Last week’s ep opened with a Clash song, and this one is named after a Rocky Horror Show song, so it felt like Grey’s Anatomy could do no wrong in my eyes of late.
Maybe I shouldn’t have gone in with such high expectations. When I heard that GA was doing a flashback episode, I was anticipating something a bit more fun. OK, so the Richard/Ellis storyline wasn’t going to be a barrel of laughs, but I thought Bailey’s and Callie’s supporting storylines would provide some degree of comic relief.
Not so. Each story was played for drama, with each having the same basic moral: surgeons kick ass no matter what anyone else says.
The setup is that Bailey and Callie are due to give lectures to the rest of the staff about … being a doctor, basically, because what would a bunch of doctors know about what it’s like to be a doctor? Complete with an utterly ridiculous semi-subplot about Callie having major stage fright. She so doesn’t. Anyways, Derek starts off by offering Richard, now 45 days sober, a position as an attending. He turns down this generous offer, so Derek instead asks him to do a lecture as well.
We zip back in Bailey’s timeline to 2003, when she was an intern at Seattle Grace. Her resident was Missi Pyle, here playing … Missi Pyle, with extra wickedness for good measure. Bailey, calling herself Mandy, was a timid but smart young buck with glasses and some very unflattering cornrows, who was either bullied or ignored by Dr Pyle. Until the Chief came along, and gave her a talk about courage and being a shark. Basically, Mandy has to turn herself into James Woods. And she finally accomplishes this by standing up to Dr Pyle about misdiagnosing a patient out of arrogant laziness, and shouting at her boss to boot. The Chief, loving this, whisks Bailey into his office and tells her to look miserable so Missi will think she’s getting her behind handed to her. Instead, he tells her she’ll make a brilliant surgeon.
Callie, panic-stricken onstage and dancing like she must urinate any second, stutters her way through a story, with help from Alex, of a case she took on in Karev’s intern year. I’d forgotten how utterly HOT she looked back then. Those bangs … Ahem. Right, Callie has a patient with deformed legs as a result of polio. She promises him that he will walk again, to the annoyance of the Chief, who accuses her of basing her promise on arrogance. Determined to set straight both the Chief and the patient’s limbs, Callie gets ready to operate, tagging Alex along to help, under the mistaken belief that he is the heart-in-the-elevator guy. (Yes, that bit will make you miss George.) She wins! And rather than end the story on that note, they go on to add that they celebrated by having sex in a closet. Because that’s totally something you’d tell an audotorium full of professional colleagues, especially one that contains your girlfriend, who does not look thrilled with this little revelation. I, on the other hand, did; not that I’d actually like a Callex relationship to blossom or anything, because she and Arizona make a sweet couple, and because it sounds like a toothpaste anyway.
Finally, Richard’s flashback flashes back so far (1982, man, that’s like ancient history) that they need new actors (complete with over-the-top ‘retro’ styles) and some new decor for the hospital (big colourful walls with flowers on them); and yes, it does look as much like a cheesy sitcom as it sounds. In any case, it really clashes with the solemnity of the story, which doesn’t tell us much we didn’t already know: Ellis and Richard were colleagues, she was mean but brilliant, they were sneaking some love but he wouldn’t leave Adele, etc. Here’s what we did learn: that Ellis gave Richard both his first real taste of vodka, and his first real reason for needing it; and that together, they took care of Seattle’s first ever AIDS patient, proving to the all-male, all-white troop of residents and attendings that when it comes to medicine, it doesn’t matter whether you’re male or female, black or white, gay or straight, tall or short, lefty or righty, etc. I’m afraid it’s just too outdated a message for 1982. Richard’s recital of the Hippocratic oath to top it off is a nice touch but it lays it all on a bit thick.
His bottom line is, what kind of doctor you are is shaped by the people you work with – cue each doctor in the room exchanging looks heavy with meaning. It’s kind of … out there, and underwhelming, in spite of the strings set. If this were an earlier episode, a kooky song would be playing during the climactic scene instead, which would balance out the cheesiness of everyone getting to their feet and applauding as Richard chokes up at his own speech.
An OK episode, which is a stand-alone save for two points: Richard is considering becoming an attending after all, and more importantly, Bailey and Gas Man TOTALLY looked at each other. It was SO CUTE.
So, when the heck are they actually going to go on a date? Come on already!
Tags: Grey's Anatomy