Grey’s Anatomy: These Arms of Mine

E: Oh, Grey’s  – thanks.  Thank you.

This was a good episode.

You know, I kind of wish they’d done this Boston Med style documentary to start the new season.  I guess I know why they didn’t, but it was actually better than the histrionics of the previous episodes, at least for me.  Sure, there was the usual relationship drama, and bragging, and more than one brandnewamazingneverbeforedone surgeries.  But.  It was poignant, but for the first time in a long time, it was also restrained.

And that was a very good thing.  It made the high points more inspiring, and the low points more devastating.  And before you start talking about Grey’s signature over the top humor and melodrama, I’m going to ask you to go back to the first few seasons.  The show has become more cartoony as it’s gone on, and has been forced to resort to shootings and getting George run over by a bus in order to keep us watching.  So oddly enough, I feel like the total format change actually brought Greys back to its roots.

The set up?  A documentary crew follows our  doctors for Seattle Medical; The Road to Recovery, in the style of this summer’s excellent medical documentary series Boston Med.  I have friends and acquaintances who work at the four hospitals that show profiled, so I was already going to be interested, but it was supremely well done and totally moving.  That was a good book to take a page from, Stacy McKee! The show is presented to use as a documentary.  We see their finished, edited product, with chyrons (captions) and explanations of who everyone is, and even patient/family interviews, which was a lovely change.

And the plots?  The hospital has installed a state of the art security system, with cameras and guards and alarms which blare constantly and lock down separate areas to prevent shooters from wandering around.  Lexie – no longer sporting the blond hair of her i.d. picture – get stopped constantly, and can’t swipe her card, and also sets off an alarm which traps Avery with a patient in a hallway as the patient has a heart attack and Teddy watches, unable to help.  Avery seems to be losing it, no?  Except, we rarely got to see him when he was on it, so that’s interesting, right?  Arizona wins a genius grant to help fill in gaps in childhood surgical care in Africa.  She had applied for the grant two years ago, long before she met Callie and hada settled personal life. Callie’s not happy.  But because there are cameras, all this tension takes place in the background.

Alex Karev grows a new trachea for a lovely 9 year old named Lily.  He spent most of the time telling the film crews how he’s probably going to specialize in pediatric surgery because it’s elite and hardcore, but they catch him singing to Lily to keep her calm during an MRI (apparently he had to practice to make himself sound bad, because he’s got a great voice – adorable!) , sending her constant pictures of the growing trachea, visiting her class, and even sleeping in the parent cot in her room when her mom couldn’t be there.  (Hmm, in retrospect that last bit sounds a little weird, but it came off as really adorable on the show.)  Dude can really step it up sometimes.  I still wouldn’t want to date him, but there’s a good man in there, whether he wants to admit it or not.

Derek, Mark and Callie find a donorcycle accident victim whose arms they can use to help a logger who lost his own arms in an accident.  They had a 20 hour surgery, which included lots of posturing from Mark and Derek (I hate that side of Derek). The braggadocio annoys the heck out of Callie, which is a little funny because Callie demonstrated last week that she’s competitive as hell and can talk smack with the best of them.   The surgery – two years in the making – looks like it might be derailed momentarily when the doctors notice a tiny tattoo of the donor’s wife’s name, Nicole. (Also, I got freaked out during the surgery, because that tattoo was on the left arm, but appeared on the right side of the amputee’s body during the surgery.  Was I looking at that wrong?  Was his body turned around?)  Nicole weeps to the film crew that she knows it’s the right thing to do, that her husband would have wanted it – but it breaks her heart a little to think of someone else holding his hand.


I don’t know about you, but does actually freak me out.  I’m a donor – even if I hope to die in my beds at at least 95, still loved and still alert – but I can’t imagine giving away my husbands hands.  You don’t get that emotionally invested in your beloved’s internal organs.

