When the patients are all kids, emotions run high among the Seattle Grace docs

By Jennifer Armstrong
November 07, 2009 at 05:00 PM EST
Randy Holmes/ABC

After some tinkering with the tried-and-true formula, Grey’s Anatomy was back to its Grey’sian ways. And as for a lover who’s been absent, my heart beat ever fonder for this episode. (Will I feel similarly when the MIA Izzie and bedridden-for-weeks Meredith return next time? We shall see.)

We went all-peds this round, with a 15-year-old who fell off a roof and broke a whopping 52 bones (and quite graphically), a 10-week premature baby (did you swoon, too, every single time they showed that miniature baby?) who had a stroke in the womb, and an almost-11-year-old boy who’d been battling a serious intestinal problem for two years and 15 surgeries. The latter, Wallace, had developed a habit during his hospital time of playing doctor with Arizona, even dressing up in little scrubs and wearing glasses and going on rounds. Incredibly adorable, which made me worry for him instantly. Pediatrics, Arizona explained, is a place of fairy dust, not IV bags. ”In peds, we have magic and miracles,” she said. ”In peds, anything is possible.” Even Hunt had to smile at her heartfelt speech.

But he had his own problems. Like the little boy, Cristina was itching to be a doctor, too — that is, the kind of surgeon she knew she could be again if only she had the chance — continuing the career crisis she’s been suffering this season. Hunt knew she’d be mad he didn’t bring her in for the pre-dawn emergencies, but he didn’t know what to do about it, either, so he went with ignoring her anger. ”Oh, that’s your plan?” Callie said. ”Ignore the scalpel-hungry animal?” Yeah, I was worried for Hunt, too, though on a totally different level from Wallace.

The little aspiring doctor’s parents then upped the ante, telling the Chief and the Cold-Hearted Administrative Dude that they’d be bestowing a $25 million gift on what I guess we now call Seattle Grace-Mercy West, half of which would go to researching their son’s disease, and half to the hospital. It would be in honor of their son’s birthday and Arizona’s, which they shared, and was in a few days. This, of course, would come at an awfully good time for the ailing, now merged, medical centers, making their son’s fate all the more nerve-wracking. (I wondered: Could they go back to being two separate entities if they got enough money? And if so, how much would it take? And if so, could we keep Dr. Hottie Jackson?)

Calming our nerves a bit was that glorious group breakfast scene at Callie and Cristina’s place. I am going there every day before work from now on. Callie was actually making breakfast to order for all the happy couples — Mark and Lexie, Cristina and Owen, her and Arizona. Oatmeal, side of fruit, and wheat toast hold the butter! (Owen.) Cheese omelet, extra butter cinnamon toast, crispy bacon! (Cristina. Wow, I’d rather be Cristina.) Banter! (Mark, on the $25 million gift Arizona had wrangled: ”Maybe I should start doing more cleft palate kids. Everyone’s a sucker for those.”)

NEXT: Alex bares himeslf

In the not-so-happy camp was poor Alex, who was slapped with Izzie’s $200,000 in unpaid medical bills. New Doctor Pixie Reed — with whom he’s been at odds since she showed up — tried being nice to him, though he snapped at her in a very pre-Izzie Alex sort of way. ”The kid’s gonna die,” he snarled when she offered to help him with the premature stroke case. ”Deal with it or get out.” Yet as soon as she left, there he was, cooing to the teeny thing and cradling it. Next thing we knew, the baby was stabilizing as Alex executed something Bailey called a ”kangaroo hold,” which, naturally, is more effective with skin-on-skin contact. How has this not happened more often at Seattle Grace? Has someone even bothered to study if, say, various forms of plastic surgery or brain surgery are more effective if its practitioners take their shirts off? Someone should, because both the hot plastic surgeon and the hot brain surgeon had plenty of jokes to make when they saw Alex in the NICU bare-chested. ”Have you started to lactate yet?” Derek quipped. ”Is this the room for the calendar shoot?” Mark added. ”I was told it was downstairs.” (Advantage: Sloan.)

We also learned that 52-broken-bones girl had fallen off the roof because she was on magic mushrooms. When her dad told her he was disappointed in her, she delivered the Dawson’s Creek speech of the night: ”Dad, please, the last thing I am is a disappointment. I get straight As, I’m on honor roll, I run the student government, I basically am the school paper. I tutor kids with reading problems, okay? I’m every parent’s dream come true, including yours. I was exploring the bounds of my consciousness with the help of a mushroom. I made a calculated risk going on that roof. Falling off was a low-probability event, but even low-probability events occasionally occur. And this one did. So yeah, you’re bummed I miscalculated because it reminds you of your own fallibility. I’m bummed too. Let’s just leave it at that.”

