Welcome to Grand Rounds: Dissecting Grey's Anatomy, a roundtable on Grey's Anatomy featuring Snarky's Machine, Tasha Fierce, Everett Maroon, Redlami, and s.e. smith. This week's Grand Rounds is hosted by the freezing cold s.e. smith (so much for that burst of springlike weather). Without further ado, let's begin!
s.e. smith: The theme of this week's episode was "deception." Who's deceiving, and what are the costs?
Snarky's Machine: I found the most surprising deception to be Alex with his clinical trial patient. Alex is not known for being deceptive for noble reasons, but his kindness was unexpected and definitely positioned him as worth of chief resident. Cristina's deception with nothing more than a joke at Avery's expense and since Mark and Lexie were broken up there was no deception with regard to his actions.
Everett Maroon: Meredith's last line gives us a glimpse into some of these costs, when she says that at some point, doctors stop realizing where the line between deception and truth really is. While it was amusing to see the New Adventures of Old Cristina in full force again (and I'll admit she had me there for a moment), yes, there were some more sinister moments as well, around McDreamy's Alzheimer's study. But even the big moment of truthiness this week, in which Mark tells Lexy he's a baby daddy, ends in her walking out. Not that she shouldn't have walked out. Don't they teach doctors about contraception in medical school?
Redlami In the Alzheimer's clinical trial storyline, Derek teaches Alex to be deceptive because caregivers are likely to give better care if they think the patient might be improving, which in turn might lead to a better outcome. Alex can't handle the cost of this kind of self-serving lie, and quits the trial, possibly hurting his chances of getting chief resident. On the other hand, it's a win all around when Bailey and Lexie are sneaky in pushing the use of Twitter in the OR.
Tasha Fierce: My favorite act of deception was Cristina faking out Dr. Avery by pretending to be extremely upset over his comment to her when they're fighting over the heart surgery assist. I freaking love her. The cost to Avery was that he didn't get to assist, obviously, which he richly deserved. He's such a jackass.
s.e. smith: Lots of interesting medical ethics topics here, especially with reference to experimental procedures on patients with cognitive impairments, particularly people of color. As the Alzheimer's research storyline continues, is Grey's going to shy away from the loaded history there, or take it on?
Snarky's Machine: I think Grey's is really trying to remind us in every frame that patients consent to the study and are fully aware of their likelihood to receive the actual treatment versus the placebo. They are making that exceedingly clear in a way that seems more obnoxious than Derek giving a preachy explanation about Tuskegee.
Everett Maroon: In addition to the history of people receiving X-rays without their knowledge, the infamous Tuskeegee Airmen study, and Henrietta Lacks' exploitation, there is also a history of poorer outcomes due to worse treatment for Alzheimer's patients of color in the greater context here. Grey's tries to duck some of this by offering us a man who reads as middle class—presumably they have health insurance coverage, even if they don't need it for this study. And this, I suppose, obfuscates that many people drawn into participating in clinical trials do so because they are themselves uninsured. It's interesting to me that Alex decides he can't support the consequences of delivering placebos, but thinks Meredith will handle it better. Stage set for hot mess at the end of February? Also, I'm betting the National Institutes of Health aren't pleased that clinical trials are shown in such a cruel, unfeeling light.
Redlami Unfortunately I think this was a one-off, serving mainly to get Meredith assigned to Derek's clinical trial. I do appreciate the way clinical trials, which serve an important purpose in medical research, were contrasted with patient care, especially in terms of how researchers distance themselves from seeing their subjects as patients.
Tasha Fierce: I doubt Grey's will take on the loaded history; the "blackness" of the Alzheimer's patient they profiled in this episode was never mentioned. What bothered me more was the fact of how clinical trials themselves are run, in that not everyone gets the treatment but they don't know if they have or not. I know that's how things have to be done to get approval, but it's so (as Karev said) depressing to know that this person most likely won't get better.
s.e. smith: @mirandabaileymd is on Twitter! Lots of hospitals now are Tweeting, broadcasting surgeries, and using social networking. It was nice to see Bailey at the forefront of this, but will Grey's continue? And where will they go with it? How do you feel about this practice in general?
Snarky's Machine: I loved this bit. I loved how Lexie and April were clearly shown being the innovators and Miranda was shown to be a surgeon trying to carve out a place for herself, particularly when she's not in a flashy specialty. Also not entirely sure the Chief wasn't trying to find pics of Bailey's "teats." Maybe it wasn't a slip of the tongue.
Everett Maroon: If it really just is a resident clicking away in the corner while the attending is doing her thing, then I don't think there's a big problem there. It's not like teaching hospitals have never packed an OR full of wide-eyed students before, asking a litany of questions. And it's got to be a better use of Twitter than a Tweetup where everyone tries to recreate Edward Hopper's "Diner" on some poor, unsuspecting waitress.
