For the first time in quite a while, the day starts out rather happily at Seattle Grace: Richard is performing his 10,000th surgery, Teddy and Cristina are getting along and working brilliantly together, and it's Zola's first birthday. Meredith actually bakes a cake for Zola's party that night, though the kitchen is a little crowded with April, Jackson, Alex, and Alex's latest Flavor of the Week. April finally realizes that she and Jackson really should move out, and so she sets about finding a place for them. Unfortunately, the one she wants is too expensive so she finally offers that Alex can move out with them. I mean, it is for hardwood floors and a washer/dryer. I can't really blame her.
The Chief's milestone surgery is a liver transplant between two sisters, played by Peri Gilpin and Nia Vardalos. Nia is the sis in need of a liver and Peri (who will forever be Roz Doyle to me) cannot stop being a total bitch reminding Nia just how much she's doing for her and how grateful she should be. Nia eventually tries to back out but it's too late, and so Mere and Bailey remove a portion of Roz's liver and Richard transplants it into Nia. It's not the easiest surgery for Richard, though it's not for any surgical reason -- Adele wandered out of the house and tried to walk to the hospital to find him, but fortunately a neighbor saw her. The woman brings her to Seattle Grace but because Richard is in the middle of surgery April winds up having to watch after Adele, who becomes agitated once again thinking that Richard has left her. When April takes her to the gallery to assure her that he is just working, she sees Meredith and, thinking she is Ellis, has a meltdown crying and yelling at her to leave Richard alone. April puts Adele on the intercom so that Richard can talk to her and Mere advises him to talk to her about a nice memory, so he winds up singing "My Funny Valentine," which was their wedding song, and she joins in for an incredibly touching, sad duet. Bailey had organized a party to celebrate the surgery but he cancels it so that he can take his wife home. While all of this is happening Mere is also trying to figure out what specialty she is going to declare and everyone thinks that it should be general surgery for a number of reasons, not least of which is that her mother was pretty much the best and most famous general surgeon in the history of the world.
Lexie is still kind of living Meredith's old surgical life working with Derek, who is still on his kick of taking difficult cases. Their patient is a boy with a spinal tumor, whose mother has been told by eight doctors that it is inoperable. Because the kid is going to die within three months anyway, she wants someone to take a stab at it, and so finally Derek agrees. One little complication is that she hasn't actually told her son that he has a tumor. When Lexie is alone with the boy he admits that he knows what it is since he overheard one of his last doctors talking, and she promises that Derek is the best and they'll do what they can. Unfortunately, once they are in there it really is inoperable and Derek finally makes the decision to close him up. Lexie tries to fight him on it to the point where he excuses her from the OR, and later that night at Zola's party they have a conversation where he admits that sometimes these things truly are inoperable and asks if she wants out. But despite how horribly sad it was to get through the day (including after the surgery, watching the boy admit to his mom that he knew he was going to go see his dad in heaven soon) she tells Derek she is still totally on board for all of these crazy cases.
Everyone is having a good time at the party, cooing over the insanely cute birthday girl and visiting with each other. Callie and Arizona have tried all day to get Mark to tell Julia he loves her but he finally admits that he doesn't want to rush into anything and ruin something potentially good. Richard is actually able to attend -- Adele insisted and he didn't leave until she was asleep and there with a nurse -- and so as they are preparing Zola's cake, Derek and Meredith have an idea. Meredith had written "Yay Zola!" in frosting but she scrapes off the "Zola" so that it just says "Yay!" and presents it to Richard to celebrate his 10,000th surgery since he didn't have his party. When he and Meredith are talking later he brings up the general surgery decision and she admits the reason she's balking is because everyone says she's just like her mother, and she doesn't want to be. He points out that she's actually a completely different person -- throwing a birthday party for her daughter, helping to celebrate Richard, being a generally caring and feeling person in general, etc. -- but that she does have a surgical gift. It's a really sweet moment, and it almost looks like we'll end there, but during a quiet pause in the party, the sounds of yelling come from the kitchen.
