E: Thank you. Just thank you.
I laughed. I cried. No, I don’t love Cristina tending bar or raiding Madonna’s closet from 1984, but you know what? I loved pretty much everything else.
I loved the mother who refused to let her son slip through the cracks. I love the Chief busting balls in the nighttime. I love Meredith and Alex taking over for Stark, and not caring a bit when he threatened them and chewed them out. I love Jackson and Lexie becoming friends, or sort of (and you know she’s going to like him more now that he’s been all dark, nightmare-y, and occasionally cold too her). I cried over Lucas and Riley. And I love drunken Bailey more than almost anything I’ve ever seen on this show.
The conceit of the episode was this: Derek won his grant to do his Alzheimer’s study, and the other Attendings – Mark, Callie, Bailey, Owen and eventually Teddy – take him over to Joe’s for drinks. For people who are incredible contemptuous of lesser mortals, you’d think they’d pick a more upscale location for their special night out, no? No. That gives them the opportunity to see that Cristina (under an edict from Owen to procure gainful employment) has gotten herself a job tending bar, to their horror. But hey, at least it’s a step up from being a housewife. Hilarity ensues when Bailey gets utterly smashed, Teddy shows up complaining about her hideous computer date, and Mark prods a mopey Callie to seek a “sexual pallet cleanser.” Genius, proclaims Bailey, it’s sexual sorbet! (It makes me want to vomit a little, actually, although it’s also pretty funny and extremely Mark.) Back at the hospital, the residents haunt the halls. They’re in charge, for the most part – so be afraid. You know what I’m going to say now; be very afraid.
Oh, Cristina. Owen was pretty much ridiculously awesome about his wife giving a drunken lap dance to – was it a bachelor party, or some sort of soccer team? Not that it matters. But Owen is always at his best when he can be strong for someone else. It’s when he’s asked to be vulnerable – to open up himself, to admit failure – that he crumbles.
He doesn’t crumble in the o.r., of course, so when Lexie and Avery call him to help them with two teenage brothers, Riley and Lucas, who thought they could beat a train over a crossing and lost. When Lexie sees that Riley’s lost a leg (oddly shot in my opinion because we see a paramedic with the bagged leg before Lexie sees the stump), Hunt loses his night out. As Lucas explains how they were late because Riley for his backpack, and how he thought he could push it, Riley loses everything. The three doctors spend the bulk of the episode trying to repair Lucas’s insides and pull large pieces of car out of his insides. This was a seriously disturbing surgery; who knew that you could handle organs that roughly, or just shove your hands that hard – or that deep – into someone’s abdominal cavity and live? Avery came through his funk to stop a major bleeder, and felt pretty hard core about (“because of me, those parents didn’t lose everything tonight”) and he’s really been pissed off about Lexie pitying him for the nightmares he won’t even admit he still has.
Lexie steps it up a bit, too; Hunt sends her out to update the parents on Lucas’s condition (critical but they’re doing the best they can) and as she’s leaving, they ask if she might know anything about Riley. She’s stunned that no one has told them, and you can see the panic on her face, and her desire to find a responsible adult to come tell them the worlds most devastating news. Instead she realizes it has to be her; she was there, and they deserve to know. So she begins. And of course, the parents know as soon as she starts on the script, and they begin to cry, and deny it. They tell her no, as if her not saying it could return them to the world they lived in a few hours before.
But of course she doesn’t, and she couldn’t. I was gutted, but I was proud of her for telling them, and not taking the coward’s way out. She could have asked for someone higher up to tell them, because it was hard, but she didn’t, and it felt like her accepting the ugly side of her role as a doctor; there’s only so far that modern medicine even at its best can reverse the world’s damage.
Speaking of the ugly side, pediatric surgeon Stark continues to prove that actor Peter MacNicol has other tricks in his bag than cute and charming. Stark is heading out to dinner (not with the click at Joe’s) and he wants to have his swank meal uninterrupted, thank you. Meredith is assigned to his service, and immediately meets a little boy in extreme pain after abdominal surgery whose mom (a nurse) insists that his complaints be taken seriously. Meredith agrees, but Stark (furious at being called away from his tiramisu) believes all post-op stomach pain is gas unless proven otherwise. Meredith enlists peds-god in training, Alex, and they continue to order tests, but is stymied by a long line for the CT scan until the mother calls Chief Webber at home. Webber shows up in high dungeon and rectifies the CT situation; it was rather a treat to see Webber rain down his fury on the tech covering for his absent buddy. “No,” he hollers righteously, “this is not your dude.” Awesome.
The CT scan reveals a perforated ulcer, which required immediate correction; Meredith pages Stark, but when he doesn’t come, Karev performs the surgery with Meredith assisting. It’s incredibly awesome, actually. Alex is going to be the pediatric surgeon you want on your team. (Actually, I guess he already is.) And when Stark does arrive, furious at their life-saving breech of protocol, they smirk together as Webber watches approvingly. (I can see why they wanted Webber there, but I am a little surprised Webber didn’t take part in the surgery, aren’t you? Or observe, or assist, or chew Stark out, or something?) One of the most lovely moments here occurs when Meredith and Alex, waiting to be dressed down, recall their first day when – as recounted in the pilot – Webber told them that only two of their original group would make it. “I thought it would be me and Cristina,” they say in unison, and then collapse in laughter. It’s funny; back then I sort of laughed at that line. I thought, oh, TV shows, you know they’ll all make it through – the show is about these people. I wouldn’t have expected to lose George (weep) and Izzie (um, sort of weep?); they both brought great things to the show, but I guess the life issues that get in the way of ambitious surgical interns can also change actor’s plans as well.
Bailey shows up at the hospital to sleep off the drink; April takes care of her, leading to insanely funny unBailey monologues, like the bit where Bailey rhapsodizes about anesthesiologist Ben’s bedroom prowess and April has to stop her from drunk dialing him. (Should we hope that Off the Map fails so Ben can come back to Bailey? Or do we want it to succeed so Jason George and excellent Good Wife guest star Mamie Gummer get their own show? I can’t decide.) Later she produces a more Bailey like tirade about how Alex Karev is not the person to take one’s maiden voyage with. April is hideously embarrassed, but it’s all good. And even though Bailey, sobered up, insisted that “this never happened” I hope April does understand that Bailey does care about what happens to her, despite Bailey’s matter of fact exterior. Either way, Bailey gave her the cure for the wacky patient plot of the night; mix some soap and water in with the acetone Alex suggested, and voila! The teenage lovers who superglued their arms together so the boy couldn’t move to Wisconsin could be ripped apart.
Finally, we have the most shocking scene from last week’s promo; Mark and Callie slip back to their friends with benefits status. Poor wrecked Callie begged Mark for some ‘sorbet,’ in the hopes that he could somehow cure her longing for Arizona. You know I like Mark and Callie together He may have distracted, but we can see in her face that (duh) he hasn’t magically wiped away her distress. Lucky for her Jessica Capshaw’s name still appears in the credits; looks like Africa (and medicine’s) loss will be Seattle Grace’s gain, when she rides in to rescue our patients from Stark’s indifference and Callie from heartbreak. I like Jessica Capshaw, but I’m having trouble thinking of any way she can leave Africa without me thinking less of her.