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'Grey's Anatomy': McDreamy tackles 'the great white of tumors'

October 30, 2009 |  1:06 am

For the second week in a row, "Grey's Anatomy" changed up the usual episode format. Usually, there are several different medical cases addressed by doctors with different specialties. In  Thursday night's episode, there was just one case, epic enough to capture the attention of the entire surgical team. 

It's a rare occasion when an episode begins without a pearl of wisdom in the form of a Meredith voiceover, but this week it was Derek's turn. Dr. McDreamy hasn't had much going on for him this season, other than being the voice of reason in the middle of the Seattle Grace Three Ring Circus. Unfortunately, the voice of reason, while necessary, just isn't all that interesting. 

How many times is Derek going to have to point out the Chief's failings? I'm tired of that conversation happening over and over again.  The more kind-hearted and generous and human Derek is, the more the Chief seems like a giant calculator. Of course, as an administrator, part of his job is to crunch the numbers and figure out where to put the money.  But he's working at a hospital, not a Hollywood talent agency. The numbers shouldn't come first. The ethical and medical issues should come first, and then the financial situation can be assessed. He's just turned into a robot.

I'm glad the writers finally gave Derek something to do other than shake his head at the Chief. I loved the case. Isaac (Faran Tahir) was an incredibly intriguing patient. I do wish that we had been introduced to him before this episode, as it might've added to the drama, but Isaac still made an impact. The brief life story he rattles off to Derek includes a war, the death of his family, a refugee camp -- this guy is fascinating, and everyone in the hospital knows him and cares about him.

Everyone except the Chief, it seems. Webber not only doesn't recognize Isaac by name, but doesn't realize that Isaac works at the hospital. This allows Derek to get away with the forbidden surgery and also reveals a lot about Webber's attention over the last few months.

Because of the magnitude and significance of the surgery, I expected chaos and confusion, doctors competing for a space in the OR, the usual. However, Derek's methods are different from the Chief's. It's not about who got there first, or who "called it," or whose turn it is to get their hands on a scalpel, or who brought him coffee. It's about who possesses the specific skill set necessary for this procedure. Perhaps the "draw a dot on George Washington's nose" idea is unrealistic, but if I were the patient, I'd prefer that the head surgeon use that method to select a team as opposed to the who's-sleeping-with-whom method.

The slow pace and singular focus of this episode made it highly introspective. The episode title is "Give Peace a Chance," and though it's an episode about Derek "going rogue" and undermining the Chief, it's more notably about where Derek is in his life. He seems confident, happy, calm, patient and driven. It's nice to see that things in his personal life are working out and his confidence as a surgeon is positively impacted. Remember when he lost a patient and consequently ended up drinking beers at his trailer, which became a black hole, sucking in all the other attendings who were suffering from low self-esteem? That wasn't fun. I like "I'm a neuro God" Derek much better than that guy.

There were some good humorous moments tonight. It's the little things that make a difference -- hearing McDreamy and McSteamy pass around the term "BFF" made me smile. The diaper storyline, while outrageous, was definitely funny. I'd like to say it was ridiculous, but I know I'm not "hard-core" enough to pee into a diaper, so I'll refrain from passing judgment!  I thought that Derek laughing while playing eenie-meenie-miney-moe in Isaac's spine was also a smart way to cut some of the tension.

I enjoyed Derek writing on the wall, too. That's one of those things you get scolded for as a kid, and then suddenly, you're an adult, and that's your wall, so why not write on it if you want to? Mommy isn't around to take away your crayons. His detailed drawing of the tumor not only reminded us of his skill level, but gave us a peek at the Marriage Post-It mounted on the wall. (Why was it mounted so high? Nobody can see that high.)

I haven't said too much about Owen and Christina this season. I'm not deliberately ignoring them; I just haven't been so interested in their story! Their relationship seems to have stabilized, which inevitably means a storm is coming up ahead. This is "Grey's Anatomy," after all.  Also, I think that this downtime might be beneficial to Christina. She's always been a little too cut-happy for me, and it's rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe now that she's not anyone's surgical darling, she'll learn to appreciate the surgery more.

As for Izzie and Alex... The whole thing just feels so contrived to me. I like that Alex is bonding with Reed, and I thought Justin Chambers' performance during Alex's breakdown was phenomenal. Still, it's hard to get invested in a storyline that I know can't last too much longer.

What'd you all think of this episode?  Would you like to see more episodes that center more on one particular doctor or patient? Do you miss Izzie? Are you ready for Meredith to get up out of that bed? Who is your favorite of the newbies?

Let's talk in the comments below! And don't forget to come on back after next week's episode.

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

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Photo: Sloane (Eric Dane) and Lexie (Chyler Leigh) coax Derek (Patrick Dempsey) through his most difficult surgery yet. Credit: ABC