In my early 30s I joined a rough and tumble flag football league, coached by a two-year veteran of the Lions who’d blown out both knees and still hungered to get back on the field. His frustration at enduring such a short NFL career was often realized in the form of shouting at us, and one of his favorite things to shout about was our apparent lack of dedication to winning. Did I mention he’d been on the Lions? When another team so much as assembled together before a game, he would point at them and then tell us loudly, “They came to PLAY!” Why this is relevant and spoilers after the jump.
I bring this up because we open this week’s episode on the softball field, where New Chief Hunt has gathered the residents and attendings of surgery. Gosh, there better be no calamities in Seattle while they’re here because there must be no staff left in the hospital. I don’t think Seattle Grace Mercy West could handle a wart removal right now. As it happens, these folks are much better surgeons than ball players; not only are they wholly unpracticed, they most definitely have not come to play.
It’s not that team building exercises are a bad idea, perhaps they should have started this about 8 years ago, however. At any rate, another fictional hospital in Emerald City apparently will slaughter our merry band of doctors if they ever show up on the diamond together. My apologies for the multiple rare gem references in the previous sentence.
Every season, there seems to be an episode where Rhimes and the writers are making relationship transitions to set us up a little further down the road. This is just that kind of episode, so please, no hating on me if this recap doesn’t seem as lively as usual.
Back to the ball field. Cristina and Meredith are waxing philosophical about their lives: one isn’t wearing surgeon’s scrubs anymore, and one has had all of her creativity sucked away from her by Teddy. Guess which is which. The voice over tells us that surgeons who don’t constantly push themselves are doomed for failure. But Meredith has decided to have faith that better days are just around the corner. If only the court would give them a hearing date.
Back at the hospital, Teddy is giving Cristina an angioplasty to do, which of course fills Cristina with a renewed sense of frustration at Teddy for underestimating her greatness. Hunt makes another mention this season of how April is nowhere near her personal greatness—gosh, I wonder when April will explode in frustration and do something totally amazing? And Callie gets a heartbreaking case of a garbage man with a mangled hand.
Callie seems disinclined to do anything other than amputate. I guess garbage haulers only need one prehensile limb, right? But once she discovers that he does some pretty amazing woodcarving on the side, to “stay sane,” as he says, her heart warms and she begins figuring out how to rebuild his metacarpals. I’m glad she learned his story then, if it means suddenly caring about his case. I expect more from Torres.
Arizona gives Alex a stack of papers to sign over to the child protective services people, who have subpoenaed his records regarding baby Zola. This makes him realize that although MerDer haven’t heard anything about their case, something is afoot, so he heads away from the line for his John Hancock, refusing to consent to the information release. I don’t think he can do that legally, but whatever, it’s Karev we’re talking about here. And a fire has now been lit under his derriere.
On the neurosurgery front, a 13-year-old and her mother come in specifically to meet the famous Dr. Shepherd. Her brain tumor causes her increasing bouts of seizures and she’s been written off by other professionals who say they will only be able to remove part of her mass. But because he was successful on 87 percent of his surgeries last year, this mother wants him to do the procedure. Shepherd counters with an edgy idea: go in from another angle and remove the whole tumor. It’s never been done before, and the mom balks at the risks—namely death—asking that he just perform the traditional surgery. And Shepherd declines, telling her to go to any other great surgeon who will do the tried and true but boring method.
Hunt is shocked. Since when do they turn away surgery cases? Yeah, Derek! Shepherd replies that his heart just isn’t in it if he can’t get the whole kit and kaboodle. If CPS has told him to “wait and see and hope for the best,” then that’s what he’s going to tell everyone else. Hey, Meredith is lying in center field mumbling about having faith, so perhaps this is his version of that. I wish he’d see that just as he hates waiting and seeing and hoping, so does the next person, and so maybe he shouldn’t practice this torture on others, but it’s Derek, and he almost never wonders about the feelings of people who aren’t him.
But Owen, to his credit, pushes Derek enough that he resolves to find a way to convince the mother that his way is better. Shepherd asks Little Grey to tell them to stay put, since they’re from out of town. I don’t know, if I were that parent I’d be a bit PO’d at that point.
Dr. Bailey, who got handed Former Chief Webber’s islet cell clinical study only to watch it fail, has begun the totally unfun process of informing patients that the islet cell nano-doohickey she implanted in them doesn’t work. That is a total drag. Her first conversation, with Teddy and Henry, goes about as well as climbing Mt. Everest in pink stilettos, and she’s got something like 47 more cases to inform.
