lexie scenes. I love the Mcfamily. I hope they work together more.

Lexie is really coming into her own and I am loving her this season. I also adore Mark and Lexie together. Don't break them up or give Sloan a kid that isn't his&Lexie's

Patrick Dempsey did a wonderful job this episode. I liked Derek outside of MerDer alot.

T Billy

Bravo! I'll keep the the peaceful mood. One word, Outstanding!


I watch Grey's every week. I got my husband hooked on Grey's. Your blog talks about jealousy a little this week... I am jealous every week. I have to remind myself these are actors and it's a TV show. The friendships, the bonds these characters make, they make me want more from my life. Thank you for creating a show that makes me want more, not just more Grey's, but more for my life.


This episode was EPIC! Derek was such a bad ass (well, except for the barfing part). And that last scene with Richard.....Richard knows he can't fire Derek, and Derek knows he can't fire Derek. The entire hospital knows that Derek defied the Chief, and they helped him do it. Not only that, but it worked. Chief's got big problems.


Izzie had better come back and pine for Alex and beg for his forgiveness or this will become a ridiculous storyline. It already sucks with her gone. I can't stand Alex miserable. He needs to be in the drivers seat for once. He's such a great husband. What the hell is wrong with Izzie. Why can't she see that?!?!


absolutely awesome episode. Loved it! Much better than last week. Good blog too. Thank you.


Ok, I'll be the first one to say it. THANK YOU GREY'S WRITERS!! It was fantastic to see Callie and Arizona FINALLY just behaving like a couple a little bit. I've never expected the L Word out of Grey's, this is ABC for Pete's sake. But last night, they held hands, hugged a bit and actually seemed to have some physical manifestation of their budding coupldom. (Is that a word?) I'm still hoping that the powers-that-be at Grey's see fit to give them a more equal relationship status that the rest of the couples have. But that said, I was still tickled pink watching last night's show.

The rest of the show, was great. Great tempo, acting, dialog and such. Derek isn't my favorite character on Grey's, but it was still nice to have a Derek-centric show. Well done!

My only minor (and I do mean minor) criticism would be that when Arizona broke down after confronting the Chief, Callie should have smiled a bit when she was comforting Arizona. It was a cute, smile-inducing moment for the audience. Callie should have mirrored our response if only a bit more. And really at this stage in their relationship, Callie would more likely have found it endearing.

Depending on where the show's going with these two, it could be a minor point. But, I thought I would still throw that out there.

All the best, T

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