Original Airdate: 3-19-09
Yes! Mer takes back the night! I mean this literally (she’s getting back her man) and figuratively (using the reference of women empowering themselves because as I’m sure you know, March is Women’s History Month – catch the nearest parade in your city). Derek says, “I love you” and Mer answers, “I know”… anybody remember that from somewhere else? Come on, let your geek flow. The writers here at Grey’s Anatomy have no problems letting our geek flow. We like to think of it as being “geek chic” and we welcome you to join us. But it’s not just the writers actually, everybody embraces their inner geek here. The editor of this episode, Susan Vaill, emailed me all excited that we’d put it in and taken this exchange back for the ladies. Okay, some of you may already know what I’m talking about whilst others of you are completely lost. Anybody see a little movie called “The Empire Strikes Back”? Princess Leia says, “I love you” to Han Solo right before he’s about to be frozen in carbonite (another reference we’ve used before… episode 416… season 4 finale… cement boy… ring any bells?) and Han Solo says, “I know.” And he kind of says it in an “of course you do, look at me” kind of way. So now, we’ve taken back that exchange and handed it over to the women. And we’ve made it both feminist and feminine at the same time I’d like to think. Feminist because Mer’s all “I’m woman, hear me roar” because she’s all that and of course he still loves her; but feminine at the same time because he’s vulnerable, and she’s not taking advantage of that moment, and she loves him, too. She’s not giving up on him. She’s not giving up on their love and she’s not giving up on him as a surgeon. She’s standing by her principles and standing by her man.
And speaking of not giving up, is Cristina a freakin’ sledgehammer or what? She just keeps pounding Izzie and pounding her until Izzie finally has to lash out and speak the unspeakable. Not having treatment? Why would she ever even go there? She’s a doctor, she’s been through it with many patients and come out the other side, or watch them die… oh, I guess it’s pretty clear why she would consider not going through with treatment. She has been on the other side. She has been through it. And like she says, she knows too much. And going through the whole day with (the writer clears her throat for this hideous reference to be explained later) “Blowhole” has made it clear to her that the way doctors treat patients when the patients aren’t around, the way she treats patients when they’re not around (and even if she’s not doing it herself, she’s allowing it) – that patient will be her this time.
And let me tell you, as a doctor myself, I know that we sometimes get caught up in all that. Referring to patients as “room 12” or “spine guy” or “stinky drunk druggy chick” is a shorthand we’ve all used. It doesn’t mean we don’t care, it doesn’t mean people aren’t going to get the best care, but it’s rude. And for the most part unnecessary, but we learn over and over that to distance ourselves helps get us through it – it’s harder to feel the pain of “room 12” dying than to feel the pain of “Mr. Bickham, Kara’s father” dying. Like Cristina says, it’s one of those things that helps us get through the day. Which doesn’t make it right, but it is what it is. I learned my lesson in the ER one night when I was stitching up this “lady” strung out on crack and had been picked up on a corner (who actually had “slippery when wet” written on her inner thigh – eww!) and I made the mistake of saying, “Let’s just get this over with, I don’t care” – or something to that effect. She proceeded to rip off her sterile dressings and try to sit up with my needle halfway in her scalp and let me know that if I didn’t care, she should just go back out there and die. I don’t know, something in me just sank at that moment. Her outburst somehow let me know that she’s a person just like everybody else and deserves healthcare and deserves to be treated like a human being. Maybe it was the hurt in her eyes or the tone of her voice, but I never forgot that, and even though I promptly went back to saying stuff like “gallbladder guy,” I never say stuff like that to anybody’s face and try to give people the respect they reserve as my patient.