Then the levity was over. Wallace’s condition, as we had suspected all along, had taken a turn for the worse. He had no more than two months to live if he survived a high-risk surgery that Arizona strongly advised against. It was the worst-case scenario they’d dreaded for two years. His father demanded the surgery despite Arizona’s reservations. ”You buy him more time,” he said, ”so we can buy him a cure.”

Miss Honor Roll was now slipping in surgery as well, with — to skip the technicalities — bad stuff happening basically because she had all these controlled substances in her veins. Cristina knew how to fix it because of her cardio experience, but Owen wouldn’t let her do it, demanding she page an official cardiologist instead as per protocol. She went ahead and aspirated the patient anyway, as he yelled at her, with — it must be noted — an assist from Jackson.

When everyone reconvened back at Callie and Cristina’s that evening, it was the exact opposite of the happy fun breakfast. Arizona was mad that Callie wasn’t around when she was melting down over Wallace. Cristina and Owen screamed at each other before he stormed out. Then Arizona left when she got a page about Wallace, whom she’d gotten through the surgery but was now crashing. ”Bitches,” Cristina deadpanned to her stunned roommate.

NEXT: Getting to the sudsy heart of it all

It was a bad scene all around as Arizona now attempted to fix Wallace. The Chief hovered until she told him off with an ”I feel like I’m operating on a stack of dollar bills.” Eventually, she lost the boy for good. Afterwards, she told the Chief and the Cold-Hearted Administrator that they could break the news to his parents, explaining her reasoning to Dr. Percy: ”As far as they’re concerned and as far as the Andersons will be concerned, I just killed their son. I’m a liability because if they asked me I would tell them that I did just kill their son and they should sue and I am responsible. And that’s not in the best interests of the hospital.” Then she asked the Cold-Hearted Administrator, ”Am I close?” His answer: ”Yeah, I think we’re on the same page.” (I told you he was cold.)

Things went mostly soap from here on out — not that that’s a bad thing. Meredith told Cristina Hunt’s outburst was a sign that ”he cares about your career. He’s in love with you.” Cristina’s reply: ”I hate married, happy you.” In a sorta-surprise exchange, Jackson revealed his ”hopeless” crush on Cristina, Reed her ”stupid” infatuation with Alex. (Are we buying this? They didn’t go out of their way to sell it, but hey, it’s about time to shake up all the Seattle Grace couples.) But when Alex stayed overnight with the baby again (still shirtless!) Reed sat with him, and he finally let her.

Things went a little more… awkwardly back at Callie and Cristina’s, where Callie had planned a surprise birthday party for Arizona that deployed when she arrived there after losing her prized patient. (Worse, it was his birthday, too.) She burst out sobbing and left — never a great way to start a party — before everyone basically got sad and drunk. And then, dear lord, Jackson was suddenly in Cristina’s room, slurring, ”Dr. Yang, let me just tell you that was incredibly hot in the OR yesterday. Incredibly, deeply hot.” And then he kissed her! Right there, in her dimly lit bedroom, with that face of his. (Maybe this, too, would be more effective if he took his shirt off?) God bless her and her willpower, because she shot him down and sent him away. Even I, as the world’s biggest Cristina-Owen fan, would’ve forgiven her that transgression. But then she took her awesomeness a step farther, actually apologizing to Owen for her surgical tantrum. Once again, they surprise me and take it to a new level: I love the way these two stubborn, difficult, brittle people keep forcing each other to say and do things they never thought they could or would. We should all be so lucky.

With all that emotional buildup, we found out that the mom and the premature baby Alex saved were now okay, a huge relief after all the other sadness. In the most wrenching scene of the night, Wallace’s parents went with Arizona to see his body — and his mother did the special bad-dream-chasing chant she always did to make him feel better. Emotional manipulation of the highest Grey’s Anatomy order… and my big cry of the night. And they’d donate their $25 million still after all! ”Not because of you and your ass kissing,” his father told the Cold-Hearted Administrator. ”It’s because of her.” Arizona. Aww.

All that plus Callie in some crazy hot lingerie waiting for her at home? And just when we thought we were done… that delicious exchange of ”I love you”s, with Callie’s whispered just after the final Grey’s Anatomy title card. Even Grey’s Anatomy itself knew it had reclaimed its name with this one.

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