When I heard that this Thursday’s installment of Grey’s Anatomy was going to be a “flashback episode,” one that intermingled the characters’ present day experiences with events of the past, in order to shed some light on the characters’ current behavior, I found myself struck with an overwhelming sense of deja vu. I couldn’t kick this feeling that I had been here before. That I had seen this before . . .
Oh, yeah . . . now I remember . . .
In an effort to differentiate himself from former Chief Webber McBoozy (although after 45 days of sobriety, I guess it is no longer appropriate, nor fair, to call him that), and to make a name for himself as the “touchy feely” Nu-Chief, Dr. McDreamy Shepherd reinstitutes Lecture Day at Seattle Grace.
“See? I’m the sensitive one. Look into my puppy dog eyes, and tell me I’m not sensitive. Just don’t make me cry, because I’ll punch your lights out, if you do.”
As guest lecturers, Shepherd commandeers Bailey, Callie, and Chief McBoozy Webber (sorry, force of habbit). Webber takes a bit of extra persuading on Shepherd’s part. After all, learning that you have just been demoted from “Chief of Surgery” to just plain “surgeon” does not exactly make one feel all “happy-go-teachy.” Nonetheless, Webber ultimately agrees to guest lecture, and what appears to be the entire staff of Seattle Grace packs a rather large auditorium to see him do so.
(Seriously, Seattle Grace? Your entire staff? This is why you aren’t ranked in the top ten! This is why your patients die all the time! Doesn’t anyone practice medicine here any more?)
But I digress . . . Here’s what we learned from our three lecturers:
Webber’s Lesson: “When I was your age . . .”
Our first flashback took us all the way back to 1982 – a time when the medical profession was very much an all-boys club, an all white boys club; a time when doctors were largely ignorant about and frightened of immune system-related diseases and homosexuality. It was also a time when people dressed like this . . .
Back then Webber was a just teetotaling, ambitious young resident trying to make a name for himself at Seattle Grace, while, at the same time, boinking Meredith’s Mommy, Ellis Grey, in the on-call room. Yes, apparently, they did that in the 80s too. Talk about sexually transmitted diseases . . . How often do you think they sterilize that place?
“28 more years of this and we will ALL be under quarantine . . .”
When Ellis and Webber encounter a patient with a rare bacterial infection, they begin to suspect that he may have GRID, Gay Related Immune Deficiency Disorder, or AIDS, as it is now commonly called. This was a highly sensitive subject for any doctor to broach during that time, let alone a young resident with minimal job security. After all, few cases of the disorder had been discovered at this point, and very little was known about the disease.
Apparently, homosexuality was just not something you talked about back then, it being a time before
Will and Grace and . . . well . . .
Initially, the patient takes Webber’s inquiry into his sexual orientation very badly. He leaves the hospital in a huff, refusing treatment. Unfortunately, a few weeks later, he returns, now extremely ill and desperate for help. The problem is that, now that his secret is out, most of the doctors and nurses at Seattle Grace are afraid of infection and unwilling to help him. THIS MUST BE A JOB FOR . . .
. . . no, not them, just Young Webber and Young Ellis Grey.
The dynamic duo risk their careers and, as far as they know, their lives, to save this patient. Fortunately, the surgery goes well. (Yay!) But . . . then the patient dies anyway (Boo!) But, not before Webber learns of his own fallibility and the importance of maintaining your humanity as a surgeon. (Yay!) Then, afterwards, Ellis bullies the future Chief McBoozy into taking his first alcoholic drink. (Boo!) But, before, that, we got to see how adorable Meredith looked at age 5. (Yay!)
Needless to say, it was a very emotional rollercoaster-esque lecture. Yet, at its conclusion, Webber gives a rousing speech about the importance of doctors adhering to the Hippocratic Oath. He then raises his right hand and recites the Oath himself. Admittedly, it was some pretty powerful stuff, and really served to highlight Webber’s true love of medicine. Clearly affected by his own speech, the Old Chief ultimately decides to accept McDreamy’s offer and return to work. (Yay!)
Bailey’s Lesson: Shark tales, a.k.a. The Birth of the Nazi
Before Miranda Bailey became the Nazi; before she turned into a strong, smart, powerful, but often angry, woman who looks like this . . .
Bailey was an overachieving but painfully shy and polite-to-a-fault intern, who looked like this . . .
The year was 2003. While medicine had come a long way since 1982, there were still many obstacles for women who wanted to succeed in the healthcare industry. And for many women, their biggest obstacle was one another. That’s right. Mean girls, unfortunately, stuck around long past the 80s . .
This movie came out in 2004 . . .
Despite the fact that Mean Girls wasn’t due out in theaters for another year, one of them had managed to sneak into Seattle Grace. Bailey’s resident “advisor” is a bitch with a Capital B. And, like any two-dimensional villian, this 30-something year old woman tortured Young Bailey with the zeal, intensity (and maturity) of a 16-year old cheerleader who just found out that her boyfriend has decided to go to prom with the class nerd.
Be careful Bailey! This never ends well for people like you . . .
Fortunately, for Bailey, she is due for a major personality transplant and stat! And who performs said transplant, you ask? None other than Superman Webber of course! “Surgery is a shark tank, and sharks have teeth. Be a shark, not a minnow,” the then-Chief instructs Bailey.
And I bet you know what happens next . . .
That’s right! Our Neo Nazi Bailey solves a difficult medical mystery. Then, in what we now know was the first of her eloquently angry, yet rousing, monologues, Bailey hands her bitchy resident advisor her ass on a platter for ordering countless unnecessary surgeries for a patient, who merely required medication. “You are going to be a brilliant surgeon one day,” commends Webber (and we know that he is right!)
In addition to being an awesome surgeon, Bailey is also terrific public speaker. She owns both the stage and her audience, awarding them for class participation with chocolates. And as a nearly perpetual student, I can tell you that candy bribes WORK and work well!
Callie’s Lesson: “Everybody f&*ks Alex.”
You know who’s not so hot in the public speaking department? The typically loud and brash Callie. After vomiting up her breakfast in anticipation of the big event, Callie stumbles around stage, head tucked inside her notes, mumbling almost incoherently about the club footed patient her and Alex cared for back in 2006, when she was a new resident.
With Alex’s help, however, Callie ultimately recovers nicely. She recounts for the group the immensely gratifying experience of repairing the leg of a 28-year old student who was told he could never walk. When all of the other doctors discounted the patient, and berated Callie for mismanaging his expectations, Callie refused to give up. As a result, this formerly bed-ridden man can now roam freely (with the help of some crutches, of course).
And this wouldn’t be Grey’s Anatomy if the story didn’t end with an on-call room boink fest between Alex and Callie . . .
“I am so much better at doing this than public speaking . . .”
Apparently, Alex has screwed the entire staff at Seattle Grace, and most of its patients. That is one dirty boy!
Not only is Alex a slut, he is also, apparently a liar. And Callie catches him in a real whopper. As punishment, she forces him to perform the surgery he claimed to have already done by himself in an elevator shaft, even though that surgery was actually completed by Callie’s ex-hubby, the now deceased, George.
R.I.P. Dude! The show hasn’t been the same since you left . . . really.
So, there you have it, folks. A love letter to medicine, with three flashbacks, two sex scenes, lots of chocolate, and a shout out to an old friend. Not bad for a single episode.