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'Grey's Anatomy': Jessica Capshaw shines as Arizona Robbins

In tonight's episode, "Invest in Love," Meredith's voiceover returned after last week's brief surrender to Derek. I was hoping that Ellen Pompeo's maternity leave would give us a longer break from that ever-monotonous introduction, but, oh well.

The focus of this episode is children in distress.  My mom works with very sick children, and for years I've heard her incredible stories about the children her team saves, and about the ones who succumb to their illnesses. It's a subject very, very close to my heart, so, in my defense, I was ultra-sensitive to tonight's subject matter. Don't judge me for crying ... a lot!

The first child was a preemie baby, born to Laura, a mother suffering from major head trauma after a car accident.  After sustaining injuries and gestating only 30 weeks, the baby doesn't have much hope for survival, but Laura is too injured to meet her. "What if she dies before she's ever been held?" Laura cries.

Alex is feeling despondent after being served (by the always warm and fuzzy Chief Webber) with an enormous medical bill for his MIA wife, who still isn't coming in for her IL-2 treatments. He's resigned to the fact that the baby is going to die, but not so resigned that he doesn't make sure she gets held before she dies. "You're not alone," he whispers to the baby.  "You're not alone." (That 'awww' you just heard was the sound of millions of women melting all over the country.)  When the baby's condition suddenly improves, Bailey says that skin-to-skin contact could save her, and demands in a very Bailey-like fashion that Alex remove his shirt. (That 'oooh' you just heard... Well, you get it.)

Not only do we get half-naked Alex for an entire episode, but his shirtlessness leaves room for some nice one-liners from the McBFFs. "Have you started to lactate yet?" Derek asks, before Sloane bursts into the room asking: "Is this the room for the calendar shoot? They said it was downstairs."  

When the baby makes it against all odds, Bailey muses that Karev would be good in pediatrics. Excuse my inarticulateness, but... duh? Karev has had an affinity for babies since he started working with Addison years ago. I think he likes them because they don't care what a jerk he is, so long as he takes his shirt off and nuzzles them for a while. And not that I want him to cheat on Izzie, but I'm pretty sure he could find those same qualities in the wide-eyed Dr. Reed.

118246_043_pre The second pediatrics patient is a 15-year-old girl who fell off her roof while making what she calls a "calculated risk." I call it "stupid" -- she ate hallucinogenic "magic" mushrooms in the middle of the night and then believed she could fly off her roof. When her parents start to get outraged, she reminds them that she gets straight As, is on the honor roll, runs student council and the school paper, and tutors kids with reading problems. She's a dream child.

Oh, except for the druggie thing.  

Her attitude inspires Christina, Callie and Owen to reminisce about their own childhoods while they perform surgery. When Jackson starts to chime in, though, they don't care. I'm not surprised! He's a Mercy Wester, after all. Mercy Westers are robots! They don't have childhoods! They don't have feelings! They don't have souls!

Of course, something goes wrong during the surgery.  Perhaps inspired by Derek's rogue turn last week, Christina steps in to do an invasive cardio procedure herself, with Owen and Callie shouting their objections. After all, she's unqualified. Jackson is the only one who backs her up. It was painful to watch Owen ream her out in the scrub room. I couldn't tell if he was angry as her superior or as her boyfriend.

Jackson, however, thought Christina's intrepidity was hot -- similar to the way Burke used to. I wouldn't have been surprised if Christina had sought out a little carnal comfort with Jackson, but she pushed him away when he drunkenly kissed her later.  Hmmm... Somehow I don't think we've seen the end of that.

The real star of this episode was Jessica Capshaw's Dr. Arizona Robbins. She began her rounds by warning her residents that pediatric surgery wasn't just a miniature version of general surgery. "These are the tiny humans. These are children. They believe in magic. They play pretend. There is fairy dust in their IV bags. They hope, and they cross their fingers, and they make wishes, and that makes them more resilient than adults. They recover faster, survive worse. They believe."

