Cristina suffers a mid-surgery breakdown, while Mark and Meredith struggle to confess their post-shooting feelings.

By Jennifer Armstrong
Updated October 01, 2010 at 05:46 AM EDT
Eric McCandless/ABC

Grey's Anatomy

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This second episode back after the shooting was all about lingering in recovery — often in denial of needing recovery — which seemed only too appropriate. Meredith was feigning emotional-breakthrough to Dr. Men in Trees Guy, who still refused to clear her for surgery. “Do you need a tissue or a hug or something?” he asked, instead of clearing her. “Go hug yourself,” she huffed. Alex was insisting on keeping the bullet lodged in his chest.

Cristina wasn’t cleared, but Owen leapfrogged the chain of command to give his wife a little honeymoon present: one of Seattle Grace’s “once-in-a-lifetime” surgeries (i.e. surgeries that happen there every week), this one a heart reconstruction that involved removing atria and cancerous cells. He insisted that “the fear of going back in is worse than actually doing it,” and apparently figured forcing her back into the OR quickly could help her muscle past any shooting-related PTSD. (He should know a thing or two about PTSD, after all.) It turned out — clearly unbeknownst to Owen — that the patient had originally been treated by Dr. Burke, with Cristina helping. “You were getting married, weren’t you?” the woman asked, referencing her last visit. This is why everyone who works in the hospital should not just date and marry each other. It would reduce the likelihood of a former patient bringing up your failed engagement in front of your new husband.

The other major medical case of the night showed up in the form of multiple burn victims — an eight-member flag football team who’d been struck by lightning. They were all guys, save one named Carrie, whom several of the dudes were asking about with concern — clearly they all were crushing on her. But she was asking after only the one named Warren, whom she clearly secretly loved. Three of the guys rushed in to check on her, but the mood was broken when Warren split up tarry-looking blood or something equally gross. He had a perforation in his bowel, in case you were wondering, which I wasn’t. Sometimes I very much don’t care about the medical stuff. This was one of those nights — probably because they had a pretty lame back story.

And yet it continued, with the two non-Warren guys at poor Carrie’s bedside as Warren got his bowel fixed. “Warren’s bald, Carrie,” one of them said by way of convincing her to choose him instead. Finally she’d had enough, and she theorized, “I’m a girl who’s down with flag football, so you think you love me. Plus we got struck by lightning.” One of the other guys responded, “Warren’s a good guy, he could probably get a hairpiece or something …” And then Carrie started bawling, only further upsetting them. “She’s crying because everything’s changed,” Lexie admonished them, obviously talking more about herself than Carrie. Because that’s how things go at Seattle Grace: When they’re not confusing their patients by dating and marrying each other, the doctors are picking through the tangled strands of their patients’ personal lives for metaphorical resonance with their own personal lives.

NEXT: Carrie takes her rightful place as a stand-in.

I wonder if someone could be denied treatment at Seattle Grace on the basis that his or her case would provide no life lessons for the angsty staff. Carrie assured everyone she was crying only because she was worried about Warren, thus calling into question the future quality of her care at this medical establishment. No, Carrie, you are here to teach us the fleeting nature of life and thus the importance of expressing our feelings in this moment because every moment may be our last! Get with the program!

Speaking of programs, Meredith was engrossed in Wheel of Fortune in one of the waiting rooms. “Really?” Cristina said, echoing my thoughts. “This is what I’m cleared to do,” Meredith said. “I’m cleared to solve this puzzle.” During a commercial break, a preview for the local news showed footage of the very lightning accident that had brought Carrie and company to the hospital, and Lexie noted something major about Carrie, which everyone initially wrote off as Lexie still being post-shooting crazy. What she realized: Warren had tackled (or whatever) Carrie before the lightning strike, and this news would help save Carrie, and we would be happy because this meant Lexie is not crazy anymore. Plus Carrie could think out loud to Mark, “I never told him, and I had all these reasons, you know? And they seemed like good reasons until we almost died.” Sounded like someone was about to confess their undying love. That someone being Mark to Lexie, of course. Who cares what Carrie and Warren do?

In other post-shooting crazy news, Derek lit up when talking to Mark and the Chief about his new habit of driving 120 miles per hour. “Especially when you go through a corner at that speed, and you’re not sure if the rear end’s gonna stick or not, and you lose control…” He went on and on, possibly the most I’ve seen Patrick Dempsey (a race-car driver in real life) come alive in the history of this show. It warms my heart to see him get to act, and so in his element at that. Looks like he might lure the Chief into his adrenaline-junkie ways, too, which could be fun. I always root for reverse-affirmative action to help the poor, neglected guys on this show. The ladies get all the Emmy reel stuff.