Redlami It made for a very entertaining—and at times hilarious—subplot featuring Chief Webber once again yielding under the pressure of "Bailey Eyes." I did have trouble believing that cell phones would actually be allowed to beep and boop in the OR. Sadly, I had the feeling this was another on-off; I've never seen anyone tweeting before and I'll be surprised if it comes up again anytime soon.
Tasha Fierce: I hope they continue with the tweeting! I thought that storyline was cute. I'm not sure where they're going with it, but I think the practice of live-tweeting surgeries is pretty interesting, especially if hospitals and doctors around the world can suggest things to try when a surgery goes wrong, as they did in this episode. It also seems to be a great learning tool.
s.e. smith: The race for Chief Resident is on; any odds on who is going to win?
Snarky's Machine: Alex has earned it, but most likely it'll be Meredith or April.
Everett Maroon: Could it really be anyone but Cristina? Maybe Alex, but only because the attendings cave in to Owen who is worried that being CR would be too much for his wife. Yeah, that's how Grey's will play it.
Redlami I don't think Cristina is fooling Teddy with her faux bedside manner. And while he's had flashes of brilliance, I don't think Jackson's been a consistent performer. Which means it's going to a white person, and my guess is a white dude, because Alex seems to be the only resident portrayed as not letting his ego-fulfillment get in the way of staying focused on the task.
Tasha Fierce: I'm hoping Cristina, but if they really want to piss people off they'll pick Karev. Besides Cristina's absence, I think she's the most qualified candidate.
s.e. smith: Baby drama. Discuss.
Snarky's Machine: Callie got exactly what she wanted. Though I was amused that once Mark had a baby, he completely forgot about Lexie, which says to me he's not really as sold on that relationship as we have been led to believe. I kind of wish they would get married. I love Callie and Mark together. That said, I was really excited that Arizona mentioned Callie was bisexual without spitting out the word as though it was made of shards of glass.
Everett Maroon: I found myself extremely frustrated with this storyline (in case that wasn't clear earlier). This little Baby Triumvirate is not going to last long, of course, as we all know Mark and Arizona merely tolerate each other, one night of cocktails aside. What really bugged me was the ownership over Callie's embryo, which hello, hasn't even formed a four-chambered heart yet. I hate when the writers turn the self-assured Callie into a quivering mass of insecurity like this. Can we just get her through one season without the jello episode? Twice Mark referred to said embryo as "my baby," and in one of those moments, he was giving Callie direction about what to do and not to do while she was housing his next generation. Late in the episode Arizona calls it "my baby," and Callie immediately responds with a "your baby?" Arizona: Our baby. I get that some of this is about Callie's uncertainty around Arizona's stick-with-it-ness, but I can't look away from the hetero-homo context, either. This is not the village raising a child that Hillary had in mind, people. And oh, that heartbeat wasn't possible to see on like, week 5 or 6. And oh, I think the baby doctor has a crush on Callie, as so many carefully included shots of her staring at Callie seemed to indicate.
Redlami Despite the apparent symmetries—Callie and Mark hooked up while temporarily broken up with their respective partners, and both have always been up front about wanting children, even while those partners didn't—the situations are vastly different. For one thing, Mark waited for "the right moment" to tell Lexie (a kind of deception) with Lexie understandably reacting negatively to being blindsided. Also, Arizona seems to recognize that there's no version of Callie available without the baby-wanting circuit active, whereas Lexi feels betrayed that Mark hasn't gotten over his desire for fatherhood.
Tasha Fierce: Woo, baby mama drama! Callie is cracking me up with the raging hormone thing. I love how excited Mark is about it, and I loved the ending when Callie and Arizona get back together. I don't know, for some reason those three make me laugh a lot. I've said it before, but I'm really loving where they're going with Sloan. Not wanting to be the cool uncle-turned-creepy uncle was classic.
We'll be back next week with "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)!"
About your bloggers:
Snarky's Machine is the founder of the pop culture site I Fry Mine in Butter.
Everett Maroon is a Seattle-based writer, focusing on popular culture commentary, speculative fiction, and memoir. His interests include the interrelationships of characters on Grey's Anatomy, Dr. Bailey, behind-the-scenes politics, and Dr. Bailey.
Tasha Fierce blogs about politics, fashion and whatever she wants at Red Vinyl Shoes.
s.e. smith is a cantankerous, cat-wearing, pop culture-loving, pants-eschewing philistine from the wilds of Northern California with a compendium of largely useless random knowledge and a typewriter that doesn't know when to quit. Smith writes at this ain't livin'.
Redlami turns numbers into stories and is the resident tech geek at I Fry Mine in Butter.