Callie struggles with Hahn's departure, while a new cardiac surgeon comes to Seattle Grace, and Izzie can't shake Denny

By Jennifer Armstrong
Updated November 14, 2008 at 05:00 PM EST

Grey's Anatomy

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‘Grey’s Anatomy’ recap: Ghost in the heart machine

Grey’s Anatomy is oftentimes oddly on point — even when it’s not. Which is to say that it can sometimes hit at something surprisingly of the moment, given that it’s shot weeks ahead of time, even when it’s not the greatest episode of all time. This episode, for instance, introducing two new characters just after the unceremonious departure of Brooke Smith’s wonderfully prickly Erica Hahn, made Grey’s seem like an entirely new show. A discombobulatingly new show that seemed to reflect how a lot of us feel as the crap economy forces massive layoffs and troubling new times that are just disorienting enough to make us feel a little crazy. Honestly, at this point, what isn’t new and changing and totally different from how it was a year ago?

It started with Melissa George’s hyper entrance as Meredith’s med-school pal Sadie (also, incidentally, Meredith’s near twin, which is kinda cute), jumping right into bed with her and Cristina — a bed recently vacated by, um, someone else? Oh, right, Derek. Meredith’s “pre-Cristina Cristina” was all calling her “Death” and referring obliquely to salacious stories from their shared past. As Cristina grumbled to Derek, “Meredith’s name is not Death, it’s Mer.” Amen to that, sister. We have too many new folks; we don’t need new names for old characters. Everyone also hinted pretty strongly at Hahn’s abrupt departure, referring to canceled surgeries and frayed feelings — man, that was quick, huh? And yet we were still stuck with Denny the Ghost, haunting us when he should be long gone. Honestly. I love the man. I understand the affection for that story line. But he appeared on the scene nearly three years ago now. I mean, the Dow Jones was up over 11,000 in those days, people. The good old days, yes, but no reason to keep taunting us with them now.

In the still-more-change department, we learned that another new heart surgeon was on his or her way to Seattle Grace — her, actually, since it turned out her name was Virgina Dixon. As far as I’m concerned, this hospital could save itself a lot of heartache (get it?) if it laid off the cardio folk. She’s bound to almost marry someone and then end it because she uses an unfortunate slur behind the scenes, or go gay with someone and then end it because of some mysterious reason that may or may not have to do with her going gay. The point is that they’re nothing but trouble. And this one was no exception, though at least she’s keeping it in front of the camera so far. The chief informed Bailey that they were “wooing today” when it came to the new doc, and then Dr. Dixon showed up with a clearly Autistic bent — as she’d later explained, she had a form called Asperger’s, a condition that causes sufferers to be socially inept and rule-obsessed. Just what Seattle Grace does not need. Anyway, Callie got her wished-for distraction from Hahn’s absence, at least, in the form of a homeless dude who was (holy crap!) impaled on himself. Yeah, he was, as they described him, “a human pretzel.” I wonder if there’s just a database of grizzly, unspeakable crap that writers of doctor and lawyer shows can go to in a pinch. Either that, or they’re just sick mofos.

NEXT: Ghost town

The other major case of the night was a Navajo man who wanted his old heart transplant removed because, he said, it was “haunted.” Cue Denny Ghost! Good lord. Make it stop. It was actually interesting to see him show up in this episode, but only for one reason: He really was a great example of new-character integration. He showed up back in 2006, and we cared about him right away because of the connection between him and Izzie. Sadie could work for the same reason — she’s an intern ensconced within the comfort of the other interns (and their creepy practice-surgery-on-each-other games, which inspired her to doff her shirt and cut herself so someone could stitch her up), and she’s a link to Meredith’s past. Dr. Dixon, I’m not sold on yet; she has no genuine reason to get enmeshed in the personal side of the story lines. I get that she does rules, and that’s the opposite of the Seattle Grace crew, and she might turn out to be a brilliant move. But so far I’m not that interested.

When Cristina said, “whatever made Hahn leave, it can be fixed,” I thought, Yes! It can! “It’s not like Hahn was your girlfriend or something,” she added to Callie, and I thought, Oops. It is. Callie confirmed, and Sloan helpfully added, “Maybe you were a oncebian.” She added, “Or a twicebian. Whatever.” Since word is that Sadie is bisexual, maybe she’ll become a more-than-twicebian. Who knows? I’m more into the seeming slide toward a genuine Callie-Sloan romance — not just a friends-with-benefits arrangement — as he supports her through her post-Hahn funk. When he asked, “Did she say goodbye to you? Are you okay?” she asked if she looked okay. And he said, “You look great.” Aww. And he was even better when she broke down after building impaled-guy a new leg and then watching him die on the table. This could be great for both of their characters if it goes right.

Magic was also going down on the operating table where Dr. Dixon was performing her first Seattle Grace surgery on the Navajo heart transplant patient: His old heart started beating on its own, without the least bit of mechanical help. She explained that his heart had six years to rest and heal, though he insisted it was simply because he was no longer haunted. Oh, look, science versus mystical beliefs! How…not interesting. Post-surgery, Dixon explained her own condition to Bailey, adding, “I know when I’m being manipulated, and I know when I’m being made fun of. I don’t think I like this hospital at all.” That’s where she and I differ; those are my favorite parts of this hospital. Maybe that’s why I’m not sold on her.

This is a hospital where one doctor (Derek) can say to another (Mark), after some hints that Mark might be into Lexie, “Little Sloan does not enter Little Grey.” And, of course, Mark answers, “That’s just creepy. And inaccurate.” It’s also, by the way, totally wrong. Callie and Mark, yes. Lexie and Mark, no. Also: NO. And no.

Speaking of no: Here came Denny, yet again. Note to Grey’s Anatomy: You are not Ghost. And don’t you even think about drafting Whoopi Goldberg as a special sweeps guest star. Even that would not work. Do you hear me? Kill the ghost. “I’m trying to let you go so your soul can be at peace,” Izzie said. And for a second, I actually thought she was referring to my soul, because that is the only thing that would do it for me, and gosh, I would really enjoy having a soul at peace. Oddly, all of Izzie’s mooning around drastically chastened new-love Alex, who went from fighting her off with a barrage of hurtful remarks a few short weeks ago to saying things like, “I see you struggling, and I know you don’t want my help. But let me help you.” Um, dude, are you sure you didn’t just steal Derek’s line? She even asked him to do a total Der-for-Mer-ish favor: She wanted him to burn an old sweater of Denny’s that she’d kept. And he did it! And yet Denny was still, still, still there, hitting on her. Kissing her! From the dead! Not to mention showing up in next week’s scenes, too. God help us. Or at least take Denny to his final resting place. Please? Please.

One kiss I did love? Hunt on Yang. I love that he’s always attacking her, then devouring her, then walking away. This show has officially become an elaborate set-up for two very basic female fantasies: damaged goods who need taming and girly boys with good hair who beg for commitment. I could deconstruct the pitfalls of this, but I’ll just say instead: Loved when he told her, “I don’t need you,” then pushed her up against the wall and kissed her. That’s how to integrate a new character. We’ll take the rest to therapy with us.

Did Dr. Dixon’s arrival work for you? Are you happy that there could possibly be even more insight into Meredith? And who could possibly hate on a Callie-Sloane connection?

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Grey's Anatomy

Meredith. Alex. Bailey. The doctors are definitely in on Shonda Rhimes' hospital melodrama.

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