I always love Arizona's speeches. Sometimes, the monologues on this show get drawn out, becoming too saccharine or too overwrought. Jessica Capshaw, however, always delivers her lines with subtlety, forgoing histrionics in favor of honesty.

We were then introduced to a very Doogie-like "Dr." Wallace Anderson, a child suffering from short gut syndrome who often joins Arizona on rounds to work on his math and science skills after seven months in the hospital. Early in the episode, Arizona promised Wallace that they'd celebrate their shared birthday together. And on "Grey's Anatomy," a promise is always a very, very bad sign.  

118246_203_preWallace's mom (in an amazing turn by Erica Gimpel, who I adored as a different Wallace's mom on "Veronica Mars") and dad ask for a meeting with the Chief and Arizona, presenting the hospital with an incredibly generous $25 million donation, some of which they want to go to researching their son's condition. Unfortunately, it's too late. Arizona doesn't think that Wallace will survive another surgery, and if he does, surgery will only buy him two painful months. "You think I'm pouring all this money into research so that you can find a cure for some other kid?" Wallace's father cries.

Pressured by the Chief, and by the weight of all that research money, Arizona reluctantly agrees to do the surgery. Wallace is a smart kid, though.  He's been in the hospital a long time; he knows there's only two ways out of there, and he doesn't see a light at the end of his tunnel. His first surgery goes alright, but later, complications arise and he dies while Arizona tries to save him.  Afterward, Arizona is curt and clearly furious with the obvious dollar signs in the Chief's eyes.

Arizona has always had trouble standing up to authority. Last week she stood up to the Chief and collapsed into a messy pile of tears on Callie's shoulder. This week, no such waterworks... until she gets home to the ill-timed surprise birthday party Callie throws for her. (Did anybody notice that Callie invited the Mercy Westers? Did she not get the heartless, soulless, robot people memo?)  

I adore Callie and Arizona's relationship, in case my other episode reviews haven't made that abundantly clear.  They argue, they make mistakes, and they yell at each other, but at the end of the day, they still love each other, and they're doing their best.  It's really nice to see a gay relationship on TV that isn't meant to titillate or shock anyone.  (Kevin and Scotty on "Brothers and Sisters" are another great example; kudos to ABC.)

Arizona was the latest on the list of doctors to skewer the Chief's new focus on money, and she was right to do so. It was mortifying to watch the board and the Chief scramble to save face with the Andersons just hours after they lost their son. "I'd be more than happy to oversee any packing," Jennings (the superb Mitch Pileggi) says. "I've already arranged for a car." How gross!

Luckily, Arizona's words got through to the Chief and he invited her back into the room to speak to the Andersons, despite Jennings' protests.  

When a child dies, money doesn't matter. Parents want to know that the doctors cared. They want human compassion, not greed-driven platitudes. I'm sure I'm not the only one who cried when Arizona finished up Mrs. Anderson's "good dreams, good dreams, here to stay" mantra over Wallace's body. I'm confident that Arizona will do amazing things with that $25 million, because like her patients, Arizona Robbins still believes in magic.  

Let's discuss this week's episode in the comments, guys!  What'd you think of Jackson and Christina's not-quite-hookup? Do you think Dr. Karev should lose the top half of his scrubs forever? Do you love Jessica Capshaw's performance as Arizona as much as I do?

Come back next week in hopes that November sweeps will keep "Grey's" on this creative climb!

-- Carina MacKenzie (follow me on Twitter @cadlymack)

Related Articles:
McDreamy tackles 'the great white of tumors'
Whodunit mystery rocks Seattle Grace
Mercy West is in, Izzie Stevens is out

Photos: (from top) Jessica Capshaw as Arizona Robbins, Jesse Williams as Jackson Avery and Erica Gimpel as Mrs. Anderson. Credit: ABC
Comments () | Archives (30)

I'm totally with you on Callie and Arizona's relationship. I think my favorite scene of the episode was the very end when they finally said that they love each other. I almost died when they made it look like Callie wasn't going to say it back. The writers have done such an amazing job this season with making that relationship, in my opinion, one of the most realistic on the show.

