Packed with a series of powerful punches, this fifth season finale of Grey's Anatomy focuses on Izzie's difficult decision on how to deal with her illness, while Owen and George make life-changing decisions of their own. Plus, Meredith and Derek reconstruct their wedding plans, as Bailey contemplates what family means to her.
THERAPY OR SURGERY?
This week started off on a light and playful note as the newly married Izzie took pride in showing off her new hubby and her shiny new (plastic) wedding ring to her fellow cancer patients. But soon Izzie's mood took a turn when the time came for her to make a life-altering decision: opt to explore a therapy treatment to shrink her tumor, or allow Derek to cut into her brain.
The decision proved to be too difficult for Izzie to make on her own, as she sought out her fellow docs to take a vote and help her decide which path to take. When that tactic failed, Izzie turned to Alex, who at first refused to influence her choice. But after a heart —to-heart with Derek, he became convinced surgery was the only way to go.
Knowing that the sensitive surgery could compromise Izzie's memory, Derek opted to run a test first to see what possible obstacles the procedure could face. The results were grim. Having used a flashcard memory test, Izzie not only failed to recall the objects she was shown before Derek put part of her brain to sleep, but she could barely talk or even recall who Alex was!
After Izzie recovered from the test, Mer convinced her not to proceed with the surgery (which really pissed Derek off). Suddenly, the therapy route Dr. Swender (Kimberly Elise) suggested didn't seem like such a bad idea. In fact, Allison (Liza Weil) — one of Izzie's new friends — had undergone the very same treatment and was now tumor-free.
Just as Izzie began sharing with Allison the news that she has "really long conversations with dead people" (welcome back, Denny!), her new friend suddenly flatlined, propelling Izzie back into yet another bout of indecision regarding her own future treatment plans. So, who did she call on for advice? Not Alex, but George, who assured her she had already made her decision, "you made it the second you decided to fight this thing," he told her. "You know exactly what you have to do." And she did. Surgery was the only way to go.
A SOLDIER'S STORY
This week also marked the arrival of an American soldier just back from a tour of duty in Iraq. While he appeared to be healthy, he complained of severe pains in his leg and he begged Callie, Owen and George to amputate his limb and give him a prosthetic, so that he could return to war.
Callie was adamant about not wanting to remove a healthy leg for a guy who may not even be able to return to war with a prosthetic limb, but Owen, having lived through the war himself, could understand the soldier's plea. George also found himself siding with the patient, after the two had a discussion about how out of place the soldier felt back in the U.S. as opposed to the way he felt with his "brothers" in the service.
Ultimately, Callie caved and amputated the soldier's leg, but the story doesn't end there.
Our other resident soldier, Owen, found himself confessing to Cristina that he wanted to return to the war as well, telling her that "part of me is still over there." Not surprisingly, Cristina was livid. Despite her growing frustration with Owen, she found herself telling him, "I don't want you to die." Instead, Cristina encouraged Owen to visit his mom and let her know that he's home.
Next, we see Cristina and Owen in the car outside of what appears to be the recruiting station for the army. My first thought was, would Cristina really accompany Owen on this trip, despite how opposed she is to the idea of him returning to the army?
In fact, Owen had just pulled up outside of his mother's home, with Cristina by his side when his mom opened the door.
Then, at the doors of the recruitment center, George appeared. It would seem that the soldier-amputee experience led George to an unpredictable decision: to join the army as a trauma doctor!
JOY AND PAIN
This week Arizona was as chipper as ever as she further encouraged Bailey to pursue a career in pediatrics: "Scrub in with me and see the joy!" she exclaimed. But it wasn't babies that had Bailey in giggles this week. No, it was the Chief (aka Santa Claus) who managed to bring the biggest grin to Bailey's face when he showed her a room full of DaVincis (surgical robots).
Looking like a kid in a candy store, Bailey was eager to try out the new hospital toys, making what the Chief called "light saber" noises as she played with the joysticks and buttons. Knowing that the DaVincis might entice Bailey to stay with general surgery, the Chief made the most of the moment and invited her to try them out in a real surgery. The result was a success all around: The surgery went off without a hitch (leaving practically no scar) and Bailey appeared to have a renewed interest in general surgery.
However, Arizona was hip to the Chief's ploy and was quick to call him out on it. It was surprising to learn that she has a habit of crying when she's mad at people in authority, which seemed out of character, but then, how much do we really know about Arizona?
As this half of the two-part finale ended, Arizona told the Chief she planned to win Bailey back with the "joy" of pediatrics. The Chief coolly retorted, "You think you can fight me and win? Good luck!"
MOVING ON UP
In other news this week, Mark opted to make a move on Lexie when he asked her (in a roundabout way) to move in with him. At first, it appeared as though Lexie wasn't getting the hint, but soon it was plain to see that she was just trying to dodge the conversation (much to the amusement of Derek, who happened to be standing nearby).
More on these two to come later in Part Two.
Favorite lines in Part One:
Izzie: "Is that a Schnauzer or a Scottie? How specific do I have to be?" Derek: "It's a dog."
Dr. Swender: "My miracle case is on life support."
Lexie: "Are you asking me to marry you?"
Mark: "No. Why? Would you?"
As part two commences, we find all of the residents sleeping in Izzie's room, waiting for her to wake up. Alex is anxious to know if his wife made it through the surgery or if their worst fear (that she'll end up a turnip) has become a reality. Eventually, her eyes open and she utters, "I have a headache." Alex is elated that not only is she awake, but she can speak!