Shepherd and Lexie, with whom he’s getting along much better, investigate how to approach the seizure-causing tumor. I want a brain model video game like he has! It’s almost time for the holidays, after all. Bad news is, Derek can’t access the area of disturbance without wrecking something else along the way, or killing the patient. He’s going to need an insight he doesn’t currently have. If only there were some way of reframing his work using the skill set from another hobby. Like softball, for instance.
Karev dedicates the rest of his day to finding out where the Zola case is in its process. He seems a bit shocked at first that nobody cares that he’s a doctor–shouting it to people only worked in 9 to 5, Alex–but then cleverly deduces how to locate the judge in the case, showing up while the man is tied to a chemotherapy bag. Sure, it’s illegal to interfere, but Alex gives us his standard truth-telling soliloquy and leaves the file with the jurist, then shows up for his shift at the hospital.
Eureka, says Shepherd as Lexie helps him realize with softball batting instruction, on the hospital’s roof, no less, that he just needs to angle the patient’s head and he’ll have a clear route to her seizure. At this rate he’ll never want Meredith back in his OR. But he schedules the surgery and even with a short moment of dramatic complication, gets the entire tumor out. Score 10 points for Gryffindor, I mean, Derek.
In the hand surgery, all is as expected for Torres until the patient has a cardiac event. Yang shows up in advance of Teddy to see that he’s got a ruptured aorta. She gets him open and tells Kepner to get the graft ready–something typically Cristina would insist on doing herself. Teddy shows up while they’re repairing the damage, with Callie staying stubbornly (and with confidence in Yang) focused on his hand reconstruction. As they close up his chest incision, Teddy asks why Yang gave April the graft work, when she doesn’t even like April. “Because, she had it covered,” says Yang. Teddy takes Cristina aside in the scrub room to talk. Naturally, Yang presumes she’s in trouble with Teddy again. “What is it now,” she asks.
“I want you to make a list,” says Teddy.
“You want me to write it on a blackboard? I will not do any surgery without a safety helmet.” Cue sound of someone preparing crow in the corner.
“I want you to make a list of every surgery you’ve ever wanted to do, and I will try to get it to you.”
Teddy was just waiting to see Cristina put the patient first, before herself. Which she did today. Which is why Teddy has declared her “graduated.”
To watch the expression on Cristina’s face is almost worth the torturous tutelage she’s endured under Teddy. I’d love to see them get to a new level of happy with their working relationship, and perhaps that’s what we’re about to see in the next weeks.
Bailey walks in on Meredith examining islet cells in her lab, and renews her yelling. I am tired of only seeing this side of Miranda, and of hearing that she’s “blacklisted” Meredith from surgery. Miranda doesn’t have quite that kind of power, does she? Meredith persists in speaking, though, saying that by reviewing her mother’s journals she’s realized that Ellis made an erroneous assumption about the similarity between mouse and human pancreas cells, but voila, Meredith realizes that what fails in mice works in homo sapiens. It’s not that Bailey’s study is crashing, it’s that she shouldn’t use the failures of the mice as evidence that it will also fail for people. Bailey looks at Meredith’s work and realizes the reckless woman is onto something.
Callie stops by to tell her patient that someday his hand will be as good as new, and he proclaims that she’s something of an artist, too.
Now out to the softball game, since all of the patients have acquired their miracles for the day. The score goes to something like 12-0 with the well practiced Presbyterians on top. Teddy, who’s been dying to pitch, clearly sucks at it.Too late is Lexie brought in as relief pitcher. But losing gives Hunt a chance to tell everyone that he’s terribly amazingly proud to work with all of them. We also get to see Former Chief Webber demand a truce between Bailey and Grey, ordering Meredith to come back next week in her surgery scrubs. Thank you, James Pickens, Jr., for your commanding tone. The game is mundane until Mark Sloane’s new girlfriend, who works at the other hospital, baits Lexie, and Lexie throws the ball straight into her chest. She claims the girlfriend was trying to steal second. Not with her foot planted on first base, Little Grey. This makes Avery wonder if Lexie really likes him or not. I would do, with immature jealousy actions like that, but I’d also wonder about the juvenileness.
There’s a mad rush of angry players, and after the mess breaks up our gang hangs around on the bleachers like it’s the galley over an operating theater. There are apologies for poorly played softball, a worry that Lexie is uninterested in her man, and a quiet announcement that suddenly, MerDer has a hearing date about Zola. And in the dark, Alex smiles.