Original Airdate: April 30, 2006
So, the first thing you should know is this… until I wrote this episode my biggest claim to fame was being the Director of Medical Research on Grey’s Anatomy. Basically, Shonda (or one of the other writers) comes to me and says things like, “I want a guy who has been in a coma for fifteen years to wake up and discover his family has moved on. Make that work.” I respond by turning white (they’ve turned making the blood drain from my face into a game). Then I say things like, “He’d be minimally conscious, not in a coma, let me see what I can do.”
I also spend a lot of time following Shonda around yelling, “There is NO turkey hunting in November. Turkey hunting season is in the SPRING.” If you’ve seen the Thanksgiving episode you know I’m somewhat effective – Holden wakes up after being minimally conscious for fifteen years, but George and the O’Malley men hunt turkeys in November.
So, in September I pitched a story to Shonda Rhimes and Jim Parriott about a musician who was willing to sacrifice his health (remove a pacemaker) to save his music (the pacemaker was throwing off his internal rhythm). But, he isn’t just any musician. He’s Burke’s icon and we get to see Burke lose his poise on this very unusual day at Seattle Grace. They loved the story so much that they bought it and hired me to write a script (hurray!) -- all about what it is we are willing to sacrifice.
Let’s start with Addison and Derek. They get to have hot sex at the end of the episode. I realize those of you in the Mer/Der camp are cursing my name right now, but here’s the thing, I like Addison - I don’t know if I like Addison with Derek – but I like Addison. Whatever you think of her, she put herself out there emotionally when she flew across the country to get Derek back and she’s taken a lot of hits and eaten a lot of crow since she walked into Seattle Grace. This particular day has been complete crap for her. A patient got her into big, big trouble. Why would our Addison – world renowned surgeon – put herself in a position where a patient can get her into trouble? Because, Rose is isolated from her husband and Addison saw a way to help them reconnect. Since, Addy so desperately wants to reconnect with Derek, she tried to help Rose.
I didn’t really understand just how lonesome Addison was until she gave that heartfelt, “Thank you” when Derek asked her if she wanted to have hot sex. This gorgeous woman is profoundly lonely and it breaks my heart a little and I think she deserves a few moments of shower bliss with her dreamy hubbie.
(By the way, about the evil Alex torturing Addison thing - was it just me – or did any of you notice a little HEAT between Alex and Addison?)
There’s also Izzie, who seems to be sacrificing her reputation because of her feelings for Denny -- who up until this episode has been lying in the hospital bed. Personally, I’ve been waiting for that man to get out of bed. I mean, falling in love with a man in a hospital bed is fine and all, but it is a magical, magical thing when he actually gets to put his arms around Izzie so that she can say, “You’re tall” and women (like me!) who’ve been HOPING he’s tall can now KNOW he is tall!
Now, Meredith begins the episode knitting and ends the episode dating Finn. (Oh, my goodness – a baby horse is born on their first date? How crazy romantic is that? That’s the genius of our creator Shonda Rhimes at work.) Meredith realizes that she is perhaps sacrificing a shot at happiness (in the form of a relationship with an available, good, sexy man) for an idea – knitting and celibacy. She discovers that perhaps she can still be celibate and date. She’s determined that this relationship is going to develop differently than her others -- intimacy will grow slowly. In the end, Derek discovers she’s dating the vet and it seems from his scowl that he doesn’t approve.
But, for me, this is Burke’s episode. We get to see him in a way we haven’t before. Vulnerable. There was this awe-inspiring moment during the shooting when Isaiah Washington turned to Jeff Melman (our very talented director) and asked if he could sit on Eugene Foote’s bed. Isaiah explained that Burke would NEVER sit on a patient’s bed. But, this is a day unlike any other for him so it just seemed right. I got tears in my eyes. Because, that is what I intended when I wrote this script and that Isaiah UNDERSTOOD made this the most amazing moment any new writer can have. It made my sacrifice of trying to juggle two jobs and all of the long hours beyond worth it.
But, the moment when Burke is most vulnerable is when he is in the on-call room with Cristina. See, I’d always thought (and I think that perhaps Burke did too) that Cristina loves Burke because of his composure and brilliance as a surgeon. We all know that Cristina looks down on George, who she is fond of, but doesn’t respect. And in this moment Burke confesses to Cristina that he was George. Things didn’t come naturally to him, he practiced. In this moment he sacrifices his poise to let her deeper into his psyche and Cristina, being Cristina could react in a multitude of ways. While writing the scene, I hoped that she would love him more – and I discovered that she did – and Shonda liked that discovery – but with Cristina you never know. If we the writer’s don’t know, then Burke certainly doesn’t know and I came to realize just how deep his love for her is. Because opening ourselves to the potential of colossal rejection is so very scary and it is the only way true intimacy is built. This is the first time we see them in a truly vulnerable intimate moment and she rises to the occasion.
So, I’d like to end by thanking Shonda and Jim for taking a risk on this new writer. And thank all of the writers for their support and incredible help with the writing of this episode, particularly Mark Wilding who shepherded me during the writing process.