Wow. That was intense. I watched the episode twice before even attempting to write this. The first time through I was just so caught up in the whole thing that it was too much to take in and it took that second time to see the big picture. By the way, my second viewing was online at ABC and included commentary by Kevin McKidd, which I highly recommend.
Speaking of Kevin McKidd, how great is he? I love his intensity as Owen Hunt. His pain is palpable and his continuing struggle with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is heartbreaking. So here we go.
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Owen Hunt: Past and Present
The episode opened with an Owen Voice-Over (yay!) and a big reveal: Owen's having trouble sleeping again. This is important because it's been several episodes (since 602 by my count) since his PTSD has been dealt with directly. I'm glad that the writers have chosen to revisit this issue because it's an important message to send: PTSD never really goes away. It's something people must learn to manage over the course of their whole life and flare-ups can be triggered unexpectedly for many reasons.
So, anyway, Owen's having trouble sleeping. Random aside: How cute was the "waking" up moment for Owen and Cristina? She's so comfortable with him now (in the same bed, by the way, in which he nearly choked her to death last year as a result of a PTSD-induced nightmare ... big progress) and the look he gives her is one of such pure love. ... but I digress.
Arriving at the hospital, Owen is asked by Teddy to be the second opinion/physician for a cancer patient who wants to exercise her right to Physician-Assisted Suicide, which is legal in Washington State. The whole scenario triggers a series of flashbacks and floods Owen with memories of his time in Iraq. Long story short, Owen ended up having to allow his commanding officer to die after a brutal attack out in the middle of nowhere. Owen's past and present collide as he can not separate the two cases and oversteps in trying to intervene in the present-day case. He comes to his senses (and shares a really moving scene with the patient's husband) but remains haunted by his choices in the past.
I'm hoping this episode marks the beginning of a new story arc for Owen and Cristina and that we'll see them grappling with his PTSD as a couple. For now, Owen is trying to tell Cristina that everything is "fine" but I think that's a combination of him being a bit in denial once again, him trying to protect Cristina and (as the patient alluded to Cristina in their conversation) the real possibility that he doesn't really know how he feels about all of this. He's just trying to cope the best he can.
Early in the season, Dr. Wyatt warned that if Owen didn't talk about his PTSD he would have everything he needed until he didn't. This remains a very real danger as Owen (and Cristina, too) is caught in this PTSD spiral. I'm quite fascinated to see what happens next.
One other thing: It was striking to me how very different Teddy and Cristina's reactions were to Owen's behavior. Teddy seemed pretty clueless about what was going on with Owen and while she was entirely correct that he had no right to interfere in the case, she really crossed a line by attacking him in the middle of the cafeteria. It's like she doesn't get him at all. Cristina, in contrast, "saw" Owen's distress immediately and responded with caring and understanding and love. What growth in the character people have criticized for being an unfeeling "robot". Nothing could be further from the truth.
Sorry to be so blunt, but it's really true. The Owen story took center-stage this week and everything else was on the periphery. Having said that, there was a lot to like. It's great to see Derek's on-going struggle with being the chief. I loved the scene between him and Richard with Richard giving the young upstart some good advice and Derek being gracious enough to accept it. I loved that while Meredith was justifiably ticked at Derek for stealing her surgery, by the end of the day she had moved past it. To paraphrase Cristina, I love married happy them! Not quite sure what to think of the little friendship brewing between Meredith and Jackson, but that was a cute little scene. I'm very clear on April, though. That girl needs to understand boundaries. You don't tangle with the chief's wife. Not cool. Not cool at all.
Also, not cool? Not leveling with your partner that you want a child. I liked Mark's wise counsel to Callie (love that friendship) regarding Arizona: you've got to tell her. So she did. That didn't go well. Calzona fans, try to breathe. Every couple gets bumps in the road from time to time and they're due for a share of the angst.
Funniest lines of the night? Well, I did love it when the Three Faux-Adventurers decided to give up The Running of the Bulls for ..."Napa!" Even better was Richard telling The Guys (Alex, Jackson and That Big Kid Whose Name I Don't Know---Fine, his name is Charlie. I just wanted to quote Owen) that if he weren't happily married he would "hit her". Yeah, he would "hit her hard" (!) Alex's stunned response: "I think, sir, what you mean to say is you would hit THAT..." Too funny.
So that's it. I've got to stop. Where do we go from here? I honestly have no idea. We've got six more episodes left in season six and I have a feeling it's going to be a bumpy ride since Head Writer Shonda Rhimes is promising a "game-changing" season finale.