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Grey's Anatomy Episode Recap: "Tainted Obligation"
Oct 8, 2009 10:18 PM ET by Adam Bryant Watch Episode
In this episode of Grey's Anatomy, Meredith is forced to make a tough decision when her alcoholic absentee father shows up in the ER in need of a liver transplant. Meanwhile, Izzie lets her battle with cancer cloud her judgment in the treatment of a patient, and Mark gives an elderly patient his final wish, despite objections from the patient's family. Plus: Callie goes back and forth in her mind about asking the Chief for her job back, and Cristina searches desperately for surgeries to keep her busy.
The episode kicks off with one of the funniest moments I've seen on TV this week. After rushing to leave the trailer to get to work on time, Karev walks outside to be greeted by a huge bear. And he screams like a little girl. It was the beginnings of Karev's role as comic relief in this episode, as he also became pretty hysterical when the gang found a tick on his neck at the lunch table. Needless to say, Alex and the outdoors weren't getting along very well, and he was ready to move. Izzie, however, was content to stay, and felt that after all she'd been through, she deserved the final say. Ultimately, Izzie, who has her own encounter with Mr. Bear by episode's end, comes around to Karev's way of thinking. Question is, will they return to Meredith's or strike out on their own?
Meredith's place will be empty for a few days at least. After her father, Thatcher, shows up in the ER in a disoriented state, Meredith thinks he's fallen off the wagon. Although he swears otherwise, it's not until he begins vomiting blood that she realizes his condition is much more serious. Thatcher's liver has failed, and he needs a transplant to live. Since he was an alcoholic with less than a year's sobriety, he isn't eligible to get on the transplant list. Lexie steps up to help her dad, but she isn't a match. So, all eyes turn to Meredith.
Mer was downright cold (with good reason, I suppose) when the issue was first raised. Thatcher was never a father to her, only the guy who poured her cereal in the morning. She doesn't have a relationship with him, so she doesn't feel any real drive to keep him alive. That all changes when Lexie begs Meredith: "Somehow you have his blood and I don't. Give me my dad," Lexie says, and Meredith nods.
Thatcher, humbled by the gesture from Meredith, cannot accept her offer, however. "I broke me," Thatcher says of his alcoholism. "I can't, I won't let you put me back together. I put you through enough." Thatcher makes his peace with dying, even after the Chief tries to convince him to let Meredith give him her liver. Finally, Meredith tells Thatcher that she never knew him as a father, but she has gotten to know what it's like to have a sister. She asks Thatcher to let her do this for Lexie, and he finally agrees. They both come out on the other side, much the delight of Bailey who begged: "I had five interns. Four have been on this table. One has cancer, one of them died. You better not pull anything on me, Grey." She doesn't, but she will be out of commission for about a month. (Hey, maternity leave!)
Meanwhile, the Chief informs everyone that the doctors from Mercy West will arrive in three days, and at that time there will be another round of layoffs. Yang kicks it into high gear again, looking for surgeries after having been kicked off two attendings' services in recent days. She does successfully remove Alex's tick, and then gets roped into helping Dr. Sloan with a penile implant. (A little more on that in a bit.) She does the work, but she feels like she's being wasted. Finally, she tells the Chief that if he can't find a cardio attending who will teach her and shape her talent, he should cut her, because she deserves to be somewhere where she can use her gift. Not using it scares her more than being jobless.
Izzie, also perhaps trying to ensure her job (or at least trying to help a cancer patient be able to propose to his girlfriend of eight years, convince Dr. Hunt to go through with a surgery he doesn't think will save the patient. Izzie argues that she had a 5 percent survival rate and is still standing, noting that her patient deserves a chance to fight the same way she is. Unfortunately, the surgery is a failure, and he dies on the table, leaving the engagement ring in a drawer at home. Hunt says Stevens isn't ready to be back at work because her illness clouds her judgment. He is upset that he allowed it to cloud his own. "You can't be a patient and a doctor," he says.
Finally, a few words about Irving, Dr. Sloan's patient. Played brilliantly by Ralph Waite, this storyline squeezed out as many erection jokes as possible, but still managed to have a lot of heart. Irving hasn't been attracted to anyone in the 20 years since his wife died, but now he's found a woman with whom he connects. "I have a bunch of yesterdays and very few tomorrows.... She's my tomorrow," he says. It was also nice to see Mark, who became angry when Lexie told him she was being tested for the liver transplant, turn around and use Lexie's willingness to make her father happy as an example of why Irving's son should stop objecting to his father's wish to get the implant.A few other thoughts:
• It was brief, but the Callie-Arizona plot was a nice diversion in this episode. All Callie can talk about is work, but Arizona just wants her to be her girlfriend. She lost her favorite scrub nurse who knew how she worked, and just wanted to eat lunch with Callie without talking about the layoffs. Callie showed some sympathy to the Chief and ultimately got her job back, but I really like how honest Arizona is with Callie, and the way she puts the firecracker in her place.
• Chyler Leigh gave a powerful performance in this episode. Her speech to Meredith was a little overwritten, but she almost made you forget that with her emotion. And the bond that is growing between Lexie and Meredith is nice to see. From Meredith finally saying out loud how she feels about Lexie, to Lexie being at Mer's side when she wakes up, I am really glad to see these sisters' happy.
• Derek was virtually silent in this episode, but he was a silent supporter. He didn't try to make Meredith's decisions for her, he just looked on, knowing she would do what was right. And then when she did, he was right by her side in the OR.
• Poor Yang. I felt bad that the boys pulled one over on her, but it was also nice to see them all laughing together. And honestly, the way she's been bulldozing the other residents looking for surgeries, she needed a little payback.
What did you think of the episode?