LOVE JCap... LOVE Arizona! LOVE Callie and Arizona relationship, now that it finally seems like a real one lol They should have Arizona at the forefront of more episodes. Grey's can no longer live without one of Arizona's monologues!

Cristina has always been one of my fav characters but she was an ass this episode. the Jackson/Cristina kiss thins was boring and irrelevant, obviously setting up for something else. it'll be boring too tho i'm sure

How "Friends" was this episode in some scenes tho? like what "Friends" would have been if everyone living in that one building had been a hot, serious surgeon. the breakfast scene felt right. i much prefer this new group that has been at the forefront of the episodes lately i.e. Arizona, Callie, Owen, Cristina, Mark and Lexie. the old group was boring the crap out of me

Oh man did i LOVE this episode. This has to be by far the best episode this season so far, in my opinion. Everything and everyone just "gelled" and it just felt ....right, like earlier seasons. That spark was there again. Wow , Jessica Capshaw..how great was she? She was amazing in this episode, and so happy they gave a shot at a "-centric" episode of her own. She nailed it. By far the ending was my favorite.She and Callie finally said "I Love You" to each other ,because i was wondering when, oh, when they would, and all of a sudden... "I Love You", ..such a great surprise and great end to an awesome episode. This will probably be one of my favorite episodes of all time, and i hope they continue the great work. They all did excellent.Really loving it so far. Go JCap and Sara!!

You said it all so well. Arizona was a star. She had me at " these are tiny humans..." She spoke to all of us who love children and love the incredible hope they show us. This episode really got me. I work with gravely ill children and have dealt with more loss than I care to think about- but with joy and hope and lots of fairy dust as well. I would like to send out special kudos to the writer(s) who put that little speech together. I went straight to my heart and held me for the entire episode. The killer scene ( there were a few) was the scene with his body. I believe in parents having the chance to say good bye and have shared some moments with parents that have been branded on my brain. They never leave you, no matter how hard you try to cover them up, even with fairy dust. Last night was really tough. For a television show to bring all of that rushing back and have me sobbing- wow... the writers did a great job. Wallace's fears of nightmares had me bothered as he passed "into the night"-- I loved the chant to ward them away-- it gave me a bit of comfort watching that scene. (What would have been more realistic is for them to have the parents actually hold their still warm child in a less cold setting. That was my only criticism in terms of reality check. So many hospitals leave you in a "friendly" room for as long as you like. Until you are ready to let go.)
Enough about the sadness but thank you to the writers and the actors for giving me sobfest and some mini therapy!!! I loved the "magic of children" theme throughout the show. Karev's touching scenes with the helpless little baby were great-- they helped each other get through a tough time.
Enjoyed Christina's cowboy move in the OR and Jackson's cooperation. But, wait??!!! You mean there IS a cardiac surgeon they could call in?? What was up with that? Hmmmm. Would be nice to know Seattle Grace actually has one there-- kinda realistic, don't ya think?
I think we may just be back to the old Grey's...I truly enjoyed it. Finally!!!! No doctor competition, no fighting over patients (although there was a fighting over an OR scene). Good interpersonal relationships, very touching plotline and the Chief may be becoming less mercenary again...yay! The star of the show: Jessica Capshaw-- hand's down! Thanks for saying it all completely, concisely and with the wit, humor and humanity I am growing to look forward to weekly, Carina!

