Whoosh! That's the sound of me exhaling. I didn't even realize I'd been holding my breath all week. Great news, Grey's Anatomy fans! The just-OK "Can't Fight Biology" was only a momentary blip and we have returned to the awesomeness that is season 7 with a truly excellent installment, "Almost Grown."
This was a terrific episode on so many levels. I loved that it was all about the medicine. I loved that, for good or ill, we saw our beloved characters illuminated as doctors. I loved that every member of this ensemble cast had the chance to shine due to exceptionally fine acting, writing and direction (way to go, Chandra Wilson). And I love that I am completely hooked on this show again in a way that I probably haven't been since season 2.
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Playing Dress Up
As the show opened, Richard was giving two pep talks. The first was to the fourth year residents (sorry, Lexipedia, you're the scut monkey today) who got to be Attendings for the Day. They were instructed to step up and be the point people for the entire department, getting a glimpse of the future as they tackled patient assessment, care and major surgeries with only very limited help from their supervisors.
The good news is that Meredith, Alex and, yes, even Cristina rocked it. Meredith, after losing a preliminary contest to Jackson (related aside: He's having a bad few weeks, isn't he?) made a spot-on diagnosis and performed a complicated brain surgery to perfection by herself. You go, Mer! Meanwhile, Alex was once again excelling in pediatrics. He advocated for his patient (dude has a way with the kids) and also did a great job in the OR. Nice.
Traumatized Cristina has been a shadow of herself as of late, but she stepped up as well in her own way. For her it wasn't about the cutting. Cristina's proven herself several times now as a solo surgeon, most notably in the season 6 finale when she saved Derek's life. Instead, for her, the triumph was in getting back on the figurative horse. She hasn't "cut" yet, but she, too, advocated for a patient in a major way and took the first step in finding herself as a doctor again. Owen foreshadowed this in their gem of a scene: "There you are. I knew you were in there somewhere." I know that some fans want to see this story resolved sooner rather than later (mostly because it's so hard to see Cristina so broken and damaged), but I think it's being written and acted beautifully with very realistic pacing. Tell me, again, why Sandra Oh doesn't have an Emmy?
Show Me The Money
This brings me to Richard's second pep talk. While the residents were busy being attendings, the attendings had the chance to compete for a million dollar grant. The rules were simple. Convince Richard that you have the best idea and you get the money. It was fascinating to see their true colors shining through as each doctor made his or her case. And how hilarious was it to see Callie messing with everybody's heads? Very.
Teddy, Arizona and Callie's presentations were all-over-the-place. There's no way around it. Not good. Mark actually had an interesting idea in which cosmetic surgery would be the cash cow to fund a burn unit, but then he couldn't contain his McSteaminess and, therefore, couldn't close the deal. Derek made a sweeping proposal to find a cure for Alzheimer's while Bailey cut immediately to the practical chase, proposing the repair of some important equipment and adding a much-needed night nurse to the staff.
Ultimately, though, Owen won the day and the grant with his compelling argument to train all of the hospital's doctors in trauma work. He spoke professionally and sincerely and, in doing so, won Richard over by combining tangible benefit (trauma training) with emotional resonance (the suffering from the shootings must not be in vain). I was quite astounded by the reactions of the other physicians when Owen got the grant. He seemed pleased in his quiet way, but was humble in victory. The rest of them were pretty ungracious in their disappointment. Not one of them had the decency to offer congratulations. Not one.
Indeed, in this entire episode it was the residents who acted like professional adults while the attendings (Owen excepted and Derek and Bailey, too, but to a lesser degree) acted like children. Was there comedy in this? Of course there was (and I'm sure that was the intention), but there was also emotional truth and revelation of true character. My guess is that that will continue in a big way next week as a documentary film crew visits Seattle Grace Mercy West. "These Arms of Mine" airs next Thursday, Oct. 28 on ABC.
(Image courtesy of ABC)