There's just one catch: It seems that Izzie is suffering from short term memory loss. Repeatedly, she asks how the surgery went and if Derek managed to get the entire tumor out (remind anyone of 50 First Dates?). While Derek tries to downplay this setback by noting that she has just been through a very difficult surgery and needs time to recuperate, Alex goes into full recovery mode by jotting down facts on post-it notes to help get Izzie's memory back up to speed.
Izzie senses Alex's growing frustration with her, so eventually she tells him to just get it out of his system and yell if he has to. So he goes for it -- and holds nothing back, saying that while she did survive the surgery, "this is not a freakin' walk in the park either!" And while it only gets worse, Izzie will surely she'll forget it all in just a few minutes.
Only, she doesn't. For the first time since she's woken up, Izzie remembers every word Alex said to her long after he has left the room, clinging to choice statements such as, "smothering me with a pillow might be the best way to put us both out of our misery." Cristina, the only person in the room at the time, shares the elation of the moment with Izzie before running off to retrieve Alex.
Could it be that Izzie Stevens will survive?
Not so fast! Before the celebration of Izzie's memory can reach full pitch, Izzie flatlines. Despite the DNR order Izzie signed previous to her surgery, Alex quickly goes to work to try and resuscitate his wife and soon everyone else is pitching in. As the doctors work frantically to keep her among the living, we soon see what appears to be a flashback of Izzie in the gown she wore the night she was supposed to attend the hospital dance with Denny. Izzie enters the elevator much like she did back on that other fateful night, but who does she see when the doors open?
In part one of this week's finale, we learned that George is now aspiring to join the army as a trauma doctor. As expected, the news shocks his colleagues at Seattle Grace. However, when it came to Bailey, George knew exactly what to expect. Really, how dead-on was the impression he did of her, right before he gave her the news, "What did you do?!?" He was only slightly off, as she responded with, "You did what?!?"
Soon, Bailey and Callie were scheming an intervention to prevent George from pursuing the idea any further and they began recruiting the other doctors to join in. Everyone was on board except Arizona, who thought it was a "fantastic idea" that George wanted to join the army as a doctor. This, of course, led to tension between Callie and Arizona, until Arizona confessed that she had a brother who once served and died in the army because there weren't enough doctors there.
The intervention, however, never happened because Callie and Bailey were so caught up in other things, that they lost track of time. One of those things was the arrival of a bus crash victim who was dubbed John Doe because he was virtually unidentifiable. As the story went, this nameless man saved a woman from being hit by a bus by pushing her out of the way. At the same time, he compromised himself and sustained multiple injuries.
In a twist I never saw coming, we later find out that John Doe is none other than George! As it turns out, the Chief had let George leave the hospital early that day to prepare for his army departure and as fate would have it, George ended up getting hit by a bus that very afternoon.
So, to go back to our previous synopsis on Izzie, it was George (not Denny, as I had expected) who greeted Izzie on the other side of that elevator door, fully decked out in an army uniform.
Is this really the end of George and Izzie?
We also come to learn that the reason why Bailey has suddenly turned cold on pediatrics is because her husband has given her an ultimatum: He will divorce her if she accepts the fellowship. As she tells the Chief, "it's a big decision."
So, while a tearful Bailey asks the Chief if there's still room for her at Seattle Grace in general surgery, it was the pediatric floor that Bailey gravitated to when Callie and Dr. Swender needed a reminder of why they became doctors. "It's for the joy," Bailey explains, as they look at the smiling faces of recovering children.
In the couples department, Meredith and Derek had decided that today would be the day they would go to City Hall and get married, but as the day wore on Cristina pointed out, "Seriously, this doesn't seem like the day for it."
In the end, Mer/Der skipped the formal ceremony, but opted to write their vows on post-it notes instead and signed them to make it "official." Some of Mer's suggestions included: "That you'll love me, even when you hate me" and "that we'll take care of each other even when we're old, smelly." A charming Derek even promised to remind her of who he was every day, should she one day have Alzheimer's.
Meanwhile, Owen and Cristina made some huge strides after Owen reconnected with his mom. He later delivered this powerful line to Cristina, "I can be a better man because of you, and if you let me, I can be a better man for you."
For her part, Mer told Cristina that therapy really did make her better and not just "fake better." Cristina was then ready to make a confession of her own when she told Owen for the first time, "I love you."
Favorite Lines in Part Two:
Mer: "It's important to take the time to tell the people you love you love them while they can still hear you."
Cristina: "I can't breathe without you."
Bailey: "Don't take my face personally. It's just my face."
Arizona: "I grew up with the name Arizona. I know how to fight on the playground."
Bailey: "If you're not scared, you're not paying attention."
Derek: "I think he's going to surprise us all."
Mark: "I think he's going to come back in a body bag."
Tonight was filled with so many meaningful moments and words that I know there are many more to talk about then what I've captured here. Add your favorite moments to the mix and include your thoughts on the fate of Izzie and George.
Were you as surprised as I was about George as John Doe? Will this really be the end of Izzie? And what will the future hold for everyone else?
I also want to take a moment to give a shout-out to Adam Bryant and Matt Mitovich for covering Grey's when I was out of town. It was much appreciated, thanks guys! And to everyone else, have a great summer!