See, earlier in the day, after they had worked for some ridiculous number of hours straight, Owen orders Teddy and Cristina to go home and get some rest. But before they go a guy is brought in with a piece of rebar sticking through his heart, and they want the case. Some doctor I've never seen before and Alex claimed it first, and Owen lets the guys keep it despite arguments from Teddy and Cristina. Incidentally, this is the only communication at all he has with Teddy because she's still mad at him and otherwise ignoring him. He is rather desperate for things to smooth over and isn't happy when Cristina tells him he just has to ride it out for now. Teddy and Cristina desperately want the rebar heart case so Cristina pulls a fast one so that the patient's wife requests them personally. Owen doesn't find out until they are halfway through the surgery, and Cristina points out that it's a complicated procedure and so they will have to fight about it afterward. And so, we come to Zola's party. Owen arrives and sees Cristina not only cuddling and cooing at Zola, but cooing at her about the awesome surgery she just did. It finally causes him snap, and when the two of them are in the kitchen alone they have a horrible fight in which he tells Cristina he's taking her off Teddy's service. She yells back that he can't do that, and calls him on his feelings of guilt for putting Cristina on Henry's surgery in the first place. Cristina yells that since Henry died at her hands, Teddy will get whatever she wants from Cristina, forever, and Owen has to go along with that. Not only does he not want to go along with that, he starts yelling at her that everything in their lives is all just about what she wants... which culminates in his screaming at her that she killed their unborn child and with it the life he wanted for himself. And this comes during a lull in conversation so that all of their friends and colleagues get to hear it. I think, if one were to ponder it, there are very few social situations more horribly awkward than that right there.
"There's nothing else we can do for you." No, that's not what my doctor told me when the ghost sex made my brain explode. It's what, Mere explains, doctors never want to say; they will do everything in their power not to give up. Derek and Lexie are looking at scans of some horrible spinal tumor and Lexie explains to us that eight doctors have already said that it's inoperable. Derek can understand why, but tells Lexie they'll flip a coin to see if they try the surgery -- it's actually not as crazy as it sounds since he explains that once the coin is in the air he gets a gut feeling about where he wants it to land. I had this very situation when I had Jessica flip a coin for me to decide if I was going to get an iPhone. It's so very similar to trying to save a child's life from a vicious tumor. ...What? She flips the coin, but we don't see where it lands. You guys get three guesses as to what the end result is, and the first two don't count.
While Mere's VO drones on saying the same thing a million different ways, the actual Mere is frosting a very tall cake with the words "Yay Zola" written on it. Jackson is eating breakfast and making fun of her frosting penmanship while some random trashy girl rummages through the fridge. April storms in wondering who used all her deodorant and said girl -- wearing a corset top, like you do in a strange kitchen full of your hookup's coworkers first thing in the morning -- apologizes that she used it but saucily adds that she had a "workout" last night. Her "workout" partner Alex comes in, surprised she is still there, and she admits that she had to see cute little Zola. When she reaches for Zola's cheeks, Mere awesomely sweeps the baby away on account of them not knowing where Corset's hands have been. Mere leaves for a meeting with Owen while Alex propositions his friend for another quick "workout" before he heads to the hospital. April is squicked out and declares to Jackson that they have to move, though he's not immediately on board with the idea.
Callie, Arizona, Julia and Mark have become quite the little happy gang, and it's clear that Derek was right: everybody loves Julia. She gives Arizona a haircut that looks shockingly like her hair has been in every other episode but we're going with it being even sexier than usual and Callie can't wait to have Julia work her magic as well. Julia promises to do so tomorrow because she has to go to work and as she leaves, she kisses Mark and casually tells him, "Love you." Mark responds with the equally casual but not quite as romantic, "See ya." As soon as she leaves Callie and Arizona are quick to give Mark a hard time about how he gave the wrong response, and have no respect for his point that they've only been together three months and he thinks that is too early for Love Yous. Callie, rather than respecting this as valid, rolls her eyes and moans that this is "Classic Mark" -- he found out Lexie is single again and suddenly has cold feet. She reminds him how that ship sailed (and sank) and pretty much refuses to believe him when he says that this has nothing to do with Lexie. My opinion is that they both are kind of right: I think Mark thinks that this has nothing to do with Lexie while subconsciously, that's probably in play somewhere. When Arizona leaves Lexie can't help but pointedly tell her that she loves her, raising her eyebrows at an annoyed Mark.