This week's episode proved that when this show wants to deal with actual meaty story, they do it very well. Owen's PTSD, which has been sort of simmering ever since we met him, comes to a full boil this week when he falls asleep and then begins to choke Cristina. Callie is in the apartment, thank goodness, and comes in the room and wakes him up, but Cristina is pretty shaken up. However, she understands that he has an injury of sorts and isn't a bad person at heart, so she doesn't cut him off like Meredith would prefer. He's completely shattered by what happens but she repeats that she's the one who knows how much she can take, and after a rough day they finally consummate their relationship in an on-call room. It's awful when afterward, Cristina realizes that she has in fact hit her limit because she is too scared to fall asleep in bed with him. She breaks up with him, and that's what Owen needs to take up Derek's offer of help to figure out how he can overcome his problem.
Because, ladies and gentlemen, Derek is back, though not without some struggling. He tries to propose to Meredith twice -- once by plunking down the ring on the kitchen table (and for the more eagle-eyed viewers out there, did he go find the ring in the grass or is this one new?) and once by cornering her before Izzie's surgery so that she'll say it's okay no matter what happens. She assures him she loves him, but won't say yes and he's surprised. He does make it through the surgery, and manages to get a little bit of confidence back. Afterwards the Chief points out all the evidence that says Meredith really does love him, so the Chief then helps Meredith to get on the right elevator at the end of the night. As the title of the episode suggests, he's decorated the whole thing with brain scans of various patients that cover their whole relationship together, which sounds weird but actually kind of worked. And in the elevator, he and Meredith get engaged.
But we need to back up a bit for Izzie's whole story. She meets her oncologist, Dr. Swender (the one Cristina fought for her to see last week) and she turns out to be quite the mega-bitch who orders all the other doctors around, questions everything they do, and seems to have no care at all for the patient's feelings. It's like she would have been Cristina's hero up until a week ago. As if that's not scary enough, all of Izzie's friends seem to not really be able to be around her and wind up deserting her for the entire day. Everyone except for Bailey, that is, who continues to check up on her both as a doctor and a friend. Alex is probably having the worst time dealing with things because he feels guilty that he never suspected there was a medical problem when Izzie admitted she was seeing Denny. They all prove they really care about her -- interns included -- when they gather en masse to wait for her surgery to be over. As I mentioned before it goes well, partly due to jerky Swender -- she questions every move Derek makes until he finally gets pissed off and assertive and defends his techniques, which is what he needed to snap out of it and start acting like a surgical god again. When Bailey comes out to tell everyone how the surgery went, she also warns them all to be better friends to Izzie, which seems to strike a chord, especially with Alex. He mans up and shows just how far he's come since we met him, facing his guilt and his grief to crawl into bed so that he's there when she wakes up. (With a full head of hair, because at Seattle Grace you don't have to lose a lock even when you have brain surgery.)
It seems that when your girlfriend has cancer that has spread to her brain, you then get the privilege of the week's voiceover. "Surgeons are all messed up. We're butchers. Messed up, knife-happy butchers." Alex is pacing outside a sleeping Izzie's room, probably as agitated as we've ever seen him. He clearly can't bring himself to go inside and when he stops pacing to just stare, the nurse asks him if he wants a cot. He VO's: "We cut people up. We move on. Patients die on our watch. We move on." He tells the nurse he doesn't need a cot and that he's a doctor at the hospital before his voice finishes: "We cause trauma. We suffer trauma."
The music that's been playing in the background, "Little Pieces" by Gomez, is what Callie and Arizona are listening do as they dance around Callie's living room having an awesome time.
Meanwhile, in Cristina's bedroom Hunt is snacking and laughing over the fact that Cristina unwinds by watching two hours of some sort of carotid artery surgery that looks a lot like someone pulling the meat out of a crab leg. What? It's true. And gross. He turns to look at her and realizes that she's fallen asleep, so he lies down next to her and strokes her face a bit before turning out the light. And that's when things get really bad. He gazes at the fan lazily spinning on the ceiling and the music fades away as a whooshing sound that corresponds with the blades takes its place. He starts to doze off and everything goes black for a moment before Cristina wakes up, choking and clawing at her attacker. Hunt is calmly holding her down with his hands around her neck as she flails and tries to get him off. Callie has heard the commotion and knocks on the door asking if everyone is okay, then thankfully opens it up and peeks inside. She yells Owen's name and Cristina is able to break free and then runs into the bathroom and locks herself in, crying and hyperventilating. Owen wakes up and looks down at his hands, absolutely horrified. It's beyond horrible to watch but amazingly acted by both Sandra Oh and Kevin McKidd.
The phone rings and Meredith answers it, sleepily telling Cristina she's better have a good reason for calling at 3 AM. But when she realizes it's Callie she sits up and asks, dazed, "What? He what?"
She immediately heads over to Cristina's and knocks on the bathroom, which Cristina finally unlocks to let her best friend in. Cristina then goes and looks at herself in the mirror, mumbling a description of her injuries and says that she's fine as she then turns to her friend. She's got red marks all around her neck, and a horrified Mere wants to kill Owen but Cristina says it was a nightmare. Owen then knocks on the door and begs pathetically to know if Cristina is okay. Mere tells her friend to stop, but Cristina opens the door and orders him to look at her. As he cries, she asserts that he was asleep and that she is okay. She hugs him as he sobs that he's sorry; Callie watches with confusion and Mere glowers at him.