Mark Wilding on "Don't Deceive Me (Please Don't Go)"...
Original Airdate: 2-3-11
I've tried acting once in my life. I managed to snag the lead role in my high school's production of "The Admirable Crichton." I played an English butler who's treated very poorly by the upper class British family who employs him -- particularly by the family's three daughters. Eventually the family gets stranded on a desert island. The three daughters all fall in love with Crichton on the island because he's very take charge and very handy and saves everyone's lives (he's also VERY good-looking). In the end Crichton has to decide whether or not to signal to a passing ship that the family is stranded. The daughters beg him not to -- they love their new life AND him -- but Crichton does the right and proper thing and sends up the signal flares even though it means returning to his life as the family's dutiful butler.
It's a great play and I got the role because I could do a passable English accent and I was tall. It wasn't because I could actually ACT. Because I couldn't. I SUCKED. I could never get over a case of stage fright. My performance was wooden. And I squinted the whole time because my drama teacher didn't want me to wear my glasses. If I'd been in the audience I would've booed me off the stage. Or at least asked for my money back. Which is probably why, today, I really admire actors. Acting is NOT easy. It is hard. We have a dozen wonderful actors on the show -- our regulars. Week in and week out they bring Grey's to life in fun, surprising ways. But a lot of times a story line will succeed or fail depending on our guest stars. I was lucky enough to get FANTASTIC guest stars for this episode and I want to acknowledge each of them.
The first great acting performance for my episode was turned in by Angela Paton. She played Martha, the woman who came in to get a quadruple bypass. She also played the hotel proprietor in "Groundhog Day". She was wonderful in the episode, a perfect foil in the battle between Cristina and Jackson to do her heart grafts. She went from funny in the first scene to heartbreaking in the pre-op scene where she wonders if she should go through with the heart surgery. I love it when she got ANGRY at the thought of being a possible burden to her kids. That wasn't written. That was the actor really, truly bringing the words to life in a surprising, believable way. As for the story itself -- when Cristina convinces Martha to have the operation, I think she's doing it from a place of real compassion. She's not just doing it so she can perform a surgery she hasn't performed before. In that sense, I think Cristina has grown since the shooting at the hospital. She's a little more empathetic. After all, she knows what it is to be really and truly scared now.
Three more guest actors who were just plain excellent were L. Scott Caldwell, Harrison Page and Hugh Holub. They played, respectively, Daniel's wife, Daniel, and Victoria's husband. The scene where a confused, frightened Daniel is demanding to see Victoria required pitch perfect acting and Harrison delivered and then some. All of the actors' performances combined to create an underlying sadness to the story that I was seeking from the first moment we started discussions about it in the writers' room.
I'm glad that the show is once again tackling Alzheimer's. It's a theme that we always come back to. The reason, of course, is that early onset Alzheimer's led to the premature death of Meredith's mother. The question is will that genetic craps roll be passed on to Meredith? Will she end up like Ellis? It's what drives Meredith to get on the trial and, as Alex tells Derek in his very Alex way -- "Your wife is the only person twisted enough to handle this crap."
The truth is -- in that annoyingly inconvenient thing called real life -- no cure has been found for Alzheimer's. And as much as we'd like to find one in our show, that's not going to happen. We're very strict about that on Grey's. The show never outraces the real world when it comes to medical breakthroughs. We report what's out there. We turn medical cases and medical research into stories. But if it hasn't happened in real life, if a cure hasn't been found, we don't say that it has. That would be a huge disservice to our audience. That said, the cool thing is that now Meredith and Derek are back working together on a trial. And whether they find a cure or not, they're always great to watch.
The main story line, of course, introduced a guest star who'll be coming back for future episodes. Rachael Taylor plays Dr. Lucy Fields, who has to handle the "hormone casserole" that Callie's turned in to. Lucy also has to navigate the treacherous waters of three doctors who think they know it all. Rachael did a great job with the role. She was equal parts tough, ironic and empathetic -- just what we pictured for the character. As for our three doctors and a baby -- that story is huge. It's tough enough to raise a kid when there are only one or two parents in the picture. But three parents? With everyone having different opinions?? Not fun. These days we always hear that it takes a village. But what if the folks in that village have never really liked each other? Arizona is NOT Mark's biggest fan. She's not going to suddenly think he's a great addition to the family. Obviously the situation's going to involve a lot of sacrifices for all three of our doctors. Sadly for Mark, the first thing he has to sacrifice is his relationship with Lexie. Which makes it twice now that he's dropped the baby bombshell on her -- first with the grandson he wanted to raise and now with baby number two. If any relationship were toast, it would definitely be Mark and Lexie's. As much as we, the writers, would like to rescue it (they're SO good together) it may be beyond our powers.
My final story line didn't involve guest stars. The Chief's struggle with Twitter pretty much encapsulates how I approach technology. I fear it. And once you fear something, be it your neighbor's dog or your iMac or, yes, getting up on stage for the school play, the object of your fear knows it and it acts accordingly. Which is to say, it comes after you. It grabs you and shakes you and tries to maul you to death. Thank God I have two teenage sons. I constantly call them in to my office at home if I want to, say, forward an email or copy and paste a document. They mutter to themselves, clearly disappointed in my techno-idiocy, then they click the mouse a couple of times and the impossible task is done. For me, the cool thing about the story is that it launches Richard into the future. But to do so, he has to, via Ellis's journals, go back to the past. In a sense, the journals are his flares, alerting the medical community that they haven't heard the last of Richard Webber. And believe me, as that story line heats up during the last half of our season, none of you will be wanting your money back...