Talk about high school with scalpels -- this week, a school bus crash brings a load of teenagers into the ER and the experience highlights just how cliquey the hospital is and gives a little insight into what role each of the doctors played in their own high schools. Let's get the revolting part out of the way first -- Derek is treating the kid who was impaled in the eye by his pencil. He and his best friend are the outcasts, and her heart is broken when she learns that his surgery went badly and that he's never going to wake up. Mark is taken down a notch by a couple of the girl students when he thinks they're checking him out, only to find out he looks just like one of their dads, and he gets a little bent out of shape about the whole thing. Fortunately, he spends the rest of his time being hilarious and charming, and he's quickly becoming my favorite character of the season. Bailey, as it turns out, knows the chaperone of all the kids because they went to high school together. Unfortunately he falls right back into their high school relationship, where he was the big man on campus and she was the geek who did all his homework and pined for him from afar. He manipulates her into doing a ton of paperwork for him, even after she performs emergency surgery on him, but she still can't bring herself to be Seattle Grace Bailey and tell him off. Instead, she takes it out on Derek, who admits he was a geek in high school, and they have a really sweet moment together. Callie has to treat a cheerleader who thinks her life is over since she won't be able to be captain of the squad any more, and though they seem to have nothing in common personality-wise, it turns out Callie knows what it's like to lose a captain-like position, and she's able to straighten the kid out a bit. She's also in a decent mood because she's heard George and Izzie are doing badly -- a rumor that spreads like wildfire through the entire staff. She also helps Cristina out, who is finally working with Hahn but keeps acting so overeager that Hahn hates her. Callie advises her to chill out and stop brown-nosing, which is nearly impossible for Cristina but finally pays off.
The one non-high school patient this week is none other than Thatcher Grey, drunk as a skunk, and needing stitches from putting his hand through a window. Alex tries to tell Lexie that he's there, but when she bitches him out about bringing up the subject of her father, he turns around and gets Meredith instead. While being treated, Thatcher tells Meredith everything she's needed to hear -- that he's sorry, and he's proud of her, and that he knows Susan's death wasn't her fault. Later on, however, she recounts to Lexie what happened and advises her to keep a better eye on him. Lexie's had enough and tells Meredith exactly what their father is like these days: either drunk and mean or drunk and wistful. She's also able to guess to the word what he said to Mere, since that's just what he does with her on a regular basis. Meredith is absolutely shattered, but the Chief takes her aside to collect herself, and after some resisting, she lets him look after her like he promised her mother. After work, she meets up with Derek in the bar and they leave, but not without Derek sharing a gaze with Rose. Who's Rose? Why, she's been working at Seattle Grace this whole time, it's just that Derek and the rest of us never noticed her before! Let's hope for her sake that her integration into the show goes more smoothly than it did for Nikki and Paulo on Lost.
Meredith's voice opens the show with the Theme of the Week. "There comes a point in your life when you're officially an adult. Suddenly, you're old enough to vote, drink, and engage in other adult activities." At Joe's, the camera pans down to show Sydney sipping a glass of wine and looking at...Derek? She asks him flirtily why it is that he chose "the brain." Behind Syd, Mark is sitting at the bar, staring at these proceedings with his mouth hanging open. Derek makes a joke about his magnifying glasses, Sydney obviously points out his sense of humor and adds how much she likes it, and Mark makes the universal "WTF?" gesture in her direction. I think America as a whole would like to know the same thing right now. VO: "Suddenly, people expect you to be responsible. Serious. A grown-up." Syd gets a page, and Mark grabs his drink and comes over while, from another corner, Meredith and Cristina watch the proceedings. Meredith thinks it's a date and asks Cristina for confirmation, who guesses that maybe Sydney is dying. Cut back to Mark, who demands to know, "Is she dying?" Derek tries to defend her and himself, but is slightly too unenthusiastic when he says she's nice and she asked him out. Mark asks if Derek would like him to fake a heart attack. "I do a great fake heart attack." She comes back and Mark leaves, while Meredith laments that, in movies where the hot, sensitive football player kisses the awkward, freaky girl, Sydney is that girl.
Meredith VOs, "We get taller," while Bailey -- not taller, it should be noted -- reaches up and pins up a memo over Callie's name saying that she is the new Chief Resident. Mere continues, "We get older. But do we ever really grow up?" Bailey takes a moment to look at the sign, then starts gleefully pointing at her name and doing a victory dance. So the answer to the question is clearly no, but thank goodness for that, I say, since the world needs more Bailey Victory Dances.
Mere and George are waiting for the elevator, but when it arrives, inside are both Izzie and Derek, who make eye contact with their respective awkward companions. They each turn and walk away to wait for another elevator. George announces that it's come to him and Mere avoiding them, and Mere asks why he's avoiding Izzie. He tells her it's like they aren't them anymore. Only took them a year or so longer than the rest of us to get that one. He tells her that nothing is easy anymore, and they just can't even talk now. Mere then explains that Derek went out with Sydney in what she thinks was a fake date to prove he's healthy and moving on. George asks if she thinks he's actually healthy, et cetera, and Mere just asks to take the stairs.