The attendings compete for funding while the residents are forced to grow up and take the lead

By Jennifer Armstrong
Updated October 22, 2010 at 10:50 AM EDT

Grey's Anatomy

S7 E5
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The Chief’s alleged million-dollar surplus that kicked off events in this episode seemed suspicious from the beginning. Weren’t they just merging with another hospital and slashing staff to save money a mere year ago? Weren’t we tortured with annoying new residents only to have them killed off by the finale just so Seattle Grace-Mercy West could deal with fiscal woes? It appeared, by episode’s end, that such skepticism was warranted — there was, in fact, no million-dollar surplus, and we’re not sure why the Chief thinks there might be. Though we have a good guess that it’ll be coming in thanks to the post-trauma documentary being filmed at the hospital in next week’s episode, which I have on good authority is a doozy. Great news, since this was one of those less-than-thrilling filler weeks bound to happen in a 22-installment season.

At any rate, we, along with the eager doctors, were led to believe that one department would get this supposed million dollars. This meant the attendings would be spending their day proposing grand plans to the Chief, and the residents would be the attendings. In other words, it was not exactly the day you wanted to check into Seattle Grace. Here’s something you don’t want to hear from the Chief of the hospital you are checking into: “Pray, people. We want God in the building today.” You also don’t want to come in with massive headaches due to a build-up of fluid in your skull that will require a shunt, only to be told by Dr. Derek Shepherd that you shouldn’t sweat the residents doing your surgery because, hey, “At some point we have to let them operate. That’s how we make new surgeons.”

Know what else you don’t want? To have to get breast reduction surgery. When you’re a teenage boy. Somehow Arizona could see this and still voice her opinion that teenagers shouldn’t get plastic surgery. The only actual good news in this situation was that we got to learn the fun word “gynecomastia.” The kid’s mom started having second thoughts about the surgery. “You said after my Bar Mitzvah, I would be a man, and I could decide,” he complained. “If we all cut off the parts we don’t like, we wouldn’t have anything left,” she countered. Because Alex had become the point person on the operation, Mark blamed him for not taking control and making it happen.

Another patient was very unfortunate for a very different reason: He could barely breathe, he needed new lungs, and he had no family there to support him because he was estranged from his daughter. April wanted to convene a transplant panel, but didn’t seem too sure of herself. Cristina, her partner on this case, was no help; she was still clearly suffering from PTSD and could say little more than, “I don’t know.” It’s no secret that I adore Cristina (and her gifted portrayer, Sandra Oh), but, man, was I starting to grow tired of this mopey thing. I’ve been going along with it because I think it’s absolutely realistic — PTSD can last years, decades even, so I don’t think a couple of months is crazy. But it’s rough having to watch it weekly.

NEXT: Brace yourselves for some million-dollar ideas, folks!

I did, however, also suspect that my feelings of irritation meant things were about to turn around for Cristina; Grey’s has a knack for pushing these kinds of storylines right to the point of annoyance before lifting them. This is an oddly effective psychological tactic, like holding out until the 10th date to have sex or giving up sweets for a month just so your favorite cookies taste better when you return to them. It seemed by episode’s end that she was, in fact, on the right track — let’s hope.

Meanwhile, the attendings were fighting for their money, which, in all honesty, didn’t seem to take up nearly as much time as this whole residents-as-attendings thing would indicate. In any case, a run-down of the presentations, many of which were more entertaining than they had any right to be:

• Teddy wanted stem-cell research for cardio, which somehow turned into a rant about whether Derek was “really cultivating talent” in his department. “He tried to fire me,” she continued. “Not that I’m holding a grudge or anything. Not much of a grudge, anyway.” (Hmm, is that resentment about to come back in some bigger way?)

• Owen asked for disaster training. “We failed Charles Percy, one of our own doctors. I can’t face that.” I would love it if they ended up with some Charles Percy Memorial something — just to immortalize that poor, useless character forever. I feel like his name has come up more since he died than it did in the season he was on the show.

• Mark proposed a cosmetic medicine center and a burn unit, mainly because, um, he’s horny? “I’m not seeing anyone right now,” he told the Chief. “I’m not sleeping with nurses. So I’m an untapped source of raw power.” Only at this hospital is this a valid funding argument.

• Arizona made an unusually tear-less plea for less invasive pediatric cancer surgeries. “Did you think I was gonna cry?” she asked the surprised Chief.

• Callie was all about xenografting, that stuff with the transplanting of animal tissues into humans that she’s been working on for a while. She may not have won the money, but she won the most-fun-exchange-with-the-Chief award. “You’re thinking, ‘I don’t want some cow ligament in my leg, that sounds wacky!’” she said in a funny low voice. “Is that supposed to be my voice?” he asked. “No. That’s the voice of the average Baby Boomer,” she replied. This awkwardness then devolved into a Callie monologue about not being as good at these sorts of things as Arizona: “She’s a much better lesbian. … I’m just a little bit left out. A little bit talked down to because I have a long history of enjoying sex with men.” (Was this, by the way, the most genuinely-yet-subtly lesbian hour of television in recent memory? This plus the shunt patient’s concerned female partner? I love how comfortable this show has gotten with non-exploitative lady love.)

