E: Killing yourself might be painless, but letting someone else die? Now that’s difficult.
Or so is the contention of this week’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy. I’m not quite sure how the writer thinks they know that: all we truly know about death is its effect on the living. And Owen, in serious combat flashback mode, is deeply affected. We move from the light humor of the last few episodes to Owen’s back story – from visions of him playing soccer at a MASH-like desert camp (surprise, since they’ve cribbed the episode title from the MASH theme song) with Teddy and some red shirt friends, to the darkest heart of his pain.
The flashbacks are triggered by a heartbreaking terminal lung cancer patient (Roseanne‘s Sara Gilbert) who has asked Teddy to assist in her suicide. Apparently this is newly legal in Washington state, and patient Kim doesn’t want to spend her last few months with hospice. She wants to decide. She wants to be herself when she goes, and she isn’t afraid. Husband Sean (Derek Cecil, recently seen on The Good Wife but probably best known for his roles in failed shows like Push, Nevada, Pasedena, The $treet and The Beat) doesn’t know how to cope. So, like Owen, he sucks it all in and plays the stoic. In the end, however, we see that Owen’s objections come from the same place as his insomnia and his flashbacks.
From the moment we see a smiling, affable Dan (Richard T. Jones, vaguely familiar from a whole raft of guest appearances), it’s clear he’s going to die, and that will be part of what’s wrecked Owen. Heavens, they call him Captain Dan – how much more do you need to know? A sandstorm is closing in, so the mobile camp has to shift position, sending Teddy with a high priority patient in a helicopter, and the rest in a large armored vehicle. The land unit hits an incendiary. Hunt has a few scratches, but everyone else but Dan is already dead, and Dan has his legs pinned beneath the truck with one arm needing a tourniquet and a spurting hole in his neck.
Despite the fact that they’d telegraphed it pretty clearly, I still cried during the climactic voice over/music montage at the end when the helicopter showed up just after Hunt let his friend die. Is it any wonder that he’s been suffering from PTSD? That he has nightmare flashbacks of holding someone’s neck and hearing helicopter blades? Is it any wonder that it was Teddy, shining a light on him? Is it any wonder that he couldn’t face her, that he cut himself off from everyone he knew before? I appreciate this. This is writing all coming together in a neat little package. Owen is never going to be right about this until he tells Teddy. He needs her forgiveness to forgive himself. (Although, hmm, why do I think he hasn’t?) And gosh darn it, he needs more than that. Dan was right. He needs to marry her.
I can see why Teddy would need to affirm life after the day she had, but I dunno, her tryst with Mark seems a little – well, lacking in intensity. Mark is such a ho and so clichéd that he’s not even hot to me anymore. I have said it before; Teddy and Owen belong together. I know he’s chosen to be with Cristina, but – but – I think I liked them because I liked him. Owen is sexy and rugged and all emo and yummy. And I like Cristina, and it was good to see her have a (mostly) good relationship. But. That was before I knew about Teddy. Teddy changed everything.
Heck, the show thinks Teddy and Owen belong together. Why else have dying soldier Dan tell Owen to dump Beth and marry Teddy? How big does an anvil need to be? This needs to happen. That is the kiss I’ve been waiting to see. (Besides the one shared by Bailey and Warren, of course.)
I shouldn’t totally gloss over cancer patient Kim and husband Sean. I suppose I know too many people with cancer right now to want to think about it too closely, though. There was something so heartrending about her sitting in that hospital bed with her pretty bedding and touches from home. And she couldn’t have been less wise-cracking Darlene. I’ve never seen Sara Gilbert do anything without her snark cocoon. The whole plotline was really well acted. I loved the little conversations Kim had with Cristina about when you ask men what they feel and how they say nothing – are they actually not feeling anything? Is that even possible? I think every woman alive has had that conversation with a girlfriend. Kim says, maybe they really aren’t feeling anything, but we see Sean have a heart to heart later with Owen about his pain and confusion. And when Cristina asks Owen why he’s doing push ups at 3 in the morning, well, we know there’s more than the “nothing” he insists is wrong.
In the B plot, we have Callie fixing the nastily broken leg of a crazy adventurer; three friends go mountain climbing and jumping out of helicopters and generally have crazy testosterone filled adventures ostensibly to feel alive, but secretly because each one thinks he’s humoring the other two. Forcing them all to admit this gives Callie the courage to tell Arizona that she (Callie) wants a child. Arizona does not respond well. Seriously? I thought it was a little petty to snatch her hands back like that, although I can clearly see the symbolism for their relationship. I can see why it would be upsetting to learn that you and the person you’re dating don’t want the same things out of a life partnership, of course, but it’s a question of wanting equally valid things, not a personal betrayal.
I dunno why the show isn’t being honest about one thing. Callie is a bisexual who has decided to explore relationships with women. Callie is not, strictly speaking, a lesbian. I love Callie and Arizona, but can I be the only person who thinks she’d be better off with her best friend (formerly with benies)? She wants a baby, Mark wants a baby, they love each other, they get each other, they’re good for each other and they have great sex. What’s wrong with that? Which would conveniently leave Teddy free to get together with Owen…
And then – I suppose that would be the C plot – we have Derek making his way again as Chief, and the Chief making his way again as a regular surgeon. We get some nice moments between the two of them, but we also get some choices that make me furious. Meredith interrupts a budget meeting to gloat about a patient she diagnosed with an enormous tumor, and how “shadow Shepherd” (the other neurosurgeon) is going to let her remove a large section of it. At first Derek’s dismissive, but then he steals the surgery, and she doesn’t even get to assist because he thinks it’d look like favoritism. Even though it was her surgery. She calls him out, loudly. Avery helps her achieve a zen calm about it (be a Who in Whoville, he tells her, which means be grateful for what you do have – in this case, a boring old aneurism), but I think this is an issue they need to talk about. Yes, you should be grateful for what you have, and not dwell on what you don’t. But should it be okay that your husband first rudely ignores and then steals from you? She told him as her husband, not the Chief. She’s called him on that before, and she’s proved she can call him on something and still have it be productive and honest rather than traumatic. I call Post-it. It was a big wrong, and I don’t like that the show just let it go. Even as Chief, he should be respectful of the teaching capacity of the hospital. She’s there to learn, and she was going to do it before he showed up with his need to get back to the knife.
I don’t know how I feel, by the way, about the fact that Izzie’s not coming back, and we won’t have resolution on her storyline. You may have heard that Katherine Heigl’s broken her contract in order to not work crazy hours; after adopting her daughter, she wants off the treadmill. I get that as a mother, completely. They do work crazy hours. As a fan, though, I almost wish they had killed her at the end of last season. I don’t know that bringing her back for the last five episodes would have helped. She’s gone, she’s back, she’s gone – she’s back again and then gone for good? Oh well. I suppose everyone is doing the best they can with this situation. I feel bad for Alex, but then I suppose we can’t have all the characters grow up at once.