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"Trust is hard for surgeons because we're trained from day one that we can't trust anyone but ourselves. The only instincts you can count on are your own."
As Derek Shepherd says these words, he's really speaking for all of us. Deep down, we trust ourselves first even though in order to truly connect with other people we have to trust them. Trusting other people is hard. It makes you vulnerable. It leaves you open to being hurt. The trust that can take a lifetime to build can be shattered in a single moment. So what happens next? Can trust, when broken, every truly be restored?
Hail to The Chief
Derek Shepherd finally has what he's wanted for so long. He is the Chief of Surgery. But that achievement, so long in the making, has come at a tremendous price. Derek had to force Richard out of the job by exposing his alcoholism and there was a self-serving element to the whole situation. Derek finally admits that he wanted the job and proceeds to have the First Day from Hell as everything from his address to the staff to a patient waking up in the middle of surgery goes horribly wrong. It seems the old adage just must be true: Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.
"You don't give me anything!" "I give you everything!"
Then there's Owen and Cristina. It was good to see the backlash that played out in this episode, because realistically there had to be fallout from Cristina's offer to trade Owen for Teddy. It turns out Owen was deeply (and understandably) hurt which leads him to be more emotionally needy and possessive of Cristina than he would normally be. So Cristina (in a combination of guilt and lust) gets caught up in steamy "caveman"-like encounters with Owen all over the hospital. This culminates in her ignoring Teddy's page in order to stay with Owen. Essentially, in that moment, he is asking her to choose him over Teddy/surgery.
I think it comes from a vulnerable, exposed place because he's hurt and because of the breach in trust. I think it's unintentional and probably even unconscious on his part. But it's also wrong for him to put her in that position, which was why I was so glad for that last scene between them where Owen confronts Cristina about her relationship with Preston Burke and, by extension, their own relationship. Cristina's response to this is pretty much note-perfect. She conveys to Owen how deeply she loves him (and how scary that is for her) while also setting a boundary and refusing to give up pieces of herself ever again. And Owen's own response is pretty great as well. While I love a "Sweeping Owen Kiss" as much as the next girl, the loving, poignant way he looks at her coupled with a gentle squeeze of her hand conveys his newfound understanding of and commitment to this complex woman he's chosen to love.
"I'm good with patients. They always trust me."
This episode finds Miranda Bailey in a place we don't often see her: uncertain and afraid. Bailey is normally the poster child for professional competence and confidence, so it's unnerving to see her so off-balance. Her patient woke up during surgery and doesn't want Miranda touching her again. It wasn't Bailey's fault, but the patient has a point. Sometimes you can understand things in a rational way, but your emotional response is still the polar opposite. Miranda does what's best for the patient and has Meredith do the follow-up surgery. And that speaks volumes for Miranda's character.
"Welcome to Peds!"
How much do I love Alex Karev? Arizona is trying him out in pediatrics and, though the day is full of ups and downs, in the end we get confirmation of what's been building for awhile (way back in the Addison days): Alex is meant to be a pediatric surgeon. I love the mentor/student relationship between Arizona and Alex. Even more, I love how the human side of Alex continues to be developed. Talk about trust? Parents put absolute trust in the doctors they allow to care for their child. And to my delight, I find that Alex is worthy of that trust. And to his delight, it turns out that Pediatrics is "hardcore" after all.
Coming Full Circle
So can trust be regained once it is lost? Derek revisits this issue at the end of the day by doing the only thing that can be done when you've messed up: he apologizes. He apologizes to the staff, to the patient, and even to Richard. It's too soon to tell if it will be enough, but it's a start. And sometimes a fresh start is all you get.