Anyway.  There it is.  Recipient’s wife would change her name to Nicole if it got her husband arms back. (They were an awfully cute couple, I though.)  And after the arms are successfully reattached (we even get to see her pinch an area where he’s got feeling – amazing!), the captions tell us the guy goes straight out and gets “Thank You” written under the name Nicole.

And that makes me tear up, just writing it.  Great use of the chyrons there!

Several interviews focus on Meredith and Cristina’s friendship – to the point of having Derek make an offhand remark about how the two have sleepovers in his bed, with him in it.  (He says this, of course, right before stepping into the elevator.)  Would the average viewer assume that event was, erm, boundary crossing?  Cristina exerts herself to lie to the camera, seeming more alive and focused than she has all season. She breaks back down to silence, however, when asked whether she was a hero.  Meredith tries to explain that Cristina is her hero, and that most people couldn’t have done what she did, but her best friend can’t hear it.  Cristina gets the last word of the episode, rather than the typical voice over.  She’s practiced, smooth, she lies and talks about blessings, and adversity making your stronger, and other completely unCristina-like platitudes.  A sliver of truth slips out, however: “being a hero has it’s price.”

Speaking of the price, adorable Mary comes back – remember Mandy Moore, who was supposed to has a colostemy reversal the day of the shooting, who helped Bailey drag Charles Percy to the nonfunctioning elevators and helped cheer his crush on Reed as he died?    Mary and her husband Bill maxed out their savings and traveled the world in reaction to the trauma.  That’s much more fun than what’s happening with Cristina, no?  (I know, I know, it’s not her fault.  The thing is, Owen proved that depression can actually be interesting.)  Bailey is thrilled to see Mary, and thrilled to do her simple surgery.  Mary’s planning on having lots of babies next.  The surgery goes so well, Bailey’s going to go out for a drink.

When we see her colleagues drinking at Joe’s without her, that should have been a clue.  But I don’t realize, until we see Bill in the ICU with a gorgeous flower arrangement, at Mary (“they’re pretty, just like you”), so some reason that science can’t yet detect, never woke up from the anesthesia.  Poor Bill has to take his wife off life support.  It’s an interesting way to take the story full circle (since that’s what the shooting came out of) and it’s so sad and mean and, yeah, it’s a really good plot twist for a show like this.

There is part of me that wonders about it.   Would Mary have died that day, had the shooting not taken place?   At least this way, she and Bill had Paris.  They lived, just lived, did everything they ever wanted, for months.  And of course I’m sorry she died and that she didn’t get to have all those babies (and I wonder why there was no issue with the installation of the collostomy bag) but if she was never going to survive that simple surgery, well, I’m glad they had extra time knowing it was extra time.

So here’s my one issue. Callie and Arizona gave notice?  They didn’t just take a leave of absence? Does this mean they’re off the show, just like that?  What the heck?  I notice they carefully did not tell us how long the grant work would take.  On the other hand, they also specified that they gave notice; they didn’t take a leave of absence.  This show is not kind to its lesbians!

And there it is. Did the one time structure work for you, or did you miss the in-jokes and the voice overs?  I thought it was a refreshing change.  I hope the writers remember to use some of that restraint later.  Less can be more, people!


9 comments on “Grey’s Anatomy: These Arms of Mine

  1. Crystal says:

    I found it quite refreshing as well…I screamed at the TV when I read that both Callie and Arizona gave their notice…Hubby gave me a WTF look b/c I was that upset. 😉 I felt so bad for Avery when he was in there, he has seemed so calm and reserved after the shooting – it was nice? to see that it also had some effect on him…I actually cried during a few of Alex’s scenes – especially about the mom not being able to be at the hospital with her daughter b/c she was working and they live 3 hours away…my heart just breaks thinking about that.

    It was a very good episode and I’m wondering how they’re going to put it all back together next week.

    • E says:

      I can’t even believe that about Callie and Arizona. Could have come from further out of left field? Now, I hate when they give characters amazing job opportunities or college acceptances (or whatever) that of course they would take, but they can’t because they’re on the show. So part of me is like, wow, that’s sort of cool. But the part of me that really liked the characters is all, wtf? Just like that? Are you kidding?