NEXT: When that tingling sensation is not such a good thing.

• Derek proposed pursuing a cure for Alzheimer’s. ‘She has her mother’s talent,” he said of his wife. “She has her mother’s looks. What if she has her mother’s disease? Every time Meredith forgets her keys or asks what day of the week it is …” Whoa, way to play the your-longtime-mistress-died-of-Alzheimer’s card.

• Bailey asked to fix the various broken machines in the basement, plus hire a night-shift nurse. “That’s it? That’s what you’ve got for me?” the Chief asked, unimpressed. She countered that she was trying to be practical, plus, “You and I both know you don’t have a million dollars.” But then he answered, mysteriously, “Well, things might be a little different around here in the next few weeks.”

While all this went on in the Chief’s office, the “attendings” were flailing, and poor Lexie — apparently the one remaining resident, since she’s a year behind the others — was overwhelmed with helping to do. Even a patient — a gorgeous young woman whose fractured knee Callie had just fixed — noticed how frazzled she was. Joining the ranks of overly observant patients who seemed to know an awful lot about the hospital’s hierarchy (maybe they watch Grey’s Anatomy?) was also the gynecomastia kid’s mom, who insisted that Arizona and Mark, not Alex, convince her the surgery was a good idea. But Alex totally handled it in his Alex way: “He’s a dude with breasts, and he’s headed for high school. … You want your kid to be a man? Let him make his own decisions.”

Unlike his colleagues, Derek found the time to multitask quite nicely despite also giving a presentation. First he played Avery and Meredith off of each other, having them both carve their initials into eggshells without breaking them to see who’d handle the skull shunt. Avery won (look at him, using his skills and not his shirtless pecs to get ahead like last week!) by carving his entire fancy name into an egg. Then Derek fielded several pages from a panicked Lexie — because the knee-injury girl was feeling tingly on the left side of her body — while overseeing Avery doing the surgery. Eventually Meredith was dispatched to handle the tingling problem, though she then paged Derek when she realized the woman had a brain bleed due to the blood-thinners she was on. Derek told her to handle it, as he was then tied up with fixing a mistake Avery had just made.

I really started to zone out here, until Cristina and Owen brought me back by briefly being their cute old selves. Owen told Cristina she looked good in the darker blue attending scrubs. When she was still grumbly, he offered, “You and me, we’re gonna go outside into the alley behind the hospital, and you’re just gonna kick my ass, you’re gonna knock the living crap out of me.” She laughed, a good sign. So glad these crazy newlywed kids are working things out. Cristina showed a bit of progress, too, when she at least helped April inch toward a clearer opinion on the lung transplant patient, Roy: Because Teddy could’ve convened a transplant panel for the guy the day before, and she hadn’t, that must’ve meant he wasn’t a good candidate. She advised April to recommend against a transplant. Then, she said, “everyone will be fine, except for Roy, who will be dead.” As April said, “Wow, way to kill a happy moment.”

NEXT: This week’s surgery montage, now with 30% more gore!

Roy took it from here, jokingly asking Cristina if she was autistic as she examined him silently. Yes, he liked her grumpy silence! And he connected with her just in time for the panel. That plus overhearing Teddy say, “Yang’s been useless — she’s no better than an intern,” seemed to jolt Cristina into some action. April told the panel that Roy wasn’t a good candidate because he had no family support system. “That’s not a reason,” Cristina mumbled, before finally launching into a case that he was at least “borderline.” “If we give him the lungs, it won’t be a waste because he will live,” she said. “I know it.” And wouldn’t you know it, the panel voted to put him on the list. April wasn’t thrilled with Cristina: “I’m not used to failing,” she said. But Teddy was proud: “Congratulations, you were a doctor today.”

Meredith aced her solo surgery. “Let me finish, Derek, I got this,” she said confidently when he showed up to help. (He looked so proud!) The teenage boy got his breasts removed. (Routine Grey’s stuff, though there seemed to be about 30 percent extra surgery-gore included in this episode’s operation montage.) “I don’t have boobs!” the kid proudly proclaimed before telling Alex, “You’re the man.” Alex replied, “No, you’re the man.”

Now that most everyone had become more doctorly, we learned that Owen had won the non-existent or forthcoming million bucks for his disaster-preparedness project. Here’s hoping for some exciting disasters next week …

What did you think, Grey’s watchers? What was your favorite surgery of the night? Is Cristina finally getting past her PTSD? Will the million dollars materialize? Sound off below!

LOVE TO TALK ABOUT TELEVISION? Then don’t miss this week’s TV Insiders podcast! Michael Ausiello, Michael Slezak, Annie Barrett, Dalton Ross, and our resident TV critic Ken Tucker weigh in on the best show on television right now, and dish the latest happenings on Project Runway, Survivor, and Dancing With the Stars. Click here to download the TV Insiders podcast to your MP3 player, or listen to an embedded version below!

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Grey's Anatomy

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

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