The fifth-year residents face their big exam, with distractions ranging from a steamy hook-up and stomach flu to a premature baby

By Tanner Stransky
Updated April 27, 2012 at 04:18 AM EDT
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In a departure from the norm, a tidbit from the teaser for next week’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy seems like the appropriate place to start when discussing this week’s episode, “Moment of Truth.” It was during a moment where Avery’s mother, Catherine Avery — the ever-delightful treat, Debbie Allen — dramatically turns to Richard Webber and reveals about the impending resident exams: “One of your Seattle Grace doctors didn’t pass.”

Granted, the teaser is just that — a teaser. So it could easily have cut out the part where Webber turns back to Catherine Avery the next minute and says, “But you’re wrong! So-and-so did, in fact, pass.” Anyhow, we’re supposed to be left thinking that one of the Seattle Grace-Mercy West fifth-year residents who were taking their boards in this week’s episode won’t pass muster.

Meredith Grey teased the tension washing over the residents in her show-opening voiceover. “The only thing between you and the rest of your career is a test,” she dutifully intoned. “In a random hotel. In a random city. With a random examiner, asking you random questions. Nervous? You should be.” Bailey, in her usual way, offered up disbelief that they’d actually arrived at this day at all. “They started off with so little promise,” she said, “I feel like I’m witnessing a miracle.” Thanks for that, Bailey.

The most obvious candidate for the failed Seattle Grace doctor? Karev, of course. The episode ended with his examiner walking into the hallway where the residents were waiting, calling his name, and — when he didn’t come forward — turning around and closing her exam-room door. Done! Or so it seems. Karev, as we all saw, went to San Francisco for the exam but then ran back to Seattle Grace to help out Arizona with intern Morgan’s premature infant Tommy. His reversal in this arena was totally Karev and also totally annoying — just a couple weeks ago he didn’t want to have anything to do with Morgan or the baby. And then we saw him leaving his exams — after flying all the way to San Francisco for them — to tend to her? Right. (Also, I love how in the alterna-world of Seattle Grace, booking flights around the country at the drop of a hat is as easy as driving down the block. Need to remember: This is television!)

NEXT: More on Karev’s impending doom

Truly, though, it was a sweet move on Karev’s part. As much as she probably didn’t want to admit it, Morgan was glad to have him there, especially as it became clear little Tommy wasn’t going to survive. “His breathing will slow down, his heart will eventually stop,” Karev told Morgan. “It may take minutes, it make take hours.” He placed the tiny baby in her arms, and she realized something. “This is the first time I’ve ever been able to hold him,” Morgan said. Then she asked him if he’d stick around. “Stay, please.” What’s going to happen with these two? I feel like we might never see Morgan again — or could there possibly be a future for the pair? Seems like maybe. Or not? I dunno. I’m so torn!

Ultimately, though, Karev did make a go of getting back to San Francisco to take his boards, at the urging of Arizona, who claimed she really wanted him to be on her pediatrics team next year. But he balked at trying to make it back down the coast. “I have never once seen you give up on a patient, Karev,” Arizona said, in an inspired moment. “Don’t give up on this.” Karev, however, still would be the most obvious choice to fail his exam. But something tells me that he’ll probably finagle his way back into the exam room — even though, yes I know, we didn’t see him in the promo for next week — and it will be another of the doctors who might be facing an uncertain future. At the end of the episode, Meredith Grey did say, “Like it or not, the moment has arrived. The only thing for you left to do is show up.” Karev, however, did not do that.

What isn’t clear is what happens if someone fails his or her boards. If that’s been discussed in detail somewhere during this whole run-up to the actual test, I missed it. But I’m actually thinking about the time George O’Malley didn’t pass his intern exam. Remember that drama? Ultimately, though, he was able to study and take it again and eventually continue in the program. I’m sure there’s some loophole here. (In the alterna-world of Seattle Grace, there usually is!) Everyone else — Meredith Grey, Cristina Yang, Jackson Avery, and April Kepner — certainly has the potential to possibly screw up, as evidenced the various issues everyone was facing during last night’s episode.

NEXT: The problems facing Cristina, Meredith, Kepner, and Avery as they head into their exam

Cristina — arguably the strongest resident — seems like a prime candidate for failing, simply because she is the strongest resident. Wouldn’t it be the ultimate screw up for Cristina to fail her boards? Especially after all that flattering courting she received in last week’s episode. While seemingly focused, Cristina’s main issue as she headed into the exams was her long-pending situation with hubby Owen. She spent a chunk of the episode talking to her person Meredith about it, through a door no less, because Meredith was suffering from the stomach flu. Cristina admitted what had happened, and then basically admitted that she wasn’t going to leave him. “If I screwed someone, once, while I was drunk—and I could, I know me—if I did it, I wouldn’t want Owen to leave me for that,” Cristina said. “Everything isn’t so perfectly right or perfectly wrong.” But then also said: “Oh, I want to leave him.” So who knows.

