E: Due to a dvr glitch while I was out watching a live taping of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me! (amazing!), I’m going to have to wait until tonight to catch Project Runway, and so even though I have a recording of Models of the Runway, I can’t watch it yet for the spoilers. Thanks, Lifetime, for rerunning the show, even if I’m becoming increasingly disillusioned with it. I’ll bring you my thoughts on those episodes over the weekend.
To tide you over, however, I do have a few thoughts on my favorite melodrama. As always, it’s replete with spoilers.
Though the title of this week’s Grey’s Anatomy is “Tainted Obligation,” what I started calling it in my head was “The Sins of the Father” – as in, the Biblical quote about the sins of the father being visited upon the children. Our comic patient of the week is an elderly gentleman who wants a pump implanted in his nether regions. His son (played by haughty Tom Amandes, who’s a bit of a poor man’s David Straithern) and daughter-in-law are so grossed out and horrified (especially – ugly thought – at the expense of him paying out of pocket with money they’d prefer he contribute to their daughter’s education) that they spend the episode trying to prevent it. What sort of obligations do they have to assist or stand in the way of a father’s (sinful) wishes? Of course the show is very clear that this little old man has, sweetly, fallen in love after 20 years as a widower and isn’t merely some old horn dog; we’re not talking about the grossness level of Peter O’Toole in Venus.
There’s quite a bit of mean-spirited ribbing of Cristina by the male attendings (presumably for her aggressive pursuit of surgeries) which leads her to eventual demand that the chief fire her if he can’t provide her with the opportunity to learn. Which, fair enough, but I’m not sure what all the hazing is about. Are they punishing her for being ambitious? Or treating her as a de facto member of the boys club? The previews for next week tease out the possible downsizing of one of our four original interns. Chief Webber struggles with the downsizing; the work of his life is being ripped apart, and everyone is blaming him, including himself.
Now, I’m not exactly sure how all this works in real life, but Hunt is a trauma surgeon, right? So why is he operating to remove a tumor? The owner of the tumor is a cute guy, waiting to propose to his (somewhat impatient) girlfriend until he’s in remission. If he’s been sick for so long, wouldn’t he have an oncologist? Izzie doesn’t want to give up on the guy, who’s likely to live only about 2 or 3 months otherwise, and pushes Hunt to attempt a removal despite nasty scarring. Hunt acquiesces, only to blast Izzie (and himself) with guilt when the patient dies. Izzie’s empathy has always been the great question of her medical career; is it a blessing or a fatal flaw? Did this man die too soon because Izzie needed him so live so badly? I’m inclined to believe that it was the patient’s choice here; assuming they relayed the risks, as legally required, then it was up to cute guy to choose the hope of the risky surgery or not. The theme pulls through, however; do doctors and parents and mentors transfer their own mistakes and experiences onward to the detriment of their (sometimes metaphorical) children?
Nowhere is this idea more clearly expressed than in Thatcher Grey’s sudden and desperate need for a liver. Grey’s really returns to form when they explore the Grey family nightmares, and this is no exception. Thatcher, distraught over the loss of his second wife, has drunk himself into his current pressing need, and is too recently sober to get on the transplant list. Lexie immediately volunteers to hand over a piece of her liver (over McSteamy’s strenuous objections) but of course she isn’t a match. Of course it’s Meredith who is. Lexie begs Meredith to consider, and Mer spends the episode deciding whether to give life to the stranger who abandoned her. “Give me my Dad, ” Lexie pleads, and I couldn’t help thinking that dark and twisty Meredith would have fired back that she already had – that Lexie had gotten their father all her life at Meredith’s expense. But instead, as a mark of her growth, Meredith decides to give away a piece of herself to be the bigger person, for the future she won’t otherwise get to share with her father, and most of all, for her sister. This genuinely touching moment is also a convenient method of explaining away Ellen Pompeo’s maternity leave.
All in all, I laughed and I cried, which is what I like and expect from Grey’s Anatomy. I loved nerdy intern’s hushed “awesome” when the old fellow’s pump pumped for the first time. I loved Alex’s various panics about ticks and bears. And I loved the exchange between I believe the Chief and Cristina: “Do I need to find you something to do?” “No. I have a penis.” All told, not the best episode ever, but I’ll take it. Thanks, Shonda. I won’t be jumping ship this week, anyway.