This was definitely one of my favorite episodes of all time. One minute I was laughing, the next I was balling. Jessica did an AMAZING job with this Arizona-centric episode. She always is so great at delivering her lines and making them so believeble. She knows when to smile and laugh and when to be serious and stern. This episode I think touched everyone's hearts. It was nice to see an episode focusing on the kids and how they perceive being in the hospital. Alex did an amazing job with the premie and definitely needs to go into Peds. The whole episode had us on the edge of our seat. Kudos to the writers for making Arizona and Callie's relationshiop so real. They are an amazing couple together and deserve to have more airtime focusing on that. Last nights episode let us see how great they work together not only at the hospital but at home as couple. Was so excited they finally told each other they love each other. It was such a beautiful and simple scene (although it would have been nice to see Callie say it and not just hear it as the show ended but we will take what we can get :) ) Great job guys. I just hope the show keeps them together and keeps showing how their relationship continues to grow and the deep love they have for each other.

Ms. MacKenzie, you are one of the best online reviewers of this show. You are fair and your reviews are spot on. I really liked last night's episode. I felt so sorry for Arizona having the chief and that board member hanging around her. Mark and Derek had very little screen time last night, but their screen time was well worth it. I really like their zingers. Thanks heavens Derek finally got to passionately kiss Meredith at the end. She is truly healed in more ways than one. I'm not sure how I feel about Izzie coming back. With those pesky people from Mercy West still hanging around, I haven't given her character much thought. I am looking forward to your review again next week.

OMG!!!! I absolutely LOVE Jessica Capshaw!! She's super hott and an outstanding actress!! I have to remind myself that she is a straight woman just "playing" the role of a lesbian. I actually feel the emotion in her eyes when she speaks to Callie... Superb woman! I love you Arizona!!!

I agree with anyone who says this was one of the best (if not THE best) episodes of this season, and possibly of the entire series. I absolutely love Jessica Capshaw and her character Arizona Robbins and I think that she should continue to have a larger role in the show. She has become such a fantastic character. I am also glad that Arizona, with other characters, continue to show the chief that he's pretty much the sole person responsible for all the chaos at Seattle Grace. Derek should have became chief when he had the chance!!

I can't be the only one who's hoping the Mercy West people are here to stay, right? Reed is adorable! Jackson looks like he might actually be developing into a real character. I've actually found this season really refreshing - last night's episode felt like early Grey's, before crazy deer surgery and ghost hook ups, and I really support that. I think that putting the majority of the original cast on the backburner has given some of the new actors (like Jessica Capshaw, who is amazing) a chance to shine. Adding some fresh blood has really brought something back for this show, and I've been really happy with how things have been going this season. Thanks for the great review - I'm in total agreement!

Maybe the chief should let Arizona decide which people to fire. Perhaps then she will understand the decisions that he needs to make, decisions that affect the lives and livelihoods of Arizona's colleagues. Arizona was insubordinate and should have been reprimanded, fined, suspended, or fired.

At least the chief should let Arizona deliver the phrase Trump made famous to the next one to go, "You're fired." Sheesh.

I'm wondering if im the only one who feels like callie should have been a bit more in tune with Arizona this episode. She didn't know her birthday was coming up, she was never up to speed on the Wallace situation, they fought the whole episode and then, I love you. Don't get me wrong, I feel like Capshaw nailed her arizona - centric episode and is a real bright spot these days on the show...just wish I felt more of a connection between Arizona and Callie during an episode that was really defining for Arizona

What an amazing episode. Grey's is really on a roll. Jessica Capshaw was incredible - I love that woman. I have never been a Mer hater (in fact, watching some season one episodes on Lifetime reminded me how much I liked her) but her absence has allowed the show to soar. I will be sorry to see her return to center stage. I think the stories and the character development has been superb this season. And as a man, my awww was out load when Alex picked up the baby. You do not have to be a woan or a mother or even a parent to be moved by that scene. And Arizona's speech about fairy dust was heart warming. One of the strengths of Grey's is the ability to do heartwarming/breaking almost simultaneously. And when Wallace's mother could not finish the good dreams chant and Arizona took over, well I am not ashamed to say I reached for the keenex. And I did mention how wonderfull Jessica Capshaw was, right? My new favorite character.