      The poor mom who lived three hours away… it was hard enough when our little guy was in the nicu and we lived 35 minutes away from the hospital. I feel so lucky to live where we do. Of course, even with the world class hospitals here, if you end up with a particular type of cancer you might still want to travel. So, it’s just hard, and awful.

    • E says:

      The point where the mother repeated back to them “so you’re saying if you remove the tumor, she’s going to die, and if you leave it in, she’s – going to die?”. Gulp.

  2. Tobaspoon says:

    Totally agree. I really liked his episode. Because of this restraint as you say. At first I didn’t like the idea of showing the entire episode as a documentary but I ended up liking it a lot!

    For once, the patients were not entirely mirrors of the characters’ pains and issues. They were patients and that’s it (even though the armless guy was a little too freaky but as you said he and his wife made a funny and cute couple).

    And above all, finally some great Karev and great Bailey. Karev and Lily’s story was sometimes a little too much objectively but I loved it. Loved it. And Bailey and Mary story’s too.

    Callie and Arizona are leaving?? No, not for real. They wouldn’t, would they? Maybe they’ll be off for a few episodes, and then come back. I hope so.

    Christina and Meredith…ah. Well, Christina seems to be understanding her condition. Her trauma. And I watched the promo of next thursday (I can’t help it, even if it means searching all the internet for it), and something finally seems to be happening.

    Avery has PTSD, but hadn’t shown it yet. It is coming.

    You know, these days I’m watching old episodes of Grey’s and I like it so much. Episodes were simple and yet great. I was really cool. As you said E, they came back to such a type.

    Lookign forward to next week!

    • E says:

      Thanks for writing again, Tobaspoon! I agree with you, Karev and Lily could have been too cutesy, but I think the documentary format saved it from going over the top.

      I think it’ll be such a relief for Avery and Cristina to get the whole PTSD thing out there. I hope Avery can pull through it. I feel like the more they reveal about his character, the more interesting he is. I would hate it if they felt like they couldn’t have both Cristina and Avery work through their issues, and had to sacrifice Avery to get Cristina back. And I do want Cristina back – just not at that price!

      It’s so funny about the old episodes, isn’t it? I can’t believe how much the tone of the show has changed. For me, this episode was great because it sort of referred back to that older style.

  3. Nancy says:

    So am I the only one that did NOT like the “docu” episode? I mean, I liked the stories, but I don’t like when they make tv “real”.
    I did feel for the mom that lived 3 hours away – we have that at the hospital where Alexander is – families come from Maine, and they have to leave the kids sometimes – it is hard to see! I am so glad we live so close to the hospital and we have each other to take turns with.
    Callie and Arizona – well, if they are gone for good, find by me, because I just don’t like the story line! Am I homofobe? I don’t know….maybe? But I just don’t care for it. But I am sure they will be back….
    the Mary story line – I was so SAD about that!! It just didn’t seem right! But, as you said, maybe she would have died anyway if the shoting had not happened – and she was given a gift, a chance to see the world and have happy days with her husband.
    Arm transplant….hey – they can have all the organs, my eyes, my skin even, but I don’t know about my arms…….not sure how I feel about that, but good for that woman for giving the family a chance!

    • E says:

      No, I’ve talked to other people who didn’t like it.

      My only issue with the Callie/Arizona relationship is that I don’t so much believe Callie’s a lesbian. I think she’s someone who is bi, who is choosing to be in a gay relationship, and I think the show has been sort of weird about that. I will definitely be sorry if they leave, though!

      Arms – wow, that’s a tough thing, huh? I think eyes are up there on the freaky scale, also.

  4. Nancy says:

    from what I understand, and eye donation, isn’t the actual EYE, but just the cornea – I don’t have a problem with that – giving someone the gift of sight.

  5. Nancy says:

    here is a little info about eye transplants…..just in case anyone was wondering!! =)

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