Original Airdate: 11-4-10
To begin, let me spin you a little yarn:
Once upon a time, waaaay back in the distant year of Two-Thousand-and-Seven, I found myself faced with a question that I had not seen coming. At all.
I had spent the past year working as an IT (computers and junk) assistant for a company owned by a pair of famous twins. I won’t say which famous twins, but I will say that their names rhymed with Shmary-Shmate and Shmashley Shmolsen. It was a lovely job, paid better than any I’d had before and, even though I hardly knew a thing about computers, I was able to adequately fake my way through fixing a paper-jam in the copy machine.
One day, while hiding in my cubicle and praying that this wasn’t the day the Internet chose to burn down, I got an e-mail from a buddy of mine. Turned out he’d recently gotten a call from Elizabeth Klaviter, who was then Head of Research at a TV show called Grey’s Anatomy. They were looking for a new Writers’ PA and since this buddy knew I wanted to one day be a writer myself, he thought I might be interested.
Here’s the part of the story where I start to look like the biggest idiot in the history of big idiots: I was all like, “Um, maybe. I don’t know. Let me think about it.”
IN MY DEFENSE:
1) The IT Assistant job was SUPER comfy and I had recently been given the opportunity to write for the company’s website, shmaryshmateandshmashley.com.
2) TV shows seemed like risky business. Weren’t they always getting cancelled for one reason or the other? I knew my girlfriend liked Grey’s. And the receptionist at work always asked on Friday whether I’d watched it the night before. But how long could a show really last?
3) I was a big dumb moron.
To make a long, boring story short: I said, “Well, why not?” and applied for the job. And I got it. And once I actually took the time to watch the show I was about to work on, I was all like: “OH, MAN. THIS SHOW IS GREAT!” Two years later, I was promoted to Writers’ Assistant and allowed to write and produce a couple of episodes of the webisode series Seattle Grace: On Call. Now, we find ourselves in Season Seven, and here I’ve gone and written my very first episode of television.
Turns out: Best decision I’ve ever made. Ever. In my life. For real.
I tell you this long, semi-braggy story for two reasons:
REASON #1: to let you know that while this is the first time you’ve seen my name next to “written by,” I’ve actually been here behind the scenes for a while. In fact, if you happen to check out the Production Staff credit on THIS VERY EPISODE, you’ll see that I’m listed there, too. I’m more than familiar with what happens here at the Writer’s Blog. I’ve moderated your comments. I’ve gotten to know your handles. I even know that at this point I can expect a whole bunch of comments along the lines of WE DO NOT CARE ABOUT YOU OR YOUR DUMB LIFE. TELL US ABOUT THE EPISODE.
REASON #2: To illustrate just how life-changing a simple Q&A can be. “Will you apply for this job?” “Yes, I will.” BLAM. Life. Changed.
Which is how I oh-so-subtly segue into the portion of the blog you actually came here to read. You know, the part about the characters and stuff.
So, like me on that fateful day in 2007, this episode finds each of our characters faced with a question that needs answering. Richard tries to figure out just what he’s supposed to do now that he’s losing both Arizona AND Callie to the children of Malawi. The answer he comes to? Be a big damned passive-aggressive baby. And you know what? It might not solve his problem, but it sure as hell makes him feel better. There are few things I enjoy as much as the Chief being a petty, little jerk. We almost NEVER see him this way and when that side comes out? Delightfully bitchy.
Less delightful is Callie’s answer to the question “How do I deal with the fact that I said I’d go to Africa when I really don’t want to.” Like Richard, she chooses passive-aggression. And while I’m personally delighted by Callie’s rant about how she’ll spend her time in Africa (blood diamonds, dirt and elephant ivory), Arizona is not in the least bit charmed. In fact, Callie’s attitude threatens to ruin what is supposed to be the greatest thing Arizona’s ever had the chance to do. And while it hurts her SO MUCH to do it, she knows that she and Callie are in a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t situation. If Callie comes to Africa, they’ll come to hate each other. If Callie stays behind, the relationship will die. I can’t say that I entirely blame Arizona for walking away. At the very same time, I also entirely get where Callie is coming from. And at the very, very same time, I understand why every single Calzona shipper will want to burn me in effigy after tonight’s episode. Just know that I love you. And I never meant to hurt you.