Wow, I couldn't disagree with you more. I thought that was an incredibly dull episode, but hey, I like Meredith and the regulars and you obviously don't. I felt like I was watching Private Practice -- a medical show with lots of sappy stuff and bland characters.

I find Arizona's speeches about magic and fairy dust absolutely nauseating. I also find the Callie/AZ romance totally lacking in chemistry and heat. They seem functional enough, but I simply don't buy that they are more than friends.

I'd hardly call Grey's in a creative upswing. I enjoyed last week's Derek-centric episode, but I am growing pretty bored with the show overall and I don't know if I'll stick with it.
I think season 6 has been lackluster.

I find Arizona about as interesting as Lexie these days. I wish they'd both get shipped of to Private Practice.

Shelley, you're an idiot.

I couldn't agree more. This season has by far been the best for me. This episode has to be my favorite. I never really watched the Callie parts before and now I find that the relationship between Callie and Arizona is my favorite of the show. It seems the most real and I hope they will continue on with it. I know it wouldn't be Grey's withou some drama, but I do hope the two will prevail together. I enjoyed seeing more of them, I didn't realize we had little MerDer until the episode was ending and to be honest that was ok. I wish we'd get more of the other relationships like Callie/Arizona and not always MerDer. Thank you writers for this season!! You have out done yourselves and I'm sure I do not speak for just myself when I say how much we are enjoying this season. Thanks for all of it and I can't wait until next Thursday!!

OMG that was such a great episode what can I say every week Arizona put a smile on my face... She is doing such a great job deliverying a message she is just great I think she should get more screen time! She made everybody fall in love with the show again (it started to be boring at times)
love the realationship with callie I think they are great together
I agree with u all Jessica was the star of the episode and I think she's becoming the star of the show - would like to see more of her

and to the writers they are doing such a great job this season we needed that change
and almost forgot Alex was so cute :)

This is my favourite episode! Jessica Capshaw did an incredible job! I always loved her from the first time and Arizona is the best character ever! She is so positive and always has a great incredible fantastic speech and Jessica can say these word like an angel. She uses her voice so perfectly and know when to smile and gosh I'm in love with her voice! Tha crying scene was amazing, seriosuly! She is such a talented and I really hope she will get more and more role in Grey's and some movies role. Cause she really deserves it!
I love Callie and Arizona relationship I think it's a special one, not like the other couples. they are so different. not because of the gay thing, it's because of the whole realtionship. you know whaw I mean?They talk to each other, we can see their feelings and not about just the sex. but really hope we will get more kiss cause I miss that. And the 'I love you' scene is my favourite part! It was just perfect, seriously this is the best word to this.

I loved last night's episode. I completely agree with you that ABC handles homosexual relationships much better than a lot of other networks especially Kevin and Scott.
The thing I liked most about this episode (other than Arizona of course) is that they finally showed the Chief seeing the error in his ways (at least partly). I was starting to get really annoyed by the monotonous way Derek would remind him that he is wrong, he would look thoughtful and then never do anything about it. Maybe using another character to get the point across was exactly what was needed.

This was one of the best Grey's episodes ever :) and IMHO Arizona is the best character introduced since Addison (and she became my all time favorite character since Addison left). Don't get me wrong, I do love original cast but I've long ago stopped caring about Mer/Der and their drama. The breakfast scene was so refreshing and entertaining (I hope there will be more similar scenes in the future), and Alex and the baby scene was really touching.
Callie and Arizona's relationship is developing slowly but surely and quite realistically, so kudos to writers and let's hope they will continue good work.
J-Cap is doing wonderful job. Her portrayal of Arizona is incredible and I am immensely glad they've decided to make her a regular cast member.

I just watched Grey's online and I am estatic that Arizona told Callie she loves her. :-D.

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