When something horrible happens to you, do you stare it down? Or do you run away? That's the question on this week's Grey's Anatomy, as Izzie deals with her diagnosis and Derek remains in the woods, unable to face the hospital where his last mistake took a life. I loved the way this episode brings the characters together in botched but earnest efforts to support each other. Ready to talk about it? Just
Oh, Izzie! This week, her decision to confide in Cristina — and only Cristina — starts to backfire. Cristina's just doing what she does best: She collects data and makes calls and suggests treatments. But the thing is, as a surgeon, Izzie knows too much. She knows that surgery is messy, and she knows it fails. She knows the way doctors talk about patients behind their backs. Izzie's seen the worst happen; heck, she's helped cause the worst to happen. So Cristina does the only thing she can do: She tells everyone. Or, more accurately, she tells Alex and Bailey, right before she's about to make the first incision for her first solo surgery; she can't keep the secret and do her job. But then, after the surgery, she takes Izzie's hand and tells her to fight. That final scene with Izzie in the hospital gown, surrounded by her friends, is classic Grey's.
Derek, meanwhile, still isn't sure how to approach his own fight. He's off in the woods, drinking and wallowing. Bailey sends Callie out to swap horror stories and coping strategies with him, but she ends up staring into the exact same pit of despair, finding herself wondering how she does get up in the morning. Then Owen heads out, and he shares his own medical mistakes, but he won't touch his war stories — that's where the real pain is. Finally, the Chief arrives, and he and Derek have it out: Derek says it's ridiculous for him to have sent Meredith out to him expecting a proposal; the Chief says he just wanted Derek to have someone to help him climb out of his hole. And in the end, it is Meredith who saves him — because she arrives not with baggage but with a medical case to solve. Izzie needs Derek, and, just as much right now, Derek needs Izzie. He needs a patient he can fix.
All of that gets paralleled in the story of the patient getting the face transplant. It's a fairly typical Grey's story of heavy-handed metaphors (orchids, lines about being ugly on the outside but beautiful inside because they're fighters, etc.) but there are some nice moments, including Lexie stepping up and giving the guy the talking-to he needs to let his friends into his life. He's so convinced that people will turn away from him that he's chosen to turn away first, and at last, he realizes he needs to open up and let them help, no matter how he looks.
Some other thoughts:
- Is there a sadder image in the world than Alex's eyes when he finds out Izzie has cancer?
- Meredith and George's plotline with the interns cracked me up, both for the way it mirrored the larger stories (they really didn't want to face the fact that their interns were acting like fools . . . again) and for the fact that maybe, just maybe, they realize this is how ridiculous they looked when they were sex-crazed, angsty interns, too.
- Why I Love Cristina Yang, No. 507: When Izzie suggests that the residents and interns will soon be calling her "swiss cheese for brains," Cristina says they won't, because "that's awkward and long."
- Love that the writers slipped in a quick Cristina/Owen update: "It's like friends with benefits, except without the benefits."
- Also love Bailey's panic over her disappearing surgeons: "I'm half convinced they're on a spit with a one-armed man turning them into shish kabobs."
- Did anyone else catch Izzie drinking an Izze soda?
So, that was all pretty emotional by the end, eh? Are you satisfied with the direction these stories are taking? Ready for next week's "episode that defines good television"?
Photos copyright 2009 ABC, Inc.