Bill Harper on "Shock to the System"...
Original Airdate: 9-30-10
Over the summer, the question I was most often asked about Grey’s was: “How do you come back from something like that?” These people weren’t asking me about the show, or the writers, they were asking about the characters. The characters they know and like as if they were their own friends: How will they come back from that? Well, as of last week, Grey’s is back, but for our doctors, I think that question is still valid.
If you’ve ever lost someone, or been terribly hurt, I think it’s fair to say that no matter how good a job you’ve done grieving, no matter far you’ve gotten past the pain, you’re never really safe from feeling that loss again. You run across a picture. A thing they gave you. You hear a song, or someone says a phrase, and suddenly that loss and pain is as present and immediate as if it was happening right now. It’s a shock, a complete surprise and, like the original event itself, something you can never see coming, never prepare yourself for. Because a trauma this immense doesn’t heal quickly. It creates wounds so deep they won’t make themselves known for a long time to come. And when they do, they blindside you.
Last week, we saw how our doctors were trying to come back : From rushing at life to grasping at love, to going mad, to posturing, to hiding from the pain, we saw the ways they were trying, and sometimes failing, to push through and heal. But they’re not even really healing yet. They’re coping.
Cristina and Owen came together through trauma -- they met when he scooped an injured Cristina off the ER bay. Then she saw Owen through his post-war struggles. It seems almost inevitable that their wedding would also come out of trauma. But after being so badly hurt in what is arguably her favorite place in the world – the O.R. -- Cristina barely knows herself now, that’s the reason she would be content to let Owen take the driver’s seat. She can trust him, he’s the only thing she can count on right now. But when his plan goes so horribly wrong in the OR -- when lightning strikes the same place twice -- she can no longer trust any of his decisions, or her own…She mistrusts the very impulse to marry him. Her first, unavoidable instinct is to reverse everything she’s done.
Alex is coping too, keeping that bullet in his chest like a badge of honor. But it’s all posturing, the bravado, and the carelessness with which he talks about the health risks…All a front. Because, though he doesn’t make a lot of noise about it, Alex isn’t a guy who lets himself off the hook very easily. And Bailey’s right: that bullet in his chest is a reminder – a constant token of his survivor’s guilt. When Bailey finally relieves him of that burden, it’s a relief for not just her, but I hope that Alex gets to leave the guilt behind, too. And maybe he can stop coping and start healing.
Lexie was losing sleep over the trauma, literally, to the extent that her incredibly hardworking mind is overtaxed to the breaking point. But she’s picking herself up, trying to move on. Unfortunately, she’s forced to do battle against the stigma of being the one who fell apart. And sadly, Mark is the biggest casualty in that battle. He’s got the right intention – he’s trying to protect her, be strong for her, basically, he just wants to love her. Unfortunately, right now, what Lexie really needs to feel is that she’s the strongest person in her life.
Callie and Arizona are certainly moving on -- facing the realities of taking It to the Next Level, where you really share your space, where no one is a guest in the place, and you find that you’re creating a whole new place for the pair of you, rather than the two of you. This is a series of tiny, difficult negotiations that add up to one giant leap for a couple. Of course, a disagreement about wall color is not life-and-death for their relationship. It’s a hitch. But it’s the beginning of a lot of give-and–take between two really strong women, and it will be great fun to watch where that goes.
Finally, Derek and Meredith…
Derek is still living dangerously, in the OR and out of it. I like his speech to the Chief about driving. For one thing, Patrick Dempsey’s own passion for racing comes through pretty clearly in that speech. But hopefully, it illuminates a little what he’s been after by racking up all these speeding tickets: it’s all about losing and regaining control, especially after his life went so completely out of control in the end of last season.
And Meredith’s going through a similar struggle. Keeping herself busy by looking after everyone else, trying to make sure Alex is okay, that Cristina’s okay, that Lexie is okay, unable to see that the reason she’s not cleared for surgery is because she’s been refusing to attend to the deepest injury she received that day, the miscarriage. It’s only when she admits it to Derek, that she can move past it; that she can admit that she has so little control over anything. I think it’s interesting that at the same moment that Cristina’s marriage is breaking apart as a result of the shooting, Meredith’s is getting stronger, as many great partnerships are strengthened by adversity. And it’s why Mer tells Cristina, basically, that whatever mistakes she’s made, being with Owen is not one of them. And that she should stick. I’m really glad she does.