Oh, Shonda Rhimes, you minx. You get us all excited for the long-awaited marital union between Derek and Meredith, and you pull a great big bait-and-switch with Alex and Izzie. Happy 100th episode, "Grey's Anatomy." And congratulations on the very nice looking bridesmaids' dresses.
The details — and the day's big case — coming straight down the aisle…
Wedding Day: "You never know the biggest day of your life is going to be the biggest," says a weak, pale, scarf-wearing bald Izzie at the start of the episode — which immediately telegraphs that something is not what we've been led to believe it was going to be. In fact, it starts as a normal day at work (who works on their wedding day?) — with Derek giving Meredith a solo surgery as her wedding present. Nice. Izzie excitedly tells Bailey and Alex about the wedding she planned — she can't wait to go, though Alex is concerned about her being physically strong enough to attend. But she's a bridesmaid! Wooo!!
Then they leave, and Denny's there, dressed in a black shirt — which he really shouldn't be, unless he's ready to bust out with a very special version of "Ring of Fire." I mean come on, guys — not subtle. Izzie tells Derek about Denny's return, and Bailey takes her for an MRI. Izzie knows it's a tumor, and tells Bailey Denny's standing right there. "You tell Denny Duquette I say go home," Bailey says. The worst part is the stricken look of resignation in Izzie's eyes.
The MRI's clear — but Izzie knows something's up, and to their credit, Bailey and Derek listen to her, coming up with a way to try to map the hallucination on an EEG the same way they do a seizure. Then they can tell what part of the brain is affected, and find the tumor. Izzie has to work to bring him back, but there's Denny — she's come to associate him with death, and Alex with the future, and with love. It's a tiny tumor on the temporal lobe, which wouldn't show up on a normal MRI — and Derek can't get to it. I wish there was something I could do for her, Derek tells Bailey. Which is when Bailey suggests making it Izzie's wedding day. At this point we need to give it up for KorbiTV, who saw this coming a mile away.
Derek raises the idea with Meredith, who, still high from her first solo surgery (despite the Chief's bothersome "supervision" and hmming about the way she did things and Mark's … whatever that was), buys right in. She finds Alex, who's distraught over the new tumor and the realization that Izzie really could die, and pitches the idea. A little while later, Meredith turns up in Izzie's room as she's getting ready to head to the church, curlers in her hair, wedding gown over her arm, telling Izzie that this isn't her dress. Then Alex comes in, gorgeously dressed like a groom, and …. da dum da dum….
It's a great wedding. Meredith is Alex's best man, Christina is Izzie's maid of honor, and George steps up brilliantly to help Izzie when she falters halfway down the aisle. Alex completely rips off his vows from one of his patients (more on that in a minute), and it ends up being really touching. But when it's over, Izzie has to go back to the hospital — and reality sets in. Her hair's really falling out, and the gravity of everything she's facing sets in just a little more. Then she asks Denny to leave her alone with her husband.
Graduation Day: But the drama started much earlier in the day. Callie's taking an extra shift covering the ER to make some cash, and totally jinxes things by telling George and Alex it's looking like a quiet day. The traumas start rolling in — a semi jackknifed and hit an SUV full of college kids on their way to their graduation. A girl and two boys come in — they're all worried about their friends, and one boy keeps asking what happened to his girlfriend, who was in the car one minute and gone the next. You know what goes down then. The first kid crashes. The second boy stabilizes before going for tests, and the girl — the valedictorian — is in shock and panicking. All she's ever done is school; she put "life" on hold for it. Today was the day her life was supposed to start.
One by one the other kids come in with horrific injuries. George is absolutely commanding — so so good to see him playing an integral role — and calm under pressure. But one by one his patients go south, and he asks Hunt to take him off the cases. While he has to declare the girlfriend of the second boy a DOA, Alex talks to Becca, the valedictorian, as she's getting prepped for surgery. He ignores her request to find out how her friends are, and instead asks her to give her speech. And it's a wonderful speech — all about how today is the day when her life begins, when she becomes a grown-up, when she becomes accountable to someone else, ready to take on all the possi
bilities of life. This is all the stuff Alex swipes for his vows later on, but here in particular, it works. And in the end, she makes it — the sole survivor.
George takes it hard — every patient he worked on died. But Hunt explains that trauma is about being where you're needed and doing what you can. He's clearly been affected by all of the carnage as well, as has Cristina (Keep your eyes on Owen and Cristina — they're clearly not done yet, and I remain a giant sucker for Kevin McKidd's sad longing.). In the end, Becca is amazed to see Lexie, who's tending to her, crying. Lexie, who's worked with George all day and uses that doe-eyed expressive look to the hilt, replies, "You're breathing." We're all hanging on by a thread, it turns out.
I need to add one brief note about Callie, who handled the ER like a champ — especially since Arizona kept coming at her trying to figure out why their highly anticipated date was so bad. Her new financial woes are the real source of the downer — and it's not just that her father disowned her; he cleaned out her bank account too — a serious drag that puts to rest any criticism I had about her inability to survive on her salary.
So what did you think? Was the wedding everything you'd expected it to be? What do you think will happen with Izzie next week?