Episode Airdate: 11/13/05
So I was at this party on Saturday night. Nothing fancy, house in the Hills, friend turning …gasp…forty. And this dude comes up to me and says how much he loves the show (which is cool…I mean, how often does that happen) and then he tells me it’s moving and funny and sexy and topical (all good, I’m thinking) but he’s wondering…(okay, here it comes, I’m sure)…he’s wondering if sometimes we’re a little…”wacky.”
Hmm. “Wacky,” I think. (And where’s that pomegranite martini I left on the picnic table, I’m thinking about that too. That, and the fact that men in velvet jackets are apparently “in” again…what’s up with THAT?) So I’m mulling over my episode and I’m thinking, not so wacky. Woman with a cancer gene that could seal her fate in a moment. Old couple who are destined to be together forever…through life and death. Guy who has a heart attack at just the right time.
Man who tries to commit suicide and whose life is saved…by a pigeon.
Okay. First of all, the pigeon story is real. Kind of. It’s loosely based on something we heard about a man who fell out of a window and landed on a rat. Somehow, through a strange combination of luck and physics and…fate…the rat saved his life. True story. We like to believe.
Because what we’re really talking about here is fate. What fate has in store for us and how we can take fate into our own hands. You know what I’m talking about. It’s that boy you knew in high school who you walked away from but secretly still love. It’s that friend you fought with who you still think about all the time. It’s the job you didn’t take, or did. It’s the road less traveled, the opportunity won or lost. It’s what you were born with or without or walked away from or towards. It’s the choice you did or didn’t make – to go to that party, pick up that phone, tell that person you love them, take that shot in the dark. It’s about talking your life in your own hands. About whether we even have the choice and chance to do that.
So. If you had the opportunity to test for a gene that could tell you you might die, would you do it? And if you took the test, then what? Would you do surgery that could change your body forever, but save your life at the same time? If the parts of your body that needed to be removed were what defined you sexually as a man or a woman…how would you react? (And really, what defines us as men and women?) What would you do? What would society expect you to do?
Not easy questions, right? (You want that martini now, huh? Either that or the Lemon Drop. Or tequila, if you’re Meredith Grey.) And this wasn’t an easy episode to write. Many people had many opinions. Which happens. And some of it was based on medicine, and some on emotion and some on personal experience. At the end of the day, raising a controversial issue on a television show can be a weighty thing. Because there is responsibility involved. The fact that millions of people are watching is something that you forget…and then suddenly remember. But the fate of it…how you deal with determining your own fate…or not…that’s what we were thinking here. The rest of it, that’s for the audience to take as it will.
Fate. It’s part of our lives. Marfan dude’s fate was sealed by the fact that he collapsed in front of Burke and Cristina on their date. Esme and Jed took each other’s hands and walked towards Venice and that gondola. They are fated to be together for eternity. Meredith and McDreamy want to inhale each other, to inhabit each other. But are they fated to be together? We’re not telling…
We’re talking about fate here. Which is complicated and poignant and scary and funny all at the same time. That’s what this episode is really about. It’s about self-determination and chance, about how true love transcends time and even life itself. It’s about how fate and love are often one and the same.
So, here’s the thing, party dude. (And, by the way, he wasn’t the one in the velvet jacket. Even though he did have a pomegranite martini in his hand.) Maybe we are a little wacky sometimes. Life can be wacky. And fate…fate is the wackiest thing of all.