Case in point: When a tray crashed to the ground in the big heart surgery, Cristina collapsed onto the floor as she flashed back to the shooting. Meredith ran from the gallery to the OR, even though she wasn’t supposed to be there, to talk her bestie through it. As they lay on the floor together and Meredith reached for her hand while Cristina said she couldn’t move and tears streaked horizontally across her stricken face, I was once again floored by both the acting involved in all of this and the lovely bond between these two, one of the show’s best elements.

Mark, as predicted, was confessing his love for Lexie — to Callie. “People get struck by lightning, people die,” he said. “My best friend got shot, Torres. Why are you telling me to give it time when there’s no guarantee that time is gonna be there?” She protested a little — “proposing might be too much” — before giving in and telling him to talk to Lexie already.

NEXT: The entire secret to long-term relationship success — in two sentences!

And now that the heart patient had made it through, couples were all full of feelings. “That’s why I left you in jail,” Meredith told Derek, explaining her worry about his new “hobby.” “So that just for a little while I would know that you weren’t dying, like you were dying on that table. That’s what I think about every time you pull out of that driveway.” She capped that off with the news about her miscarriage, which seemed a bit of a heavy guilt trip, if an admirably effective way to stop your husband from killing himself on the freeway. Cristina flipped out on Owen in the locker room. “If I can’t be in there,” she said of the operating room, “I don’t know where I’m supposed to be.” He somewhat nonsensically replied, “You’re supposed to be here. You’re my wife. You can just be here.” Yes, because that’s Cristina’s greatest aspiration in life, being someone’s wife. (I don’t think she minds being one; I just think this is not the way to talk this particular woman down.) Naturally, she gave him her wedding ring back and walked out. Sigh.

Bailey gave Alex an impromptu surgery to get the bullet out. (Good, because I didn’t want that to become the big dramatic way he gets over Izzie.) Teddy blathered to James “Men in Trees” Tupper about how she hoped their relationship wasn’t all just about her talking. (I want her to be happy, and I want him to stick around so I feel compelled to actually call him by his character name — can we get these two some character development, stat?) Mark ran out to catch Lexie on her way home, ostensibly to propose as promised, but she lectured him about being too protective of her and ended with, “Can you just leave me alone?” Alas, he said, “You got it.” I know we need some romantic tension to fuel this show, but I’m not looking forward to further drawing out lovelorn-but-too-proud-to-say-it Mark. Blah.

What I loved was the ending: First, Mark and Callie — my other favorite platonic couple — swigging wine together. “You got a girl you love who loves you back,” Mark said when Callie complained about Arizona’s decorating tastes. “Paint it whatever stupid color she wants.” (I’m fairly certain this two-sentence directive is the entire secret to long-term relationship success. But why is it so damn hard to put into action, even when we know it?) Then Cristina and Meredith lying on the floor — this time the floor of Meredith’s house. “Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce,” Cristina said, “so between you and me, you and McDreamy should be fine.” Meredith offered a corollary to Mark’s paint-chip advice: “You got married for better or worse. This is the worse part. There will be better parts. You should go back.” (Oh, how our dark and twisty twins have grown emotionally.) Then Owen burst through the door looking ready to give Tom Cruise’s “you complete me” speech from Jerry Maguire. Instead he said, “You can be scared with me or you can be pissed with me or at me, but I don’t care, because I’m gonna stay through it all.” I’d take that over “you complete me” any day.

What did you think, Grey’s watchers? Do you think — with the final scene of Meredith getting cleared for surgery — that the post-shooting recovery is over for the Seattle Gracers? Will Derek spread his thrill-seeking to his fellow doctors or quit it altogether? Will Cristina get past her PTSD episode? How long will the Mark-and-Lexie drama play out? And will James Tupper’s character get interesting enough for us to want to learn his name? Sound off in the comments!

DON’T MISS: Embedded below, listen to the first edition of EW.com’s TV Insiders podcast. Dalton Ross, Michael Slezak, Annie Barrett, Michael Ausiello (who also gives his picks for best and worst new show of the new season), and Jeff “Doc” Jensen break down the week in television and present it to you in an easily digestible audio format. Or click here to download TV Insiders to your MP3 player!

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Grey's Anatomy

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

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