Debora Cahn on "Push"...
Original Airdate: 3-11-10
Dating. Dating is a lot of things. Fun. Exhilarating. Exciting. Breathtaking.
Occasionally, maybe. But usually it’s miserable. It’s a freakshow. A slog. Punishment for killing children in a past life, perhaps. It sucks. Your heart, your hopes, your dreams, all projected onto some hapless wretch on the other side of the table, who’s using the drink menu to pick his teeth. I remember thinking maybe I could type up a little cheat sheet, with answers to the questions I’d already answered 800 times… “One brother, one sister.” “Connecticut.” “Scorpio.” But no. You can’t short circuit the process. You just gotta go through it.
Dating is best left to the young. The young and the optimistic, who can ride their optimism through the countless dinners at Italian restaurants required to zero in on a life partner. Unfortunately, the young ain’t the ones doing it anymore. Grown men and women, people who waved goodbye to their twenties long ago, are dating. They’re divorced. Or they wanted to focus on their careers before they worried about marriage and family. They’re grown ups, and they’re sitting in Italian restaurants across the land, talking about their childhoods, and their rock climbing, and how they wish they had more time to cook.
Mark Sloan. Miranda Bailey. These are not people who ever thought they’d have to have the conversation over pasta. Bailey married young. Dating for her was milkshakes in high school. Movies. Bowling. And Mark… well, we know what it was for Mark. It was a lot of women, over a lot of years, and it was, shall we say, aerobic. So all this crap about getting to know each other, and figuring out how to get close to a perfect stranger is baffling. Bailey’s forgotten all the rules. Mark never knew them in the first place. It’s a nightmare.
Now, if you have to date, you should date Jason George. He’s the amazing and terribly hot actor who plays Ben, and the fact is, while I have great sympathy for grown women who have to start dating after years of marriage, it’s not easy to muster up all that much sympathy for Bailey when she’s dating freaking Jason George. But I try. And Mark, well, him I really do feel sorry for, because this isn’t his thing. He’s a ragingly confident man. But he’s never had to play this game. He’s never trolled for a wife before, he’s trolled for… you know… but not for the mother of his children. And yet he goes for it. He tries. He’s so earnest. And so nervous. And nobody believes him. Teddy can’t imagine that he’s someone you take seriously. So nothing makes me happier than seeing him, at the end of the episode, just melt her with talk of an aggressively unromantic lunch date. He grows. He wins. And he deserves to. Bailey? She wins too. Jason George is cooking her dinner. And kissing her. That’s the definition of a win win situation. I guess that’s the moral of the story. Dating sucks, but if you can survive it, sometimes nice things happen after.
Did you notice in the credits that Chandra Wilson directed this episode? Miranda Bailey on-screen, and the director off-screen. She’s a freaking rock star. Literally, because she sings like god’s trying to prove something. But also because she acts and directs all at the same time – the woman directed her own on-screen kiss. She’s incredible. There’s nothing, NOTHING, she can’t do. It’s intimidating, is the fact of the matter.
I want to talk about Callie for a minute, and how lovely it is that she’s suddenly the one who has her act together. She’s the grown up. She’s not the freak, sleeping in the basement and getting her heart slammed. She’s the authority. Mark wants her help. Bailey wants her advice. And she’s good at it. It’s lovely. For the three seconds before Arizona tells her that they don’t have the same vision of the future. But until then… it’s so nice. I’m so happy for her. She’s suddenly at peace in her own skin.
Now Richard… less so. It’s going to take some time, for Richard, and for Derek, to find peace in their new roles. Derek’s such a good guy, such a stand-up guy, but why on earth did he think it was a good idea to oust the Chief, take over his job, and then hire him to work as an underling? You can take the Chief out of the office, but you can’t take the… you know. The Chief’s still the Chief. He’s not gonna unlearn everything he knew. And Derek… he’s just learning the ropes. He kind of sucks at it. Anyone would, in the first year. Or first five. It’s gonna be a long road.
That’s the problem. Surgeons are achievers. Over-achievers. And they’re used to being successful. But you can’t win at every game, no matter who you are. Seeing them wander outside their comfort zones… it’s so very painful. But the beauty is, they try. They push. They attack. Comfortable or not. Confident or not. They push. And slowly… slowly… they grow.