Then there’s Derek and Bailey. Derek spends his day trying to apply for grants, but never really gets past a single sentence in his proposal. Which is crazy. He understands what he wants to do, whom he wants to help, and what kind of good a clinical trial like this can do. So what’s the problem? Sometimes, it takes someone outside of the situation to be able to see where we’re going wrong, why we’re struggling. And for Derek, it’s Bailey. Derek might not be able to see why he’s so stuck on Ellis Grey, early onset Alzheimer’s, and the thirty-two-year-old who can’t recognize her own kid. But for Bailey – and for the rest of us – that answer is really pretty evident…
And Bailey… I don’t enjoy watching Bailey suffer. I really don’t. There’s a moment in the season six finale – I think you know the one I’m talking about. Outside of the elevators? When she knows for a fact that there’s nothing she can do for Charles? And she gets down on the floor with him, takes him into her lap… Jeez Louise. I can’t take that. So now, here she is with Mary, searching for an answer as to why this girl died. And coming up against a pathologist, who seems to be nowhere near invested enough. Like Dr. Stanley, I hate that Bailey was unable to find the answer she needed today. But I love that Bailey takes that loss and refuses to accept it. She’s going to be full of fire moving forward and I can’t wait to see what she does with it.
Also full of fire? April Kepner. When she comes running at Alex after “winning” the trauma lab? Looking and sounding CRAZILY like Jessie the Cowgirl from the Toy Story movies? I just hope you dug that as much as I did. I also hope you dug Alex in the bar at the end when he imitates her scream at Owen. “MOVE OR I’LL RUN YOU DOWN.” There’s this thing that happens when you write dialogue into a script - you can hear in your head just how you think the actor will say it. Sometimes you’re right. Other times you’re completely surprised (and usually pleasantly) by how differently they decide to interpret the words. With this line, though? Justin Chambers did EXACTLY what I’d hoped he would. Except he did it about a billion times funnier.
Which brings us to Meredith and Cristina. There are sooooo many questions rolling around in the Cristina/Meredith story this week. Why is Cristina really being so cold to Meredith? Just because of a little thing that Mer said during Seattle Med? Seems extreme. Can Cristina actually keep Roy alive long enough to get his new lungs? Can Cristina ever again be the surgeon she once was?
And you saw the episode, so you know how that all shook out. Rightly or wrongly, Cristina blames Meredith for her trauma. Yes, Cristina can keep Roy alive long enough to get his new lungs and she CAN be a first-rate doctor, even though she realizes that this just isn’t working for her anymore. It’s too hard, the joy is gone, and even when she succeeds, all she can feel is fear. Cristina Yang can still be a can be a surgeon. She simply no longer wants to be one.
Really, though, the most interesting question as far as I’m concerned is one that’s raised toward the end of the episode:
Meredith went through just as much trauma as anyone during the shooting, if not more. So why is Meredith fine?
That’s a question that is just going to have to wait for an answer. I’m just a baby writer. It’s going to take someone with a whole lot more juice than me to crack that nut.
Speaking of big-ticket writers, I want to thank the staff here in the Grey’s Anatomy writers’ office (past and present) for taking a chance on me way back at the beginning of season four, and then for helping me grow both as a writer and as a person, providing me with greater opportunities than I could have ever hoped for. Shonda, Krista, Hammer, Tony (O Director, My Director), Joan, Debora (oh my God, Debora), Allan, Zoanne, Pete, Jenna, Bill, Stacy, Natalie, Brian, Denise, Darren, Meg, Raamla and Tia. And, just because I can, I’ll thank my Mom and Dad. Mostly because I know they’re reading this and I don’t think I’ll hear the end of it come Thanksgiving if I don’t.
ONE LAST LITTLE THING ABOUT ME WHILE I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION:
So, you know how each and every episode of Grey’s is titled after a pop-song? Well, when it came to titling this episode, things suddenly became super serious for me. For all I knew, this could be my only shot at titling one of these things and I had to make sure I picked just the right song. I sorted through CDs, shuffled through my iPod, looking, looking, looking… and then I found it: “That’s Me Trying.” Co-written by Ben Folds and Nick Hornby (who are the best), actually about a man trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter (topical), and performed by one of the most entertaining men OF ALL TIME…
So, I guess I must have been wrong way back in paragraph 8. THIS was the best decision I’ve ever made.