It’s Lecture Day at the hospital and from what I can tell, this is their version of Field Day or a pep rally. In other words, it has no point whatsoever beyond getting everyone out of doing rounds. Chief Shepherd’s Lecture Series, “Big Cases, Little Doctors” promises to educate, edify, and elicit yawns from Anesthesiology to X-ray and beyond.
Callie will be presenting a case and she’s pukey with dread the morning of. A stage. A live microphone. All those faces looking at her. That’s a sphincter level of 9.5 right there. Stage fright is enough to make lesser people blurt out gibberish like “opposite marriage.”
Arizona brushes the vomit out of Callie hair and assures her she’ll be fine. Holding back your girlfriend’s hair while she throws up is the most dubious of relationship honors.
“All you have to do is talk about being a great surgeon,” Arizona says simple. Easy for you to say, Girl Who Cries When Confronting Authority Figures. Callie leans over to hurl for a second time. Imagining your audience naked doesn’t work if you don’t make it to the podium on time.
Once the lectures begin, Bailey proves to be a far more polished public speaker. She also reveals a wicked accurate throwing arm when she beans a dozing Cristina in the head with a chocolate. Pay attention now, children. Bailey’s teachable moments include a trip down memory lane to her first days as an intern, when she called herself “Mandy “and mumbled all the right answers from behind purple glasses and got lost in the back of the room.
I didn’t know Milli Vanilli had a sister.
Bailey’s presentation involves a past patient with abdominal pain that had gone undiagnosed for years. Her Attending, Dr. Baylow, is a third year resident and twentieth year shrew who takes an instant hatred to young Mandy Bailey. The more Mandy shows her stuff — getting the patient history Baylow missed, having the answers before anyone else — the more her new nemesis fantasizes about seeing her little corn-rowed head on a pike.
Mandy decides the patient has appendicitis. Recognizing her hard word and potential, Chief Webber gifts Bailey her first solo surgery when he allows her to remove the appendix. He also gives her some sage advice.
Webber: Surgery is a shark tank. Sharks have teeth. Make sure you’re a shark, too, and not a minnow.
Bailey: Sir, are you referring to my height?
Webber: No, I’m not. God made you short. Who made you quiet?
Mandy, you’re a fine girl. What a good wife you would be. Also, you came, and you gave, without taking. Mandy, you need to grow a set.
Once inside, Bailey sees the appendix is healthy. She was wrong. She apologizes profusely until Webber tells his new protégé it happens to everyone. He glances up and sees Baylow oozing schadenfreude from the gallery.
Thankfully, over time, Bailey started carrying cans of whup ass in her pocket. But back then, she didn’t have any to open up on this bitch. When Baylow’s not stealing Bailey’s ideas and presenting them as her own, she’s shooting death lasers out from under her bird of prey eyebrows.
When it’s Callie’s turn to present her memorable case, she nervously trying to launch her PowerPoint presentation.
Oops. That’s not it.
Fumbling with her note cards, she begins sotto voce, as Arizona watches, pained and helpless. This is not the Callie we know and love! Finally, Arizona calls out gently, “Just talk. Just tell us what happened.” And breathe, maybe.
Callie’s case from yesteryear involves a grad student with a severely deformed clubfoot. She’s wearing five pounds of mascara and later, will be begging her boyfriend not to go to that rumble.
Seattle Grace Mercy West Side Story.
Alex introduces himself to Callie for the first time, and tries to pass himself off as the guy who recently performed an emergency procedure while alone in an elevator with a dying cardio patient. Surprised, Callie says she heard the elevator guy was dorky. He was dorky: it was actually George. “You’re not dorky. You’re hot,” then-hetero Callie says casually.
Hot or not, the thing that really gets Callie off is a challenge. She promises the student he will walk, much to the angry dismay of Chief Webber. He tells Callie she’s just a rich girl, and rich girls are arrogant. Callie is not your average rich girl. Most of them don’t salivate at the sight of this.
Callie performs the foot surgery, but doesn’t get very far when the patient goes into distress. Reluctantly, she has to close and later, tell him, yeah, about the walking thing? Psyche.
In the present, everyone experiences a little shock and awe when they see the ex-Chief take the stage. (Earlier in the day, Derek told Richard he wasn’t getting hired back anytime soon, but offered him the opportunity to luxuriate in the tenor of his own voice one last time.)
Relishing the moment, Webber tells his rapt audience that they are healers. Learning and growing are wonderful things. The most influential people in their lives are the ones sitting right next to them. Cristina and Meredith give each other skeptical glances, while Owen, Teddy and Mark are nowhere to be seen. Somewhere, three doctors are watching Avatar and eating Milk Duds.
The Chief launches into a case from his youth. Picture it: Seattle, 1982. Indoor smoking is not only legal, it’s common. Men have wide collars, bad hair and cheesy ‘staches. The white ones run everything and only give their own the time of day. Minorities and women know their place, and it ain’t in the White House. Thank goodness for young, headstrong lady doctors like Meredith’s mom, Dr. Ellis Grey. And great out actors like Sarah Paulson.
A young man with a hernia suddenly codes as his girlfriend looks on, panicked and confused. Ellis Grey grabs the paddles and orders someone to charge them up. An entitled white male doctor gets in her way. Big mistake.
Dr. Doucheyman: This is no job for a nurse. I’ll take it from here.
Dr. Grey: You know very well I’m a doctor. Back off! Clear!