And hell, I can’t even say it’s just doctors. I, too, have been on the other side. I straddle the fence between “doctor world” and “writer world”. The name “Blowhole” actually came directly from our writers’ room – even before we saw Mr. David Young (the patient)! While we’re breaking story, before we name the patients, we usually reference them by their malady. “Face transplant guy,” “the stomach cancer trio,” “cement boy” – you get the general gist. Well, one of the writers (who shall remain nameless, as Blowhole was faceless) started dubbing him “Blowhole” in the room, and then somehow it landed in the script! But it actually worked really well in the script because it was a perfect thing for Izzie to react to. Of course that brings it all home for her. We always knew she wouldn’t want to feel like the patient, but for her to keep hearing that term (I’m going to stop using it now thank you very much) really brought it home (I mean, even Alex was saying it – that had to hurt since she was taking it personally herself). It was art imitated life which imitated art… or something like that.
There were a lot of things we knew going into this episode. We knew Izzie was sick (duh), we knew we wanted the theme to be “friends” (Cristina and Izzie coming together on that bench was such an incredibly awesome scene I can barely stand it. The first time I saw it cut together I just sat there with my mouth agape and my eyes filling up. They are amazing together.), and we knew our face transplant guy would be a recluse because when I was researching face transplants, the doctor who led the team at the Cleveland Clinic where they performed the most extensive and only American face transplant (to date), Dr. Siemionow, said, “it’s hard to face the world without a face.” I just love that quote. Anyway, when we were trying to figure out how to show his reclusiveness, the room came up with this orchid idea. And when I tell you the whole room erupted with glee at this idea, I do not exaggerate. Yet another example of our geekiness. Or shall I say, in this instance, their geekiness. I had no idea what all the fuss was about. Until I started learning more about orchids. It’s crazy the things that those freakin’ flowers do! They actually adapt to look like the insects that pollinate them so that they can continue to exist. I mean it’s really crazy. If you get the time, read about them. I personally am going to have to go back and see the movie “Adaptation” again to really get into all the double entendre of that title and the movie.
But I digress. The interns. Ahh, the interns. Thank god for the interns. They added so much fun to this episode – gave us a reason to stop and laugh through the tragedy that is our friend Izzie’s life. In the room we called it our little intern telenovella that goes on in the background while we follow our main residents. But in the end it turned out that it took on a life of its own and I love how Pierce, Megan and Steve (Joe, Molly and Mark) went for it. And I love the interrogation of Ryan (Brandon). I think the lesson to be learned from their story is: check to make sure you don’t hit “reply all” when admitting that you slept with your co-worker’s significant other over email. Or maybe the lesson is not to email such important information at all. This same kind of thing happened during my residency once. An attending took one of the interns down to the Bahamas while the intern was dating one of the residents. That intern had actually come to our program because she and the resident had been dating for years – had planned to get married in fact. Believe me, it was a major scandal. See? This kind of stuff does happen in real life.
The other part of this episode that was real was the stories that Callie and Owen told out in the woods. I won’t go into them in detail because I think they said enough and I’d rather not live through them again, but suffice it to say that those stories were vignettes from true occurrences.
But I can’t end the blog on such a sour note. Let’s see, what am I missing from the episode? Oooh, Derek’s rage. Wait, that’s still a little sour. Although fascinating, right? To see that side of him? And for that side of him to turn into the vulnerable mess of a man that we see at the end of the Chief’s speech to him at the trailer? To see him like that just made me want to go and comfort him. Anybody else have that feeling?
Oh snap, I know how to end this on an upbeat note! Bailey convincing people to go out into the woooods. Yes, I meant to put that many o’s, it’s not a typo. She was so funny every time she said that. And we realized it’s really the first time she and Owen have ever really talked at all. Before this episode they had about one interaction with each other that was about a second long. I vote we put them together more often. They’re a good team. Although Bailey makes a good team with just about anybody. Derek, the Chief, Callie… she strolls in, takes names, and heads out again. She’s Superfly. Or maybe I meant Superman. Or… she’s Bailey. A superhero in her own right.
And then there’s our own Justice League of superheroes (yes, I realize there are more than 5 of them). Our 5 musketeers at the end of the episode. Yes, I realize there are really only three of them, but how else would I get to their motto “all for one and one for all”? As they all learn of Izzie’s fate, they band together. And all is right with the world.