Let me offer my congratulations to writer Peter Nowalk and director Kevin McKidd for serving up one of the strongest episodes of Grey’s Anatomy so far this season. Like all of the series’ best outings, “Poker Face” deftly juggles the dramatic and comedic elements. It’s a tricky balancing act. Tonight we got patient angst (butterfly brain tumor, anyone?) and surgeon struggles (Meredith in OB and April still botching things as Chief Resident).

Yet there was also the counterpoint of humor and hijinks (Mark and Arizona’s cooking adventures, for example, or Richard’s sneaky plotting to get reinvolved in the clinical trial he created). The net effect was a light-hearted hour that was just what the doctor ordered, especially for our highly-stressed fifth-years residents.


Meredith is wearing pink scrubs, you say? What’s up with that? Simply put, Meredith and Derek have an agreement that if their marriage is going to work, they can not work together in the hospital. So Meredith (no longer in neuro) is exploring a new path: delivering babies. In her spare time she’s also secretly sending Derek a whopper of a tumor, assisting with Bailey’s (formerly Richard’s) diabetes trial, and playing mother hen to pretty much everybody. Hmmmm…wonder how long this can last?

Cristina and Alex

In the meantime, Yang and Karev are both playing it safe in the OR, for opposite reasons. All the residents are freaking out over their impending examinations and quest for fellowships. No one wants to make mistakes. Cristina has zero “bad outcomes” and wants to keep it that way. Alex has five negatives and doesn’t want any more. Is Callie right? Will being too cautious rob Cristina of her ability to be a surgical badass? Is Teddy right? Is being fearful even worse than being reckless?

Cristina and Owen

One of the night’s highlights for me was the on-going sexting and trysting escapades of Doctors Yang and Hunt. The expressions on their faces were priceless as they teased each other with tantalizing texts only to have one fiasco after another play out in various hospital locations. Kudos to Sandra Oh, Kevin McKidd and, yes, James Pickens Jr. for some hilarious scenes. Too bad that all of this hot, HOT Owen and Cristina sex is only masking the deeper issues at hand.  I hate to say it but Meredith is right:  Cristina and Owen need to talk. The abortion is hanging over them like an ominous cloud. They both clearly want their relationship and their marriage so much that they’re willing to shove a lot under the rug for the sake of peace. Can they work things out in the long haul?

Callie and Bailey

Yes, you read that correctly. No, these characters didn’t interact in this episode, but they shared a common theme: frustration. Callie is now the poster child for Be Careful What You Wish For. Mark and Arizona are getting along! So much so that they spend all their time cooking together and putting the kibosh on Callie and Arizona’s couple-time. Bailey, on the other hand, has inherited Richard’s clinical trial and things aren’t going well. Things are happening that she can’t explain. April Kepner is recruited to assist, but that’s not helpful so April enlists Meredith who, in turn, involves Richard. Love it. Love it. Love it.


Speaking of love, can I just give a shout out to Richard? If I’m honest, I’ll tell you that I’ve always been rather indifferent to Richard. Chief of Surgery. Elder Statesman. Father-Figure to Meredith. Whatev. But now? This season Richard, no longer Chief (again) but this time by choice, is like a man reborn and James Pickens Jr. is a revelation as he brings new layers of nuance and depth and, yes, hilarity, to his character.  

Here Come the Rocks
aka I’m Ducking Now

Why did this episode work? In short, humor and focus. When GA brings the funny, the dramatic moments work oh-so-much better. Then there’s the character emphasis. Meredith. Cristina. Alex. Derek. Owen. Bailey. Richard. Notice a pattern here? Callie, Mark, Arizona, Jackson, Lexie, and April in just the right doses of stellar support. And almost zero Teddy. Yes, this is an ensemble cast, but the alchemy has to be just right to get the best results. Tonight’s recipe? A home run. Speaking of which, the next all-new episode of Grey’s Anatomy, “Put Me In, Coach” airs next Thursday, October 27 on ABC.

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Photo AlbumGrey’s Anatomy – 8.06 – “Poker Face”

Janalen Samson

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV