Beth Hodgson's blog

Beth Hodgson is a freelance writer and editor (www.writesourcing.com) based in the Greater Toronto Area, Canada. Writing to keep the public informed is her passion; and who doesn't love Canadian TV?

Last week’s episode was intense and there were plently of unexpected twists. Of course, the writers had it all planned out as they explain in the Grey’s writer blog!

Once in a while, here in the Writer’s room, if we’re stuck on a problem or need a new idea, someone will yell:  “Everyone think of three good ideas in the next three minutes — GO!”  And we all stop talking and start squinting or staring into space as we think really hard and the room starts to smell like burnt toast, and then, “Time’s up!”  And we go around the room and we have to say what we came up with.  And this game pretty much always works.  We always come up with something.  Why?  Because we had to.   Because pressure – even fake pressure – pushes your brain into survival mode, causes you to think differently, move differently and become very creative, because the stakes have suddenly become life-or-death.  Which is why I was a little surprised to learn we’d never done “Pressure” as a theme in six-plus seasons.  I mean, these doctors have life-and–death stakes every day.  So we were interested in what extra pressures we could put on these doctors, but even more interested in what happens when all the pressure is taken off. 

Like when you…say… quit your job. 

So, yes, let’s talk about Cristina first…. She left the hospital, under what might have been the worst possible circumstances:  not in a panic or a fit of anger – these are conditions you can get over — but with a clear-headed decision that surgery is just not what she wants to do.  Which is more frightening, because it means she might never come back.  What’s even scarier for Cristina is the question of what she will do now.  Now that the thing she’s been working toward, preparing for, eating, sleeping and breathing for all of her adult life is suddenly off the table.  Here, she’s clearly avoiding the question, as she grasps at any and every notion that crosses her path — from haircuts to housewares.  Anything to keep from looking at the real question:  “What do I do now?” 

Callie’s in a similar boat, trying to picture what her life will be after losing the one person she really wanted to spend it with.  And it appears she’s as undecided as Cristina, as she spends the whole day trying to put a good face — and a decent hairstyle – on the situation.  But what Cristina says is true: we’ve rarely seen Callie when she wasn’t in a relationship.  And in the end, she just can’t do it; Callie turns to her friend Mark and tells him she doesn’t want to be alone without someone else.  I love those moments, when their friendship becomes a life raft. 

Cristina’s departure is putting pressure on other people too:  Meredith heard last week that she’s at least partially responsible for Cristina’s troubles; Derek feels a debt to her that he doesn’t begin to know how to repay; Owen wants the girl he met back, for her own sake as much as his; and Teddy (thanks in part to Derek’s misdirected frustration) worries that she could have done more. 

So when the Emir arrives, it puts these three in a little political pressure cooker, where the stakes are higher because so many people have a vested interest in the outcome of their work.   As the politicos argue about who’s at fault and what’s the best way to save their leader,  our doctors have to air their own agendas, point their fingers of blame, and figure out between them the best way to save Cristina.  Meredith and Derek clearly disagree, and I think it’s really surprising when he goes behind Mer’s back to steal Cristina away.  It’s almost a betrayal.  I would say it was a betrayal if I didn’t believe that he was helping Cristina for Meredith’s sake, too.  That he wants her to have her friend back.   It’ll be interesting to see if Mer sees it that way.

Alex is under his own kind of pressure, the pressure to take care of his family, which we learn about only at the end of the night.  And looking back on his day with that bit of knowledge, you can see how it informed every decision he made.   He’s so furious with himself for abandoning his family, when he fights to for a way to save the little girl from a possibly failed liver transplant; he’s trying to go the extra mile for someone, after leaving his family to fend for themselves.   And then poor April:  she basically tells him what he so needs to hear, that he’s okay, that he’s a basically good person, and he reaches out for some kind of connection, some kind of solace.   But he’s in such an angry, hateful place, he’s inexcusably horrible to her.  And he knows it, in that moment.   He knows it at the party, too, where he wants to apologize.  When Jackson hits him, he takes the first punch as a sort of penance – he wants to pay the debt.  The fight could stop there.  But Jackson’s in a whole other place…. 

Now, Jackson – it’s not clear who’s putting the pressure on Jackson.  It’s true, he has been making a lot of mistakes in the last few months, and he’s been a little tightly wound.  Maybe while we’ve been concentrating on our other doctors’ healing, we’ve not noticed that Jackson might not be as together as he appears.  But is it, as Lexie suggests, paranoia?  Maybe he’s the only one putting the pressure on himself?  Really, it doesn’t matter — when that sort of stress builds up, it just needs any little excuse to let it blow.    Alex’s cruel treatment of April, who Jackson sees – rightly or wrongly — as his last surviving ally, is enough.  He can’t control himself.  This could be the relief valve he needed to get better, since the shooting.  Or it might be the tip of the iceberg…  We’ll see. 

Before we go, I want to say a word about Dr. Stark.   Stark is a rare presence – he represents a type of attending surgeon we Grey’s writers have heard about many times in our research:  Not incompetent, not evil, just complacent.  Lazy.  Arrogant, and self-satisfied.  Just the opposite of our Seattle Grace/Mercy West Attendings.    In a lesser actor’s hands Stark could come off as just a villain.  But played by as intelligent, collaborative and hilarious an actor as Peter MacNicol, you get a really complicated human being, and that’s actually makes him way scarier.   We could not have been more thrilled with this bit of casting.  We’ve all been a huge fans of Peter MacNicol, and he’s been terrific to have on the set. 

Well, that’s it for now, thanks again for watching, and reading.  And come back here next week, when Zoanne Clack will be telling you about her episode which features, among other things, Miranda Bailey like you have never seen her before.  Ever.  Really. 

Well, we don’t really have the scoop just yet, but do know that the next episode of Grey’s Anatomy is sure to be an exciting one! It was alluded to in this week’s entry on the Grey’s writer blog.

Finally, what’d you all think about the Chief’s cryptic suggestion that things would be “different” around Seattle Grace in the coming weeks?  In the previous week’s episode Chief Webber was scrounging around for money, and suddenly in this one, he’s got a million dollar surplus?  I’m sworn to secrecy, but I can safely say that next week’s episode is a doozy, and completely unlike any other episode of Grey’s Anatomy you’ve seen before…

What could it be? Is the hospital about to get some huge benefactor? Is someone with a huge salary about to get fired? Is an entire department going to be cut from the hospital? Something is definitely up and it’s going to be big!!

Brian Tanen is a new writer on the Grey’s Anatomy team, and to learn more about him, you can read his complete blog entry on the Grey’s Anatomy writer’s blog. But, before you do that, let’s revisit the very first episode that he penned and some of the inspiration behind it.

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. 


Alex Karev sure has gotten around over the past few seasons of Grey’s Anatomy, in fact, there are very few show regulars who he hasn’t had some kind of affair with. Well, there is someone and it looks like there will be tension this season as he begins a new romance that clearly has an impact on an old one. Rumours are that Alex will hook up with April. An interesting connection considering just last week she confessed that she’s a 27 year old virgin, and well..we know that Alex is certainly not. However, that doesn’t mean his little romace with Lexie is finished for good as the scoop seems to be that there will be a love triangle.

This might not be good news for those fans that are would like to see Mark and Lexie reunite again, but we’ll just have to wait and see, after all, the term is love “triangle” and there’s no catchy word to describe four feuding romances!

This week’s Grey’s episode debated what makes us who we are, and the writer who penned this episode provides his take and sheds light on his inspiration.

Genes were kind of the theme of this episode.  Well, biology to be more specific, but genes are part of that.   We wanted to explore that age-old question of nature vs. nurture.  What makes us who we are?  Is it our DNA?  Our upbringing?  A combo platter?? 

What better way to explore this question than through Meredith.  We’ve known since the pilot that Meredith, like Ellis, might carry the gene for Early Onset Alzheimer’s.  She just hasn’t gotten tested for the gene yet.  I get it.  It’d be terrifying to find out you had an expiration date.  Think about it.  What would you do?  Be like Meredith’s patient Lila and spend the rest of your life travelling and sleeping around?  Ditch your job and pursue the dreams you put on hold?  Or would you stay the same – setting your alarm everyday, exercising routinely, hoping that some amazing doctors will find a cure before D-day comes?  See – expiration dates are a lot of pressure.  It’s so much easier to think you’ve got years left to mess around and sleep late and put off carpe diem-ing until tomorrow.  That’s probably what Meredith’s been thinking for the last six seasons.  But now she wants to have a baby.  She has more than just herself to think about.  And, of course, now she finds out she has a hostile uterus.  MAN ALIVE!!

Meredith Grey doesn’t get many breaks in life.  Maybe it’s because of her upbringing, or maybe it’s something wonky about her DNA, but someone in the world has decided to deal her tons o’ crap.  Personally, it’s what makes me love her. No matter how many crappy things come her way, Meredith keeps on living and fighting and taking risks.  She’s got balls.  Derek reminds her that, expiration date or not, there’s no reason to think about it.  None of us can know what’ll come tomorrow so why not just throw caution to the wind and be.  So those test results?  They’ll stay in the lab, out of sight and out of mind.  I’m relieved.

Cristina’s got her own set of crap to deal with lately.  First up, house-hunting.   Biologically, there are two types of people in the world – those that buy fixer uppers and those that don’t.  (Okay, maybe not biologically, but I’m trying to weave a common thread through this blog so go with me).  I’m not a fixer upper kind of person.  My fridge currently contains a bottle of ketchup and three beers.  I can barely bring myself to grocery shop so how the hell would I ever manage picking out tile for a bathroom?  Cristina’s the same.  Still, she buys the firehouse…for Owen.  This tells us a lot about where she’s at mentally.  She’s lost when it comes to surgery but not with her marriage.  Instead she’s throwing herself in deeper.  It’s what the worm guy said – when you love something you hold on to it.  For Cristina, that’s Owen.  She’s becoming a fixer upper person for him.  So maybe it’s nurture after all.  (Btw, if you want to know more about why someone would eat worms check out Medical Research Meg’s blog: http://abc.go.com/shows/greys-anatomy/medical-case-file)

Let’s pose the nature vs. nurture question for Alex.  Dude is a good Peds surgeon.  This is a little unexpected.  You’d think plastics or trauma surgery would be the specialty he’d thrive in.  He’s tough, he doesn’t get emotional, he’s even a little insensitive sometimes.  But as he showed with our dancer kid, Jake, Alex has a way with kids.  He knew Jake needed to dance for Callie and Arizona, even though he personally couldn’t care less about ballet.  In fact, he probably thinks it’s lame.  But Alex got that dance is what makes Jake Jake.  It’s who he is.  Part of his biology.  Who knows why he ended up this way, especially with parents so different from him, but he is a dancer through and through.  Alex was able to save his leg because of it.  So maybe it’s in Alex’s nature to be a good Peds surgeon.  

Lexie’s Meredith’s sister.  Her biological sister.  They share blood.  So why the hell is Meredith treating April more like a sister than Lexie?  That’s the question running through Lexie’s mind this entire episode.  She doesn’t ask Mer this right away though.  Instead she gets jealous.  And hilarious.  I love watching Lexie be mean.  It’s probably because I’m the youngest child of three.  The youngest always dreams of the day they’ll have the power they never had growing up.  I’ll show you, basically.  That’s what I feel like Lexie’s doing to April in this episode.  She’s had to suffer under Mer and Cristina for years.  Now someone else can suffer.  That would be April.  

Poor April.  She tries so hard.  I don’t blame her.  She just wants to get along.  To belong.  Her best friend just died and now she’s living in this strange house.  A chore wheel is exactly the thing that will bond her to everyone!  What I really like about April in this episode is that somewhere, maybe even if it’s not conscious, she gets that Lexie’s anger isn’t personal, that she’s just the innocent victim.  Luckily, Lexie eventually admits this and confronts Meredith.  Cause who knows what pent up rage can do to you?  Hopefully not make you drive into a Laundromat.  (P.S. if you’re getting to that point, let me suggest talking to the person you’re mad at.  And some therapy.  Therapy never hurts.)  By the way, how awesome was Frances Conroy as the jilted Eleanor in this Laundromat story?  I’m a big fan of Six Feet Under so I was psyched when she agreed to take the part.  And that confession scene gives me the chills.  

Let’s talk about my favorite threesome on our show.  Callie, Arizona, and Mark.  As much as we’ve never stated it before I think it’s always been clear that Arizona and Mark don’t love each other.  They’re as different as two people can be.  For Callie, this bites.  No one likes to be caught between their best friend and significant other.  Usually these situations end up with the best friend getting the boot.  Callie’s not that kind of friend though.  Mark’s been there for her through everything.  So she pushes Arizona to try to be his friend.  The result?  Arizona asks Mark on a date.  What the hell did they talk about on this date?  Callie, I’m guessing.  What else do they have in common?  

Last but not least, Jackson got shirtless.  As you saw, that boy has good genes.  Great genes.  Not a chicken leg gene in sight.  I really have nothing more to say about this except…you’re welcome

This week’s episode was one that began to bring some closure to the events of last season, as the characters in some small ways, work towards their recoveries. Here’s an exerpt from the Grey’s writer blog.

I think one of the worst things you can tell a writer is write what you know.  Or a close corollary of that – write about your life.  If you put my life on a movie screen, the audience would demand their money back.  They wouldn’t just walk out of the theatre, they’d stampede the ushers in their rush to the exits.  Unless the ushers, bored to death themselves, had already quit their job and gone home.   As much as I really enjoy my job – I feel EXTREMELY fortunate that I get to work with a lot of fun people every day – my life itself is relatively boring.

Little bits and pieces of my life do occasionally show up on Grey’s Anatomy.  Derek’s taking up golf.  I lobbied for that.  I also suggested he and Mark hit golf balls off the hospital roof last season.  I didn’t suggest the Derek storyline with his estranged sister – that was Shonda’s idea — but it was an easy story for me to identify with.  I have a little sister who’s ten years younger than me.  We’re not estranged, far from it in fact, she’s great.  But, like Derek and his sister Amy, our dad died when I was 15 and she was five.  He wasn’t shot.  He had a heart attack.  And ever since then I’ve wanted to protect her from what’s out there in the world.  After all, that’s what older brothers do.  Protect their little sisters.  Because the world doesn’t always make you feel good about yourself.  In fact, more often than not, the world makes you feel like you don’t belong.  Like you’ve missed out on the joke.  Like you’re, yes… a freak.  

Yup, that was the theme of my episode.  Freaks.  Because basically we are all Treemen.  Physically, we may not have the warts but metaphorically we sure as hell do.  Especially when I go to these damn school functions where nobody talks to me.  Nobody!  And, by the way, it’s not like I don’t make the effort – I DO!  I ask the other parents about themselves and their wonderfully accomplished and oh so brilliant children (I’m never this sarcastic with them, I promise) but, even then, even with all the effort I’m putting into the conversation, they start looking around like they want to talk to someone, ANYONE, but me!!  THEY CAN’T LOOK AT ME.  Yes, suddenly I’M A TREEMAN!!  At a PTA Meeting!!!

Emotionally, the story plays on Mark when Mrs. Treeman wonders if love is enough to keep a couple together.  That even though you desperately love someone, you’re at such different points in your life, it just can’t work.  Which is a very sad realization for Mark when it comes to Lexie.  

Meantime, Lexie’s doing her very best to empathize with the Treeman.  After all, she’s been in his shoes.  For the first couple of episodes she was the one everybody in the hospital was staring at.  We never comment on Lexie’s state of mind until the end of the episode but, after being committed, Lexie thinks the world sees her as kind of a freak.  Or as she puts it – “a psycho running naked down the hallway.”  But even her empathy for freaks can’t prevent her from having a thing about warts.  By the way, when we were coming up with the story in the room, one of the writers was so grossed out by even the mention of warts, we had to call them puppies.  Which, yes, made this writer a little bit of a freak.  And yes, this writer has given me permission to use her name.  This writer was Krista Vernoff.  You know how Bailey jumped ten feet back when she saw the spider?  That was Krista every time we mentioned warts.  Sorry.  Puppies…

The nice thing about having a big cast is that you get to mix and match the characters in a hundred different ways.  You don’t often get to see Derek and Cristina together in a story line – they’re not tremendously fond of each other – but she did save his life.  We hadn’t played any of the fallout from that yet this season.  We got our chance to do so in this episode and it made me wonder why the heck we don’t have these two actors together more often.  Patrick and Sandra were FANTASTIC together.  Of course, the sad part of the story was that despite Derek’s best intentions, Cristina is nowhere near healed.  At this point she might, in fact, be the biggest freak at Seattle Grace.  Her PTSD is crippling.  The question remains –will she ever come back from what happened?

On October 28,  a special episode will experiment with some different filmography. During that episode a camera crew visits Seattle Grace to film a documentary about the staff’s recovery in the wake of the shooting, and the episode will be shot from that crew’s point of view. It sounds like we might finally have the chance to learn a bit more about how all of the characters feel about the shooting. While there’s been some insight, we’re not seeing much from a number of the characters, there are still some that have remained a mystery as some of what happened during the shooting and since.

This will be different than anything that the show has tried before!

According to TV Guide, when the Chief offers that amount to the department of the hospital that best demonstrates need, Calzona’s personal feelings take a back seat.

“Callie turns into this very competitive person and actually starts running around trying to intimidate everyone,” says Sara Ramirez, who can certainly pull that off.

“[She] does this hilarious passive-aggressive thing that was very fun to play. She’s trying to psych everybody out,” adds Ramirez, having definitely piqued our curiosity.

Meanwhile, Fancast teases that in tomorrow night’s Private Practice crossover, Amelia Shepherd drops in to show us a different side of the McDreamy we know and love.

Following a welcome that “is not necessarily warm and fuzzy,” Caterina Scorsone (Amelia) says, “We really get to find out what Derek went through, what he witnessed.”

When their father was killed, it shook them forever, and this week “sheds light on how he relates to his family – how he views the relationship between himself and Amelia.”

This week’s episode will be a big one on Grey’s Anatomy, according to the show’s creator. It looks like the cat will be out of the bag in terms of some of the secrets being kept!

The creator talks about why Meredith chose not to tell Derek about the miscarriage for months following the shooting and says that this was a case of Meredith putting Derek first. Talk about character growth, eh?

“The man was shot and he’s already feeling [responsible] for getting a bunch of people killed,” series creator and executive producer Shonda Rhimes explains to EW regarding that.

“So for her to tell him that the shooting also caused her miscarriage seems a little bit cruel. He doesn’t need one more thing to worry about,” Rhimes says, somewhat reasonably.

How much did you love the Grey’s Anatomy premiere?! Want to know what kind of thought went into the episode? Here’s an exerpt from the Grey’s writer blog!

Rebirth. That was the theme of this episode.  How do you recover from the worst day of your life? How do you go on?  

I know a little something about rebirth because a little more than a year ago, I made the excruciating decision to leave my marriage.  In the early years of Grey’s Anatomy, I waxed poetic on this blog about my marriage – I was a newlywed with all the love and hope and joy that that entails. And then things changed. This year was the darkest and hardest of my life. There were days that Shonda Rhimes was my life raft and there were days when even she couldn’t hold me up… (In case you were wondering? The non-judgemental loyalty that Cristina and Meredith give each other? Where they let each other be as dark and twisty as they want to be and they never ever judge? That’s Shonda. She’s the friend you call to help you bury the body.)

can’t relate to people who’ve survived a shooting. I’ve never experienced the kind of trauma our characters went through.   But I can relate to the concept of Rebirth. I can relate to the idea that in life, stuff happens that we never could have imagined and that somehow, unimaginably, we survive.  

Our people survived, but they will never be the same. 

The highs will be higher. The lows will be lower. Life will be sweeter. Love will be, as Callie might put it, even more awesome. 

I love the Chief dancing. I love the look on Owen’s face when Cristina says, “I do.” I love that out of darkness comes light. And I also know that sometimes when we think it’s as dark as it could possibly get, it gets darker before the light comes in…

I know some of you are going to hate on me for writing about me and not our characters but the thing is, I am our characters and so are you.   And the other thing is, I can’t say much more about our characters without spoiling stuff that’s coming up. Because we are still telling this story. Traumas aren’t over a month later. Derek still doesn’t even know about Meredith’s miscarriage, for God’s sake! There’s more story here. A lot more. So tune in next week. And kiss all the people you love in the meantime.