The writers blog for the last GA episode 7.05 “Almost Grown” by Brian Tanen is now up and you can read it below! Enjoy!
For those of you super-fans looking at my name and scratching your heads, you’re not wrong – I’m new.
Before starting the job, I had actually never missed an episode of the show. You’d think that having been a Grey’s fan from the start, I could just slide right in and know exactly what I was talking about. But you’d be wrong. The show is rife with back-story, and characters, and details. It’s a delicate balance finding medical stories that are strange and interesting, without being too wacky or impossible. Watching the other writers break stories, I realized quickly that each episode is its own little puzzle to solve. And with many of the writers having been there since the beginning, I felt a bit like a kid at Thanksgiving – are you guys sure you want me to sit here with the adults? Because I’m pretty comfy here at the kiddie table.
Which brings me (in my roundabout way) to this episode. We really wanted to do an episode where our residents were forced to “grow up” in a way – to be taken from their respective comfort zones, and thrown into the fire. Shonda pitched a “Residents-take-point-day” – a day where our doctors would take charge of patient care from start to finish, without the guidance of their attendings. All the responsibility, no safety net. It’s one thing to want to be a surgeon, but another thing entirely to hold a drill in your hand, and burrow into a person’s skull.
For Meredith, the challenge wasn’t the least bit daunting. Mer probably didn’t have much of a childhood, what with Ellis being all career-obsessed, and Thatcher being absent. The idea of “no safety net” doesn’t much bother a person who never really had one to begin with. I think Mer had to be an adult at a pretty young age, and this is why she’s so strong when life throws her an endless number of curveballs. In fact, Mer is so sure she’s ready for the day’s challenge, she barely remembers that she has to compete with Jackson for the brain surgery. He hustles her into believing that he’s a klutz with the surgical drill, and then he kicks her ass during their skills lab competition. It’s a pretty childish way for Jackson to earn some adult responsibility, and karma turns out to be a bitch when he botches the surgery he stole out from under Meredith. If you’re noticing that Jackson’s been a little off his game this season, you’re onto us. Something’s up with him. Stay tuned.
Alex finds himself on a slam-dunk case featuring his two favorite specialties – plastics and peds. It should be a no-brainer for him, but he runs into a bit of snag with his thirteen-year-old patient’s mother – who’s suddenly reticent to let her kid have surgery for his gynecomastia (aka “man boobs”). The tricky part of Alex’s day is “parent management.” He knows he can rock the medical, but how do you convince a very strong, vocal mom with cold feet? Because sometimes stepping up to the plate isn’t just about excelling at surgery; it’s about standing up for the patient.
For me, Cristina’s reaction to this “residents-take-point-day” is the most interesting and unexpected. In any other season, Cristina would have relished this kind of responsibility, but in light of her recent trauma, she spends the episode looking like a deer caught in headlights. I love the scene where the Chief hands out navy blue scrubs, telling the residents that they are attendings for the day. Sandra Oh played the scene beautifully as though the navy scrubs were a punch to the gut. With only a look, we know that she is not up for the challenge today. And though Cristina ends up with a win, we can tell that she’s still a shadow of her former self.
I’d be completely remiss not to mention the superhuman efforts of Chandra Wilson on this episode. The episode was a little light on Dr. Bailey, and the reason was because she was behind the camera, directing the thing! Is there anything this lady can’t do? Aside from being an incredibly talented actress, Chandra is also an accomplished director – this being the third episode of Grey’s that she has directed. On more than one occasion, I’d walk onto set and find Chandra alone, talking to herself, lining up every camera angle of the upcoming scenes in her head. She sort of looks like she’s conducting an imaginary orchestra when she does it, and it’s kind of funny and amazing to watch.