“Grey’s Anatomy” mini-cap 5.18: “Stand By Me”

When we last visited our favorite den of dysfunctional doctors, Derek had traded in his stethoscope for a case of cold ones. Izzie was preparing to shuffle off this mortal coil, but not before telling Cristina about the cancer nibbling away at her brain bits. And Callie and Arizona got on the same elevator, and then, the same page.

Never one to back down from a problem or challenge, Cristina delivers a pile of cancer research materials to Izzie and says she’s made an appointment for her with the best oncologist in the state. The Chief is all discombobulated because Derek has called in sick for the nth time. Just like Cristina and so unlike the Chief, Bailey is no slouch in the problem-solving department. She instructs Callie to drive up to Derek’s trailer to check on him.

Callie: You want me to go to the woods? No. I don’t do woods. The woods are dirty, and there are many, many bugs.

Callie may love visiting the Motherland, but she doesn’t love Mother Nature. Unfortunately for Callie, Bailey is a force of nature, in a compact body. Before she knows what hit her, Callie is sitting with Derek, watching him down beer after beer. You don’t say “no” to Mother Nature.

Callie commiserates with McDrunkie by telling him she also once killed a patient but it backfires — he’s not comforted and now she’s depressed, too. He passes her a beer.

Callie has shiny, shiny hair.

The hospital is all abuzz with the surgery of the decade: A face transplant for a disfigured man, whose only friend is an ugly orchid plant. Dubbed “the Blowhole,” by the staff, it’s unlikely he’ll end up resembling John Travolta or Nicolas Cage and it’s guaranteed he won’t get to sleep with Gina Gershon.

I’ve been on my share of whale watches. I’ve seen blowholes, and you, sir, are no blowhole.

Meanwhile, there’s something dramatic and uninteresting going on with the interns. Meredith and George decide to let the kids work it out for themselves until Bailey reminds them she had to put up with their shenanigans when they were interns, (as if the drama somehow stopped the day they became residents.) There really is nothing new under the Tuscan sun.

Cristina is going to perform her first solo surgery on an older, Asian woman who has a hernia. The patient, clearly nervous and scared, babbles on and on about missing a cruise with her friends. Cristina tunes her out — a Pavlovian response Asians have when people who remind us of our mothers are talking. In this case, however, Cristina is distracted because she’s busy setting up Izzie’s doctor’s appointments.

At lunch with the others, Cristina and Izzie replace the words “oncologist appointment” with “enema” so they can talk about Izzie’s condition A) without raising suspicion, and B) putting everyone off their feed. Only George senses something’s up and asks, “OK, Izzie, enema’s code for what?” Um, Rush Limbaugh?

Izzie falls deeper into depression when she realizes not only does she not want an enema, the other kids are going to laugh at her.

Izzie: They were calling the guy “Blowhole,” Cristina. Not just the interns — Alex. What are they going to call me when I’m the patient? “Swiss cheese for brains”?
Cristina: No, that’s awkward and long. Blowhole’s pithy.

Also pithy? Asian robots.

Callie never did come back from the woods, so Bailey sends Owen in after her. Once there, Owen regales his own story about killing someone, which bums him out. He starts drinking, too. Finally, the doyen of doom, the Chief shows up to announce the obvious; no one’s destroyed more lives than he has. He reminds his beer-guzzling docs that ya can’t stop death. M’kay. But you don’t have to Fast Pass it, either, Dr. Mel Practice.

Trying not to join the others in the Dead Patients Society, Sloan carefully transplants a new face onto Blowhole. His secret girlfriend, Lexie, assists him, eliciting snickers from the peanut gallery of interns, who watch and mock from above.

Is it me, or are this year’s interns the biggest a-holes ever to graduate med school?

Elsewhere, Cristina is about to perform her solo hernia surgery. She can’t get her head in the game until she unburdens herself about Izzie’s secret. In the operating room, she tells Bailey and Alex that Izzie has Stage 4, metastasized cancer. Alex looks like someone just gave him an enema with his pants on.

Later, Cristina admits to Izzie that she broke down and told Alex and Bailey. And they’ll tell Meredith and George. And they’ll tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends, and so on, and so on. Cristina urges Izzie to fight for the right to party. And work, and live, and let her friends in.

Also sick of secrecy, Lexie grabs Sloan by the mug, in full view of the sniggering, judge-y interns and kisses him.

Lexie: They think that you’re taking advantage of me. They think that I’m using you. But they don’t know us. They think that we’re ugly but I know that we’re beautiful. And we can adapt to a hostile environment.

Her lilting resolve is a reference to Blowhole’s ugly orchid, which was analogous to his plight, which was much easier to fix than Izzie’s brain cancer is going to be. Meredith brings Izzie’s charts and records to Derek, who’s finally sober, but only because he ran out of beer.

Still brooding, Derek’s redemption is just around the corner, as he’s the only surgeon for 1000 miles who might be able to save Izzie. Meanwhile, Callie and Owen are nowhere to be found and are probably passed out under a tree somewhere.

News of Izzie’s condition spreads to all her friends, who gather around her bedside. We only live once, and we never know for how long. Letting people in makes the journey bearable. Unless you need an enema, in which case, privacy curtains aren’t too shabby either.

Next week: Derek gets back on the horse by cutting into Izzie’s noggin. Owen has another PTSD episode and injures Cristina. Again. You only hurt the ones you love.

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