Just my luck – I finally pay enough attention to learn Maggie’s hot intern f*ckbuddy’s name (Deluca!) and he almost gets zero lines this whole episode.
Which, of course, was to be expected, as we have bigger fish to fry: Penny’s residency begins this week, and whose service will she be on? Why, Meredith Grey’s, of course.
When Meredith begrudgingly asked Penny not to turn down the position at Grey-Sloane Memorial, we knew we were headed towards disaster; at the very least, it would strain relationships and result in slightly unprofessional behavior.
Well, turns out having the doctor who ‘killed’ your husband on your service turns you from Head of General Surgery to a sorority queen hazing the new girl, and no one is really surprised. Having Penny around, let alone having to spend time with her and teach her, is obviously not doing any favors to Meredith’s mood. Add to that the fact that she and Amelia aren’t even speaking to each other, and as good as her intentions to ‘rise above’ might be, she just can’t seem to pull it off.
Penny spends her entire first day botching surgeries and patient post-op care, and Meredith doesn’t hesitate not only to berate her, but to also kick her off her service. Make no mistake, this isn’t about teaching with a heavy dose of tough love, as was Bailey’s method. It’s Meredith’s anger and grief taking over, and no one can really blame her. Refusing to actually teach your residents is probably worse than not allowing her into the program in the first place, which means Amelia had the right idea from the start.
Then again, as Mer points out, third year residents should know the procedures she had Penny go over with her like the back of their hand; maybe she really is incompetent. Her only other case we’ve been privy to resulted in Derek’s death, so her track record definitely points in that direction, regardless of her impressive on paper credentials. But knowing this show, Penny is probably destined for greatness despite her rocky start; if they managed to make a wonderful doctor out of dickish intern Karev, the skilled staff at our favorite hospital can probably turn Dr. Penny Blake into a fantastic surgeon as well, providing us with plenty of drama in the process.
[I have to say though, I’m not really liking Penny so far. I guess I’m not supposed to, but it’s not just her character that bugs me. I’m sure Samantha Sloyan is a good actress, but she annoys me. I think it’s the way she talks. I don’t trust people whose teeth aren’t showing when they’re talking. Sue me.]
Both Meredith and Penny look pretty much ready to give up on this working arrangement. It takes Callie and Richard to steer them back onto the right path – to forgiveness? Possibly. Callie definitely focuses on that aspect (we are surgeons, we make mistakes, we need to be forgiven), while Richard relates his own personal story to Meredith: he didn’t want her around either when she first showed up at Seattle Grace. If Penny is a constant reminder of Derek’s demise, then Meredith was a constant reminder of the best and worst times of his life.
By the way, ever since the season premiere we’re repeatedly hit over the head with the fact that Mer is a grieving widow and mother to three fatherless children, so where the hell are these kids? You’d think with Derek gone, we’d actually see more of them, but they are nowhere to be found!
If forgiveness and rising above is the main theme in the principal storyline so far, shame was also central in each of the subplots in this episode, straight from Meredith’s mouth:
“They say shame controls every aspect of human behavior. You try to be who you want people to see.”
Meredith wants to be the kind of person who isn’t petty or vindictive, but one who does the right thing. It takes a little prodding from the closest thing she has to a father figure, but in the end she does what Richard had done for her, putting aside her anguish and resentment, rising above and asking Penny back on her service for the whole week. I’m not sure how that leaves things with Amelia, but honestly, if Mer is going to forgive her for Derek, Amelia should just shut up and follow suit.
- Richard wants to be the man he should have been, the father Maggie wants him to be. Taking his own advice to his old friend about coming clean to his daughter about his illness, ‘Bumpy’ grows a pair and comes clean to his friend about his long-ago affair and the daughter borne of it. It’s up to Maggie to reveal their relationship, should she choose to do so, but he makes it perfectly clear that he doesn’t mind one bit.
- Our first patient, the pastor with the adventurous sex life, wants to be the guy he was before accidentally sharing his exploits with his parish (and the rest of the world; sex tapes, especially those involving clergymen, have a way of becoming viral). As always, not-so-subtle allegory is used to remind us that people shouldn’t be judged on the one mistake they made: he sent the email, Penny screwed up Derek’s case. Not exactly the same thing, but we get the picture.
- Callie wants to be not just a faithful friend to Mer, Amelia and of course Derek, but also loyal to her girlfriend, which means standing up for her when she’s being cornered. The fact that it took her a while to have Penny’s back is mirrored in (patient #2) Kemal’s surgery: although it seemed impossible at first, she finds a way to save the little boy’s hands; papa Torres didn’t raise no quitter.
- Jackson wants to be the kind of surgeon his wife believes him to be, one who doesn’t give up without a fight, much like her. Although April tricked him into seeing Kemal, the little boy with the severely deformed hands and heartbreaking background, he doesn’t cop out and, along with Callie, perform the surgery that will give the boy back his hands, and a shot at a normal life.
By the way, in just about every episode since she returned to Seattle, the only conversation April seems to have with Jackson about their marriage is through analogies and metaphors, usually surgery-related, and almost always in the presence of a third party, making it super-awkward and counterproductive. Just get those two back together and get it over with, Shonda. It’s embarrassing to have new guy Nathan be the voice of reason (but I guess someone had to be, and Arizona wasn’t exactly much help this week).
Speaking of Nathan… I’m not sure what his story is, but Hunt’s reaction hints at some juicy (and probably horrible) past connection, and I guess we’re going to find out in coming episodes.
Until then, for the love of God, will someone check on Meredith’s children?