To the strains of Hall and Oates‘ “Maneater,” Ellis Grey gets that heartbeat back in a jiff and smirks to herself while a young Richard Webber watches from the back of the bus, er, room.
The man mysteriously gets worse. The white male residents break into pairs to solve the case.
Thrown together by prejudice, sexism and a shared love of a medical mystery, Richard and Ellis posit what no one else does: the patient has GRID, (gay-related immune deficiency) or, what will come to be known as AIDS. Instead of congrats on their accurate diagnosis, the cracker ass cracker Attending insists they’re wrong and puts Ellis and Richard on probation. Well, now they have more time to do this.
A few months later, the man returns without his girlfriend, and with telltale carcinomas all over his body. “I was scared that people would find out I was gay. Now, I can’t even hide it,” he cries. Sometimes, it doesn’t feel so good to be right.
Back on stage, Callie picks up her story right where Alex gave her an inspiring pep talk not to give up on Club Foot. She decides to give surgery another go, despite the dangers. Of course, the man goes into cardiac distress while on the table. Callie tells Alex to do his awesome elevator trick, and only then does Alex admit that George was Elevator Guy. Great time for a confession, Jimmy Frey.
Callie returns the pep talk favor to Alex, who then squares his shoulders, picks up that scalpel, and goes for it. Inspirational speeches. Heartfelt sentiments. Moving soliloquies. Grey’s: the hour-long greeting card.
Callie shows the auditorium her patient’s before and after x-rays, eliciting oohs and aahs from her peers. Even Cristina nods to Meredith in appreciation. “Boy, did we celebrate,” Callie says proudly, looking at Alex.
Wow, didn’t see that coming. Arizona turns to look at a pokerfaced, eye contact-avoiding Alex. Let’s see. Mark, George, Alex, Erica and Arizona. Is there anyone in the hospital Callie hasn’t slept with?
Back in the past, Richard and Ellis’ affair is taking its toll, not only on the mattress in the on-call room, but on little Meredith and her crazy-haired dad. They stop by for a visit, but Ellis runs off, once again, to save lives and shove white men out of her way. Poor little Meredith. She’s forever waiting for mommy to come home. And daddy is waiting for the invention of the flat iron.
Little does either of them know that Ellis and Richard are lying, stinking cheaters.
Richard: We shouldn’t be doing what we’re doing. We have to stop.
Ellis: No. We’re not the lie. Our marriages are the lie. This? Us? This is what’s right. We should leave them, Richard. You leave Adelle, I’ll leave Thatcher.
Richard: I can’t. You have a daughter. I can’t, and neither can you.
Ellis stares into space, thinking, “Sure I can!” and prepares to operate on the AIDS patient, to the horror of most of the hospital staff. Back in the day, few people wanted to go near the gay cancer.
Richard: You don’t have to go in there alone. You have Meredith to think about.
Ellis: You’re just like the rest of them. You have a different skin color, but it turns out, you’re just like them.
Richard: Ellis —
Ellis: I gave birth to a child, Richard. That makes me a mother. It doesn’t make me inept. It doesn’t make me less of a woman. It doesn’t make me less of a surgeon.
She’s a mother? So hard to tell.
Dr. Baylow’s patient with the mystery abdominal pain is back, yet again. Mandy checks the chart and finally, a light bulb goes off over her head (about five feet off the ground.) She cancels Baylow’s surgery, sending Baylow into a snit.
Dr. Baylow: Where do you get off canceling my surgery. You work for me, got that? You listen to what I have to say. Are you at all familiar with what surgeons do, Dr. Bailey? We cut.
Bailey: If you’d look further and, I don’t know, talked to your patient, you would have discovered that along with abdominal pain, she had weakness, palpitations, numbness, skin changes, and her urine is intermittently dark. Ring any bells yet? Your patient, who’s been sliced nine ways to Sunday, has Porphyria … How could you have not learned in three years what took me three months to learn … you supercilious fool?!
Snap! So long Mandy. Hello Miranda. We’ll miss the glasses.
From down the hall, the Chief heard everything. He barks an order for Bailey to report to his office. Afraid but unbowed, she awaits his reprimand. With the door closed and Baylow hovering outside, watching, Webber stares angrily at Mandy-Miranda.
Webber: We are going to sit here with you wearing that terrified look on your face, for a respectable amount of time, so Dr. Baylow and her friends can assume that you’re having your behind handed to you on a platter! [leans back] You’re going to make a hell of a surgeon, Dr. Bailey.
Bailey: [smiles slowly]
Webber: Lose the smile!
If he only did a few things right in his career, at least the Chief saw the awesomeness that is Bailey. Before he leaves for his AA meeting, the Chief winds up his presentation with the monologue to end all monologues. “It changes you, this work…” he begins. The audience collectively swells with purpose and pride.
He continues, “I solemnly pledge myself to consecrate my life to the service of humanity. I will give to my teachers the respect and gratitude which is their due, I will practice my profession with conscience and dignity,” and proceeds to recite the entire Declaration of Geneva. They give him a standing O.
Uh, that lump in your throat? It’s yesterday’s lunch. He was more fun when he was a drunk.
Which brings us to the last scene. It’s still 1982. Ellis orders teetotaler Richard a vodka and tells him to grow up. He brings the glass to his lips, takes a sip and winces. And so it begins.
Thatcher ended up an alcoholic, too. I’m sensing a theme.