The spotlight's on Derek as he takes on an unauthorized surgery to help save a beloved colleague and he's forced to go up against the chief

By Jennifer Armstrong
Updated October 30, 2009 at 04:00 PM EDT
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Grey's Anatomy

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Look, I like Grey’s Anatomy, I really do. And that is why I can say this with love: The all-medical, all-the-time episodes need to stop. I appreciate Derek getting some spotlight time, but I’d like it to shed some more light on his character, not just on his surgeries. In this case, though, he was just walking us through ER territory yet again. And for the record, I think ER did a great job with its medical cases; however, I do not watch Grey’s Anatomy to get my ER fix. I watch it to see hot doctors make out in the on-call room and preposterously talk about their personal lives over their surgeries and banter at lunch and make life-changing romantic decisions based on metaphorical lessons learned from their patients. Absolutely zero of that happened here, and very little has happened in the last few episodes, save that one amazing one two weeks ago.

That said, Derek was facing a spinal cord tumor. An inoperable one. Which would seem more momentous if I hadn’t seen him deal with inoperable tumors before — Izzie’s, for one. Yes, there was a lot of build-up of this one as the ”perfect tumor.” The patient — who happened to be this lovely lab tech named Isaac — should not have been walking, should have been dead, etc. He came to work at Seattle Grace just because of Derek and his reputation. What reputation is that, you ask? That would be the one for constantly operating on inoperable tumors. Awesome for him, kinda getting boring for us, sorry to say. I know it was awesome for him because Cristina actually said, ”It’s awesome, look.” Bailey called it ”the Great White of tumors.” They can call it whatever they want; that doesn’t make this plot as gripping to me as a viewer as it obviously would to a real person in this actual situation.

I got a momentary jolt of vague personal-life interest when Alex grumbled that Reed’s ass was in his way when she was stretching in the locker room — did I detect simmering future sexual tension between these at-odds docs? He was wondering if Izzie would show up back at the hospital for her next treatment, which would’ve been more intriguing if I actually thought she might. (But since Katherine Heigl’s on personal leave, we knew she wouldn’t.)

And then it was back to the one and only medical case of the night (another problem, focusing on just one surgery when it isn’t absolutely mind-blowing). The Chief, being Mr. Fussy Penny Pincher that he is now, said Derek couldn’t operate. Guess what that meant! Why, yes, of course, Derek scheduled surgery anyway! And of course Dr. McHotness Monster — a.k.a. Jackson — got the surgery over Cristina after a tryout in which the docs had to show who could get the closest to dotting George Washington on the nose on a dollar bill with a pen while looking through that surgery-scope thing. See, here’s how this could’ve gone old-school Grey’s: Cristina could’ve been trying to get things right with Hunt but missing the mark. Derek could’ve been struggling to endure through a personal crisis, which would’ve made it all the more resonant when Isaac said to him, ”There’s always a way to survive.” (I know I haven’t fleshed those suggested story lines out much; just saying, I miss those days when it all tied together more.)

Instead, Cristina, um, briefly talked to Hunt about how she would like to be part of the tumor surgery because she was, essentially, envious that Lexie got to be in the so-long-and-intense procedure that she’d actually fashioned a diaper so she wouldn’t need breaks. ”I want to have to pee in a diaper.” Amusing? Yes. Sexy talk for the once-hot couple? No. And why does she even need to explain this to Dr. Badass himself? Meanwhile, Alex, and Reed also clashed some more — which on TV is all the more evidence of a forthcoming romantic spark — over the fact that Reed used to call Izzie ”cancer wife.” (How this emotion-shunning woman isn’t already best friends with Meredith and Cristina, I don’t know.)

NEXT: Badassery abounds

Then we were back to the Chief inevitably finding out about Derek’s unauthorized surgery. He demanded Shepherd close Isaac up immediately, and, um, he did. I guess recession fears blunt even surgical badassery. Except, of course, not quite. Derek went home that night to Meredith, who’s pretty much stuck in bed trying to read Anna Karenina for the 15th time (one more way she’s my soulmate) until Ellen Pompeo gives birth in real life. In one of the night’s more fantastical Grey’sian moments, Derek pulled their bed away from the wall and drew an elaborate diagram of how he thought he could deal with the tumor — for which, of course, they happened to have various brightly colored markers on hand. Kind of cool mural, at any rate.

The next day as Derek detailed his re-entry plans, Jackson marveled, ”No one at Mercy West was this badass.” Hopefully that means he’ll be sticking around Seattle Grace now for the badassery. Because someone needs to make out with his hot self, and fast. Just like someone needs to make out with Hunt. Preferably Cristina, but anyone will do at this point. There’s just so much sexiness going to waste these days on layoff anxiety and the saving of lives and whatnot. While I appreciate the attempt to parallel real lives, and I know many of us can relate to worrying for our futures, sometimes when I turn my TV on, particularly at 9 p.m. on Thursday on ABC, I would like to also perhaps see some romantic issues and some sexual high-jinks. Now that almost everyone at Seattle Grace is coupled up, it’s cooled off way too much.

The Reed-Alex tension gives me hope, though, even if I’m not totally ready for him to move on from Izzie and I don’t exactly love Reed. Izzie, of course, did not show up for her treatment, just as suspected. Reed seemed nearly human when Alex had his breakdown and she clearly felt for him, though — see, hope! And Hunt helped Cristina finally master the dot-on-George-Washington’s-nose trick by showing her — via some full body contact, the most action we’ve seen in weeks — how to stand farther back from the surgery-scopy thing.

But back to the actual surgery. Derek vomited — always fun to see on screen! — and McHotness Monster’s hand cramped during surgery. Apparently both were symptoms of exhaustion and dehydration. (If only they’d all worn those diapers …) But our heroic McDreamy got through the surgery and, lo, he conquered another inoperable tumor. Yet the Chief tried to fire him anyway, for performing an unauthorized operation — that firing move is losing its power just like the inoperable tumor one is at this point. What, is the show going to be about a bunch of fired doctors now as they all become plumbers instead? Not a chance. ”Go home, sleep on it,” Derek said to the Chief knowingly. ”We’ll talk more tomorrow.”

What did you think, Grey’s Watchers? Do you miss the soapier elements of our beloved Anatomy? Did you detect some Reed-Alex sexual tension? Could Derek really be fired? How much do you love that delectable Jackson?

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Grey's Anatomy

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

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