Distracting Meredith? Her stomach flu — and the fact that Zola had the same stomach flu and she had to leave her for a couple days during the sickness. But Cristina helped push her through the situation. “That’s the last time you throw up,” Cristina said, just before they headed over to take their boards. “Mind over matter. You can do this.” And, based on how she looked when she walked into the room, she seemed put together enough.

Kepner and Avery shared a distraction as they headed into their boards — each other. Yes, in a sexy twist, the pair from Mercy West boinked, in a moment that found the virgin Kepner high after she punched a guy in the hotel bar. Just as the pair was headed back to their hotel room, Kepner went in for a kiss — and Avery didn’t do much to stop the makeout session. “When something feels really, really good,” Kepner said, “it can’t be bad, right?” The hilarious part was that afterward, it wasn’t Kepner, as you might have expected, that was super attached to Avery — it was the other way around. “That was really great,” Avery told her. “You were great, I mean.” Then she kicked him out.

We found out later that the increasingly high-strung Kepner was feeling guilty about being deflowered before marriage. (Seriously, girl, there’s nothing wrong with going there, especially when it’s with a hottie like Jesse Williams. ’Nuff said.) Her apparent religion was the source of her guilt. “It’s not you, Jackson — it’s Jesus,” she told him, just before the exams. “I was a virgin because I love Jesus, and now, Jesus hates me.” I honestly couldn’t keep a straight face when she uttered this line, but I don’t want to get into it much. But wow — just wow! There are new depths, twists, and turns to Kepner that we never knew. So that’s why she was holding out — it all makes so much more sense now.

NEXT: About that hookup between Webber and Catherine Avery…

Avery, too, may have been grappling with one other weird thing — well, maybe two. There’s the fact that his examiner stepped on — and broke — his lucky pencil, and then, also, the fact that he caught Webber in his mom’s hotel room early in the morning the day of the exam. That whole situation — the long-awaited hook-up between Webber and Catherine — was very welcome in my book! Get it, people, and get it good. Why not? Especially considering that — in a rather heart-breaking twist — Webber’s wife, Adele, is getting her groove on with other folks. I loved the pair’s response to Jackson finding them together. “Do you think he’s traumatized?” Webber asked. Catherine’s unapologetic response, which was perfect: “For life.”

Back at Seattle Grace-Mercy West, the doctors left there were treating a case, which was ultimately just a handy for Altman and Hunt to clash and deal with their long stand-off. (Hunt sadly watched Cristina head off to the airport and her boards without so much as a look at her, so he’s been hurting on many fronts.)

The doctors disagreed in the OR, and it was a speech from Bailey that finally convinced Altman that she was being unnecessarily difficult with Hunt. “He is not fighting you. He disagreed with you on a course of treatment. That is something doctors do. But you don’t see him as a doctor. You only see him as the man you blame for the death of your husband. And you know, and I know that was not his fault,” Bailey said, before continuing: “He’s not fighting you, but you keep fighting him. He lost you, he lost his friend, and now he’s probably losing his wife. His whole world is falling apart, so I hope blaming him is helping you because it sure isn’t helping him.” Such wisdom from Bailey, as always. That kicked Altman into gear, as she played nice and even offered Hunt an olive branch by giving him an update on Cristina in San Francisco.

The last major situation going on back at Seattle Grace was the continued side-stepping dance between Lexie and Mark. “I need you,” we heard Mark say to Lexie at the top of the episode. But it was a false alarm: Sloan only needed her when it came to work-related things, or so he said. Lexie wiggled out of it anyway, but in their various meetings throughout the episode, Mark wanted to talk about her failed relationship with Avery. “If you’re not over him, you should tell him,” he told her, clearly talking about himself. “Because, seriously, you guys are great together.”

Oddly Lexie confided her feelings of frustration in Derek, probably because he was the only person around. “I really, really miss him,” she told him. “I open my mouth, and nothing comes out.” She wanted to tell him, but Mark insisted they should just be friends who didn’t talk about that stuff. When Lexie confided her feelings in Derek, I actually kept expecting the camera to pan off the couch she and Derek were sitting on to see Mark walking in from the kitchen, but alas, no such luck — that would have been too easy. Someone needs to sit these two down and force them to talk to each other about how they’re really feeling. This back-and-forth isn’t fun for anyone, especially we viewers. Maybe season 9 will get into it, because we’re running out of time this year.

What’d you think of “Moment of Truth,” Grey’s watchers? Do you have a sense of which of our five residents didn’t pass the boards? Where do you stand on Lexie and Mark getting back together? Should Catherine and Webber possibly be a permanent item? And, can Altman and Hunt be friends once again?

Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky

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